Thursday, 3 November 2011

Day 48: Camel - Mirage

Dear Nathaniel,

Hello my angel. I can't believe it's been over two months since you were born now, I miss you every day and I'm not sure when it will start to get easier, but I'll be strong for you. Been playing some games recently, it's been a long time since I've been able to enjoy video games like I used to when I was younger but it's nice, at least for the sake of nostalgia. Whenever I am having any fun I can feel you there with me Nathaniel, and that's especially nice.

We're listening to Camel's second album right now. I really love the first four Camel albums, they always have something new to hear and that's one of the great things about this type of music. It never gets boring to listen to over and over again. Andrew Latimer's flute playing is very nice, and it's always cool to have that instrument incorporated into rock music such as with Jethro Tull. I think the reason I chose this album over the other three was because of the final track on this album being the height of their work, but I can discuss that when we get to it.

Camel often meander along with their music resulting in something that is very pleasant to listen to but often quite difficult to define. I suppose there can be said to be a lack of direction in general, at least until the Snow Goose but it really doesn't let them down to a massive extent. It's hard to find fault at any rate with how they did make their music. It lacks impact, but that's not why you'd listen to Camel anyways. It puts me in mind of jazz, or at least how I feel when I listen to jazz, it's something that's nice to relax too, but there's always something extra under the surface if you want to really engage with the music.

I think the reason why I like Lady Fantasy so much is because of how well it defines itself from the rest of the album. Obviously it's the longest track on the album, but not only that but it really grabs the attention of the listener and it's always a joy to experience. But unlike most other longish prog songs it lacks any real buildup to climax moment .

I love you my angel Nathaniel, goodnight.

Love from Dad.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Day 47: Genesis - Selling England by the Pound

Dear Nathaniel,

I have to start with saying how sorry I am that I haven't been able to play music for you for over a week. I've just been too ill to do it in this capacity. Of course I've still spoken to you every day and I think of you constantly. I've really missed being able to do this with you, I should have been updating a couple of days ago but I suffered some technology related setbacks and had to sort those out before I was able to listen with you.

I think when it comes to quality, this is the finest Genesis album musically. It's also the album I enjoy the most of the three, but only barely. It starts out amazingly with Dancing with the Moonlit Knight and never really dips after that. This album marks a further change towards a more poppy sound from Genesis, of course that is poppy for someone who listens to a lot of Progressive Rock, so it's not to say Genesis were producing anything remotely pop. They were however incorporating hooks and catchy vocals into their music to some extent.

There is, as mentioned before a misconception about what Progressive Rock actually is, the goal wasn't to make music unlistenable at all. It was to experiment and change the face of popular music as it stood, of course it failed spectacularly to change popular music into something more complex in the mainstream but a lot of prog ideas carried over into a lot of modern music. And it resulted in an amazing collection of great albums along the way.

I've already shown you some of the great prog classics, but rest assured there is a lot more where that came from, in an incredible range of different styles. Not only that but we can also build in the bands that I have already introduced you to, but I feel like that will come later. Every now and then I might do an album from a band we've heard before but unless there is some band I feel quite strongly about playing consecutive albums of it won't happen again for awhile.

Ooh I think I just found out what I'll play you tomorrow, we'll play some Camel to ease us back into the Canterbury scene before venturing off into the world that is jazz fusion. I'm not sure exactly which album as a Camel fan I have four greats to chose from. The rest of their albums I have never given much attention to other than cursory listens. I have heard some good things about their latest two efforts and I might give them a listen soon too to see if it's something I should share further with you.

I love the thrill of listening to something I haven't heard before and really enjoying it. Also I said Tomorrow, but it will probably be later on today. I will be playing lots of music to you in the next few days to catch up, hopefully at least two albums a day. This albums makes me so happy, even if the theme of the album is quite angry and even more relevant to society today. But it's hard to not just sit back and smile when the music is this good.

There's something really special about music that is able to capture emotions like this, and it's not like its commonplace, at least not anymore. I find it difficult to listen to albums that don't have some type of influence on emotion, good music really should be able to, in some way, affect how you're feeling. Of course it's easy to pump people up and make them excited, but it's an art to do it really well. Other emotions are more difficult to capture, but Genesis certainly do their best, and with pretty good results.

