TODAY'S SOUNDTRACK - EARTHLING SOCIETY: KOSMIC SUITE NO.2
I suppose the big concern in the minds of those that occupy the increasingly niche world of live, underground music, is: has the world moved on without us? Is the Manchester we live in now capable of sustaining something like The Peer Hat (for example)? Never mind our brand of very distinct, ground level activity... can the city support the weight of a past which many people are now either dreadfully afraid of, or separated from by the very laws of the land?
In previous blog entries. I think I've been quite optimistic.
Optimistic about a return to normality.
And yet...there's an increasing sense, that a return to normality...is the last thing anybody wants, or perhaps feel permitted to want.
I don't simply mean in reference to the virus and safety. I also refer to the terms by which we live our lives, hour to hour, day-to-day. Personally speaking, I feel likewise touched by this unexpected sentiment. A peculiar and at first glance, alarming nostalgia for what lockdown represented to me, has arisen, unbidden.
There's this golden flush, an aura to the memory. The scent of a moment passed, a chance to breathe. A moment that perhaps we won't see again, or at least in so benign a form. Yes, there was fear. A huge amount of fear. I remember abandoning The Peed Hatton that last night in March. The evacuation of Saigon. I look back on that frantic hustle now somehow fondly, despite being in the grip of a rising terror.
The days and weeks would come and they would be difficult. That unwillingness to cross the threshold. Stay in. Shun contact. Protect your loved ones.
Weeks turn into months.
Longsight, Spring Equinox, The Beginning Of Lockdown
After a while, and I'm uncertain as to how long exactly, I discovered that my fear was steadily decreasing - or at least my fear of imminently arriving death. That said, I don't think death is something any of us take very seriously, day-to-day (or at least those of us with lives relatively ungraced by death's prolonged residence). And by seriously, I mean simply sitting with it's presence, with it's inevitability. With the thought of it happening to oneself and to everybody one knows. By seriously, I mean preparing for it, coming to an accord, squaring it, seeing it in it's full abundance; fractal wave, blossom of expiration happening over and over, life giving way to life. Seriously.
Was my lack of fear a new familiarity? An apprehension of the reaper's proximity? Was it in fact, the opening of the self towards an absurd newness? Death chosen, over a return to an increasingly sterile dystopia that we were told we were fortunate to be born into, "why look how they live in the gutter of Calcutta, in the ruins of Baghdad, in the Russian gulag". Jehova protect us. May your angels maintain the pillars of heaven...of time and of space. Hallelujah!
Most days I have walked past the geese blustering on the banks of the Ashton canal.
I have walked past people too, but it is the geese that are aggressively oblivious, as opposed to sometimes obliviously aggressive.
In those death friended months following, I found myself exploring the territory, which I had come to take for granted, had rendered merely a lifeless backdrop. I had occasionally engaged in the rites of psycho-geography, the derive made famous by the Lettrists and the Situationists and the older and better known act of pilgrimage - a new technique for me. I had brought it from the river a few years back and found it to be powerfully healing/inspirational.
A little while ago, I wrote a couple of pieces on LoneLady's efforts to re-conceptualise East Manchester, to finally replace that sense of mystery and Magic which had seemed in recent years, to have passed from the front of conscious appreciation.
We also would like you to consider the writings of trail blazing adventurer Martin Greenwood, of Tsuji Giri and Warm Widow fame. I have thought about this often.
There's a dense drizzle following me. It becomes more insistent.
This has been a summer of rains.
Morning, Arriving At Manchester Piccadilly
I had spoken about re-enchanting the territories that we live in day-to-day. To imbue them with magic, with legends, to mythologise place, hill, dale, forest, edifice. Of course when I say mythologise I mean to render environment in some sense hyper-real, contained within the subspace of the imaginal that we give over to creativity, the place where the relationship between the inside and the outside merge to form a crucible that can be said, without shame, to forge reality.
What I had not realised, was that I needed , as a priority, to re-enchant myself.
So disconnected had I become from the land, so comfortable within the nest of my own rhetoric, that I never noticed how lost I actually was.
