The size of an ocean

4 June, 2009

One of my favourite bands, Oceansize, are finally on this fine land of ours for a tour, and what a show tonight was!! I would strongly encourage those in other parts of Australia to see their show if they have the time and opportunity to do so.

For my own reference, the setlist was as follows (lasted an hour):

  • Unfamiliar
  • A Homage To A Shame
  • One Day All This Could Be Yours
  • Trail of Life
  • You Can’t Keep A Bad Man Down
  • Ornament/Last Wrongs

Aboriginal music in context

31 August, 2006

I was looking for something else this afternoon and found an excellent review of an album by the band Rivertribe, where the reviewer gave some insight into the context of the didgeridoo and how it is often abused in world music. I thought I’d share it, as it got me thinking.

I cannot take on the task of reviewing this piece of music, before I lend you some background information about two specific things; the genre of “world music”, and secondly the didgeridoo and the Aboriginal culture. They are both two of the most heavily raped and watered-out things I know of, and being a person who holds both in great respect, I feel that I must put forth knowledge. There is a big problem within the genre of “world music”; respect for the sounds made. It is easy to slap music from one country on to something from another, assuming they hold a given pitch and conformity. Got some rumba for this drone-singing? Wanna have a little Mexican guitarro with that rap music? Do you prefer your digde with ambient drum loops or African clay-pot drums? The variations are endless, and often you can split the whole genre into two chunks; good music, and disrespectful music. And let me tell you; the difference between the two is very, very thin.

One can treat the sounds with respect. You can listen to its sounds, tracing their meaning through rhythm and natural counter-instruments. You can read about it, learn from a master, or ask so many questions you feel you know something about it. Read the rest of this entry »

An update

29 January, 2006

Not much happens in my life. However, this will be one of the longest entries I ever post.

Summary:* Music
– Current obsession : I Mother Earth’s album
– RIP The Tea Party

* Canada (brief)

* The left in Australia – warning, blatant opinions contained within.

I have been listening way too much to I Mother Earth’s 2003 album “Quicksilver Meat Dream”. They’re a highly underrated band that deserve far more recognition than they’ve got. For those Tool fans like me, check out “God Rocket” and “Hell and Malfunction”. For more commercial types, check out “Like The Sun” and “No Coma” and “Soft Bomb Salad”. For more hard-rock-headbanger types, try “Choke”. There’s something for everyone! Try it out and see! Also don’t ignore their earlier albums, particularly “Dig”. The songs “All Awake” and “One More Astronaut” are worthwhile too.In sad news, Tea Party, one of my favourite bands, have disbanded (thanks for the heads-up). My personal opinion – the band tried too hard to go commercial at the bequest of the major labels when it was set up to be a creative, eclectic mishmash of Eastern and Western sounds heavily inspired by Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and even Jeff Buckley (listen to “Correspondences”). Splendor Solis (1993) and Edges of Twilight (1995) remain among my pantheon of greatest albums of all time by any artist. The last album, “Seven Circles”, however, was utterly underwhelming. This is far from the first time this has happened to a good band – Stabbing Westward and Our Lady Peace both fell victim to the same, then split after their experiment.

I first saw Tea Party acoustic and live at UWA in 1998 when a friend literally dragged me along to see this band who I’d only heard one industrial-ish song by (Babylon) and was blown away and became a fan immediately. They played without amplification to a room of about 60. I then saw them live at Big Day Out in 2002, and later that year at Metropolis City in their own show in what was probably the best concert I’ve ever witnessed (although Tool 2002 and Massive Attack 2003 were close contenders). I’m glad I got to see their final Perth show in November 2004 up at Belvoir. I had a ticket but almost wasn’t going to go after having to walk home from said venue two nights earlier at the PJ Harvey concert, and having heard “Seven Circles”. My parents talked me into going and I didn’t regret it for a minute.

Their frontman, Jeff Martin, is producing an album “Exile and the Kingdom” which is due in March or April – I can’t wait. He is at the peak of his creativity, has finally found peace in his own life with his new wife and child, and seeing him live and acoustic in Fremantle in February last year, I think he has captured a lot of what I liked about the band to begin with.

