critic's pick 192

Last fall – the weekend before Thanksgiving, to be exact – two generations of prog, fusion, Eastern, jazz and jam minded players convened in Raleigh, North Carolina for a summit called the New Universe Music Festival. The event was the brainchild of the indie label Abstract Logix, which has been blurring the boundaries (and age restrictions) regulating various musical genres for years. Its music has been primarily introduced through recordings. On these two November nights, however, such sounds were allowed to bump heads onstage. Through an engaging double-disc live album, Abstract Logix Live! The New Universe Music Festival 2010, those performances now become part of the label’s recorded mission.

Among the elder participants: pioneering guitarist and Mahavishnu Orchestra founder John McLaughlin, past and present Return to Forever drummer Lenny White and the landmark Indian percussionist (and one-time McLaughlin bandmate) Zakir Hussain. From the younger camp come Widespread Panic guitarist Jimmy Herring, Indian drummer and film score composer Ranjit Barot and the extraordinary Oregon-born guitarist Wayne Krantz (whose has collaborated with Steely Dan and Billy Cobham, among many others).

The music ranges from suitably eccentric – as in the busy funk and fusion passages that mingle between Barot and synth-happy Tribal Tech keyboardist Scott Kinsey on Sometimes I… – to the elegantly cool Very Sad, where Austrian guitarist Alex Machacek nicely channels the spaciousness and tone of one of the Abstract Logix stable’s most obvious influences, British prog and fusion stylist Allan Holdsworth.

Given the prominence of guitar heroes on New Universe Music Festival and the frequent Eastern underpinnings within their music, it seems only natural that the spirit of George Harrison would pay a visit. On a cover of the late Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper classic Within You, Without You, Herring opens with contemplative atmospherics respectful of Harrison’s original before building to a fusion boil with longtime drumming pal Jeff Sipe.

Krantz opens the second disc with a limber trio excursion titled Why that features the rubbery support of veteran six-string bassist Anthony Jackson while White revisits Gazelle, a tireless fusion romp he first recorded over 40 years ago alongside the tune’s composer, Joe Henderson.

McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension band, augmented by Hussain, brings the party home. On Recovery, they set up a concise electric bounce that relies as much on Cameroonian bassist Etienne M’Bappe and drummer Gary Husband as the two featured soloists. But the 21 minute Mother Tongues fully unleashes Hussain’s rigorous tabla rhythms and a surprisingly playful guitar lead from McLaughlin.

It’s a merry confluence of styles, sounds and ethnic strategies. And like the bulk of New Universe Music Festival, the resulting music is best appreciated for its improvisational ingenuity. In short, dig these glorious instrumental live performances for what they are rather than for where they came from.

GROW INTO THE GARDEN; SPECIAL ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE; Turn that precious oudoor space into a sleek retreat…(Features)

Daily Mail (London) August 14, 2010 AS GARDENS evolve into stylish outdoor rooms, this is a good time of year to think ‘outside the shed’ and introduce some ultrastylish new features to make the most of that precious patch of outdoor space.

Sails that act as sunblinds while looking more like overhead sculptures, decadent day beds in the latest all-weather PU rattan and log cabins that can be dressed up as twinkly retreats for entertaining — these are some of the latest ideas for creating a relaxing retreat in the garden, which can be home to so much more than the proverbial shed.

Creating a sleek outdoor sanctuary will extend an al fresco lifestyle well into autumn.

And with August sales on now, it’s a great time to dream up grand designs as everything from patio heaters to pergolas and play frames are at up to half price, with ample time to get your project installed and put to use over the months to come.

From shed to sauna ONCE they were just somewhere to store the tools or bikes — and a refuge for a generation of dads. website monkey tower defence 4

But now the shed has morphed into a stylish log cabin often fully equipped with modern furnishings, heating and electricity — to be put to innovative use as a sauna, cinema room, gym, guest room, play room or warm and cosy double glazed home office.

A cabin can also be dressed up to look magical in the evening with LED lighting, a sound system and storm lanterns leading to it for al fresco entertaining. And it can add value as well as extra space to your home.

Check out the many variations available from Dunster House (, from guest rooms and offices to gazebos, saunas and camping cocoons.

Dunster House also supply special Rapidpad foundations requiring minimal digging, making the cabin much quicker to erect than laying a concrete base.

Sail through summer KEEPING the conservatory cool in summer, or creating an outdoor area that provides some welcome shade doesn’t just mean blinds or pergolas. see here monkey tower defence 4

A lightweight tensile sail can provide a contemporary and visually stunning feature, like a floating sculpture overhead.

Tensile sails are used in many famous architectural spaces, such as Sadler’s Wells, to create a focal point, diffuse light and remove solar glare.

But these cutting edge architectural tools adapt equally well to the home, providing conservatory shades or canopies to go over a patio or walkway, creating a transition space between home and garden, while providing protection from the sun and rain — look at Year-round sanctuary FROM decadent day beds to corner groups – the latest weather resistant modular rattan garden furniture can turn a garden haven into a super sleek sanctuary.

The buzzword is PU rattan, which you can leave out all year in all weathers without fading or splitting. Instead it retains a stylish look that has the knack of making you feel like you’re sitting by a swish 5-star hotel pool in the South of France.

The UV-resistant rattan is easy to wipe down, smoother and softer to the touch than traditional wicker and stays cool even in hot weather, with a strong rust resistant frame.

Comfy cushions are showerproof with washable covers, but are best kept undercover when not in use.

A good source is Showhouse Furniture (, suppliers of stylish PU rattan furniture sets to consumers and leading hotels such as The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales, where the Ryder Cup is being held in October.

PM’s garden party IN THE run up to the General Election, Dunster House were delighted to see their Monkey Tower climbing frame sitting proud as punch behind Prime Minister David Cameron, in pictures taken in his garden.

He’s a busy man, but if he did find time to assemble the Monkey Tower himself for his family, he would have found it a doddle using the simple instructions and assembly kit provided – and to dismantle it to move it to his new Downing Street address (

Climbing frames come in all kinds of fun combinations, with monkey bars, swings, towers, climbing ladders, fireman’s poles, scramble nets and wave slides. Kids love them and they provide an easy way to ensure they get plenty of exercise.

And like most of the latest ideas for transforming the garden, you may get one now at a particularly good price.


Garden designs: Create a home office in a log cabin or erect tensile sails (inset) as an innovative focal point

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