A colourless cagoule.
We make eye contact briefly. The roulette of folk, the hope for a smile or some glimmer of recognition. But not from him. Instead, the inverted goose. Where are my angry friends now?
I hide from the rain.
So yes, I required re-enchantment.
In order to do that my vehicle was travel. To weave the lazy pattern of opposites, rarely did I travel within a vehicle. Sometimes, like a rocket to a new moon, I would catch the train, but never further than three lines of hills. Except when it came to Hughes country, for which I, like so many people of this city, make an exception.
The Moors and Fields and Woodlands surround Manchester.
Before I could situate myself within that landscape before and unless I could situate that landscape within me there would be no England worth the trouble of re-awakening.
Yes, I speak of lockdown fondly. My happiest days, my lost years found on the hilltop.
Despite the appalling challenge to freedom. Despite the presence of an unknowable virus
I look upon it fondly.
As an artist and as one of the owners of the Pier Ham I see a winding path up towards that plateau of Illumination, the one that kindled the first flame in the hearts of those of us taken by rock n' roll. That funny little lie. That's how it seems to me now, here.
The Pair Hart is situated squarely within the boundaries of a culture, fuelled by deception, many of us embracing the idea that if we just play hard enough, we will be noticed and exalted. We will make our way. Cold truth suggests, that there's more likelihood of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning, than finding a meaningful career as an artist within the industry.
Celebrities, rock stars, tweets.
We see them revealed.
Human? Or in fact only spectacle?
Either way tied to the culture which invited them into the party
It's difficult to imagine the opposite. It's difficult to imagine not being invited... difficult to imagine being the perennial citizen/subject.
You would assume the system works.
I think we touched upon this in a previous blog post. But now we feel it stronger than ever. That music must occupy its own niche... rock and roll must be redefined in terms of the enchantment. I spoke regarding my own journeys across the land and of those journeys as being healing. Now the music must adapt and occupy a position that might be reasonably described as medicinal.Think again. Rearrange the board.
Busy road - an old road - cars stream past. I must cross to reach the Fallowfield Loop. Peace for another hour. Before later and people and drummed back into the clutches of that. Weird life, which is becoming increasingly bold. Increasingly determined to press us down.
Cars stream. Puffed police school faces glance as if to ask: "Who goes there"? An endless cavalcade? I don't remember a time since all this began as busy as today. People are out there and yet the fear is not gone and worse than that.
Yes, worse than that the distrust, the division. And the lack of respect people have for each other's position, thoughts, feelings and dreads.
It's a monstrous 'State Of Affairs'.
Get off social media...tear ourselves away from the opinions of others. They have no sway beyond what we ascribe to them. They must go. I have never seen so many vehicles on this road before... vehicles and school children.The silence I crave has gone - countrywide. There's a scramble of metal, but at last I pass. The road says no entry. The rain continues to fall
I think about how hard it is sometimes to get even the simplest thing done. Because after all we were never in this to build a successful business. No, that was a side effect. It might be more accurate to say we were in it to pass our days. More accurate to say that the Peel Hack was a harness, keeping us attached to something we thought beautiful and worthwhile, beyond and beneath the rigour of the 9 to 5.
Is it not more accurate to say that this confluence of roads, of ley lines, of the daily dreams and hopes of the people that frequented it, had in fact taken on its own momentum?...become a planet with its own gravity formed from the super hot gas of the human imagination, the will and the need for hope and love and. most importantly, meaning?
I have been to some strange places. All too close for comfort. Too close not to be wonderfully unnerved.
I gorged upon golden teachers, bereft atop hilltops, asked "what am I supposed to do?" Fighting against the elements, fighting against the sheer terminal velocity/dead weight of lives hopelessly entwined within the body of the plummeting, rotting Leviathan that capitalism has become, that culture has become.
I've clutched rock faces with nerveless fingers. Scraped unfit legs. Struggled to find a grip something to hold onto.
I've lost myself.
I have unzipped the urban forgotten, liminal space.
I've soaked myself to the Bone.