I love you my angel, I've really missed being able to do this, and I'm so glad that I'm finally able to again. I hope you're okay with the increase in music for the next little while. I might even play you Comus soon, that album is really scary. Goodnight Nathaniel.

Love from Dad.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Day 46: Genesis - Foxtrot

Dear Nathaniel,

Hello my angel. We're really starting to look forward to moving to Norway, it's still scary of course but it feels like this is something we need to do before we start really recovering. I'm just glad I can do this for you, even if it's very little. I'm sorry I'm a bit over midnight but we've been a bit busy and I wasn't able to find the time during the day where I could be listening to music.

We're maybe thinking of building a house if everything lines up nicely, but we're not entirely sure. In the end it's turning out to be very difficult to get a foothold in Norway, because once we're there it should be a lot easier to be able to sort things out. But obviously the big problem right now is taking that first step into Norway and getting somewhere to live temporarily, but that's proving difficult too.

In the end even if we're renting it's far better than living here in terms of money we'll be making but it would be much better if that money was spent on paying off a mortgage rather than renting. For the first few years we'd still technically be throwing half the money down the drain because of interest repayments but that's better than all of it of course and it decreases as time goes on. And of course if our situation ever changes we'd be able to pay off the mortgage even faster hopefully.

I had always wanted to teach you fiscal responsibility when I felt you were ready but I suppose that would have been a long time from now. Continuing where we left off yesterday today we're listening to the second album of Genesis' brilliant trilogy Foxtrot. This album shows a further growth in the band and is topped off by one of the greatest progressive rock tracks of all time Supper's Ready, a 23 minute epic, I'll not spoil it for when we get to it my angel, just be assured it really does live up to whatever hype it's given.

I'm not sure what first drew me to Genesis, or at least these three albums. But I think I had heard Selling England By the Pound when I was quite young because when I re-heard the album it all felt incredibly familiar to me and I immediately liked it. Genesis often have a very soft touch which makes them easy to get into since there's not much to turn the average listener away, the same can't be said for the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway which I just can't stand, much like Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Don't get me wrong I love extravagance as much as the next prog rock fan, if I didn't I wouldn't be saying how awesome Supper's Ready is. But there's a certain point where it just gets silly like with the Wall, Lamb or everything by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. At one point too much ambition just makes the music unlistenable and I can't even admire what they tried to do because it just sounds so awful.

 I love you my angel. I hope you enjoyed Supper's Ready, it really is a great piece of music. Certain epics just make a day feel a lot brighter. This I believe will be the fourth such epic over 20 minutes we've listened to with the other three being Lizard by King Crimson, Caravan's Nine Feet Underground and of course Thick as a Brick. Goodnight Nathaniel.

Love from Dad.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Day 45: Genesis - Nursery Cryme

Dear Nathaniel,

Hello my angel, I love you. Was up very late last night after driving to pick up some friends and driving them home. Probably wouldn't have gone to bed early anyways but I'm feeling very sick so I ended up getting up a lot later. It's hard to get to sleep but it's even harder to get up. I just get up and look forward to playing some music to you.

Tonight I decided we're going to do a trilogy of albums, the best three albums of Genesis. We'll be listening to Nursery Cryme tonight and then Foxtrot and Selling England By The Pound the next two nights. These three albums were created under the direction of visionary band leader Peter Gabriel who led the band until after the abomination that was The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. But before his ideas got too far ahead of him these albums are absolute masterpieces.

Genesis of course went on top replace Peter Gabriel with their drummer Phil Collins have made dreadful music ever since. But for three years in the 70's Genesis were one of the greatest bands making progressive rock. It's a huge shame that their main popularity came from their pop albums of the 80's which have caused a lot of people to merely shudder at their name and not appreciate the greatness that they once had.

