I wrote this short tribute for EnoWeb's news page in 2016, after Mal's sudden death in July that year.

That you have an EnoWeb to visit is entirely down to one man, Malcolm Humes. I wanted to take a little time to remember him with you.

MalMalcolm Humes was my longest-standing online pal. I first got to know him in 1994/5 through the alt.music.brian-eno Usenet group, and when I sent him a cheeky comment about something on "the Eno Web" site that he had created, he invited me to contribute to the site.

By 1996 Mal was looking to devote his energies elsewhere and asked me to take over the running of EnoWeb completely. He's the person I always refer to whenever I talk about EnoWeb as "we", partly because I was always leaving the door open for his return, and partly because it amused me to present a single opinion as coming from more than one person. I'm not sure whether I'll keep doing that or not (a year on, it looks as though I still can't stop it!).

Mal was a real visionary. He understood the future of the "World Wide Web" far earlier than most. In those early years when the Internet had many different aspects that had fairly equal status (Usenet, Gopher, the WWW, FTP, e-mail), he realised the potential that the Web offered for sharing and linking information and people in new ways. Mal was there years before pillars of the Internet establishment like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Wikipedia, iTunes, Twitter, and so on, had even been thought of. He set up EnoWeb in 1993, along with sites devoted to some of his other interests like Jon Hassell, John Cage and William Burroughs. The Internet was a smaller place then, with more of a shared community feeling that was more outward-looking, and hardly commercialised. It wasn't always a nice space, of course. There were "Internet Trolls" even then. But the good far outweighed the bad.

In his Mission Statement for EnoWeb in 1995, Mal wrote:

The Eno Web thang was initiated by me {Malcolm Humes (email removed)} in October 1993 as I first started looking at the World Wide Web and how it might be applied to media discographies and to business applications. At the time there was very little music info on the Web -- in fact, the only ones I can recall are the WNUR Jazz Web and the Peter Gabriel pages (now retired) which were maintained by Joe Germuska. The nwu.edu server was one of the first 600 or so Web servers on the net by late 1993 and Joe was kind enough to offer a home for the Eno project as I lacked a Web server to host it. Now it appears that as of March 1995 the Eno Web is visited about 3000 times a week at the two locations currently serving the pages.

My initial interest was to use this as a means to learn HMTL and Web design. I was working towards developing training and commercial oriented Web pages for my employer at the time. Creating pages about Brian Eno was for me a more interesting way to learn the basics of HTML than doing just "work" projects. And I was convinced that the Web could be an excellent forum for hyper-media discographies. I'd already been maintaining a number of discographies on other artists and thought that there was enough info, depth and substance to Eno's work to make this a more interesting and insightful project than the now typical "fan" pages about musical artists. This seems to have worked out well and I've since found myself in two different jobs where I'm acting as a webmaster and doing HTML/Web design.

I think Mal chose the "Web" part of the EnoWeb name because he liked the idea of the new hypertext-style structure that was much in vogue at the time – where one article, sentence or word could allow you to jump to another thread and you could follow your own path through the data. You'd end up knowing far more about the topic and other side-turnings and tangents than you originally bargained for.*

As more people got online and "The Internet" became synonymous with the World Wide Web, it became clear that site visitors preferred a more straightforward structure, but in recent years I've begun to wonder if that original blueprint was in some ways a mapping of Malcolm's own enthusiastic approach to the many topics he loved. He had a voracious appetite for music, philosophy, photography, alternative cultures, all their connections, and no doubt many more that I’m not aware of – and he enjoyed sharing those interests and turning people on to new things that they would never have encountered otherwise. A genuine catalyst.

Mal was very touched when, after I mentioned to my contact at Opal that he was getting married, Brian Eno broke the Fourth Wall and sent a wedding present artwork dedicated to Mal and his betrothed with the text, "let's drink a loving cup".

*As preparation for this text, I've been disinterring messages from 1996 from my old CompuServe mailbox (not easy, with an obsolete .plx mail file format on an equally obsolete 3.5" floppy disk). Here is a Mal in an 1996 e-mail extract, typically firing off ideas in multiple directions.

Tom: The OS [Oblique Strategies] page could use a background and a design makeover - there's material to add (mentioned below) and it could use a rethink or a new perspective. I'd like to carve it out more as an overview of use of Random in musical and decision making processes. I Ching. Links to text mutilation engines. Cage. Cutups. Chris Alexander's Pattern Language.

I think this is one of the ideal places to add user interactivity in the project and to make it more than just Eno -- a fertile garden of ideas that can evolve through interactivity in folks adding new oblique strategy cards, contributing to group cutups. I've been pretty diverted from the Eno project in general, but I have given some thought to what it might be able to do to step more away from being just a fan site and into something that's like a playground and a library of ideas.

My Cage page has just extended into a guestbook that I'm quite pleased with what seems to me to transcend most "guestbooks" because it's pulling stories from folks strongly affected by Cage. I imagine the Eno site would generate more of a graffiti style interaction but I think if I partition several rooms there's a potential for creating some focused ongoing conversations on a different level than themailing lists or newsgroups - a timeless thread. I'd appreciate thoughts on topical areas, - like the OS page might host a thread of stories about how people have used the Oblique Strategy Cards.