I have whistled aimless melodies. I have waited to be visited by the Muse, forsaken.
Washed my feet in rivers
I have found molten rock on hot paths.
I have delivered hair clippers across miles of Moorland.
I've laid my hand upon Her and woken Dragons. I've looked into the eyes of my love and turned her words into music. As she spoke, curdling the milk.
I have walked down this darkened squirrel infested path towards the Fallowfield Loop over and over , burning away impurities. Perhaps seeing who I am now, which is the land, which is the Peak Hoot, which is the Grail, which is itself only a movement along the path. The path has no destination. The path is the destination.
I've seen ghosts walking in ranks and clusters and chaos gangs and read books I never thought I would read. I brushed the coyly reserved gills of fungal blooms.
I've cried tears of guilt.
Have wept more times than I can count.
Trying to find the path.
Not ever realising I sought a verb.
Churn Milk Joan
We said that we hoped to open on September the 4th and of course, we're several days beyond that now.
There are a number of vital upgrades that had to be made to the Peach Hot, namely the central heating and water. Honestly, we're so, so close. Honest guvna! Our new date, looks like September 18, though if we can make it happen earlier, then we're going to do that.
But as I opened this weird, can of worms blog post, the psychology of how to progress meaningfully has been an omnipresent weight. Has the world indeed, turned without us?
On the Loop, leaves golden brown, ochre, phantasmagorical crocodile, mildewed black. Lincoln Green. Pea snap nettle. Melted blue plastic.
Droplets Of crystal
Arching Across every bow.
We're nearly at the Finish Line or I think, we're approaching the start of something previously unimagined. Blind and mysterious. If only it was as simple as socially distanced drinking measures. If only it was as simple as carving a holy place into an engineer's Fantasia.
Musicians and artists are starting to send us more of their music...this is comfortably familiar. But we find ourselves becoming harsher in our assessments.
There can be no room for that which does not sufficiently quench The Thirst. Compassion now only for those who are compassionate.
We need only those who need only to give what they have to heal.
The rain picks up again tries to soak me, is soaking me.
It's funny to observe how the elaborate Palaces that I built to house my words early in the lockdown experience, have given way not even to crooked manses, but to the uncaring, inhospitable moorland.
We cannot confidently voice our thoughts, without fear of judgement. But we must keep asking questions. To question Purity. Question virtue. Question everything continuously. This is the process, the circle of re-enchantment.
So yes, we're going to soon complete our wee construction upgrade. We will throw open our doors. And then you may speak if you like.
(I step over a discarded face mask.
The sky is the colour of slate.
No donkeys bray in the sanctuary)
Somebody Is On Holiday In The Distance (Ashton)
We can learn to listen to 'place'. Consider this: a human body is not merely a single living organism. In fact, it is made up of millions of bacteria microbes and viruses. Likeiwse, a place like the Fallowfield Loop, is made up of many different species of tree, plant and grass. Not to mention the road I walk along (not alive I hear you cry---but is a virus alive?) the pigeons, the crows, the magpies, the beetles, the worms, the rain and yes, the air.
(Good afternoon. Mr. Magpie. How is Mrs. Magpie today?)
We speak now without language. Language is for human beings. A path speaks only in its passing.
We ought to try and enlighten you as to what the general mode of thoughts is here in Manchester on the music scene. Although live gigs are technically legal (or at least will be very soon), there is a discouragement... a sense that one of us might get it wrong and ruin it for the others.
But who can live like that, bound in that fashion? This the very basis of the life we've made for ourselves...what makes sense from a human perspective. I've heard people say, "well life is compromise". But the true compromise we make is with our own mortality. We accept it in order to remain human.
The conquerors are falling
We have everything hopefully set up as well as is reasonably possible... but it's going to be a learning experience because here is where the music happens, where the experience is had, where the tunnels are explored, where the map is drawn.
We will learn. What is right, what is troubling, what is best practice and what paths lead to suffering. You're a part of that. This place is as much yours as it is ours (as I have surely said before).
But let's just SPELL IT OUT:
If we thought that the world was merely crude matter and nothing but, then we wouldn't do this.
