Wednesday, 28 September 2016

No picking!

So the new signs are going up in the forest proclaiming the forestry commissions latest edict prohibiting mushroom picking.....ANYWHERE! Of course, with the exception of foray leaders, who can apply for a permit. Just as I thought. So, you can profit from leading expensive middle class fungi forays, with no doubt the forestry commission taking their cut, though not individually pick for the pot. I imagine 'fungi forays' will increase. It would appear that rather than prohibiting picking on environmental grounds, the forestry commission have merely monetized the activity. A common practice these days. I've never seen the mythical commercial pickers (I'm sure they exist, though not on the scale suggested), I have though seen a huge increase in the number of 'pay for' forays advertised and an increase in the number of seasonal newspaper pieces proliferating the false claims of how profitable mushroom picking is, saying where and when to pick, in fact fuelling the increase in collecting, which they then print articles railing against. I've seen no problem and I've been picking for 30 years, each year I see more mushrooms left gone over, than have been picked, and a fungi community which appear healthy and flourishing. No, there's no problem. The whole ban is baseless and follows a emerging pattern of control being placed on traditional free foraging activities, only to replace them with 'pay for' activities.  It's common capitalist practice. I saw it with free festivals in the early 80's, apparently they had to be banned as they were so terrible, though were quickly replaced with pay festivals which have considerably more issues and problems. The difference? Corporate/private interest could profit.  Monetization is the name of the game, if you want be and act like humans have acted for ever, gathering together or gathering stuff, anything that feels natural and right, you're going to have to pay.  Or abstain from acting naturally, and restrict yourself to the matrix. I say...... BOLLOCKS! 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Here come the rains again

Here come the rains again and with them the parasols. Which is apt. The forest is getting wetter, slowly, and as it does so the mushrooms begin to pop up all over the place. Parasols (Macrolepiota procera) can be spotted from quite a distance, their tall form and plate sized cap make them one of the most imposing of mushrooms. They're also very tasty, cut into wedges, seasoned, dipped into batter a fried. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Apples!

I'd thought that all the apple trees over the common had failed this year, all suffering from disease or bugs, with what few fruits setting dropping early. I was wrong though. The myriad of paths which cross the common are fluid and have changed over the years, some abandoned for what ever reason, neglected and forgotten, whilst others are created. Along one of these forgotten paths one apple tree has flourished, laden with good sized fruits. The recent weather has beaten down the chest high bracken and I could get through to it. I'd totally forgotten about this tree, a tree I used to pass most days and had gathered apples from on countless occasions. The skin of the apples is tough and a bit tedious to eat, though the flesh beneath is lovely. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Akala - 10 Years of

This arrived this morning, 10 Years of Akala, a three coloured vinyl collection celebrating as the title suggests 10 years, all tracks suggested by fans.  And, after giving it listen, I have to say it's a really good and representative selection.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ceptember

The Ceps (Boletus edulis) are beginning to show. Well, it is cep-tember after all.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Signs of a Heron

I've mentioned recently the misinformation around the forests bog woodland restoration project, the higher stewardship project partly funded by the EU, and how far from being destructive it is in fact encouraging diversity and has seen previously rarely seen forest visitors becoming more frequent. I mentioned commonly seeing Egrets along restored forest streams, which I don't remember seeing in the past and more, larger fish. Today I saw more evidence of the growing fecundity of the restored forests streams and the re-wilding of their environs...Heron (Ardea cinerea) footprints in the stream side mud.  A sure sign that the forests streams are well stocked and have developing fish populations. Long may it continue.

Mabon

So, second harvest is upon us, a moment of balance and an opportunity to reap the rewards of seeds previously sown. The equinox is met with a dramatic sunrise, more cloud than sun, apt in light of what's to come as we enter the darker, more turbulent, portion of the year. I hope your harvests are bountiful. Mabon blessings y'all

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Natural shelter

Out in the forest looking for mushrooms (not to collect and eat of course, just to see how they were doing) I came across this toppled conifer. The way the tree had toppled and the way the moss had remained attached to the roots had created a natural shelter, which I think with a little adaptation would make an interesting overnight camping spot (of course, that is if camping were allowed in the forest). I reckon 2 people could be comfortably accommodated.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

It came from outer space!

