music

One week, one hundred guitarists

It’s a nice reminder: two guitarists busily strumming away is a jam; a hundred playing for dear life is a fucking movement.

That quote is something I came across a couple of days ago. It’s Tristan Bath writing in The Quietus about A Secret Rose, a piece by Paris-based composer Rhys Chatham. The whole review is worth reading because it bears some resemblance to a piece I took part in, A Crimson Grail.

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As Malcolm Young would have said, hit the bugger!

The piece, performed as part of this year’s Sydney Festival, is pretty enormous. An antiphonal piece, it generates a huge sound – though not as loud as you’d assume – with elements passing around the audience, who sit in the middle of the performance space. Players can’t really get a sense of how the whole works – not the way the audience can – because they’re so close to their particular section. But for those in the middle, it’s epic, to say the least. (more…)

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2017 CONSUMPTION: A LOOK AT SOME STUFF I LIKED

Oh, look at the time. It’s that time again: the time I write about the stuff I liked or consumed this year, briefly, for the edification of myself and nobody else, most likely.

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Previous versions are here, here, here and here if you need an introduction.
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Supersense, Melbourne: August 18-20, 2017

I’m just back from a couple of days in Melbourne at the Supersense festival, and am kind of exhausted but mostly happy. So I figured while it was fresh I’d note some thoughts on the whole shebang.

Stage and stalls

The festival bills itself as an examination of the ecstatic experience, and that pretty accurately covers the couple of days I spent in the phone coverage-free bowels of Arts Centre Melbourne. Like other festivals it’s run to a timetable, sure. But this one saw performances enacted in familiar venues seen from unusual perspectives: foyers, rehearsal rooms and, notably, viewed from an enormous stage (and not the stalls). Throughout, I saw and heard a dedication to pushing music somewhere that transcends the idea of mere performance – sometimes unsuccessfully, but often brilliantly.

TLDR version? Goes orright, mate.

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2016 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

WELL HERE IT IS. Once more it’s time for a recap on what I did during the year, stuffwise. Previous versions are here, here and here, if you need an origin story.

Once more, I’m unsure who would actually read this all the way through, given the self-indulgence herein, but don’t worry – I’ve found an image that reflects both the world’s 2016 and my thoughts on writing the thing.

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Take that, ya lousy fuckin’ year. And you too, ya lousy fuckin’ typing guy.

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Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady

I spent some of last night watching a dress rehearsal of the new production of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, as performed by Opera Australia, and thought I’d cobble together some thoughts.

The musical, based on Shaw’s Pygmalion, tells the story of Henry Higgins, a self-involved phoneticist who enters a bet with a military colleague to turn a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into someone with the carriage – and diction – of a princess. All of which is carried out to a soundtrack you’ll know, even if you think you don’t(more…)

Back to our regularly scheduled programming


Well, in a minute. There’s been a lot of Goodreads reviews popping up here, largely because I’ve been churning through the Preacher trades. I’ll write on other stuff soon, no doubt, but until then enjoy something missed from my ’90s challenge posts – non-Australian music. This album was one I listened to a lot and it still remains one of those with no volume ceiling: no matter how much you turn it up, it could always go just a little further.

More anon.

’90s musical memories: 7/7

Well, this is day seven of seven. And I’ve gone with perhaps the most predictable choice for last: You Am I. Anyone who knows me from my university days knows that this was my band, and this song my jam. At that time of my life they were massively important. I don’t listen to them as much these days, but that’s OK: once you’ve heard as much as I have, it’s always sort of there.

This song is a classic of nerdy outsider anthems, and I’m not the only arts dick who thought it was kinda written for them.

I’m aware this is a bit of a cop-out, but I’ve written about this song before. I looked over my old blog post and it all rang true. Head over here to check it out. It expresses why I love this band in general, and this song in particular.

(There’s also some entries about my first own-bought guitar, a shitty car and more about night driving, which seems to be a theme in these posts.)

’90s musical memories: 6/7

We’re entering the home stretch now: just today and tomorrow to go. (Well, maybe an additional day for non-Australian stuff, but hell.) So today I’d like to lay some more instrumental stuff on you: the band that sounds like Australia, to me, really. The band whose line in a) stage banter and b) grim weepers is pretty much without peer. The band who I’m always happy to see, despite knowing a serious bumming-out will occur at some point during their gigs. The band I have pushed upon people relentlessly, zealot-eyed because I know that they’re pretty much the best thing ever.

It is, of course, The Dirty Three. (more…)

’90s musical memories: 5/7

For day five of the ’90s Musical Memories challenge, I figured I’d go with something without words. It’s by a band who I discovered thanks to a tween magazine, and who generally make their work on the fly. The song I’ve chosen is fairly unique in the band’s catalogue as it comes from an album that’s both a soundtrack and a collection of short pieces. (They’re normally keen on disc-long tracks, so anything less than about 30 minutes is punk as fuck, as far as they’re concerned.)

So listen, won’t you, to ‘The Boys II’ by Australia’s leading ambient jazz improvisational trio, The Necks. (more…)

’90s musical memories: 4/7

For day four of my ’90s Musical Memories challenge I have gone with a band which was one of the first I saw live, and one I hated for a really long time. They’re a band who negotiate their own twisted furrow, and one almost universally critically adored, yet criminally undersold. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Crow, one of the few bands to have seen the word ‘angular’ appear in almost every write-up they’ve received. (more…)