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Shakuhachi concert, 28/5/2014

Simon Barker performs.

Simon Barker performs.

I spent part of last night at a performance of shakuhachi and percussion works at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. The players ranged from student to shakuhachi master (and grandmaster) level, and while the event did have some slightly off-target moments, it was good to see how a casual approach to programming and execution – and at a free concert! – can yield rewards. (more…)

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What Is Music? @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney, 13/02/2004

This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

Experimental or avant-garde music is occasionally referred to as “difficult listening”. It’s probably a phrase that was coined by someone after they survived a Fushitsusha gig. Don’t get me wrong – there were many moments of crystalline brilliance – but this was a gig that was always going to require a bit of perseverance.

Fushitsusha are, is, essentially, Keiji Haino. He’s a gargantuan figure in the Japanese music world, though he’s probably got more in common with JD Salinger in terms of his willingness to meet the press or press the flesh. This band is basically his excuse to be the loudest man on earth. From behind wraparound sunglasses, dressed head to foot in black and sporting a haircut so severe that it suggests a goth Ramone pixie, Haino would spend most of this evening playing through a wall of amps pushed louder than any I’d ever heard. (more…)