M1-8 Stinky Winkles

M1-8 Opus

A Very Happy New Year and apologies for the long gap since the last blog. Apart from Christmas, New Year, and my birthday on January 1st, I was busy shooting a new batch of light paintings and preparing for an art exhibition at a fascinating restaurant in Tokyo whose name and theme comes from a 1940’s style of glassware. OK, now on to the Winkles. Those interested in truly alternative music of the out-there-on-the-edge-free-improv kind rather than the check-shirts-grunge kind (also a valid form of expression) please read on and investigate today’s blog and these links…

In the late 70’s I used to visit the London Musicians’ Collective, a dark and rather foreboding building in Camden, North London, where intense avant-garde (and occasionally “‘aven’t got a clue”) performances would occur. I sometimes felt rather intimidated by the ultra-serious stares of some of the participants, and rarely chatted to anyone (due to a rather introverted mood which I slip into at times), but I still experienced some thrilling musical moments. One of the few accessible, genial chaps I did meet was sax supremo Lol Coxhill, who later became a pal and participated on both Miniatures albums. We also made an ambient album in 1980 of which I am still very proud – “Slow Music.”

Perhaps I might have had a bit more fun and social interaction if I’d gone to the more rural and welcoming Digswell Arts Trust near Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, which was supported by the likes of Henry MooreHerbert Read, and Roland Penrose. Lol Coxhill was active there, and one of his most notable collaborations with a fellow Digsweller was with pianist and Stinky Winkles founder Veryan Weston on music for Derek Jarman’s film Caravaggio (1986). Without further ado, here are 8 more links Veryan kindly sent me, which document in detail, with scores, audio, photos, etc., his musically rich ongoing career, the last being a link re a recent work for 9 voices broadcast on BBC Radio 3:

Veryan Weston (Xanga)
Veryan Weston (Myspace)
Veryan Weston (MusicNow)
Veryan Weston (Emanem)
Veryan Weston (Musbook)
Veryan Weston (Jazz.com)
Veryan Weston (EFI)
Veryan Weston (JazzOn3)

A few years before starting to visit the LMC (at one of their events a piano was meticulously destroyed on stage) I had a passing interest in and attraction to the skeletal, brittle textures of serial music and the big three comprised of Berg, Schönberg and Webern. As the last link shows, Anton Webern was an early minimalist/miniaturist in terms of the scale, length and depth of his works. Also he was one of the first to utilise the concept of “klangfarbenmelodie” – which I took to mean, composing in terms of tones only, rather than melodies – a possible premonition of ambient, trance or drone music. The results in Webern’s case are not quite like that but the concept moved me deeply when I read about it, and I was transported into higher realms above and beyond such mundane human concerns as melody, harmony and rhythm.

It was very refreshing, then, to come back down to earth with a thump and hear Stinky Winkles attack a Webern piece with such gusto and even add an improvised intro. Even more of a surprise was when I heard the original, which in the right hands can exhibit an equal amount of gusto, such as in this fine performance by the Penderecki String Quartet. As I for some reason failed to mention on the original “Miniatures” LP – the piece in question is the 3rd movement of Webern’s 5 Movements for String Quartet, opus 5. I think a very fine choice of piece for a rousing improv band’s one and only available recording (AFAIK).

Oh – that name? Well, before we talk about the band’s name, the band’s founder, Veryan, is named after a village in Cornwall which has round houses in it, from which his mother’s family hailed. His sister was picturesquely christened Armorel. As for the band’s possibly-lewd name, I had a possibly-far-fetched idea that it may have  been inspired by a raunchy line from James Joyce’s “Ulysses”“those pigs of men I suppose never dream of washing it from 1 years end to the other.” Apparently the reality is more light-hearted – it originated from some fresh winkles bought by Lol Coxhill in Southend-on-Sea and left too long in his van.

Next up: a very nice lady self-deprecatingly lists some of her own body parts…

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