Maxwell Volume's Notes from a Parallel Dementia

This International Women's Day I'd like to highlight a few musicians who have had a huge influence on my own evolution either as a person or a musician or both.

While we've still a long way to go before we can achieve anything like equality, I think the role of women in the music industry – both as musicians and producers / engineers – is in a much MUCH better place than it was than in the 60s & 70s. If the conventional role of women music at that time was to stand at the front being and sounding pretty, then the people I'd like to highlight were an antithesis to this stereotype – weird, confronting, strong and intellectual.

Gilli Smyth

Gilli Smyth Gilli Smyth of Gong & MotherGong was a pioneering vocal experimenter, poet, feminist and philosopher. Gilli pioneered a vocal technique which came to be known as Space Whisper, which she developed with Ziska Baum in Paris during the late 60s. Sometimes atonal sometimes beautiful vocal tones fed through immense reverb & delay, her vocals could have been mistaken for synthesizers, had not synths been comparatively primitive at the time.

An intellectual, feminist & anti-authoritarian, she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Robert Graves, Yoko Ono & Jimi Hendrix. I was fortunate to consider her a good friend, and worked with her on several musical and creative projects, including her last album entitled “Paradise”, as well as the unfinished project “Do Birds Dream in Song”.

I will always deeply miss Gilli – the many long evenings on the balcony discussing art / philosophy / science over an endless succession of glasses of red wine and spliffs.

Renate Knaup

Renate Knaup Vocalist of the German Kosmische Musik band Amon Düül II as well as regularly appearing on Popol Vuh albums, I would suggest Renate Knaup's vocal style is a direct reaction to Schlager and Western popular music in the 60s and 70s. With little consideration of conventional singing style, her singing in Amon Düül II was a cosmic rocket into the heart of an alternate dimension. While the later Amon Düül II albums become a little patchy in places, her work with Popol Vuh is consistently amazing – a textural compliment as well as contrast to the ambient psychedelic drone of the band.

Cosey Fanni Tutti

Cosey Fanni Tutti Cosey Fanni Tutti's work as an experimental electronic musician in bands Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey & as a performance artist, push boundaries that don't even exist yet, let alone exist currently. At a time when “twiddling knobs” was exclusively the domain of men, Cosey's voyages into extreme noise at one end of the spectrum to synthpop in the other, stand as a direct provocation of the notion that “music is a men's game”.

I've never been much of a blogging enthusiast, be it writing or reading them. Recently, though, I've quite enjoyed reading the long-form thoughts of a few people who I've met on the Fediverse. This year, it's my plan to attempt to engage a little more with the indie music community on the Fedi, and so thought I might post a few irregular life updates in the spirit of the stuff I'm enjoying reading. So, here we go!

January has been an almost complete write-off for me in terms of creative pursuits, as well as Actual Work. A minor virus led to a sinus infection, which led to a blocked left ear, which led to led to tinnitus and an absolutely maddening weird phaser / chorus effect in my ear. Suffice to say, little music was listened to, let alone worked on / composed / jammed.

I had to forcibly drag myself to the computer to do even a little work on the websites for my son's preschool & and local community centre that I graciously offered to do for free some twelve months ago, and only got past the committee decision making processes, false starts and various other hiccups just before 2023 ended. So it goes.

On the upside, sinus pain and ear weirdness didn't stop me going all out through late December and all January with my snap decision to make all French recipes – initially all taken from the Floyd on France cookbook. For a variety of reasons I've been getting a great deal of enjoyment / amusement from Keith Floyd related shenanigans over the past month.

Creative pursuits!

The new Homeostasis album entitled “Enshittifination” had to be put on hold due to my unpleasant physical embuggerment. It's only awaiting vocals, 90% of which written. I'm looking forward to seeing it completed – as it's what I'm conceiving as an 100% Fediverse-birthed album.

I'm also assembling the next jlmxv album. This, I suspect, will require less effort on account of the fact that the general philosophy of jlmxv is improvisatory, experimental and “first thought best thought” etc.

So, there you have it!

These are the Faircamp websites that I'm currently aware of. There's also a list on the Faircamp website, but I'm still trying to keep this one updated for my own purposes.

