Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Thoughts on AI

 Here's my issue with AI. 

We developed the internet, which was fine, but we expected too much of it. We thought it would expand our consciousness - and turn us into better versions of ourselves. But it didn't; it just let us look further into our hearts. Look at what's on display now, the angry, bitter, venal behaviour that floods social media. The internet wasn't a gateway; it was a mirror. It's showing us, US. And we're not great. 

But that would have been fine - if we'd learned. It doesn't particularly seem to me that we have.

And now - there's AI. We took all of that machine learning and let computers loose, with the expectation that they'd create something wonderful - or that they'd replace mundane employment, freeing human beings to enjoy lives of unfulfilled promise.

Except that's not happening either. We gave AI everything we know, and expected it to be able to replace us, but it's just another version of us. Instead of a person idly scrolling on the internet, flicking through Instagram, wasting their life with something petty. AI gives us a program, idly reforming images (based on inputs we've given it), flicking through those images as they endlessly morph and grow into further iterations of minor inputs we've supplied. AI isn't going anywhere new, it's going to places w'eve told it to go. It's the logical progression to the internet as a mirror. That internet mirror showed us all the dark places, the faults and the foibles of our existence. Then, AI turned around and started to just pinball around through the fractal chaos of all that information, defining and redefining the strange neural journeys our minds can take. But we know the steps on those journeys; they're nothing new.

Instead of AI, we need a way to expand ourselves, not have a program crawl through the myriad pathways of the houses our minds already reside in. We need to escape the paradigm completely. AI represents something that's still inside us. It will reproduce and grow but can never escape that boundary. 

The next step for us is to identify what's on the other side of that boundary.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The tyranny of expectation...

 ..Is hanging over my head again. I need to find a way to escape its clutches: to wriggle free of the idea that other people's happiness depends solely on my actions.

I'm always like this, on the eve of a concerted period of activity from the band. Really, I ought to have learned my lesson, by now - but it doesn't seem to have happened yet. Perhaps realisation is the first step towards altering one's behaviour? Le'ts hope so.

It's been a particularly trying few days, if I'm honest. A few days that I would really rather forget. I've walked off a lot of frustration, and confusion. The one thing that could save me, is a bicycle. But the weather has been (typically, for February) absolutely appalling. I'm hoping that will change, tomorrow. 

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Blast from the past

 Every time I listen to The Flys, I'm in awe of exactly how perfect they were: a seamless mix of new-wave optimism and power-pop dynamics. Hooks and melodies for days. 

This is the opening track from their (totally forgotten) second album "Own". But, it's a Peel Session version, which I'm pretty sure has never been released. It's very odd - there has been an otherwise comprehensive 2CD Anthology, collecting everything they ever did, yet the radio sessions remain missing. Normally these are the first port of call, when a label goes looking for extra material. I live in hope that one day, absolutely everything can finally be released. Until then - just play this nice and loud, cheers.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Every now and again

 You want something.

Something that'll make you want to destroy planets, spit in the eye of God. 

This totally fits the bill.

Turn it up, people.

In other news, life is hard, getting harder. 

Sunday, January 07, 2024

A lazy Sunday.

 Is there really any other kind?

But I managed to get back on the turbo trainer today, so my Strava stats for the week look vaguely respectable. I'm definitely down, as far as fitness goes - but it does feel like the power is still there. I do need to work on my cadence a bit - I suspect that's a lack of endurance riding. 

I've been busy keeping a diary for this year, as well. It's nice to have that, in concert with this digital alternative. The analogue version was a Christmas gift, and it's a lovely green Moleskine. A page a day, which seems like a perfectly good ratio, too.

Mind you, it is only January. Best laid plans, and all that.

Friday, January 05, 2024

I'm really not a musician.

I mean - I'm totally not.  

But there are certain things that just make me think I know what I'm on about. Case in point: the absolute guitar genius of Robert Quine. My favourite guitarist by some distance. Primarily for his work with the Voidoids, but more than that - for his absolute, single-minded focus. He took that left-field skronk-jazz madness, and made it his own, all the while maintaining a rigid discipline. There really wasn't anyone else like him.

RIP, Robert. 

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Aw, c'mon now

 Sometimes you hear things which just totally blow you away. Here's a case in point. 

On this absolute banger, The New Pornographers are not just going into math-rock, they've emerged out the other side, into some rarified atmosphere where normal humans can't comprehend what they've just done.
"The Jessica Numbers" has always confused me, as I tried to work out that time-signature. Was it 13/8, or something? No, it's more complex than that. It's a series of guitar hits, which assume the formulation of a reverse Fibonacci series. Thus, each hit is the sum of the FOLLOWING TWO HITS.
The standard series would be: 1,2,3,5 etc, but this is in reverse - so the guitar hits are played as 5, then next time round it's 3, then 2, then 1........
 Aaaaaargh! Basically, it's (I think) an attempt to weld the Golden Ratio into music. My mind isn't just blown, it's scattered to the winds. 

Monday, January 01, 2024

First of the year.

 2023 can get in the bin. 

What a truly terrible year. On the plus side, at least I managed to get blogging again. More than 40 entries was my best performance for a while, which made me smile. Precious little else did, to be honest.

So, we're kicking off another year. Another year of my little blog. Howling into the void, yet again. I'm actually kind of pleased nobody gets to read it - I seldom have to worry about what to say, how to say it. I don't care about content, or anything else, at all.

