New music, please!

Although I’m enjoying my belated discovery of the marvel that is Everyone’s Mixtape, where I am thoroughly wallowing in my obsessive collating of John Peel’s Festive Fifty in audio format (no doubt along with 50 other circa fifty-somethings), I do remember with fondness what appeared, when I was a teenager, to be wave upon wave of new music.

Now, I understand that the Sex Pistols were little more than an “outrageous” version of the “outrageous” New York Dolls; that the Two Tone groups started out as punky or poppy groups with a nod to ska and bluebeat; that the New Romantics adored  Roxy Music and Bowie; and that the strange advent of folk, bluegrass and rockabilly inspired music in the mid-80′s harked back to days where, well, a night out was not quite as electronic and a darn sight more straightforward than a posing down The Blitz.

However, it struck me recently that over the past – I kid you not – 20 years I have had very few moments where I’ve thought “Wow, that is genuinely new!” Yes, I’ve loved loads of music heard on Last.FM, Dandelion Radio, Thelonius Funk and the weekly downloads I subscribe to from Rough Trade. But nothing ever sounds genuinely new.

So, in the spirit of adventure, I have resolved to scour the planet more than ever before to come across those fresh beats (am I sounding middle-aged enough yet?) and will hopefully create a new mixtape, track by track, over the next few weeks. Any suggestions of exciting and new music that I can add to the tape will be gratefully received. I hope to be proved completely wrong, out of touch, and end up with a wonderfully fresh and re-energised music collection.

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Black holes and the God debate

All this fuss about Stephen Hawking’s new book, the Grand Design, prompted me into finally writing about something I made notes on several months ago. (There’s a good commentary on the book and arguments for and against Hawking’s ideas in The Telegraph if you wish to take a look.)

I think I was reading an article about ‘multiverses’ (not this one, but this gives some explanation about the theory) and the creation of the universe in general and started thinking ‘Well, that doesn’t sound so new after all’.

In fact, as is usual when it comes to high-end theoretical stuff about astronomy, I clearly hadn’t understood it all. But it reminded me of evenings spent in my mate Dave’s house many many years ago (ok, 1980 – 1981), along with our mutual friend Nick, playing Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and the Human League’s “The Black Hit of Space”, no doubt drinking his dad’s cans of Kestrel lager. (This was before we graduated to going to Nick’s house because his local off-license would sell us, as 15 year-olds, cider, sherry or Carlsberg Special Brew – or Martini if we were feeling particularly sophisticated and Nick had just got paid for his paper round.)

I remember Nick describing to me and Dave how a black hole is so ‘dense’ that something the size of a bean would be fantastically heavy and crash through the centre of the earth. (Not entirely accurate, but we were only 15.) We discussed all manner of things, including how there must be an infinite number of parallel worlds and, because of this, how it was perfectly plausible for us to exist ‘elsewhere’, but with just one variation on our lives. And ‘infinite’ meant that there was no ‘end’ to the universe. For good measure, what was in the universe before the Big Bang? – there must have been something there, even if it was ‘nothing’. God could not exist, otherwise how did God come into being? He couldn’t have created Himself and if there was a time before God, what was there and who created it?

Breathless, we would then take another sip of Kestrel before putting “Debbie HarrRy” on the turntable….Perhaps, had we not drunk those Martinis, one of us could have been the next Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, rather than Michael Green.

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