Faircamp Webring – Faircamp Aggregator –

Amberlucent – Art Weirdo Media – attks th drknss – audiokontor music – AxWax Music – benjamindaass – bran(...)pos – bruxa do mangue – Christian Pacaud – הקולקטיב – control freak studio / – Daniel Maxson – Default Media Transmitter – DX Complex – Erdspiegel – fastachee – Fugue State Audio – Future Cabaret Records – Futzle – Gorr – Jeremy Bornstein Trio – Jessica B. Kelly & The Void Conspiracy – the jd sessions – Johann Bourquenez Solo – Kel Audio – Key 13 – KNova – Kristoffer Lislegaard – Kunovitý Records – Leo Levinsky and the Embarrassments – Limnetic Villains – Liverecordings by base acts – Lorenzo Miniero – M E L J O A N N – protman – Punxdrone – RathmoreTV – Reverb 10000 – Roldy Clark – Samae's Synth Stuff et al – sknob – socool – Snap Infraction – STREET GLOVES – Torsten Torsten – Tryptophonic – tsunami records – TWUNI – Velstandsfanden – Venya's music –

Thanks to -

Simon Repp for the hard work on a great bit of kit for the indie musician to get their music out there without dealing with evil megacorps! for establishing and running the webring. for the Faircamp Aggregator.

PS My own site amongst the above list is Tryptophonic.

Today would have been Gilli Smyth's 90th birthday.

Gilli was, along with Daevid Allen, the co-founder of legendary psychedelic progressive intergalactic jazz (con)fusion band Gong. She was a trail-blazing vocalist, poet, feminist, intellectual, conversationalist. In the 60s when the music industry was ruled exclusively by men (unless you were an attractive whispy pop or folk singer), Gilli was one of the few women working in the experimental / psychedelic music scene – or at least one of the few that history has either not recorded or erased.

I was incredibly privileged to consider Gilli as one of my closest friends in the last years of her life. I lived with Gilli and her son Orlando in a rustic beach house near Byron Bay, Australia for a number of years, and that period of my life will always hold some of my fondest memories.

The long, long, LONG hours sitting on the front balcony or around the dinner table discussing subjects philosophical, musical or scientific. The many cups of tea, the many glasses of red wine – often at improper hours of the day – not to mention the continual spliffs. It was a heady atmosphere.

What I most liked about Gilli was that she was an intellectual. Her passion for philosophy, science, feminism, literature, poetry and of course music was unquenchable. There would always be copies of New Scientist and Fortean Times piled high wherever Gilli was currently sitting. There were always interesting and obscure books scattered around.

She also could impart some absolutely cracking anecdotes – not surprising, as she was friends with Simone de Beauvoir while living in Paris, lived with Robert Graves in Deja, and regularly played chess with Jimi Hendrix in London.

From around 2000, I occasionally collaborated with Gilli on musical projects, and later I worked extensively with her on her final releases – “Paradise” ( ) and was working with her on an album entitled “Do Birds Dream in Song?” when she became too ill to continue working.

I did my best to push the “Do Birds Dream in Song?” project through to completion, but always wanted Gilli to creative leader and steer the project – not take control as men have so often done in the history of the music industry. I regret not being able to finish the project at the time, and while there's often been suggestions to complete the project in recent times, Gilli's illness and passing left me too sad and upset for many years to consider picking it up.

Now, that there's been time to heal and recover, I've dusted off some of the recordings. Perhaps it is time to complete the album? I've thought to perhaps contact some of Gilli's other friends and collaborators to help complete the project.

In the meantime, I've decided to release several of the tracks from the sessions as a semi-unofficial EP as a free download to celebrate Gilli's 90th birthday. The tracks are as they were when we were unable to continue, so please bear in mind they're not what I would consider to be masterpieces of production, but I still like them a great deal.

Gilli never liked celebrating her birthday – it was at her birthday party in 1973 that Robert Wyatt fell out a window and broke his spine – but she did like any excuse to open a fine bottle of red and spark up a spliff – so raise a glass / joint to Gilli Smyth (1 June 1933 – 22 August 2016).