Thursday, July 02, 2020



In a couple of weeks, an old and very good mate is publishing a book that has been a passion project for the last several years, involving an astonishing amount of research and trips to far corners of the world. 

That mate is Matthew Ingram, a.k.a Woebot - and although he's put out a pair of compendiums of brilliant bloggage, and a tasty monograph, it would be fair to describe Retreat: How the Counterculture Invented Wellness as Matt's first book proper. Published by Repeater on July 14, the debut does not disappoint. Here is my blurb: 

“This richly researched archaeology of the counterculture places health at its core, showing how ideas of healing and therapy were inextricably bound up with the era’s spiritual longings and erotic politics. Each chapter scintillates with surprising revelations, unexpected connections and startling insights”

More info about Retreat and further endorsements can be found at the Repeater website

As part of the build-up to publication, Matt has broken out of blog retirement to post a long and probing essay on Woebot, not so much a preview of the book as a side-bar to it - on the relationship between music, Eastern philosophy, spiritual equilibrium, cosmic vibrations, "bliss consciousness" etc. 

Read it here while also listening to this fabulous 2-hour mix of astral sounds Matt has especially prepared for your elevation. Tracklist here

Lots of revelations in the mix, here's a couple of that particularly glisked my third eye: 

Not on the mix, but the tune-writer's own version:

Met Mr. Budd a year or two ago, on the streets of South Pasadena (Geeta knows everybody)


                                                                   The author holds forth...

Friday, June 26, 2020


The favorite things I've heard this year are not from this year

The first track, "Echos" is  hauntología far ahead of its time (made 1978). "In Memoriam Of Mercedes Cornu," it's a sonic equivalent to those little roadside shrines of flowers and candles and photographs that are so poignant to stumble upon. Ferreyra wove it entirely out of the voice of her niece, who died in a car accident. 

The creator's account of the track sticks to technicalities, perhaps as a form of emotional self-defense: "This work has been composed by reconstructing four Latin-American popular songs – 2 Argentinian and 2 Brazilian – which were sung a capella by Mercedes Cornu. These songs were broken down into short and long sounds, syllables, breathings, coughs, etc and then rearranged using techniques of tape cutting, mixing and manual shakes."

About the second piece, from 1987, L'autre ... Ou Le Chant Des Marecages /The• Doubue • Or The Swamp's, Ferreyra talks of the inspiration in more vivid and animated terms: "I was deeply impressed with Blaise Cendrars’s paradoxal personnality, his terrifying « Double » which strips itself with an naked  extrem and sadic cruelty in his book « Moravagine, It was impossible for me not to record the depth of my feelings in a brutal and wild vocal composition. The « Sacow » of Moravagine, lurks behind it. The work’s onomatopeia was inpired by the short « black poems » from Cendrars’s story : « the white were black » (Les blacs étaint des noirs)."

Saturday, June 20, 2020

"Webster's set me free"

Released on my birthday, Green's first new release in fourteen years!

I've been listening to his music for over forty years now  and - apart from a couple of lulls - it's continuously delighted and fascinated.

Part of the gift of "Tangled Man" is the impetus it's given me to listen finally to Anne Briggs. Just never got around to it somehow.


(I have a record-fiend friend who happily coughed up $600 for an original copy of one of Briggs's albums. I gasped when he told me - but couldn't help admiring how he brooked no obstacles to his wants and needs.)

On "the flipside", Green covers another Briggs tune

The original

Here's Green talking about how he was a folkie before he was a punkie:

“Recently, in an interview for a forthcoming book about art and music in Leeds in the 70’s and 80’s, the author asked me, as an aside, if it were true that I was wearing Morris Dancer’s leg bells at the 1976 gig there by the Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned and Heartbreakers as other interviewees present that night had reported. My DNA was reconfigured that evening so my memory is hazy but it is very likely that I was wearing the leg bell pads made for me by a school friend some years before. In fact I may well have gone to the gig straight from the evening Morris dancing lessons I attended at Leeds university.

"Because before punk gave me the liberty and license to make my own music I was geekily obsessed with ‘folk’. When I was fourteen I was enraptured by the Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief and became an underage regular at Dublin Moran’s folk club at the Castle, a very insalubrious pub down Newport docks. It’s there I was made aware of the Topic record label and the music of the Watersons, Martin Carthy (who I subsequently stalked . . . ask him) and Anne Briggs. The beautiful melodies Anne sang unaccompanied were profoundly affecting, her unornamented voice a precursor to the anti-professionalism of DIY. For a long while I walked about dressed like a 19th century farm labourer (with a bit of eyeliner) in a kind of hypnagogic reverie to an inner soundtrack of Northumbrian pipe tunes, Wassailing songs and Morris dances. Jesus.

Forward some 40 odd years and my friend and Scritti Politti bandmate Rhodri Marsden had been contacted to do an arrangement of an Anne Briggs song for a project with which he was involved. Knowing I was a fan he suggested maybe I’d like to take on the task. I was dead keen and recorded myself at home playing and singing my versions of a couple of the very few songs Annie had written many years ago...."

Interesting that Green here pinpoints Briggs's naturalistic, "unornamented" singing... because his own vocals on "Tangled" and "Wishing" have never sounded so synthetic and stylized, a quality shared by  the denatured setting for the songs (bar the guitar part on "Tangled"). Far far from folk (indeed he sings, as he has since Songs To Remember, in an American accent.... rippling strands of liquid sugar spooling from his lips).

The title of this post? When I listen to "Tangled Man," I hear the lyric  as "Webster's set me free".  Which would fit the logophile bibbly-o-maniac Green, evoking all the places that reading has taken him...  (Even the Americanized reference would be the kind of thing he'd pop into a lyric, rather than the OED).

Green's words, in song and interview, have been among the "ways to set me free", the select number of mind-expanding things that set me on my present course.

Now, how about an album, you lazy sod?