Stories from inside life's big top.

Posts from the “Music” Category

Steal The Light: Alice Orchard

Posted on December 1, 2018

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision… is the most abject treachery; and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity, which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.” – Virginia Woolf, ‘A Room Of One’s Own’.   I’ve long been an admirer of Alice Orchard. We met a decade ago in Darwin when I was living there, working in radio.   I’d up-stumped from Sydney, and, in search of  like-minded souls who lived and breathed music, found my way to Happy Yess, a tiny…

Until The End Of The World

Posted on October 29, 2018

Jeremy Conlon has a new album. I’ve written about his work before on Circus Folk. He’s an unpredictable composer. A great live performer. And his music excites me.   Beautiful But Dangerous is one of the new tracks. Swarming, menacing and punctuated by ominous piano, it sounds as if the hounds of hell are growling up from Hades, “the end of the world is nigh”. It’s just as this unique Australian composer wishes it to be on this, his tenth recording, ‘The Degradation Suite’.   Beautiful and dangerous perfectly sums up the aural effect of taking in this epic, atmospheric journey into a heart of darkness.   Achingly beautiful, it also kind of hurts to listen. “Harsh climates breed hard humans, and the slow…

Before Hollywood: Kriv Stenders

Posted on October 1, 2017

Watching Kriv Stenders’ film about The Go-Betweens made me homesick.   Hearing ‘Cattle and Cane’ killed me. It’d been a while. Only music can do that. Bang! That forlorn bass-line wrapped itself around my heart and squeezed out a river of tears. From the depths. From a lifetime ago.   Nostalgia had come calling. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of where you’re from, especially if you’ve given over swathes of your life to leaving it behind. I’ve come to know that a sense of ‘home’ is necessary. Especially when you’re living oceans apart.   Viewing the film in Berlin, Germany – my home for not much longer now – it also stirred a deep sense of yearning. For the lush tropics of northern…

Rock Solid: Alex McMillan

Posted on August 28, 2017

Alex McMillan is a player of hard rock and a lover of rocking hard.   Raised on a diet of guitar gods and double-denim ’70s hair bands, he is also a third generation motor mechanic.   His dad Trevor is my mechanic. And my dad’s. He’s been keeping our cars on the road – and in great nick – for years. It’s always a pleasure to chat to him. He keeps a box of old pennies next to the till, which he lets me fossick through whenever we finish up a “transaction”.   The Central Victorian business was built by Trevor’s father, and ‘the shed’ in which it is housed a metal wonderland filled with 8o years worth of screws, spanners, engineering equipment, toil,…

When Tomorrow Comes: Christian Vance

Posted on August 2, 2017

Berlin is no stranger to ‘cross-cultural exchange’. An historical “hub” between Eastern and Western Europe, immigrants have been steadily arriving for over 800 years.   You could say the city was built on it.   Something former mayor Klaus Wowereit was supremely aware of when in 2003 he proudly proclaimed the German capital “poor but sexy” to the entire world.   Perhaps ‘crass’ in the eyes of some, “Wowi” was not only hoping to encourage economic immigrants (ie big business, tech start ups and the eventual “roamer workforce”) to set up shop and part with their cash in his “impoverished” city. Simultaneously he renewed and acknowledged Berlin’s longstanding historic commitment to welcoming cultural and creative migrants as well.   Artists, performers, thinkers, writers, poets,…

Raised On the Road: Hamish Davidson

Posted on June 11, 2017

Amazing who you meet on the Calder…   On the other side of Melbourne’s infamous Calder Park Raceway – in what looks like the middle of nowhere – are a pair of BP petrol stations, “Calder 1” and “Calder 2”.   Parallel to each other on the M79, one services the “outbound” traffic heading north towards the Great Dividing Range. The other is for “inbound” travelling ‘down the Calder’ to the big smoke.   Twin sprawling icons of petroleum industries, these lurid green prefab structures house fast food outlets, caffeine franchises, convenience stores, a dozen petrol pumps, flanked by enormous concrete carparks, truck bays and drive thru Golden Arches. The only hints you might be at the gateway to the countryside are the unassuming…

Blood Crystals: Kris Keogh

Posted on May 26, 2017

“The crystals may be obtained for examination by covering a minute drop of blood with a glass slide, and after adding water, alcohol, or ether, to permit a gradual evaporation to ensue.” – ‘A Text-Book on Physiology’, John William Draper, M.D., 1866.   The cover art from Kris Keogh‘s new record is taken from a centuries-old old medical journal. It’s the sketch of a microscopic view of ‘crystallized’ blood cells.   Ornate, fragile, and frozen in time, the illustration distills the process of life and death. The blood crystals, inert and no longer living, reveal in delicate, minute detail, the miracle of life – the very blood that supplies our bodies with oxygen, the breath of life.   It’s the perfect visual metaphor for…

The Iceman Cometh: Cooperblack

Posted on April 3, 2017

The last time I interviewed Yuendemu-based musician Jeremy Conlon, he was about to release Return To The Big Eyes.   His ninth as Cooperblack – the “plug n’ play” personal music project he began in the 90s – EP ‘Big Eyes (2015) was an intimate journey through fat bass lines, intensely danceable beats and a relationship that had not long fallen through the ice…   Two years on, while the prolific musician, producer and composer’s heart has healed somewhat, his sense of reflection and musical exploration is as open and raw as ever.   2017 sees him back with No. 10, Capsule, a darker, sparser offering influenced as much by a second sojourn to Berlin as the soundscapes he discovered walking the icy climes…

Pulse Of The Rhyme: Cedric Till

Posted on January 6, 2017

One of the most impressive things about Cedric Till is the respect that he has for words.   About to turn 28, the Berlin-born rapper and spoken word artist stills rowdy rooms with the power of his poetic expression. You know something special’s about to happen when he gets up on a stage, quietly smouldering with the intensity of not only having something to say, but having thought through how to say it a thousand times over…   Up there, he lights a fire, digging deep into the machinations of his experience and fashioning carefully-chosen phrases into rhyme, rhythm and reason. No-one draws a breath until he finishes his gentle speak-singing narratives, usually flashing a wry, shy grin in conclusion.   In “a world…

Electric Ladyland: Tatyana Krimgold

Posted on August 31, 2016

You could say that Tatyana Krimgold is the perfect Wahlberliner…   A writer, singer, acoustic musician, electronic music maker, yoga teacher, event producer and occasional stand up comedian, Tatyana is one of those adventurous ‘creatures’ for which Western Europe’s “poor but sexy” artist colony is so famous. Its eclectic, creative ‘bio-dome’ atmosphere has been attracting artists for well over a century, with no sign of letting up in spite of looming takeover bids by opportunistic entrepreneurs and residential gentrification.   As a musician, part of Tatyana’s creative practice is to allow herself to dare greatly: to move outside of her comfort zone whilst applying the “structures” she’s studied and learned across the years. Unafraid to play, discover and experiment with her music, she also…