Unusual for me to write so much about a band breakup, but they are one of just two bands that has managed to completely blow me away ever.

The Conservatives won the Canadian election, but it’s not all bad – their progressive left party nearly doubled its parliamentary representation, and Canada seems to have basically voted for no change, but to change the dominant party and prime minister (they’ve been given a minority and can’t govern without parties further to the left). I’ll leave the analysis to an actual Canadian. 🙂

The left in AustraliaThere could not be a better time for the left in Australia than now. Yet the left has been languishing in a state of disrepair for some time. Let’s view the contenders:

* The activists are seen by the media as a sideshow and by most as removed from reality. It’s sad as they pursue some very good causes, but it’s not armed clashes outside the WTO or the Forbes Group that change people’s minds, it’s a good argument which involves people rather than confuses them. Any of the major left publications are either unintelligible to anyone outside their idiom or are so far removed from the reality of life of Australian working people that they get scorned more than praised for their hard work (and they do work hard, there’s no doubt about it).

* The broader left movement is mired in factionalism and sectarianism and is obsessed with a bunch of crazy Russians who roamed the earth about 90 years ago. Hell, they even argue over which crazy Russian they support, and whether people are true supporters of said individual or not. (The term “revisionist” is a favourite.) The same denounce me as a traitor because I’m a pragmatist rather than a polemicist (what the hell is that anyway? :))

* The Greens have the basic problem that their structure was created out of quite an odd base. They are in a bizarre position – every other country has a left party – Canada’s NDP is probably the most successful of these. But the Greens started as an environment party and are now trying to be a broad left party. As a result they claim to speak for working Australians yet their support revolves around people attending $50 a head functions or going off to Margaret River (one of the four places in WA where they have serious electoral support) for weekends. Their grassroots organisation is scary (angry white-hair brigade who know what they hate but not what they want) and disorganised. As someone said about the Canadian Greens, “they have a monopoly on ski resorts” – except here it’s Byron Bay/Mullumbimby/Nimbin, Mount Nebo, Hobart, Newtown, North Melbourne, West End (Brisbane), Daylesford, Semaphore, Margaret River, Denmark, Fremantle and Northbridge. And apart from Nimbin and Mount Nebo, they’ve never won even those places outright. In working-class Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane they struggle for 3% of the vote.

* The Labor left, by far the most successful electorally, has no real sphere of influence. The caucus situation has seen it lose its influence within most state parties and it is at best marginal in the federal, hence depriving it of the ability to challenge the Liberals on anything but the Liberals’ home ground. Labor even voted in 2004 for a ban on gay marriage – despite opposition from its left, those individuals still voted for it. I’m reliably informed that those within it are frustrated by being continually undermined by their right-wing colleagues but don’t see themselves as having any choice. That is to say, by voting Labor you vote in someone who continually gets outvoted in caucus and has to vote with them anyway.

Australians are being sold short on alternatives. We need to find something *else* and make it work, provide it with the leadership, the vision and the direction to turn it into a viable political force, and avoid the mistakes of others in allowing base to become too narrow, principles to become compromised or invaders from the loony left to destroy said alternative. I’m still thinking on this one.

break of the edge-crush-urhhh!

11 February, 2004

OK, so on Monday night, Steven and I went to Claremont Showgrounds with the black t-shirt brigade to go watch Korn and Fear Factory (Static X were also there) . I wasn’t expecting much, but I’d never been to a metal concert before and was curious to know what these events are like. Having in mind the Pantera riot of ’95, when the riot police were called in, and a Fear Factory concert a moshy-type friend went to, we went in the gate.

First thing we noticed was the heavy security. Everything was secured. To go anywhere you had to go through a monitored gate. There were armbands too – pink for unlicensed, green for licensed. However, we generally found the security staff friendly, even if Steven’s hand nearly turned blue due to his pink band being more like a tourniquet. The setting was the building used at the BDO as the Boiler Room – the room was fenced off in the middle, the back half being the licensed section.