We can say otherwise. There is magic. And there are monsters to be met. The monsters of our age, are nebulous, are not the same to each person that beholds them. They are doppelgangers. Mercurial they shift and twist.
But we must be kind to one another as we return, as we listen. We'll listen to what each of us says--those who wish to convince will have their moment. Things are so and so and so. BUT what we will instead profit from, is the acceptance of our own blindness.
This music venue blog says this: There is fascism at work.
The old evil has reared its head Der Volk sings it's siren song, but through a Hall of Mirrors.
New satellites Blaze the circumference of the sphere we call Earth.
Fear more than anything to be trapped deathless.
Death is a gift of the universe to us.
It strengthens our purpose
It sweetens life...life sweetens life.
Everything hums. Everything vibrates. Nothing is still.
Now we are in the Wasteland truly.
The plain before us is vast and wide.
Beyond the plain, a mountain. Beneath the mountain, a tunnel..
The tunnel leads beneath the mountain.
This tunnel is the Great Conjunction, Saturn and Jupiter passing close to each other, as they do every 20 years. But this time will be the closest they have passed in 200 years: marking the end of the age of Earth, and beginning the new age of air and revealing a whole new bunch of problems, excitement and strangeness.
This will occur during the Winter Solstice...funny how these things line up neatly.
We must use everything that we have to emerge unscathed, or if not unscathed, at least seeing as clear as we can and listening. And listening above all. If you listen hard enough, you'll find yourself asking questions, and that's probably the best anybody can hope for.
It's going to be a sweet thing to kiss goodbye to this fucking terrible time we've been living through. But the opportunity has been there to change change change.
Change, they say 'be it'. We say 'Let It Be'.
Someday soon, we'll start to talk about music again, but the terms of its relationship with us have necessarily to change and have indeed, already changed. It's no longer a case of recreation, but of re-creation.
We believe that there's going to be a whole new scene and slew of musicians and artists who reflect our very real needs...but it's difficult to talk about because we currently stand on the narrow threshold of this new time. You're going to see the wrapping up of some things and ideas, to which you've grown incredibly comfortable... which you never thought would end. You're going to see the end of rock n' roll.
Who would have thought that?
And what in it's place?
Simply put, it is our responsibility to make it directly lived and part of a process not an end result. Nor an imagined. and romanticised dystopia. The heartless automaton composed of
serial killer cutout photographs - three dimensional collage of expectations undone and unrealised dreaming
Clearly it's a very exciting time to be involved in music and art.
There may be trouble ahead ,but as The Man From Another Place says:
"Where I come from, there is always music in the air."
Some of the things which I have noticed.
Joy Division lyrics on the platforms at train stations. Sometimes, amusingly, one is right there, say when waiting at Gorton.
Farmers who string electric wire fences across public rights-of-way , something that has made me angry repeatedly. An erroneous entitlement to what belongs to no human being.
The way the squirrels balance upon and dash across the steel girders; electric lines - high above the railway tracks, they freeze in place when the train comes.
I always wondered if they were live, but now I know the answer.
ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, I'LL SHUT UP! What else is going on daddy o?
Back In Time, Twice
Here's Ian with not one, but TWO episodes of Flowing Backwards...that this one is a double bill, is a result of my gross slowness.
Black Stage Album, Second Edition
The second Peer Hat album, of course, also delayed, just needs us to write up the artist details. Once that's done, we'll put it out there a bit and then release into the wild. In the meantime, here's the last one in case you haven't noticed it around.
And Last But Not Least....
To our huge relief, we were awarded a grant that will help to keep us going until at least Spring (assuming no change of affairs). We're obviously very grateful for whomever at the Arts Council looked kindly upon what we're doing. Added to your amazing kindness, we can have a real punt at exploring this bizarre apocalypse. That said, Aatma failed in it's bid to secure vital funds. Considering everything started with Kraak on the Square, it could definitely use your support in the times to come.
Let's keep our chins up however...the grant for The Peer Hat was amazing news. Let's see where our community travels over the next few months and 2021.
See you all soon!