Saturday, 27 October 2018

Big 12 - back in the day...


Here’s a bit of history! Big 12’s original ad from the 1965 Harmony catalogue, priced at $134.50! Priceless nowadays, of course…



Wednesday, 10 October 2018

...at the Paradiso, Amsterdam (1970)...


For those who never got to see it, and interesting old pic from outside the Paradiso in Amsterdam (courtesy Billboard, April 1970).



Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Beau - song writing hit rate (as if!)...

I’ve just been looking over recent jottings, and find I’ve written sixty three songs in just over four years. 

Is this a record (boom boom!)?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Simfonica's "Body Mass" - CDs versus downloads...

Just did a quick stats check on my Simfonica “Body Mass” sales on Bandcamp. Downloads are exceeding CD sales by just short of fifteen to one! 

Why would that be, seeing as how they’re the same price, and with the CD you get the download anyway? 

Bizarre!


Monday, 3 September 2018

Sunday Experience's review of Simfonica's "Letters In Time" (from 2017) ...

Oh jeez! How embarrassingly late can you be? 

My Simfonica watch on Google has just flagged up this really stellar Sunday Experience review from August 2017 of last year's "Letters In Time" release! 

Many thanks to Mark Barton, and I'm truly sorry I hadn't clocked this before. Mea culpa (or maybe Google culpa?)! 

It's still available, BTW...
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simfonica

Following on from last year’s immaculate outing on Cathedral Transmissions (‘song of the Volcanoes’), Trevor Midgley better recognised as folk troubadour Beau dons his Simfonica alter ego to return for the happening that is the celestial occurrence entitled ‘letters in time’. A mammoth four track kosmische odyssey, a concept album that builds a modern-day conversation to ‘a significant letter from modern history’. These four individual suites find inspiration and give pause for reflection to events that changed the course of understanding, beliefs, tolerance and the political machine, in turn these symphonic salutes nod to Emile Zola, Martin Luther King, Siegfried Sassoon and Oscar Wilde. Conceived as both an audio and visual experience, ‘letters in time’ has already run into marketing issues with one label passing up the option on the basis of ‘political content’ contained in two of the tracks. How very enlightening in an age where some of us stand up for the freedoms of fairness, equality and truth. As a result, the album finds itself released and self-financed by Mr Midgley himself. To the sounds themselves, one suggests that full appreciation be taken by the listening through headphones, at nearly 50 minutes in duration, ‘letters in time’ provides for a dream like immersive experience that’s shivered in gathering shadows whilst beguiled in celestial euphoria for this ghostly quartet of shimmering visitations are lushly expressed in classically toned symphonics the most telling being the spectral swells and swathes of choral corteges that swirl with ethereal resonance amid  the bleakly beautiful ghost light that is ‘a soldier’s declaration’ it’s haunting overturing casting a head bowed solemn reverence to the proceedings as though like spirit voices from the trenches, the movement momentarily chilling to the brief echo of a regimental drum roll. Elsewhere, amid the trance toned mesmerics, Simfonica takes flight utilising a vintage wash of meditative mosaics schooled in 70’s electronic drift scapes notably Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh with additional colouring lending reference to both the vivid beauty of Debussy and the gravitas of John Tavener, a point nowhere else better exemplified than on the radiant rapture that is ‘de profundis’. ‘j’accuse’ – incidentally the longest suite featured here, is aglow in a contemplative Church like majesty, its whisper toning vapour trails serenely spooled in ecliptical formations that orbit and shimmer between lulling hymnal haloes and sun scorched grace falls. Perhaps the most harrowing and hollowing of the quartet is the doomed fate sealing ‘from a Birmingham jail’, for here a foreboding chill prevails throughout, its ethereal cascades retreating in a conspiring foretelling with the harmonies petrified and pierced with a disquieting bleakening.   


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Igloo Magazine reviews Simfonica's "Body Mass"...

Many thanks to the US-based Igloo Magazine (and to Brian Banks) for this excellent and considered review of Simfonica's "Body Mass" set. Very much appreciated!


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Simfonica :: Body Mass (TM Studios)

Just issued is the third concept release by Simfonica aka Trevor Midgley, the singer-songwriter well-known in folk circles as Beau since debuting on John Peel’s Dandelion record label fifty years ago next year. These annual issues of pure electronic ambience, without percussion underpinning the melodic flow, started with Song of the Volcanoes via Cathedral Transmissions in 2016, followed by Letters in Time (2017) based on important epistles in history influencing the last century and therefore today.

In this genre it is very often the titles of the pieces that set not only the ambience but also the experience, as fully seen with the superb previous work under this moniker. This lends a classical feel to the experience, a sense of gravitas provoking thought and reflection, as does the project name that seems an amalgam of symphony and electronica. Body Mass is inspired by the human organism in its functions including two closing maladies, although there is no dissonance in the music delivery. In the composer’s words it is a “celebration and commemoration of what it is to be human”, whereby the electronic pulsations and effects characterize the rhythm of the body itself which here underpin the melody. It is like a meditation on the mediation of what the brain might tell us if it could articulate what is going on inside.