We were treated to Audioslave’s eponymous album on the sound system and then Fear Factory came on. I’ve never seen a sea of people doing the sign of satan before (the index and little finger salute thingy) – it is so cliched at such events nowadays. They launched into ‘Edgecrusher’ first up – one of their better-known heavier ones off ‘Obsolete’. Watching the band I was quite disappointed to see that the “double kick” I was hearing was actually an electronic effect obtained by holding down the pedal on a bass drum. The crowd were very energetic and active and most seemed to know almost every song they played. After 9 songs that were basically electronic double-kick, screaming and unimaginative tuned-down guitars, they finished up with their new single (for which they filmed a video in Fremantle on Sunday) and a song called Replica. A number of websites join me in noting there were no songs from the ‘Digimortal’ album or anything vaguely melodic (although FF are more than capable – cf. ‘Resurrection’, ‘Descent’, ‘Timelessness’ or even the choruses on ‘Digimortal’). Clearly this was aimed at the heavy crowd. There is a new FF album in the air – many will know the band basically broke up in 2002 but they’re back, with one changed member (the bass player is now the guitarist, and there’s a new bass player).

We went outside as it had gotten very hot inside, and listened to Static X from outside while I shared ‘s idea of a death metal parody band with Steven. I admit that Static X bored me, but then I’m the guy who managed to shock a 16yo by falling asleep while listening to a White Zombie album turned up loud on his walkman, so I can always pull surprises.

While waiting for Korn, we heard almost the entire of Queens of the Stone Age’s “Rated R” album on the sound system. As I’d chosen to wear my QOTSA t-shirt to the gig, I was getting plenty of thumbs-up from surrounding fans.

Korn arrived on stage to kick off with “Right Now”, then “Break Some Off”, probably their two heaviest songs and both off their new album. It was clear from pretty early on that they were superior to the previous bands both technically and musically – I had been expecting something of a freak show after seeing the BDO 99 videos, but we got a rock band in good shape, Jonathon Davis in a good mood, and an awesome light show. They were up for 2 hours and it was pretty much a retrospective on their whole career – a highlight was when they unexpectedly kicked into a cover of Metallica’s “One” at the end of another song. The first hour, the crowd was very active, bouncing around and moving… I think I lost at least a kilo in sweat 😛 Second hour though was much quieter as everyone was basically tired out. Korn well and truly made it a great night out, even though my upper back and knees weren’t thanking me the next day. 😛 Among the songs they played was ‘Faget’ (not misspelled) off their first album – a very interesting choice given the full-on testosterone metal crowd they’d mostly managed to attract – and yet it went down well. I’ve often wondered if this song was actually the counterpoint to Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’.

We drove home playing Korn at loud volume to the enjoyment of a number of passing motorists (most of whom were on the way home from the same event) and the chagrin of some old couple who tried to blind Steven’s driver side mirror with their headlights after we passed them.

P.S. After hearing Muse at Big Day Out, I have to say I’ve really gotten into them – particularly Stockholm Syndrome and Butterflies & Hurricanes. Anyone who wants the BDO setlist, which I’ve made into a 51-minute mini album for use in my CD walkman, let me know.

Musical Updates (long post!)

13 April, 2003

A lot of people have been asking me what’s happening in my life and I’ve been too busy to post here until now, so here goes…

15 March – Eclectic Festival – DJ Dexter, Teenage Fanclub and Badly Drawn Boy (read advert)
This was at Kings Park, the same venue as for George, but the difference couldn’t have been greater. For one thing, the English/Scottish majority ethnicity was quite obvious – that’s quite unusual at a Perth rock event which is usually a mix of locals and Southern Europeans. I arrived late so missed all the earlier acts, but got to see DJ Dexter (Avalanches) cutting up Missy Elliot, 50s rock, System of a Down and Daft Punk in an unbelievably cohesive mix, complete with the local ducks who spontaneously forming a dancing troupe.