Nature is magnificently weird, the smallest or most simple things are so often some of the most beautiful, intricately formed and coloured. Take this Sea Anemone nestled and exposed in a rock crevice just above the low tide mark, its colours were intense, almost luminescent. Far out. 

Mupe

One of the up sides of climate change and the erratic weather it manifests is the possibility of a summers day at any time of the year, which is nice. Of course, that's my attempt at irony. Although, the day was quite spiffing. The sky was blue, and for the most part cloud free, the sun though waning still showed its power, the air was warm and still, the sea was calm and Mupe Bay on the Purbeck coast was sublime.  Enthusiasm led us to the summit of Bindon Hill in record time, where upon the full majesty of the Jurassic coast was laid out before us, a visual feast. Near the high point of Cockpit Head a sign proclaims 'Danger Cliff', no shit! The decent from the head to the bay is a steep mix of chalky single track and irregular steps, and better taken gentle lolloping gait, although it takes it out of your legs and does required fluid movements as well as complete concentration, you do descend and reach the bottom quickly. 

The bays beach is pebbly and drops off into deep water almost as soon as you enter the water. Though it's not the beach today, no, it's around the headland to the rocky cove known as Bacon Hole, with its limestone stack, rocks and ledges.  The tide was out, exposing the ledges, creating rock pools and allowing access to some of the large intertidal rocks.  It was beautiful, and as previously mentioned, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was high summer. The water looked inviting, and I thought, had I brought board-shorts I'd have gone for a swim. Then I thought, I've got a micro towel in my bag, and there was no one about, so what the hey. A skinny dip it was. It's amazing, the removal of that last garment is in some strange way liberating and freeing. Weird. The sea was warm, 18 degrees I heard later from a diving friend, though although warm it was still refreshing physically and spiritually, floating in natures beauty. It wasn't long ago that I'd have never dreamed of doing that, though now, I can't imagine missing the opportunity to swim. Once refreshed and dressed we continued around Bacon Hole, past the smugglers cave with its secluded little room and up onto the Portland freestone slabs (over hung by towering and seemingly fragile cliff) which protrude at 45 degrees out into the sea.  From here we had great views back across the stack and rocks. I've been here numerous times, today I was scared. The further slab, usually a clean surface, was covered in loose which had fallen from the cliff face. Enough to say, we didn't stay long. 

After a clamber around the slabs from a while we tracked back around Bacon Hole, over the ledges and back to the coastal path. The last picture is taken from the cliff top above Bacon Head, where the views eastwards across the bay and along the distant rocky Jurassic coastline were magnificent. Another fantastic walk through a magical landscape and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

More-shrooms

More edible mushrooms are appearing in the forest, not in great quantities mind, though certainly on the increase. Today’s notables were some Hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum) and Cow Boletes (Suillus bovinus).  Even in light of recent rain, the forest remains quite dry. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Music of the Andys @ Chaplins 15.9.16

