08 September 1999

Simon amp Robert have returned

08.20 Simon & Robert have returned to the terrors of "Lizard". "Indoor Games" now sounds more musical than since it left the studio.

An ace tune well played mixes itself. Difficulties in mixing are commonly the result of poor musical conception and / or performance. An unsolved problem in mixing passes the problem to the mastering engineer. The main technical difficulty in mastering "Lizard" is how to deal with the mellotron. Controlling the mellotron's middle-range screech unsettles the rest of the spectrum. Past solutions to mastering "Lizard" have failed to find a single all-win solution. Simon the Hero, with new technology, is now closer to reconciling the unreconcilable elements of "Lizard" than ever before.

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is about-to-be-becoming-having-been tickled. Mel's flute playing is so good. "Prince Rupert Awakes" - Rupert would have done better to stay in bed that day. Jon Anderson has sung the unsingable: neither melody writer nor lyricist helped him on this one. An early edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (from any good secondhand bookshop) is an essential aid to interpreting the lyrics.

At last! The Bolero! Robin Miller's oboe has entered, left, and Keith Tippett, Mark Charig, Nick Evans & Mel Collins are blowing away. This is the only part of the album I am able to remember with anything other than fear, terror, misery & suffering.

"The Battle", "Lament" & the whirligig of "Big Top" all now recalibrated & fine tuned.

12.15 Hooray! All the tracks ready for glueing together.

In Sum:

Lots of ideas, mostly presented simultaneously and very few of which work. Various bits are unsure whether to try & make connection with a unified central theme, or maintain their independence. Mostly, the search for a unified central theme escapes satisfaction & the constituent elements adopt a semblance of neutrality, so as not to attract culpability for their involvement. Labour & labouring, mostly joyless, strive effortfully to present the appearance of cohesion.

There is one exception: the Bolero. The main theme, played on oboe by Robin Miller (co-principal oboist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Boulez at the time) is a gift. This is a melody which sustained me in difficult times.

Overall, the album is unlistenable. Our remastering shows just how unlistenable. I am unable to recommend that anyone part with their hard-earned pay for this one, unless they want to take it to parties and play it at unwelcome guests. There are some "Lizard" lovers, I know. They must be very strange.

14.08 At 14.00 our final listen-through & hyper-tickling was completed. A huge improvement. Hik from Virgin called to remind me of the Virgin webcast at 17.00.

15.22 Simon is now playing the test tones for "Islands". The tape box is marked "Command Studios". This is enough to strike fear into the heart of those that know the name.

16.28 We are through the first pass on side one, and I'm off to Virgin.

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