Teenage Fanclub, a Scottish heavyish-but-mellow band, were next off the bat and performed a very respectable set – I’d only heard ‘Sparky’s Dream’ before, so I was quite impressed. Worthy picks included ‘Don’t Look Back’ and ‘I’ll Make It Clear’.

Badly Drawn Boy were next, and started the concert by insulting the audience because he felt like a piece of shit (his words) and because they didn’t applaud him at the start his first appearance in Australia. He definitely had a lot of talent and ability and I think his band were amazing for being able to cope with his temperamental antics (including throwing two cigarettes and other objects into the lake, keeping in mind Kings Park is an A-class reserve). That all being said, it was enjoyable.

22 March – Massive Attack at Belvoir (also read inthemix review by someone else here)
This will go down as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. I went with Steven to Belvoir (which is 36km from Perth and an open-air venue with both an amphitheatre and a larger grassed area next to it – the latter was used). The support act was noticeably absent, but that wasn’t such a big deal… Steven actually missed a Glory game to come, so he was listening to his pocket radio almost as much as the surroundings 😛 Anyway, they came on, all 9 of them (including their guests) holding hands across the stage, and 3D asked us for a minute’s silence to remember the women and children currently being bombed in Iraq, before launching into an amazing live set starting with “Future Proof” off their new album. Highlights were definitely Angel and the live version of Group Four, which is *nothing* like the album version and doesn’t even sound much like Massive Attack! It was all very impressive with guests including Horace Andy and Shara Nelson as well as a full live band on guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, and a constant 3d-style news ticker with random current news headlines, weather, military statistics and other assorted information which added to the whole backdrop. Overall, stunning. I hope they come back.

4 March – Samsara dance party featuring Endorphin – Metro City

I refuse to describe this as a “rave” despite the initial advertising (propaganda?) surrounding the event – at least I didn’t go expecting one. Musically, the DJs were pretty good and the Indian dancers accompanying them were pretty amazing, and Endorphin’s 2 hour set, entirely of his own material, was excellent. Monsieur Chapus and his young sidekick seemed to genuinely interact well with the crowd, and highlights were three new songs, one of which brought out two dancers, one dressed as George Bush in military gear, and the other with a face mask of John Howard. Overall, a lot of fun 🙂 It wasn’t a standard Endorphin gig – more at the “heavy trance” end of things with some even harder stuff mixed in – and we got the AM/PM version of Satie (that French piano piece).

The rest of the venue was happening too – although mostly the advertising fell short.

Good – The reiki massages. I got one, initially sceptical, but it was amazingly good and I felt quite relaxed and complete for a while 🙂 Also some of the people I met during the night who were genuinely nice, caring people (including one of the reiki massage staff who I caught up with later on in the evening). Also the pulp juice stand, which sold Java-Juice-like concoctions which went down really well.

Bad – The event finished at 4am instead of the advertised 6am. Several of the advertised attractions simply weren’t there (eg crystals and meditation). The pulp juice stand was there but only sold four of the advertised varieties. The cigarette smoke in the venue was so excessive that it took my nose/throat 2 days to recover.

Weird – The “happy high herb stall” with alternatives to pot, speedballs and ecstacy (a herb called damiana in a dropper bottle) which looked like the real thing and, definitely with the “mull mixes”, were more expensive ($12 for a 30g bag). I had this nagging suspicion they wouldn’t live up to the advertising so didn’t try them.

As the event shut early, basically stranding me in the city until the first trains left on Saturday morning, I ended up wandering around with a backpacker from Brisbane who, oddly enough, seemed to know all the local Aboriginals and street gangs. I think the weirdness of that hour and a half compounded everything that happened before it 😛