Not a poncho or pan pipe in sight, music of the Andes my arse! Of course I'm joking, although virtually everybody I'd mentioned the Music of the Andys gig to looked at me puzzled, thinking I was talking about an upcoming Peruvian pan flute band performance. Well, I wasn't. Music of the Andys are Andy Roger (recently of Here and Now) on synth/keyboards, Andy Burrows on guitar and Andrew Shackleton doing projections/visuals. I'd heard a couple of tracks on their bandcamp page and liked what I heard. Though, tonight’s performance was really something else.  A mind melting blend of flowing synth soundscapes, hypnotic trancey repetitive rhythms, all interwoven with some magical guitar noodling. They rocked!
The venue was Chaplins/The Cellar Bar in Boscombe, a small venue for sure, but with a big heart and a really great atmosphere and sound. The type of venue we desperately need and need to support. Up on the diminutive stage, Andy Roger looked intensely studious as he fiddled with knobs, jangled keys and pushed this and that, it must be quite a feat, all that going on. I've noticed synth players always look so focused, but as Mr Roger proved tonight, all that studious work can really pay off. Then there's Andy Burrows who has a great guitar style and really worked his instrument, his fingers a blur at some points as he worked every inch of the fretboard. Together they created musical magic. Man, I really was blown away by the quality of tonight’s musical fare. I was expecting good, but what we were served was something else, several notches higher than just 'good'.  The Andys created a richly textured and immersive sound, a big tight sound which filled the room, which for just two guys was good going. Quality stuff. Behind them Andrew Shackletons overlaid groovy visuals unquestioningly added to and complimented the musical soundscapes. All round a top evenings musical entertainment, although too too short.

The Andys next musical outing will be on the 30th supporting Cary Grace at the King Arthur in Glastonbury, for sure a gig not to be missed.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Another sunset

Another glorious sunset from our current autumn hues colour pallet. Beautiful. I stood on the path through the common watching in wonder, when an old guy walked by and we struck up a conversation, both waxing lyrically about the natural spectacle before us. Well, it was more me (shocking I know) enthusiastically rambling nonsense interspersed with the overuse of the phrase 'man' and the poor old guy, I think,  humouring me. It was really far out though, man!  

Hold on they're coming.

The seasons have changed and autumn's here, slowly the reign of the fungi takes hold in the forest. It's still quite dry though, but the mushrooms are beginning to show themselves. Of course there are certain mushrooms the forager particularly looks out for, and of course top of that list are the boletes, and top of the bolete list is the Cep (Boletus edulis). I've not seen any of them yet, though today I did come across a few Orange Birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle), which to me are always a good indication that the Ceps will soon be with us. I say Orange Birch bolete, though there are a few in the Leccinum family that look very similar, all edible, though several not worthwhile. Here's hoping for a good season.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Old forest boundary

An old forest boundary bank.

Dewy cobwebs

Loving these dewy morning walks through the forest and I'm constantly amazed and dazzled by the quantity of cobwebs there are strewn from every conceivable place throughout the forest. It poses questions as to how many spiders there are in the forest, how much silk can one produce or do the work together and how do they create some of the spans which appear to defy possibility?  It's easy to get lost in wonder, absorbed in the beauty of their work, so much effort gone into creations so ephemeral and transient. Lovely.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Fall

No, not the band, the season. I like the term 'Fall' to describe autumn, it's very apt. Out in the forest the first signs of autumns coming fall are beginning to show, as pockets of colour drained leaves appear on the forest trees. Only pockets at present, mind, but when they turn they turn and the forest will take on a fleeting golden hue. Then the actual fall, leaving the forests stands bare. A lovely time of year in the forest. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Forest sunset

As we returned from an evening walk in the forest it was uncertain as to whether the sunset would reach its potential; you never can be sure. Then at the last minute, boom, colour flooded the clouds as the last rays of the sun danced their goodbyes. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Stream of clouds

A stream of water filled clouds flow below the rising autumn moon.

Last light

As the sun sets, the last light falls across Red Rise Shade and the forests day shift clocks off as the night crew come on. The deer have disappeared, the all cows laid down, the ponies corralled, the is canopy quiet and calm floods the forest.A nice time to be out.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Bastards!