In our natural world some creatures—even ants—can carry more than their own body mass (Freud based some theories on the animal world as it may correlate with the human experience, which Nietzsche contrasted as unhappy compared with the happier animal kingdom that seems unencumbered with memory etc.) so Trevor Midgley’s concept title seems an interesting, non-vocal corollary to his philosophical singer-songwriting oeuvre. Nietzsche wrote of the unconscious disguising of physiological requirements under the cloaking of the objective: “I ask myself whether philosophy has not been merely an interpreting and a misunderstanding of the body” (Joyful Wisdom). The music suggests such an idea in its art.

The four forms, each ten minutes or more, opens with “130 over 80,” the optimum blood pressure of health, followed by “Vena Cava,” singularizing of the two major veins (venae cavae) of the circulatory system that returns blood to the heart from the head. Perhaps an elliptical reference to the musician’s work that is refreshingly aware of what it means to be truly human, today more than ever: intelligent and thinking, but heart-aware of what is good and evil in the human condition. To be ‘brainy’ without a ‘good heart’ is an incomplete personality (defenders of robots with their artificial intelligence, be aware!). Track one is almost space-rock—between the riffing—while an eerie sequence at four minutes of track two suggests too much intake somewhere in the body. It is an interior journey through the veins and arteries into the system of what we rarely think about yet functions independent of that knowledge.

“Pneumo Thorax” suggests what happens if too much air, which can cause pain and the lungs to collapse. Breathy, with a moog-like opening, conjures up waves at a cliff-edge with its sweeps, swathes and currents pulsing like the earth itself. Building up to the mesmerizing finale, the longest track “Dysphonic Voices” (dysphonia is hoarseness or straining of the voice which causes different sounds to emit) changes near-halfway to a softly menacing drone among the haunting electro-choral voices, which are muted as shades, tones and shadows.

In some way an aural equivalent of his thought-provoking 12-string guitar songs (and in the new year there should be an anniversary boxset via Cherry Red, who are re-releasing the Dandelion catalogue) it is music to either concentrate on, increasing awareness of what is all too easily neglected in our living state—what it ‘feels’ like to be alive—or in a space to aid concentration during creative or just thinking activity. What may first sound cosmic, or even at moments like a (very) stripped-back voiceless Enigma, the titles and therefore setting place it in what might be called a body voyage, just as its components carry more than what they seem (e.g. oxygen, DNA) to keep us going. It is a real pleasure to not only hear this concept experiment, surely a highlight of the year in the genre, but replay it repeatedly on loop. Which, of course, is what most of us do anyway in our living.

Body Mass is available on TM Studios.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Beau - "There's No Room For Cruelty In Haiti" - live...

Like I've said in the spiel, conditions at this gig were difficult to say the least. And the complete lack of lighting wasn't the only challenge!

However, as it is the only live performance – actually, the only acoustic performance – of “There’s No Room For Cruelty In Haiti”, I thought it might make an interesting upload.

The original is a ‘full-band’ version on the “Fables & Fa├žades” album, released through Cherry Red in 2012.



Monday, 13 August 2018

Beau - “The Only Soldier To Turn Up For The War” (original demo)...


A rare peek behind the scenes! 

This is the original waltz-time demo of the song “The Only Soldier To Turn Up For The War” which has been one of the more played tracks from this year’s “Rattle The Asylum Bars” set. 

Not brilliant fidelity, but hearing it again many months on, it does have a charm (and a chill) of its own…




Sunday, 12 August 2018

"The Rose" on Mike Davies' Alternative Roots...

Didja catch it? Mike Davies' "Alternative Roots" on Brum Radio? No? OK, well, not all's lost. 

Check it out - great as always - AND he's given "The Rose" from "Rattle The Asylum Bars" another play. 

Cheers, Mike!


Saturday, 11 August 2018

Simfonica's "Body Mass" - now available through more outlets...

It's spreading!

Simfonica's "Body Mass" is now available at Discogs and on eBay as well as through Bandcamp!


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Beau - "Shadows Of The Moon" (an old song revisited...)

Just found this very old vid - something of an artefact, but nice. 

As I've said in the spiel, the song came out as a bonus on the "Creation Recreated" album in 2011, courtesy of Cherry Red...



Friday, 3 August 2018

HOT NEWS! - Simfonica's "Body Mass" released today...

Summer’s back, folks!

And to prove it, “Body Mass”, Simfonica’s brand new CD and download is now out through Bandcamp

Comprising four tracks, “Body Mass” is a 45-minute electronic celebration of the chaos and complexity that makes us human. 

Feel free to explore it all (preferably through headphones!)


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Monday, 23 July 2018

"The Hawk" on Brum Radio's "Alternative Roots"...

Wouldn’t you just believe it? Normally a staple of my Sunday lunchtime listening, yesterday I missed Mike Davies Alternative Roots show on Brum Radio; and yesterday, Mike played “The Hawk” from the latest “Rattle TheAsylum Bars” album! 

I’m checking out the show as I write, and really recommend y’all to do the same. Great selection as always! Plus – you just might hear my station ident for the programme (first airing, I think?). 

Many thanks, Mike!


Friday, 20 July 2018

"Vena Cava" from Simfonica's new "Body Mass" album...

Just uploaded! 

This is “Vena Cava” from “Body Mass”, the new Simfonica CD and download album for 2018. 

The set will be available from Friday 3rd August (initially through Bandcamp but later through other outlets). 

Meantime, enjoy!