6 March – Ben Harper with support Jack Johnson at Belvoir

This was a really excellent gig with a great vibe…

But first, the riot…

…the only problem was the venue! Belvoir is in wine country in the middle of nowhere 30km out of town on the Great Northern Highway. As Route 95 only goes somewhere important if you take its final destination 2,000km away into account and realise that any sane person would fly, it makes sense that it is a 2-lane road with no kerbs, so tailbacks were immense. There is just one entry from the road into the carpark (and there’s no public transport from the city, and it’s $40+ by taxi), and at Ben Harper there was also one entry gate with…one attendant. This particular concert insisted on checking ID from everybody – yes, all 14,000 people. By two-thirds way through the support act, only 3,000-4,000 were inside, and the crowd was getting restless and booing and stomping loudly. The situation deteriorated rapidly with a crowd of several thousand very angry people vs one fence. People were openly discussing collaborating to take down the fence and storm the venue. My confidence wasn’t inspired by the two bouncers running away before the inevitable, one fence came down.  and about 400 people got in without being checked. At this point the attendant, who was only about 19 and looked scared as hell, started letting through anybody who waved a ticket at him through the gate. Poor guy. I didn’t envy him. I later saw more than a few inebriated ~15-year-olds waving at people from inside the licensed area – I don’t think they meant any harm, more than likely they benefitted from the chaos rather than contributing to it. This whole fiasco was poor planning at its absolute worst and, to add to it, the water provided was about 30°C and putrid. I’m told the event resulted in a health and safety review of the site and they have never held an event that big ever again.

Back to the music
Jack Johnson sounded good, although I only really caught the last two songs. Ben Harper then came on almost transparently (normally there’s a sizeable changeover time) and took over, with covers of Jack Johnson and Bob Marley as well as lots of original stuff off the range of his albums. There was a really great vibe about the whole thing and one of the least aggressive crowds I’ve ever had to deal with. It’s clear Mr Harper and his band, who were all multitalented, respected the crowd they had, and they kept saying as much. There was reggae, funk, blues (with Ben on lap-steel), soul and both acoustic and electric rock. One of the encores was a solo acoustic cover of the Verve’s “Drugs Don’t Work” where the entire crowd sang along. He didn’t make any spoken anti-war statements but made his stance pretty obvious in his choice of songs which advocated peace and harmony. One surprise was his open sanction of bootlegs of the performance – in fact after one song he asked anyone who had recorded it to send him a copy! So, yeah, a great night out 🙂

And setlists:

Massive Attack

1. Minute’s silence for women/children of Baghdad
2. Future Proof
3. Everywhen
4. Risingson
5. Black Milk
6. Angel
7. Special Cases
8. Butterfly Caught
9. Name Taken
10. Teardrop
11. Mezzanine
12. Hymn of the Big Wheel
13. Safe from harm
14. Inertia Creeps
15. Antistar
16. Unfinished Sympathy

17. Group Four (extended, rewritten)

Teenage Fanclub

1. (95) About You
2. (97) Start Again
3. (95) Don’t Look Back
4. (97) Your Love Is The Place…
7 (95) I’ll Make It Clear
8. (95) Verisimilitude
9. (97) Planets
10.(01) I Need Direction
11.(95) Mellow Doubt
12.(97) Ain’t That Enough
13.(02) The World’ll Be OK
14.(97) Take The Long Way Round
15.(97) Can’t Feel My Soul
16.(95) Sparky’s Dream
17.(90) Everything Flows
18.(91) The Concept

On Friday I went to see Jimeoin, seeing as he shares my nationality and that, and took Dad and Steven – but to be honest I thought (and found out Steven agrees) that the support act, Akmal Saleh, was better 🙂 He’s an Egyptian-Australian and had a totally unique take on current events and people which had the entire theatre roaring with laughter. Jimeoin is funny, but in the sort of way that reminds me of the Nirvana line “Here we are now, entertain us”. I’ve been told by various people that quite a few of the things he did during his 65-minute-long show, he does pretty much every time. Dad, who it was really for, did enjoy it though.

On Monday, Steven and I went to see Henry Rollins – he easily upstaged even his 2001 appearance at the Regal in our opinions, and was onstage talking continuously for 2 hours and 45 minutes. For those who don’t know him, Henry Rollins’s spoken word events, while hilariously funny at times, are not comedy – they are in a class of their own from a guy with very strong views on everything who, through a presentation of a mixture of truth, reality and bullshit, is able to make a point that sticks with you. The point he kept coming back to was that mediocrity and apathy were the biggest enemies facing society today. The fact he can sell out the Perth Concert Hall and yet so relatively few people have heard of him probably speaks volumes.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing… at all.

