Videos

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…)

NO! I WILL FINISH IT!

This pretty much describes the attitude I’m going to force myself to take. Even though I may not be producing Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People, I have a couple of projects I Don’t Want To Let Slide.

And so, a reminder. No high-fives from God. Just a bunch of not-pissing-about.

Tomorrow. 

(Hear the rest of this Patton Oswalt show here.)

Review: Frank Bretschneider – Super.Trigger (and some gear)

A couple of months ago, I wrote a review of Frank Bretschneider‘s Super.Trigger album for Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample:

Eschewing romanticism doesn’t remove character, though some tracks are more favoured in this regard. ‘Pink Thrill’ is all nerdly tetchiness, but ‘Machine.Gun’ is the clear winner. Staccato drum rolls imitate the track’s titular weapons while a frenetic background conjures the image of a gunfight held over the top of a Blaxploitation soundtrack. It crackles, and when the end comes – in an echo-chamber of steely ricochets – it’s triumphant. Worth special note too is the album’s attention to bass sounds. On some tracks – the opener ‘Big.Hopes’, and ‘Day.Dream’ in particular – there’s window-shaking kicks and tones that are so immense that it’s difficult not to fist-pump in celebration. Coupled with the appropriate atmosphere, such as the dubby, dark sound of ‘Over.Load’, it’s overwhelmingly great.

You can read the full review here. But the reason I’m linking it today is that this rather neat article details Bretschneider’s studio setup and workflow. If you’re interested in electronic music (and like the track above) then you’ll find some good info in there.

(As an aside, I like reading this and discovering that I mentioned fist-pumping. I hadn’t even seen Regular Show when I wrote this, but the power of the Fist Pump can’t be denied. See below.)

 

In the beginning, back in 1955…

After forty years of life dedicated to AC/DC, guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young is taking a break from the band due to ill health. Malcolm would like to thank the group’s diehard legions of fans worldwide for their never-ending love and support.

In light of this news, AC/DC asks that Malcolm and his family’s privacy be respected during this time. The band will continue to make music.

And like that, AC/DC is over.

Well, perhaps not over. They’re not saying that. Malcolm could well recover and come back to the stage, chunking out those riffs pretty much everyone knows so well. After all, it is his band, no matter how much adulation the frontmen (and I’m a Bon guy all the way, thanks) or the hyperactive brother may receive. It’s Malcolm’s outfit, and he’s the power behind the juggernaut. But without him – well, it wouldn’t really be the same, would it? In the same way Mick Jagger admits that without Charlie Watts, there are no Stones, without Malcolm there really isn’t an AC/DC.  (more…)

It’s a man’s world

You’ll be listening to some Charles Mingus through this – the jazz giant and composer who’s easily as cool as Miles ‘Motherfucker’ Davis – because my dander’s up thanks to this Esquire list. (Also largely because when it comes to sick bass riffs, Mingus is the shit.)

The list – and I’m uncertain how old it is – purports to detail the 75 albums that every man should own. Which in itself is a bit of a shithouse premise, and leads me to assume there must be a list of the 75 albums that every woman should own, and they’re mostly going to be Kate Bush and Ricky Martin.  Because you know, chicks like chick stuff and dudes like dude stuff and you should never cross the streams, as continually evidenced by lists like this other one, which claims that liking synth-pop ensures you’ll never get laid, and what’s wrong with you anyway? (It’s from 2009 but was in the recommended links section, so y’know.)

I suppose Esquire tries to shoot for the Like A Sir market, constructed upon What It Is To Be A Gentleman, closely related to the How To Dress Like You’re In Mad Men and How To Get A Six Pack In A Manner Totally Different To The One We Printed Last Month market, so the sort of scattershot commentary within is to be expected, but I’m pretty surprised at how some of these shake out. (more…)

There’s bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet

No matter where you live.

Today I’ve been listening to a fair bit of the Mountain Goats. Namely, The Sunset Tree, which is perhaps the most overtly autobiographical thing Goat chief John Darnielle has done. I guess you could argue that his life has provided grist for the lyrical mill all along – they are a deeply personal band (even when it’s just John) but The Sunset Tree was forthright in the handling of its author’s time as an abused kid. It’s also a more fulsome recording, benefiting from the expansions extra instrumentations introduce to a body of work more usually recorded on a boombox.

The first video in this post is what I’d pick as my go-to song on the album, though there’s really an embarrassment of lyrical riches on the bloody thing. Recently featured in an episode of The Walking Dead, the song ‘Up The Wolves’ is deeply sad and ebullient at the same time. It’s pugnacious sadness, and it gets me every time.  (more…)

Film review: The Proposition

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. 

There have been few Australian films as hotly anticipated as The Proposition. The combination of director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave (who have created film clips together, and were previously teamed on the thoroughly disturbing Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead) and a cast including Guy PearceRay WinstoneJohn Hurt and David Wenham served to create quite an appetite. The good news is that the expectations created by such a gathering of talents are surpassed with this film. It’s a truculent, smouldering piece that, while managing to have a core story that’s straight out of a western, manages to address issues which still dog Australia today.

(more…)

A brief shakuhachi break

I recently went to a shakuhachi ‘blow’ – a group playing event. I’d not played my shakuhachi – and trust me, I’m not very good – for almost a year, and so it was a little intimidating, especially as the only other attendees were accomplished players, including the first non-Japanese grandmaster, Riley Lee. We weren’t playing this piece, but playing with others reminded me how good it feels to share a musical experience with people, even if you’re not on the same level.

This video features the legendary Katsuya Yokayama playing ‘Tsuru no Sugomori’ or ‘Nesting of Cranes’, a sort of sound-portrait. Another performance of this piece (played by Goro Yamaguchi) was included on the golden disc that went into the universe on the Voyager probe. (You can hear that version here, should you wish to.)

I include this video today because it’s been a day of stress, and though I find it difficult (sometimes) to maintain focus through a shakuhachi piece, I really like this one. It’s a pretty popular piece, or at least there’s a lot of different takes on it.

The different versions show how much scope there is for interpretation, and give me the hope that someday I’d be able to play a version, however flawed, of it. Or, let’s face it, of any honkyoku.