February 29, 2012

Dave Tomlin's new book out!

A new book written by Dave Tomlin is out just in those days.  
"Dave Tomlin’s comic parables encompass the grand and the petty, the mundane and the absurd", says Tim Arnett.
And Julia Gurney: "Dave Tomlin shines the spotlight on structures of power that often, ironically, turn out to be spectres of power.
Seriously funny: a thoughtful, provocative work".
While the laconic comment by Su Rose is:"Should be required reading for all kids". 

Read an excerpt of the book at the glorious "International Times" Web site:

To obtain a copy of the book (price £7), send a cheque to: 
Dave Tomlin - 1a, Princes Court, 68, Pilgrim’s Lane. NW3 1SP 

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)  

February 25, 2012

Glen Sweeney's compass found out...

Do you remember the Glen Sweeney's compass quoted by Dave Tomlin in a recent file of this archive about alchemy?

Dave had revealed that "Glen was very much drawn to the Alchemical myth. In fact a few years before he died he kept an ex-WWII torpedo-boat on a north London canal. Its name was 'ALCHEMY', he and Carolyn used to roar around the canals in it and everyone had to get out of the way; they were the terror of the waterways. I sometimes visited them on the boat and when Glen died she took the compass from the boat and gave it to me (this compass came from Glen Sweeney's boat Alchemy)...".

Today he has been so kind to send me two pictures of it, writing:  
"Spoked to the person who now has Glen's compass. The person who has it values it so much that he won't give it up but has sent me two photos of it (attached) you can magnify them. You might like to put it up on 3rd Ear site. This compass came from Glen Sweeney's powerboat 'Alchemy.' Kind regards. Dave"

So here they are for the curiosity & the pleasure of everyone:


no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

February 19, 2012

"Alchemy": an esoteric record for initiates.

As a powerful musical/visual/conceptual device, “Alchemy” stands as a really unique work in the Popular Music history.

"Alchemy" CD booklet cover (Drop Out Records 1999)

As on a recent essay Italian writer, Antonello Cresti writes, “this album is full as ever of musical invitations (all the tracks are instrumental) to take a more deep and conscious form of spirituality up” (read at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2012/01/tebs-cultural-sources-on-italian-book.html).

Absolutely right, but probably it’s much more.

Because if it’s quite easy to discover some elements of cultural suggestions just based on the tracks’ titles, linked to the feelings of its time (the epic Sixties…), in my opinion, “Alchemy” was thought as a strong summa for an alternative life. A philosophic (music) treatise for a New Age.
Also for this, this album seems to transcend its time…

I’ve already written about the “Egyptian Book of the Dead” in this archive (read at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2011/08/tebs-egyptian-book-of-dead.html) as a piece of incredibly scary sounds intended for going with the dead through his death. Music composed to remember us our ephemeral life and the responsibility to live with an ethical approach to human things.
But what about the album's other tracks?

Druids painted by Charles Knight (1845)
It's easy to state that “Alchemy” (1969) is conceptually more complex than “Third Ear Band” (1970), even if for music critics the second is generally considered better than the first. Anyway, here we have a stone circle and a druid, surely alluding to the pagan druidic ancient tradition; the direct quotation of the ancient Book of the dead (Egyptian history related); the dragon lines, as Cresti explains in his book, “a clear musical transposition of pioneer theories of John Michell, who had transposed Chinese tradition of "Lung Mei" on English culture and told about "Dragon Paths". These "Lung Mei" (an expression we can in fact translate as "Dragon Paths") are energetic lines discovered by ancient Chinese; from the heart of a dragon, usually laid in a valley among the hills, springs of energy have radiated, as it occurs with the "Ley Lines"".

In "Alchemy" we have also Dave Tomlin's “Lark Rise(based on Flora Thompson’s book “Lark Rise to Candleford”) that celebrates a vanished bucolic utopia as documented elsewhere here (read at http://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2012/01/dave-tomlins-lark-rise-origins-cultural.html).

Swinside stone circle (West of Broughton in Furness)

And we can listen also to three apparently more obscure tracks - “Ghetto Raga”, “Mosaic” and “Area Three” - all related to the idea of space: a space to protect (thanks to the snakes on the cover...), a ghetto, a place for Hermetics where to practice alchemy (the cover concept) and turn the poor metals in gold (Prima Materia).