The great thing about the progressive rock movement was that there wasn't one specific sound, the whole point of prog was to experiment and create new types of music and it leads to a great collection of eclectic bands under the same banner. Genesis have an absolutely amazing and very accessible sound to them during this era with an interesting mix between organ, piano and guitar. Genesis remind me a bit of Gentle Giant in their members being multi-instrumentalists, not to the same extent as Gentle Giant of course but it gives the same type of feel to their recordings that feature a lot of different instruments.

Peter Gabriel himself went on to create a variety of interesting albums after his departure from Genesis which we can explore at a later time, but a lot of his Genesis brilliance is apparent in these later recordings, even if they come in a very different style.

I hope you enjoyed the prog stylings of Genesis my angel, and I hope you're ready for more tomorrow with Foxtrot and then Selling England By the Pound. I've figured that bands that release a range of quite similar material can be appreciated better if we focus on them for awhile, or at least through their classic albums. After this I'm not sure if we should ease into fusion or just keep up the study of certain bands and albums, we'll see how I feel. Goodnight my angel Nathaniel.

Love from Dad.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Day 44: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!

Dear Nathaniel,

Hello my angel, I love you. I've been all over today, I got the passport back from the Australian embassy which  feels great. Not sure when to go to Norway for a week to scope things out, it really depends on what we decide over the coming days in regards to timings. I hope we'll be able to move without much trouble when we finally get down to it.

I know I said we'd move onto fusion but I just really fancied this album for tonight as a little interlude. Freak Out! is not only an amazing album but it has many distinctions. Not only is it one of the first Concept Albums, it is one of the first double albums, and it's also the first album featuring Frank Zappa. At the time the band was simply called the Mothers of Invention after being called something altogether much cruder. Since Frank Zappa was essentially the band even though he was the newest member of the band, it is currently considered mostly just a Frank Zappa album.

I find it interesting that the Mothers of Invention are now mostly just remembered as Frank Zappa albums, even gathers all of his albums, including those with the mothers as simply Frank Zappa albums. I really love this album, it's an interesting social commentary and parody of popular music of the time. As such it features a very eclectic mix of musical styles that is not only quite funny but also really nice to listen to. Of course this isn't our first meeting with Frank Zappa since we had previously listened to Apostrophe ('). Over time we'll be able to hear all of his albums, hopefully more than once but there's no way we're going through all of them at once like with Led Zeppelin.

This album was incredibly influential in the UK and became essentially the earliest example of raw progressive rock, Zappa was experimental in nature and it was all about creating music that wasn't like anything that been heard before, which is the essence of progressive rock, avant-garde and experimental music. All of which can be associated quite heavily with Frank Zappa. I can never decide what I like most about Frank Zappa, because not only was he a brilliant and unique composer he could also be incredibly funny and cutting with his satire.

I think there's something horribly wrong with how few people are aware of who Frank Zappa even is, let alone have heard any of his music. It's so hard to introduce people to Zappa and have them appreciate the genius behind the man without them being willing to invest quite a lot of time becoming familiar with his music and style of humour, especially if they're not used to anything unorthodox. I hope you like it my angel.

Not quite sure what I'll play tomorrow, we will eventually move towards fusion with some prog rock scattered in between. Goodnight my angel Nathaniel.

Love from Dad.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Day 43: Bud Powell - The Amazing Bud Powell

Dear Nathaniel,

Hello my angel. We went to see you tonight and we brought you a nice little elephant called Ollie, I hope you like him, he's super cute. We haven't gotten a proper place to him yet so he's in the little jar until we can put him in the big see through bag with the teddies from uncle Sean and great uncle Les. Hopefully we can get the gravestone sorted soon, but we want to make sure it's absolutely perfect for you.

I absolutely love Bud Powell's piano playing on this album, it really is amazing, shame there's less than 30 minutes of it. But I find jazz re-releases extremely tedious, especially how poorly they arrange the track list so I always go for the original article, it's very rarely I'll get excited about bonus tracks unless it's from one of my absolutely favourite artists such as Led Zeppelin where I'm already very familiar with all of their work.

Bud Powell was the main reason I started to enjoy jazz pianists, even before Thelonious Monk I already enjoyed Bud Powell, of course Monk was more influential, but I really like how Powell plays. It just has a great feel to it. There was a time where Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell were considered equally influential in the late 40's to early 50's but today more people have heard of Monk, partly due to his prolific compositions and longer lasting career.

