Notate 20

Posted by in Book Cover Design, Culture, Publishing

Notate – 20th anniversary art.


Nostalgia makes the autumn of twenty years ago seem a serenely magical place yet it was if anything fraught with frenetic tension combining nowhere to live, a non-career and turning 30. I was just back from Italy and needed to finish my second book with only four days to do it. I did but was unable to properly promote it. 

Looking back it all seems rather strange though I still believed in what I was doing even if ignorance met every release – save Mezzanine Smile. I’ve probably written somewhere about how many artists’ are defined by either their debut or their sophomore effort and this is very much the case with Notate.

Special art from the upcoming book Dating the Page.


It all began five years previously in Newport and was augmented by further writing in France and Scotland. The first two poems to be designated to Notate were the last two which were both strong enough and for which there was no room in A Lyrical Oasis. I didn’t envisage it taking five years to write but a lot occurred in that timeframe.

I should give mention to the music that inspired the work as much as the imagery (notably Rene Jacques man of the night). There are all sorts of influences name checked in Notate, the most obvious are those named after existing pieces of music; Robert Fripp’s Dark Water, Budd and Eno’s Foreshadowed and This Mortal Coil’s FYT. But some of the other poems also had musical starting points. 

Prosaic Strangers owed to King Crimson’s Nuages which reminded me of Prague hence the story, one of my few fictitious pieces. In addition David Sylvian was still a big influence and like his second Gone to Earth I originally intended to have a second volume of visual poems (much like Beyoncé is doing now with her ‘visual albums’) to go with the written volume.

Note also that the ‘agony has stopped’ line in Creating Future Tense was an accident seemingly absorbed from Sylvian’s Let the Happiness In without realising which is surprisingly easy to do. The ones which intentionally give a bow to Sylvian are: The Silent Places and Sundays Hill which both borrow from the Gone to Earth instrumentals (Railroad Meets the Sea and Sleeping Steeples).


20 years’ later I have fond memories of Notate as it is in a way the parting shot of youth, the new life doctrine – unknown to me then – would be one of travel and location independence (which was happening prior to this most horrendous of years).

Life is (they say) what you make it, but I say it’s what others allow you to make it and no-one was buying. Publishing books is not the same as music, a publishing house and its marketing clout is still very much needed in order for the fruits of our labour to be discovered.

Independent music can be reviewed in the mainstream media, though I would soon find this was not extended to the printed word; a case of majors only. Without promo a book is destined to be still-born.

French press flyer


My thinking was probably right in that Notate should have been pushed most in France but I didn’t have the finance to do it myself. A few flyers in FNAC were not going to do the trick. BUY Notate here


Thanks for reading here, should you be interested in my work; principally writing, photography, and teaching, check out the MEDIA page, and/or the UNIVERSITY page for my teaching ethos. 

Meanwhile, stay tuned with things here at Kulture Kiosk via THE ATLAS or Kulture Kiosk on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world.

Quiet Night of Quiet Stars – Getz/Gilberto
Tinseltown in the Rain – The Blue Nile
Le Soleil et la Mer – Reload
There’s No Magic to It – Peter Kingsbery
Dark Water – Robert Fripp
Lost in the Humming Air – Harold Budd/Brian Eno
Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds) – King Crimson
FYT – This Mortal Coil
Rebound – Human League
Foreshadowed – Harold Budd/Brian Eno
Where the Railroad Meets the Sea – David Sylvian
Silver Moon Over Sleeping Steeples – David Sylvian
Always Unknowing – Roxy Music
Triple Concerto – William Orbit
#1 Crush – Garbage
Thais – This Mortal Coil

Photo credits: KH