 Asking Dave Tomlin about this idea of space (January 24th, 2012), he writes to me: "I could speculate a little. "Area three" comes I think from the film world. It is a forbidden place; maybe dedicated to government secret experiments on... humans? There is a place like that in the Russian film 'Stalker' - Tarkowski, I think -, which would tell you all.
I think they used "Ghetto Raga" just because it sounds good. Ghettos are run down areas where poor people, usually of the same race live (Jews etc.). So Ghetto gives a rough type image, and raga is another racy word, although it's doubtful if any of the band studied Indian music. So together the two words create an interesting effect. No more than that...".

Byzantine mosaic (Galla Placidia Mausoleum - Ravenna, Italy)

But a ghetto of raga, where religious musicians play ragas besieged by the (post) modern world, could be the same area three (three as the TEB musicians?), a place for (musical) alchemic experiments...

Thus a record as a clear powerful metaphor alluding to turn bad music in good music, a superficial/commercial listening to a deep one, a materialistic life to a spiritual one…
I think “Alchemy” is a coherent, integrated device of ideas related to a definite conception of life - very distant from the usual Sixties Egyptian ephemera of fashion.
The best work ever produced by the band and one of the best albums of its time (no Egyptian junk, please!).

Maybe an alchemic product itself!?

A detail of the egg (the Great alchemic Opera) from "Alchemy" front cover

As Glen Sweeney said about the TEB music, "the music is the music of the Druids, released from the unconscious by the alchemical process, orgasmic in its otherness, religious in its oneness communicating beauty and magic via abstract sounds whilst playing without ego enables the musicians to reach a trance-like stage, a "high" in which the music produces itself. Each piece is as alike or unlike as blades of grass or clouds" (from the original 1969 Isle of Wight concert programme).

And again, just around the period when "Alchemy" was recorded: "We are beginning to move into some strange musical areas, doing a piece we call Druid. Once or twice when we've played this thing, we've gone into a weird sort of experience we call a 'Time-shift'. Nobody really knows what it is. The whole Druid piece is repetitive and extremely hypnotic and yet you have some of the instruments doing far out things so that a fantastic tension is built up. It's like alchemy. The alchemical emphasis is on the endless repetition of experiments, doing the same thing over and over again, and waiting for some sort of X-factor to appear. This is more or less what we do when we play. And our X-factor is this time-shift thing".

"It happened once at the London Arts Lab, and as we played, it seemed as if time had slowed down and we had drifted into a completely different dimension. And when we finished, nobody moved at all. They were kind of stuck there. So I felt that perhaps it had happened to them too. So that's the thing we are trying to get into. Although it can be quite a strain during a public performance, like living on the edge of a cliff, since nobody knows what might happen. To be on stage and feel it happening can be quite frightening. You go out of yourself, and when you come to, you discover yourself on stage with hundreds of people staring at you. You get this split-second thought: 'Have I been playing? Have I ruined the whole thing?' In a way, it's very similar to meditation and mantra chanting, which is why I feel what we are doing has a very religious depth" (from "Gandalf's Garden" #4, 1969, interviewed by Muz Murray).

Tomlin clarifies me (January 30th, 2012) that "in the mid-Sixties, there were many different influences. One was the legend of King Arthur's Court. Another was the Aliens - flying-saucers - messages from the stars. Also Blake's "Jerusalem", the Ley-Lines, Ramana Maharishi. And the mysterious arts of Alchemy.
There was an Alchemical saying of the time: 'When the sound of the music changes the walls of the city shake', which the Third Ear used at one time. Glen was very much drawn to the Alchemical myth. In fact a few years before he died he kept an ex-WWII torpedo-boat on a north London canal. Its name was 'ALCHEMY', he and Carolyn used to roar around the canals in it and everyone had to get out of the way; they were the terror of the waterways. I sometimes visited them on the boat and when Glen died she took the compass from the boat and gave it to me (this compass came from Glen Sweeney's boat Alchemy)...".

As in the past, people used to write books for initiates, in modern times, musicians play records to open the mind and soul of people ("Happy new ears!" John Cage wrote): Third Ear Band has left us a beautiful, scary record of magic/esoteric/philosophic music for the everyday life & death... 
Also for this reason sometimes we return to it as a sort of breviary, listening to little drops of it as a thaumaturgical magic potion!

"Alchemy" CD back cover (Drop Out Records 1999)

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

February 11, 2012

About the rare clip from Hyde Park...

