writing

Gunna, get it?

When I was a teenager my parents and uncle delighted in calling me Gunna. Gunna Martin. At first, I thought this was kind of cool, because as a kid I’d loved a book called Drummer Hoff, but apparently it was Not A Good Thing.

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Check out those cheekbones.

It was Not A Good Thing because it referred to my inability to do things in a timely fashion.  Mowing. Picking up the dog shit. Cleaning my room. Homework. Anything that didn’t involve pissing time away, most likely. And so whenever anyone reached the point of extremity, out it came: Gunna Martin, that’s you.  (more…)

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The Priest of the Invisible

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As part of an attempt to become more organised (and to eke more out of my hours) I’ve recently begun scheduling things I’d like to do. It’s not quite as cold as it sounds, and it affords me the ability to ensure I do things I like, but which often suffer in the throes of a Wikipedia hole or a TV Tropes vortex.

One of the things on my list is to read a poem a day. Every day. One poem. This is to counter the fact that though I like poetry, and though I spent four years at university reading books – some of which were made up of poems! – I still feel myself to be a low-watt bulb when it comes to poetry. It’s something I like, and have liked for a long time, but something I feel kind of stupid around, like I’ve turned up to a fancy restaurant in tracksuit pants. (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…)

Peter Fenton: In The Lovers Arms (2004)

This is an older interview 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.

Originally published September 2004.

R-5554611-1457749426-1151.jpeg[1]There’s a line in Peter Fenton’s debut solo album, In The Lovers Arms that accurately encapsulates its author’s thoughts on songwriting. On opener ‘The Song People’, appears the refrain

Song… Song… Song…
It’s where you’ve been

It’s also pretty apt for where the artist is at in his life. Song is, in some ways, a transcript, a record of where you’ve been. And for Fenton, it’s been quite a journey. In The Lovers Arms is the end result of recent ruminations on life, love and solitude, and it’s a welcome release.
The album is the singer’s first solo release since Crow – the best fucked-off-with-life band of dark-eyed troubadours since Nick Cave stopped writing Latin on his chest and decided to keep his suit-jackets on – imploded after the release of Play With Love in 1998. Since that time, he’s begun a career as an actor, and this album marks his return to the world of recording, after a period of disenchantment with the industry at large.

There’s two things to note about this return, too. Firstly, it’s a concept album. Secondly, it’s a product that makes the waiting worthwhile. (more…)

Peter Fenton Opens His Lovers Arms

This is an older interview 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.

Originally published September 2004.

I’m walking into a small, backstreet hotel bar in Sydney on a Friday afternoon. Office-workers are beginning to fill the streets. A mirror-ball hangs from the roof of the front bar, while the best in Rat Pack tunes float through the cigarette smoke. It seems a fitting place to speak to singer and actor Peter Fenton, about his debut solo disc In The Lovers Arms (Inertia), given that it takes place in a mythical hotel – and given the fact that he’s previously starred in a TV series set in such a locale (the ABC’s Love Is A Four Letter Word.). There’s something slightly seedy – yet charming – about the setting that just seems right.

Fenton is sitting at a table in the back as I arrive. Over drinks, we begin to discuss his career, weighted towards his latest release. The first question is simple: though he’s been playing occasional gigs for years since the demise of Crow, how come it’s taken until now for him to release something under his own moniker? What’s he been up to? (more…)

The power of Poe

I have always liked Edgar Allan Poe, though I will freely admit that I have never really understood him as well as I would like.

Oh, I get the stories well enough. I know where they’re going. I can see the shadows they cast, the histories they reference, and even – on my better days – the jokes and knowing winks that he peppers throughout for observant readers to pick up. But I think, more than his now slightly wordy and archaic writing style, there’s a distance between Ed and I that can’t be crossed.

Well the feeling is mutual, bub.

And I’m kind of OK with that. He’s been a sort of uneasy hero of mine for many years, now, and though I have always tempered my thumbs-ups with an acknowledgement of the problems of having him as a role-model (less for the cousin-marrying alcoholic part and more for the proud hack with ghosts to get out part) I feel it’s the fact that there’s something about him and his work that doesn’t click fully with me, that feels off, that aids his stature for me. The fact that something doesn’t fit, that something is weird: it’s a boon rather than a cause for pause. (more…)

Writing to rule: introducing a new project

I’ve always been interested in the Japanese poetry known as haiku. Something has always appealed to me about its brevity and imagery; it’s a distillation of feeling when it’s done well. When I had to write a recollection of my time in Tokyo as part of a touring taiko group, I nicked one of Bashō’s poems to convey the way I felt.

In my new clothing
I feel so different, I must
look like someone else

I’ve had an old Penguin edition of Bashō’s haiku for years now, and I come back to it pretty regularly. It’s a tale of travel, of change, and you can read more about it here. If you’ve never read it, it’s definitely worth a look. (Handily, there’s a PDF version to be found here, with links to further reading.) But flipping through it recently, I was reminded of the power of brevity.

Brevity is something which I don’t have a great handle on, which you will recognise if you’ve read some of the reviews on this blog. So to counter that, I’ve started a new project. I must be serious about it as I registered a domain name and everything. Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing here, at the usual length. But the new project, 575 Reviews, is my attempt at combining brevity and review.

Each day, I’m aiming at writing a single review of something. A book. A film. An album. A play. Manga. Snack food. The terms aren’t really set, beyond there being a picture and a review. There’s not much there now, but it will build, and it is linked in my linklist so rather than spam this page with continual mentions, I’ll let you check it out yourselves.

Here’s a sample, though, a review of Nico’s album The Marble Index (itself named for a passage in a poem) in three lines:

Bleak, black-clad death-songs
Harmonium wheezes on
Goth make-out classic.

Not exactly Bashō, but it’s early days. I hope you’ll join me there, sometimes.

It’s all a game (piece)


I like the idea of process music. I like it a lot. Something about the idea appeals to me. I suppose it’s the fact that I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but have lacked a sense of mastery over any form of tools. I don’t know how to paint, how to draw, how to sculpt. I only barely know how to create music, and even then I am not able to write down or record what I do, so it tends to be lost to the ether. (more…)

New Oren Ambarchi interview

My interview with composer and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi (whose records are ace) has been published at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’m chasing a feeling I get from some of my favourite musics. Something that’s transporting, otherworldly. Ecstatic free sound. I’m searching for something that is almost unknown to me, until I find it, that is. Some kind of beauty.
“I know it when I find it. Somehow everything falls into place – hopefully – at a certain point. I’m happy for this to take a while, so it’s a journey.
“There is some perfectionism but I’m trying not to be too anal about it all. I don’t want to suck the life out of it from refining, refining, refining. It still needs to retain a rawness, an unpredictability. There’s a fine line there, and I have to watch it.”

You can read the rest here.