2018: A Year In Food
In 2018, my gym coach assigned me to keep a food blog so he could track my meals. Through developing healthy eating habits to satisfy all of my nutritional needs and a rigorous exercise programme, I lost the 21 kg between January-August 2018 I'd gained on anti-depressants.
I wanted it to be somewhere more private rather than being shoved down people's throats (literally) through Instagram/WhatsApp. Hence I've posted my culinary creations here.
Being vegetarian and/or vegan always presents a challenge in terms of hitting the protein target so this was particularly the most interesting challenge for me.
I made a conscious decision to stop food blogging in 2019 (due to time restraints), but it's useful to have a year's diet documented as a reference and a source of inspiration!
Psylus is a project consisting of five progressive, improvising musicians, who blend jazz, hip-hop and electronic music with modular and free improvisation, and an array of different textures and styles. Featuring Chibike Odukwe (drums), David Turay (alto and soprano saxophones), D’vo Tile Gichigi-Lipere (electronics), James Benzies (bass) and Zuri Jarrett-Boswell (piano and synthesisers). Tonight, young curators Young & Serious put the band on in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Front Room, as part of London Jazz Festival 2012.
One feature prevalent in their music is cyclic repetition. The forms, taken from the above styles, serve as platforms for abstraction and musical evolution - free improvisation that bursts at the seams, and pushes the boundaries to the next level. Every now and then, linear ideas are projected for a while, before abruptly locking into an obsessive rut, creating a potentially explosive tension and restlessness.
David Turey (saxophones) possesses a humbling talent at the young age of seventeen. His saxophones implore different moods and sensibilities, from fluttering and free flowing to sinister; dashing and peppery to exploding in squawks and violent ululations; from short, choppy calls and responses to languid squeals; from hungry, caged wilder beast to roaming, optimistic mammal, taunting and provoking games.
The rhythm section often revolves around complex metres, out of which the improviser extrudes new, rhythmic constructions that subjugate or tighten the frameworks around them. At times, there is a nauseating sense of stress and anguish, the feeling of force pushing against hardened edges. Yet this is tinged with optimism and progressive momentum. Bare fifths and apocalyptic drones underpin blistering, labour intensive presses, and the music constantly challenges the ears and stimulates the mind. Quite simply, edge-of-the-seat.
Enchanted and moved are two words that sum up my feeling after tonight’s performance - such a remarkable, magical thing. Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek collaborating with Indian Trilok Gurtu, with Rainer Brüninghaus on piano and Yuri Daniel on bass guitar. For the first time ever, this festival, I felt the need not to write during the performance, but instead to simply let myself drift off and be whisked away on a musical voyage through heart and homelands. So forgive me if this review comes across as a little ‘flaky’, for I felt that the music resonated so much in my being that I can still hear its lingering strains, reverberating in my mind.
Tonight, I have been taken to many places… Not only Norway, other parts of Scandinavia and the Indian subcontinent, but also to Scotland, Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Himalayas, North and South America, Iceland and the Middle East, all in one heady two hours’ flight. I have experienced many different emotions - some painful and disturbing, yet others intimately moving, surreal and unpredictable.
The performance began with one of my favourite, long term Jan Garbarek melodies ‘The Creek’, its lingering, echoing spirit bringing me back to childhood memories travelling through the mountains in the back of a car, raising goosebumps all over, after having this melody implanted in my record collection for so long. His saxophone has a strangely organic quality to it, as if it is not being played, but that it is playing itself. Its tone has the thin, reediness and shrill brightness of the bagpipes, yet with the softness of ‘warm breath, floating in frosty air’ - perfectly described by the preview in the Southbank Centre.
I would like to mention a few things that I really liked about this concert. Firstly, and this might sound odd, but I liked the way that the stage was set out - with its chameleon-like, colour-changing backdrop. I sometimes hear colours when I listen to music, and, for me, this really formed a major part of my overall experience, because my mind had something visual-spatial to interact with the, in the soundscape surrounding me. Secondly, I liked the symmetry between the pianos on one side and the percussion on the other; it almost looked like two camps set up in the middle of a field, under a starry expanse.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I liked the way that the concert was structured. It was a full two hours’ length, without a break, so that time became almost meaningless in itself. The musicians had such a depth and breadth of ground to explore, that there was a clear, aesthetic contour, flowing through the programme. There were three sections, each possibly around twenty minutes, where the piano, bass and percussion broke free from the rest of the ensemble and embarked on their own adventure.
Rainer Brüninghaus (piano) took us through a kaleidoscopic world of shimmering, swirling drips of music, which came and passed over like a rainstorm out at sea. With his Michel Camilo-style Caribbean polyrhythms and syncopations, he displays an incredible, breathtaking virtuosity, and I could feel little explosions in my ears as the drops and clusters of notes thrashed relentlessly against my being, running out into streams, rivers and pools of harmonic languish. Elemental themes run through my mind, as the forms were so abstract and fundamental to the continuing of life - life and creation unfolding within the passages themselves - and the piano is water.
Speaking of water, Trilok Gurtu (percussion) took us to an entirely different territory. I cannot recount much of what happened because it is too spellbinding to recall. But I do remember at one point the tiredness and aches leaving me, and suddenly feeling an indescribable sense of nothing else but pure Awakening. Suddenly, I was immanently conscious of everything that was happening; the subtle snaps, crackles and pops of the tabla, tickling my sinuses, the stillness of two thousand people around me, the blueness and darkness of the expanse, the shadows, the breath coming from within me… I felt an unexplainable freedom and urge to look around, and to observe my surroundings from different perspectives, not looking upon the stage. It was like everything had simply drifted away, leaving empty shells, and I had woken up from a dream, intensely aware of and alert to movement. What I do then remember is Trilok Gurtu improvising with metal bells and echoes in the water. He then added vocalisations, like he was summoning a spirit into the space, and Jan Garbarek re-entered on a horizontal, wooden flute. The two then engaged in an astounding, non-verbal dialogue - yet its cognitive outpouring spoke directly with meaning!
The band segued through many rhythms and feels, too many to summarise here in this report; from strident, free-flowing ice sheet themes over wastelands of dusty rhythms, to green and fertile moments, reflective surfaces and soaring, avian proclamations. The concert was a true mystery, and, by the end of it, the discourse and logic reached a summit whereby everyone in the hall had reached the same goal - resolution and order triumphing over exploration, development and apparent meaningless. After a standing ovation, the ballad at the end, in its simplicity and sincerity, made me cringe with sadness at its beauty. At this point, nothing much more was to be said. It was the perfect ending to ease oneself back into the linear present.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have their reward.