I've recently contacted through YouTube the guy that uploaded the short TEB clip recorded at Hyde Park on June 7th, 1969.
He's Roger, the webmaster of the very good archive dedicated to the old band Family (http://www.familybandstand.com). He has been so kind to explain the source of the video is a French TV broadcast called "Pop Power".
If you're interested, they have a long recording from that event downloading at http://www.sendspace.com/file/gvqqub
I've sent him all the known dates played by the TEB in France, just to check if there are other clips around....
Keep our fingers crossed!

 no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

February 06, 2012

A PhD thesis about medievalism with some parts on TEB's "Abelard and Heloise"

Englishman Eamon Kevin Byers is working on a PhD thesis about the relationship between folk music and medievalism. In the past months, he has contacted me in order to get some infos about the TEB involvement with the "Abelard and Heloise" and "Macbeth" scores.

Abelard and Heloise in a manuscript of the "Roman de la Rose" (14th century)

Here are the e-mails:

"Dear Luca,
Firstly can I express my admiration for the fantastic work you are doing on 'Ghetto Raga'? I am currently researching the Third Ear Band's music for 'Macbeth' and 'Abelard& Eloise' as part of the much wider topic of my PhD thesis and have found your site incredibly useful and informative. I am writing to ask if you could help me with a couple of things. Firstly, your chronology appears to miss out some text on the right hand side of the screen. Is this a problem on my end? If not, could I possibly ask you to email me the text pertaining to the recording of 'Macbeth'? Secondly, do you have any further information on the film 'Abelard and Heloise'? It has been suggested to me that the director, Fuchs, is Herbert Fuchs, an Austrian director who died in 2006. Is this correct?
Thank you very much, keep up the good work with the archive.
Yours sincerely,
Eamon Byers"
(October 12th, 2010)

These are all the stuffs in the Archive about Macbeth and A&H.
Good work.
Luca "
(October 12th, 2010)

"Hi Luca,
a million thanks for your help, the information on the two films is fantastic. I'm determined to find out more about 'Abelard& Heloise' and will pass on anything I find out. As for my thesis, it's on the relationship between folk music and medievalism, so my work on the Third Ear Band is only a very small part of it, but if I come up with anything that might be useful for the site I'll pass that on too.
Thanks again,

Abelard & Heloise

"Hi Eamon.
What's about that very interesting research? Do you like to write something about it for the archive?
(December 31th, 2011)

"Hi Luca,
Sorry for the terrible delay in replying. Your email seemed to get lost over Christmas! Thank you very much for your email, I would certainly be interested in writing something for the archive if I come up with something worthwhile. I shall keep in touch.
Best wishes,
(January 31th, 2012)

So if someone knows something more about "Abelard and Heloise" (does it exist the original score somewhere?) or filmmaker Herbert Fuchs, please  contact me through my personal e-mail.

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

February 01, 2012

"Four Horses" to "Lark Rise".

As Third Ear Band music is still living in some great new music composed and played today... 
Here we have a new composition by Sedayne inspired by Dave Tomlin's "Lark Rise" (inspired by Thompson's book "Lark Rise to Candleford"...).

His author says: ""Four Horses" comes from the singing of Hocky Feltwell and can be heard on "The Voice of the People" volume 5, though I think something of John Kirkpatrick's version may have crept in there too somewhere along the way. It too deals with a lost idyll, lost to us anyway, a vignette of vanished country life that chimes nicely (I think) in with Dave Tomlin's horse-drawn adventures in the heady days of the sixties, which is to say innocently, peaceably, and an era as much vanished as that they were seeking along the vestigial byways of forgotton Albion, long since ruined along with so much of our fast vanishing rural heritage - the true soul of England's dreaming".

"There was a young fellow who first drove a team
And he took great delight boys in keeping them clean
And in keeping them clean, boys, he showed a good colour
And he gained a good character by being a good fellow

And his first horse was a white horse as white as any milk
His second horse was a black horse her coat shone like silk
The middle horse was a bay horse, bay spot on her brow
And his shaft horse was a chestnut her coat shone like gold

And he drove them along til he came to the fair
He watered them here and he baited them there
He paid up his reckoning just like a good man
And they said here comes a team of horses so great and so grand

And he drove them along til they came to the pond
And he watered them here and he drove them along
His feet being weary, his legs being tired,
And his waggon being empty he jumped up to ride

And he drove them all home and unharnessed them all
There was Captain, there was Short, boys, there was Boxer and Ball.
He spread out their bedding and laid them to rest
And he always kept thinking straight home is the best!" 

Thanks Sedayne for your great music, deeply inscribed in the purest tradition of the Third Ear Band! 
As Glen and Dave would say: "Nice one!".

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)