If there's one thing that gets right up my nose (that's clearly misleading as plenty of stuff gets up my nose, some would say I'm a moaning bastard), it's ignorant selfish fuckwits who can carry stuff out into the forest or the coast or wherever, and then once they've had their fun, just leave it. I just don't get it! They've obviously come out the forest because it's beautiful, they've carried stuff out to the forest when it's full and yet they find impossible to carry their empties home and leave said beautiful spot soiled, they can't even bury the shit they leave behind. What's that all about? I can't get my head around the paradoxes.  Ignorance rules Britannia.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Morning mobile meditation

Early morning sun dappled walks amongst the dew covered holms and deciduous stands do wonders to lift ones spirits. The forest doesn’t judge you. In the relative wilds and the natural quiet your worries dissipate, even if only temporarily, carried off on waves of calm.  You feel connected, part of.  You feel the knot unravel. You feel peace. Walking is like doing mobile meditation. It's nice to stop and sit awhile too, really take it all in, soak it up. Of course, too often you go back to the same old shit, but you go back that little bit better equipped to handle it. It was a lovely walk this morning.

Pearly dewdrops

Pearly dewdrops hang like jewels from the myriad of webs which cloak the early morning forest.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Mushroom season

As autumn falls so fungi's reign begins. It's still early in the season, and it's still quite dry, but the frequency with which you see mushrooms is slowly increasing. Some of those mushrooms are edible favourites. Today I saw Beefsteak (Fistulina hepatica), nearing the end of its season some Chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) and the often present Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus).  Commercial picking has long been forbidden in the forest, although collecting for personal consumption up to 1.5kg has been permitted. I say permitted as the Forestry Commission have just announced that mushroom picking has been banned throughout the forest, full stop. What nonsense, based on little scientific evidence, in fact, the evidence suggests that picking helps fungi communities, or at least has no negative effects. Also, there are a couple of thousand types of mushroom in the forest and of those only a tiny handful are collected to eat. The other reason they say, are these mythical hoards of organized pickers sweeping the forest, well they may, although in 30 years of forest foraging I've never seen them, or evidence of them. This ban follows a worrying trend, such as some local councils bans on collecting wild berries. Foraging is our human right, wild food is just that, wild and therefore in my mind at least free. Few even forage anyway, and the seasonal increase sometimes seen in the forest is driven by the media harking on about how much fungi is worth, encouraging people to collect, the same media that then runs angry stories about too many people collecting mushrooms.  As I say, I've been collecting mushrooms for years, you have good years and not so good and in both I always see countless mushrooms go uncollected. Stop publicising mushroom collecting as a profitable activity, stop creating and fuelling the problem, and see the numbers of those picking drop back to just those who are into it for the right reason and pick responsibly. Anyway, I can't see it being enforceable, if the can't stop the hoards (oh, that's right, they can't because they're bloody mythical), then how are they going to stop the responsible individual.  And more to the point, why bother? What's the real agenda here?

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bare foot

I've experienced a renaissance in bare foot walking of late. I used to go shoeless a lot, although the dangers of urban bare foot walking (glass, dog poo, etal) became to much. Out here though, in the forest, it's different...it's fantastic. Of course, out in the woods you have to watch out for that nemesis of the bare foot walker, the bastard Holly, but beyond that it's liberating.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Becton Bunny Sunset

Sunset as seen from the cliffs above Becton Bunny.

Dead Kennedys

It makes me smile to see that old punk bands still have an influence on section of youth. The symbol carved into the sand cliff face at Barton is that of The Dead Kennedys, an American new wave band formed in the late 70's, which had a big influence on both sides of the Atlantic. Right on!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Playtime

It's rare for the forest ponies to approach you, more so if you've got a hound with you and it's even rarer for a foal to approach you. But that's what happened today. A lovely young foal made directly for me and allowed me to pat and stroke it, before playing with Norris for some while. It would have continued to play if we hadn't move on, rare indeed. It was a lovely moment on a lovely morning walk. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Spider parlour

''Will you walk into my parlour?'' said the Spider to the Fly,
 'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy. 
''Fuck off!'' said the fly.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Heavy

It's little know, but the New Forest suffers from pockets of heavy gravity. They keep it quiet so not to scare people or put them of visiting. Though, it's harmless to the passing visitor, it does have longer lasting effects on the forest wildlife, who have though adapted over time and still thrive. Here we see an example of a heavy gravity pocket pony who was born in the pocket with shorter legs to compensate for the added pressure. Locally they're known as forest dachshunds. What do you mean, I'm talking shit?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dumb Poets @ Dean Park Inn