I love you my angel. I hope you really like your elephant and that you really enjoyed the jazz, I think we will be moving on to some more progressive rock tomorrow before launching into full fusion for a couple of days. We'll return to proper jazz every now and then but after we're finished with the fusion I think I'll just play whatever I fancy for the day and stay away from themes until it's more appropriate. Goodnight my angel Nathaniel.

Love from Dad.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Day 42: Thelonious Monk - Thelonious in Action

Dear Nathaniel,

Hello my love, I hope everything is perfect for you. I am having a lot of trouble sleeping for a variety of reasons I suppose. It's gotten to the point now where I'm always tired since I haven't been able to have a full nights sleep for so long. I just wish I could get that for just one night right now. Things just felt so much simpler when we were still expecting you.

I know we will never forget you, and that's not something I'd want to happen. But it's so hard day to day just knowing you're not with us anymore. I dream of you every night but recently I feel like I dream more about the fact that you're gone instead of dreaming about what should have happened. And at the moment since I can't do anything right now it just feels like I'm always waiting for something out of my control. Like waiting to get my passport back or waiting for various appointments and important days.

As such it really feels as if we've lost whatever small control we did have over our lives because we're always waiting for something to happen, and whenever that does eventually happen we end up waiting for something else. That's why I really want to just get a fresh start in Norway and in doing so, at least to some extent finally taking control of our lives. I know once we get to Norway and I'm in a job and we have somewhere to live there will be more arbitrary things to wait for especially when it comes to money, but at least in a job it won't be a constant concern.

And once we are settled we'll be able to think about giving you a brother or sister when we feel ready and safe to do so. I suppose I should be able to talk to you about money, I had always expected that talk to come much later. It's our intention to try to buy a house with whatever deposit we can scrape together and then spend most of our earnings paying off the debt as fast as possible, of course we will still try to enjoy ourselves and decorate the house to fit our needs but paying off debt should be our number one priority.

While in Norway the economy is booming at the moment due to the oil industry especially in Stavanger we can never know how long it will last so I don't want to end up in debt without a job if worst came to worst. I also want to plan so that we can live comfortably and not have to worry when we're older, and of course the quicker you spend to pay off the debt the less we have to pay in interest over the years.

I still need to introduce the wonderful jazz we've been listening to however, and it is none other than Thelonious Monk with a 1958 live recording. Of course the nature of the recording is really of little importance given that at the time songs were recorded as parts of full takes without much editing if any at all so a live setting with a good recording setup has very similar sound quality to that of a studio recording. Without the occasional clapping and voices being heard every now and then it would have been hard to tell that this is indeed recorded live.

Of course this record is attributed to the Thelonious Monk Quartet but we'll just stick to the simpler definition as Monk was the band leader on this brilliant show. All four of the musicians were at the top of their game this day. Of course Monk's piano and Johnny Griffin's sax take precedence as the main solo instruments but the rhythm section is very tight as well and not without solos. The band plays incredibly well together live which I'm guessing was the main way for their music to be heard during this era.

I'm not entirely sure about this but it really feels like the whole jazz scene is centered mainly around New York, at least the idea of this cool style of jazz and hard bop. If not solely New York then at least the area around it as well with things such as the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island (it was also held in New York in the 70's). Although the location of the scene isn't entirely important it is interesting to think about considering the vast amount of collaboration between the individual artists especially at a time where travel could have been difficult for the musicians themselves due to discrimination.

Whatever the reason the 50's Jazz scene is an amazing wealth of great music. I would probably have played jazz to you very early around bedtime or when waking up or just generally doing stuff since it's amazing background music as well, even if it's a bit of a waste given how nice it is to straight up appreciate. Although I suppose most of everything I play you right now serves as background music to my various rantings, but it's fun anyways.

I love you my angel, I hope you really enjoyed today's album. I miss you so much but I know everything will be okay one day. Goodnight my angel Nathaniel.

Love from Dad.