Malcolm had a healthy sense of the ridiculous side of fandom and at one stage was planning a site where people could post about sightings of Eno. He mentioned in passing:

a first hand account from a woman who spotted Byrne AND Eno in San Francisco circa bush of ghosts. Both were walking out of a Pacific Bell (phone company) office with boxes of surplus phone equipment and she described them as looking like children with a gleam of glee in their eyes or something like that.

A believeable image. Another snippet:

I volunteered at the Exploratorium for months when I had tried to get in on helping construct his Latest Flames sculptures there in 1988. I ended up just donating a lot of time to the museum over many months and seeing the exhibit intimately for dozens of hours. Missed Eno but it was then, listening to him in a lecture on music, that made me realize I'm as inspired by some of his ideas as by the music.

He would occasionally ruefully report little scrapes he'd got himself into:

Last night I had dinner with Cluster and interviewed them and shot some photos ... It was really nice meeting them even if I indavertantly ended up footing the bill for them and two friends for dinner.

And here's an example of Mal's quirky humour from the early 1990s. It must've taken hours with the type of graphics program we had back then:

Have you seen me

Mal described himself on Facebook as "just another old soul channeling my inner surrealist via music and art, with an eye on the world". One of his many friends said, "Mal was an interesting cat." So he was.

You might like to listen to some of his music or look at some of his art.

Bonus! Here is Malcolm's article about Cluster – his enthusiasm still shines through more than 20 years later. Unfortunately he wasn't able to transcribe his recording of the interview because the restaurant background noise turned out to be too noisy, but at least we have this.


I'd heard a few months ago that Cluster was to tour the United States this summer and I just sort of filed it away figuring I'd hear more about it.

It sounded sort of unlikely, I guess, even though the news was from Russ Curry at Curious Music. Russ is the guy behind getting much of Cluster's catalog released in the US recently. Still, Cluster's Summer 1996 US Tour, first ever appearances in the US left me somewhat skeptical.

Even when Russ posted tour dates I was somewhat ambivalent, it seemed far off, weeks or a month or more in the future and I tend to schedule things on a daily or weekly basis.

This all set me up for being genuinely surprised when I was tuned into KPFA on a Tuesday night in late June and heard an interview in mid progress. When I heard the interviewees introduced at a break I nearly fell off my chair. Cluster was a few miles away in a studio, talking about their music and due to play live in San Francisco a few nights later. It all started to sink in!

I'd been turned onto Cluster's music about 20 years ago, via a friend and WXPN in Philadelphia. At the time we were fanatical about anything we could find on old records on the german Ohr or Brain record labels, hunting used bins and paying collectors prices, often paying more than new records at the time for out of print pressings bands we'd barely or never heard of. Cluster was the cream of the crop - Conny Plank was pracically a member of the band and he was also the recording guru of so much else on the german scene. I recall buying reissues of the first two Kluster albums around 1979; Cluster as a trio with Conrad Schnitzler before he split to do his atonal non-tempered Con masterpiece. It was around 1980 I wandered into a record store where Jeff Grienke and Rob Angus worked (both now have numerous electronic music releases) and found them playing a copy of Cluster & Eno's "After the Heat" and I was instantly mesmerized... and when someone else walked up to the counter and asked what it was and bought a copy I realized what a fantastically accessible yet mysterious work that is.

Over the years "After the Heat" has become one of my desert island favorites. A release that evokes so much in me. It's seems to me to have a middle eastern flavor and to invoke a sense of traveling, of passage, and shifting moods. It's one of the few albums where I've really noticed a sense of flow to the lp track arrangements too, it seemed to me to have a linear quality where each track grew on the last. And Eno's vocals on Broken Head shift into such a dark and murky space, chewed up by the machinery...

So, some 15 or 20 years after my introduction to Cluster's music I felt like a kid again as I hung on the phone line to KPFA trying to win free tickets to a concert by Cluster that Friday. I wasn't a winner. But I took the opportunity to pass my number along to Russ and Cluster with an interview request. Hoping I could offer a special feature to the EnoWeb audience covering Cluster's tour and their work with Eno and more.

I was still sort of stunned when I got a call the next morning and I made impromtu plans to meet with Russ and the band that night over dinner. A crazy day at work that I was already stressed over flew by and before I knew it I was getting into a van driven by Russ and headed off to one of my favorite Thai restaurants, Cha Am in San Francisco.

It was really wonderful meeting them. Roedelius carries himself like a monk or holy man, seems very at peace with himself, very gentle, compassionate. Moebius seemed a bit more unsettled, overflowing with the energy of a gleeful child at play and debating privately in german with Roedelius over some of his statements when I asked if Cluster had any message for their audience.

The tape deck I used was an old cheap mini with built in mic and the digital camera pics are a bit washed out. And I'm so slow at transcribing that I'll probably do this in pieces so I can get at least some of it online while they're still doing the Summer '96 US tour. Expect some interview transcriptions soon.

See Russ's Curious Music and Cluster Information Servicefor more info on the tour, Cluster, etc. The tour is also featuring The Brain, a synth duo with members who've backed Nik Turner and Helios Creed and who are joined by Bond Bergland on guitar (Factrix and Saqqara Dogs) on this tour.

I'll also post a review of Cluster's San Francisco concert when I get a chance...

- Malcolm
mal @ emf.net

Remembering Malcolm Humes article written by Tom Boon for EnoWeb 2016, revised 2017. Cluster reminiscence by Mal, 1996.