Another local venue I'd never been to before, and another local band I'd not heard before. The venue was the Dean Park Inn located at the Bournemouth end of Charmy, it felt very local (if you know what I mean), though said locals and staff were friendly and welcoming. The band were a four piece, the Dumb Poets, Lance Riley Vocals and Guitar, Harry Skinner Lead Guitar, Joe Musker Drums and Jim Greenwood Bass Guitar, and this was their inaugural outing.  Inaugural outing maybe, although at least one of the band members, lance Riley, has been in other bands (and I suspect by the standard of musicianship the other members have too). Lance has been in locally legendary bands The Bewley Brothers and The Spoons. As I say, all the bands members were proficient in their art and created a nice tight sound, as they belted out some quality tracks. The audience loved it, every track receiving rapturous applause. The whole evening had a lovely atmosphere, created by a group of excellent musicians.  When seeing or hearing a band for the first time the brain automatically tries to categorize, I have to say I struggled to pin a genre on the Dumb Poets or say 'they're like', and that's no bad thing. Though, if I 'had' to say, I'd say their sound is in the indie rock pop ball park. I should mention DJ Will provide a fine range of sound before and after the bands performance. All round a great evening. I'll be catching the Dumb Poets next time they're about and recommend them to you too.

Mill Lawn

Mill Lawn early this morning, looking towards Red Rise. What a way to start your day.

Monday, 22 August 2016

King Fisher

Yeah, all right I know, it's not the greatest picture of one of our most colourful birds, but hey, think of it as a 'Where's Wally?' type thing.  For a few days now I've spotted a beautiful Kingfisher darting along this section of Red Rise Brook. It's been notable to me as I can't remember seeing them along this section stream in the past. On the other occasions I'd seen it, it was little more than a fast moving blue flash, though today it paused, perched on a stream side shrub, affording me an extended viewing. Nice.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Autumn fruits

It'll soon be Mabon and the period of second harvest, the fruit/berry harvest. The fruiting shrubs of the forest, the Crab Apples, the Hawthorns and Blackthorns all see their fruits swelling, with the potential of good crops. For me, Blackthorn is my main focus, every year I make a litre or two of Sloe gin/vodka, and this years crop is looking good, with good sized fruits. It's exiting, I look forward to this time of year and its foraging potential.

Though now when foraging or using wild foods, I find there's an increasing conflict of ideas and traditions. When to pick, how to process and of course the myriad of old folk lore around both, most of which is based in sound observations and understanding, although I feel climate change now challenges some of the old sayings and ways. Take Blackberries for instance, traditional folklore says you can't pick them after a certain date in September (moveable depending on your geography nationally) as they become the 'devils berry'. Clearly they don't, though there is a chemical change around said dates which makes the blackberries unpleasant eating. It was easier to explain this to a preliterate population by associating it with the Devil rather than trying to explain chemical changes, hence the lore. But this was when seasons were reliable seasons, I think due to climatic changes and seasonal fluidity, the date is more flexible (although at some point the berries taste will change for the worst, that aspect still hold true). This year as we rapidly approach that point of chemical change, the majority of the forest Blackberries are still unripe, and will probably ripen and still be edible after the old cut off date. With Sloes they say pick them after the first frost, but again due to seasonal climatic changes we might not get a frost until after new year, by which time the sloes will all be gone, eaten by the birds. So you've got to take them earlier. The same can be said for so many other forageable resources, the old lore, which endured for centuries, now conflicts with our weather/climate reality.

I think we're going to have to adapt our folklore to reflect our current climate, and not stick so rigidly to the old lore, respect it, though adapt. 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Red Rise Shade

No better way to start the day.