It's liberating, cathartic, creative and wonderful. So yeah - here we go again.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

What's music about?


At first, I thought music was important, and power was inherent within it - but after all these years, I think that might be nonsense. My understanding of chaos theory played a huge role in this - how everything dissolves into fractal chaos, yet there's a beauty and a grace within that disorder. Above all, I think music is utterly hollow until it attaches itself to us. Once that happens, it follows the fractal pattern of our lives, as they seek contextual belonging to a broader world of uncertainty.
My favourite XTC song is "Generals And Majors" - but is it because it's great? Again - I don't think so. It's not their best song; there are many others I admire more, and love more. So, why is it number one? It's all context. I love the song because I can see rows of the sleeves piled up in my local Woolworths in Devizes. I can feel how important it was for me to be connected to music and to a love of these objects. I can see how that single was an object of desire and slotted into everything else around it. The music, of course, is performed by a bunch of blokes from Swindon - it has the bucolic, West Country twang - melancholia, whistling, it feels - distant, yet close. And it's all about Cold War paranoia - I was living on the edge of Salisbury Plain at the time, and I can recall seeing low-loaders with ICBMs being driven through the streets of our village. It normalised armageddon and placed it into the bucolic little place I called home. Again, context. And those blokes from Swindon felt like me, too - outsiders - removed from the big city, slightly cast adrift. 
The power that song has is all contextual. It's power I bestowed upon the song, not power that the song had to begin with. 
I think that's what music is. It's nothing, but it's everything, so long as you can map out that personal context, and tie it to the ever-expanding fractal beauty that lies at the periphery of one's understanding. Beauty doesn't lie within; it lies on the outskirts, at the boundary where fractal lines blur and escape our power to control them.

Monday, November 20, 2023

I can still feel the pavement under my feet

I can still feel the same way I did in 1990, walking these Akasaka streets for the first time. The sense of optimism, of hope and possibility. It's all there, in the air, buildings, and skies over East Tokyo. 

I'm older now, but I've not lost anything over all these years. Tokyo still feels like home to me - or like a home, perhaps. The streets seem to envelop me, and the noise of the city fills my head. I tried to listen to music whilst walking the streets early in the morning - but it was somewhat futile. The earbuds came out, and the city's sound rushed back in; it was all I needed. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

I really, really needed that.

 The past few weeks have been vindication for the worst of years: a cavalcade of sensory overload, an embarrassment of riches after the paucity of grief and confusion.

Japan for a week? How could it be anything other than extraordinary? In truth, it was almost overwhelming. A chance to revisit old haunts with friends old and new. So much memory and happiness. The sensation of a life that unfolded around the joy of travel and exploration. Not just of mere countries - but of life itself. I was assailed by nostalgia for something still living in front of my eyes. A dream that refused to awaken. 

And this weekend was the Shiiine festival. A meeting of the tribes, for us - seeing Neds, Stuffies, Poppies, EMF. So many friends. Watching the Stuffies, as we did from the side of a stage thirty-four years ago. Feeling humbled that our lives still afforded us the luxury of feeling the same way. 

I needed these weeks. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023


 I've been thinking about the music I loved when I was a kid. Why it still has the most powerful hold on me. Why the deep sense of melancholy haunts even the sunniest of songs. I think it's because the music was a window to a bright world - one which I wasn't sure I could even belong in. Those songs, for me, were like the piece of paper that the wind blows out of your hand; you reach out to grab it but swipe the air instead. You can always see the paper in front of you as every gust carries it further away; you remain as close as you ever were, but the distance between your fingertip and that paper always remains. In that small gap is the fluttering heartbeat that holds all of your childhood longing, hope and love. Yet it also holds the sigh of disappointment and unfulfilled dreams. The drift, the languorous pitter-patter of expectations dashed on the rocks of our lives realities. 

Monday, September 04, 2023

It bears repeating

 So, I will.

I've said on here before that I've been assailed by the sensation that time is a circular construct, that I'm buffeted by memories and all that has been and will be. That's come into even sharper focus over the past two weeks. I'm living everything at the same time. It's exhausting in a psychedelically brilliant way. 

I'm grateful for everything I've done, even if there are a million regrets laced into the cloak of memories that swim around my head. Those regrets are the sharp inhalation before the gentle sigh of senses fired into action by the people and places that define me. 

Sunday, September 03, 2023

I think I should post this.

 Though my father was a huge Jazz buff, and that music defined and shaped his entire life, there are other things that I associate with him, too.

Dylan, Simon &Garfunkel, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, Dan Fogelberg. But above all (and rather oddly) Gladys Knight & The Pips. I know there's another post in the archives about GK&TP (a tale from a US tour, IIRC), but this one is just...Dad, really. We both watched this performance in May 1976, and he taped it, too, on his SOny TC-377 Reel-to-Reel tape recorder. This faster, funkier mix (performed and recorded especially for TOTP) was unquestionably his favourite and mine too. As a ten-year-old kid, I loved it; as a nearly sixty-year-old man, I love it even more. Every note is sheer, joyous perfection. 

Well, this terrible year got a lot worse.

 My father passed away on August the 25th. I held his hand as he took his last breath. It's been a year of frustration, pain and anguish: but nothing has come close to this. I keep thinking he's just gone on some sort of temporary journey and will be back. He won't. I think it'll hit me later.

It has focused my mind on so many things - an almost constant churn of ideas, memories and emotions. I suppose I'll be processing this gradually. 

RIP, Dad.