10 March, 2003

I went and saw “I am trying to break your heart”, the movie about the band Wilco and more to the point the making of, and subsequent politics and being messed around surrounding the album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. It was really good. I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in music at the cutting edge – Wilco are basically a fairly ordinary bunch of guys who make music which means something. I had the chance to see them at Big Day Out 03, and they were definitely a highlight. Those who were also there (or have seen Wilco live anywhere) will understand the subject line. It has an added meaning after the movie.

Previous day I was at the CARAD dinner to support post-detention refugees. While I think I was one of the few people under 30 present, it was worth it for the excellent food prepared in traditional style by the refugees, and also for the opportunity to meet Ali, aged 20, a very well-spoken and intelligent Afghan refugee (who apparently couldn’t speak a word of English 3 years ago!) who represents both the pain of the refugees and their experiences in Australia, and the hope which many of these people can be provided with by those of us in Australia who support their cause.

Next week – Eclectic Festival featuring Badly Drawn Boy and a heap of Perth bands at Kings Park Botanic Garden.
Week after – Soweto Gospel Choir in the afternoon, and Massive Attack at Belvoir Amphitheatre that night. Despite rumours you may have heard to the contrary, the tour IS going ahead as planned, just without the NZ leg of it.
April 4 – Samsara rave party at Metro City. It sounds like it will be a very different sort of experience. Endorphin will be there, Indian dancers, the works…
April 6 – Ben Harper at Belvoir. I’m going in blind, on the recommendations of friends. Should I or shouldn’t I make an effort to get his stuff beforehand?
April 28 – Henry Rollins spoken word at Perth Concert Hall. Should be a riot, he always is there with a mixture of humour, insight, solid reality, and equally solid bullshit.

By George!

4 March, 2003

Went to the concert on Saturday night with Steven, and both of us were so impressed that not only did we go on the Sunday night (including queueing for over an hour to get tickets), but dragged my parents along as well 🙂

Both the support acts were shockers though. The first was Hip Mo’ Toast, with lead singer Libby Hammer. Despite their claims otherwise (‘this is a dance number’, ‘this one’s different’, ‘we don’t just do jazz’, ‘here’s some cha cha for you’), it was 80 minutes of rather boring lounge jazz. Kind of like the stuff you enjoy while eating at the Sheraton, but not at an open air concert. The second (on Sunday) was the Honeyriders, who sounded like Leonardo’s Bride meets 4 Non Blondes – basically acoustic rock with some girl singing fairly tunelessly over the top in a husky voice. They were better than the jazz though.

Then George and WASO came on and it was all good 🙂

The setlist was as follows:

Intro by Dean Clairs of MIX 94.5 (lame badly-scripted puns, repeated in same order on Sunday night)

WASO conducted by Paul Mann – “Unchained Melody” by Graeme Koehne (not same tune as the one of ‘Ghost’ fame)

George onstage –
Bastard Son (w/intro)
Rain (with gratuitous references to George Bush and Tony Blair inserted for humorous effect by Tyrone)
Breaking It Slowly (“this is our first political song” – written about CEOs and the dollar-first mentality, but can also be directed to “what’s going on in the world right now”)
Special Ones (Katie’s first appearance on vocals)
Breathe In Now (brilliant)

– interval –

Jon Lord introduced on stage
“Concerto for Group and Orchestra”
George – Spawn (with orchestra and Lord)
George – Run (same)

All in all it was absolutely awesome. Tyrone’s voice came across live quite like Jeff Buckley, and Katie’s was awesome – particularly on Release, Breathe In Now and Spawn (which has become my fave song for 2003 thus far – even though it’s a 2000 song 😛 )

If you haven’t heard this band, you should. You probably will anyway – this band are too good to be limited to just one country.

More general post coming later.