Attacks on the NHS

It appears that every day now you see or hear more reports in the 'news' about the NHS, nearly all negative and most ill informed or purposefully misleading. Of course this is not by coincidence, it's part of a well orchestrated plan to demonize our publicly controlled NHS and sow the seeds of a commercial model heath service. Not a day goes by, it seems, without some new report being published on failings or some scandal about treatment, and if someone’s anecdotal musings are aired, they'll be almost entirely negative, of course with one tiny positive anecdote shoehorned in to stifle claims of media bias.

Well, bollocks I say. My wife has just been in hospital for a couple of days to have a spinal implant op, a serious neurological procedure. The NHS were fucking brilliant! Yeah, you can see it fraying at the edges, some of the equipment looks tired, and yeah, there don't appear to be enough staff and the staff that are there are all rushed off their feet, and things appear to take longer or sometimes you have to ask a couple of times for things. But don't blame the doctors, the nurses or the support staff, blame successive governments (and the wilfully ignorant who mandate their policies) who have constantly undermined and underfunded the NHS. Any failings in the NHS are there by establishment design. Blame outsourcing (or privatization as it really is), look behind the headlines and 9 out of 10 times the area of the 'NHS' which has failed is in fact a private contractor! This is never mentioned, corporate secrecy to protect competitiveness, don't you know. Blame underfunding. Blame structures embedded by government policy, designed to create discord and demoralize both patient and practitioner, aimed at creating a fertile bed on which to sow the seeds of privatization.  Privatization doesn't work, except for those shareholders reaping the profits. Name one public service or state company improved by privatization; I bet you can't (with honesty).

So next time you see or hear a report on the NHS failing, look behind the headline, think about what's motivated the story, who's directing it and what narrative is being projected. Treat the NHS staff with love, and if you have to wait too long or you have a minor complaint, speak softly, remembering it's not their fault, on the whole they're trying their best to give the best service and care, with ever diminishing resources and ever diminishing respect. Direct you disdain at those truly responsible, government, the establishment and those who give mandate to their wicked plans. The NHS is this country’s greatest achievement and it's being dismantled for profit in front of us, and that's not to the people benefit, no matter what line we're spun. Love it (the NHS) or loose it! It's as simple as that.

And, while I'm going on, the same ill informed and wilfully ignorant who mandate the governments attack on the NHS are usually the same people who complain about immigrants 'coming over here and stealing our jobs' (both being elements of the same ideological package). Whilst in hospital a good half the people we spoke to were foreign, all were competent, coherent, lovely, caring, professional people. They've not stolen anybodies job! That's just right wing rhetoric created to distract from the simple truth, which is, successive governments have intentionally failed to invest in training and recruitment, and we need these foreign workers to staff the NHS. I for one thank the gods for them.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Holy cow!

The last few years have seen a marked increase in the frequency in which you stumble across cows in the forest. It's return to the past in many ways and a positive thing too. Pre industrial forestry in the New Forest saw cattle grazing as common practice, as attested too by the widespread use of pollarding, which is just coppicing put out reach of grazing animals. This practice was banned with the onset of industrial forestry as were the grazing livestock. It's good to see them back, it adds to the diversity, as well as adding an element of danger. What danger you ask? Well, I reckon cows have become more aggressive in recent years, we've been chased by them several times recently. On one occasion this led to a friend suffering a broken ankle. So, when a horny beast like this one pops up from behind the bracken in front of you, looking moody, you think twice about your next move.  That said, I say lets see more! Reintroduce more animals back into the landscape. I'd love to see wild pigs roaming the forest again, it works fine during pannage.  Yeah, it might create some problems, even dangers but the benefits to diversity would be widespread. I think it might make us more human too, having to think more whilst walking the land could reconnect us to our rightful place in the natural order of things, from which we are currently far too removed.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Bee-have

A colony of bees gather on the tree around the entrance of their nest to take in the early morning sun. I don't know how long a nest remains active, though this colony of bees have been living in this old oak for years now. Nice to see.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Sentinet @ the King Arthur 13.8.2016

Fucking astounding! I could just leave it at that, a two word review of last nights Sentient gig at the King Arthur. I could maybe add a couple more exclamation marks, for emphasis. But, as powerful and succinct as that may be, it would just be too lazy and Sentient deserve more... much more ( also, I'm rarely succinct).

I've seen Sentient a few times now, all wondrous, though tonight’s manifestation was imbued with added excitement, as there were new band members on-board. Gone was bass luminary Subs, now that position was taken by the legendary (really, legendary isn't a good enough adjective) Mike Howlett on bass.  When it comes to great bass players Howlett is right up there, his passion and skill shine through brightly, he doesn't just play bass, it flows through him and it shows. Also, Tanya Horn wasn't on drums this evening (although was in the house), that position was filled by the equally magnificent Steve Cassidy. Though a friend who saw Sentient perform Kozfest said they both played, which sounds way cool. Cassidy's drumming is clean and powerful, able to drive and maintain the most rhythmic of numbers.  That wizard of twiddly knobbery Joie Hinton maintained his position at the controls of keyboards and synth. And of course there is Steffe Sharpstrings on guitar. Steffe's a legend, as are his glissando and noodling skills, both instantly recognizable.

As has become commonplace with decent gigs these days, two sets were played of about an hour each, with a small break in-between. What we were served this evening was a tasty feast of, what appeared, improvisational pieces, made up from a myriad of beautifully blended styles and influences, all delivered masterfully. There were psych, dub, space rock and jazz flavours to name few. There was less glissando and more noodling from Steffe this evenings sets that previous gigs, and can the man noodle...yes, and some! Steffe deftly threaded magical paths through the bands improvised sound-scapes, his performance an experience as much spiritual as musical. Mr Howlett was a conduit to the place where bass is born, the bass lines fair burst out of him, as if he were a shaman with the power to birth them. Which he must be, it's the only explanation. Both Steffe and Mr Howlett morphed into space goats at several points, so powerful were the musical vibrations. Well, it's impossible not to. Occasionally Joie, smiling mischievously, would lean over his keyboards towards the audience as if judging just the best moment to lay some mind melting extreme synth twiddling on us. Of course he nailed it every time. Throughout, with steadfast resolve, Steve Cassidy beat the skins, never dropping a beat and making it look effortless (which clearly drumming can't be). What a fantastic drummer, man. The addition of the Howlett/Cassidy combination was something else! (Have mentioned how bloody marvellous a bassist Mike Howlett is?) They certainly elevated Sentients rhythm section to new heady heights (not that the previous Subs/Horn combination wasn't right up there too). Last night we were spoilt, what a performance!

I don't think my descriptions ever do performances real justice, though I can honestly say, I was fair blown away this evening, smiling slack jawed at the wonder of it all. When magic's created it's undeniable, and magic certainly filled the back room of the 'Arthur' last night, and, the audience loved it. Everybody was blissed out, man. One by one they took to the dance floor to swivel, frug and throw shapes, while the end of each track was met with rapturous applause. There were also a couple of notable musicians in the audience last night. Gregory Curvey of The Luck of Eden Hall whose latest album 'The acceleration of time' is a great listen. And, Cary Grace who'll be performing at the King Arthur in September and is well worth catching live. The 'Arthur' was a delight as usual, what a top venue with lovely staff and friendly regulars, and the sound, again, top notch...bravo sound guy. If there was a recording of last nights gig, I'd love to see that available, nudge nudge, wink wink. 

All in all a splendid evening, although I do have one complaint, not about the venue nor the band. But people. Where the fuck were you? Yeah, there was a good turn out, and yeah, we all thoroughly enjoyed it, but the 'Arthur' should have been overflowing, the calibre of musician and quality of music on offer. For a fiver too! My fear is we either 'support them or lose them', and our lives would be diminished by the latter. Whether it's lack of publicity or apathy, it's not good enough. We need innovative and original bands and the local venues for them to perform.  Where ever you are, if you get the chance, support them.