July 24, 2006

Interregnum

There's an interview with me on an American music zine up at Foxy Digitalis.

If term two was a buildup to the Liquid Architecture gig in Brisbane, term three is a buildup to Dunedin Fringe festival. I've signed up to put on a show entitled 'the Ballad of William Knife' which will be some kind of musical theatre piece set in the 19th century. I'll aim to have some musical compositions with actual melodic themes etc, and have a mixture of folk songs and original material. Suraya's doing a segment in it.

I've got to somehow jumpstart my songwriting ability which has laid dormant since the chaos of the end of 2002 and after. I'm through the dark patch and ready for something new. 'After Maths & Sciences' was great as a new solo project coming after the 14-piece Ascension Band, especially as I couldn't have predicted it a year or two before, but there's no point repeating it. If that one was my first truly 21st century album (as opposed to coming out of 90s influences) it seems like the next logical step is to take another tangent again.

Most of my albums - 'The Marion Flow', 'Mantis Shaped and Worrying', 'Loose Autumn Moans', and 'After Maths & Sciences' had their titles a year or more before they were recorded or I even had much idea what they'd sound like. So I know the next one's called 'the Ballad of William Knife' but that's about it so far...

One week into the third term and I'm getting the old feelings of unfocussed low-level nervousness back. I used to feel like this quite regularly living in Wellington. This time it just seems to be a natural reaction after getting back from overseas into Nelson, which goes quiet over the winter. A distinct lack of partying it up Friday and Saturday. I did get to rewatch Richard Linklater's 'Waking Life' for the first time since it came out - stood up well and most of the monologues in it made pretty good sense second time around. I'm looking forward to his adaptation of 'A Scanner Darkly'.

I went skiing for the first time in three years at Rainbow Skifield on Saturday - gorgeous looking mountains and view down onto Lake Rotoiti. Worth it just for the scenery and the weather was perfect with no wind or clouds. I can't afford to go again without a part-time job though, so there's another challenge.

I also feel I haven't made enough progress on guitar over the last term. I made some breakthroughs in the first term discovering harmony but since then I've been repeating myself a bit much. I get saddled with fairly boring riff-based rhythm parts in the band as I'm too sloppy for lead guitar at this point. I'm fine with music theory and listening to all kinds of new stuff but as an instrumentalist I get left behind. I doubt I'll have the luxury of being able to work on music like this fulltime in future, so I need to spend more time practising!

And we got a new flatmate, hopefully a change for the good.

Next year travel plans beginning to take shape...

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July 17, 2006

QLD

Brisbane's a pretty cool (or rather, warm) city, friendly people and
much more laidback than Sydney. It seems to cover an area as big as
Melbourne but much more open bush spaces. Disadvantages compared to
Melbourne are less ethnic diversity and public transport - and large
mall-covered suburbs with the same depressing multinational brands you see
everywhere else. On the plus side - temperature in the mid 20s during
the middle of winter, and healthy music scene which is hopefully
easier to break into.

Liquid Architecture festival was great fun - Cynthia & I did a multimedia set with video projections plus live computer, guitar, banjo, percussion, shakuhachi etc - compliments we received were that it was 'raw' and 'engaging'. So nice for a change to have a couple of hundred people in the audience, be paid to play, and have someone else doing all the promo work!

It's an amazing part of the world. We did a couple of
thousand k's driving up to Rockhampton and over to Great Keppel Island
to snorkel around some coral (seeing a turtle flying bird-like through
the water a highlight; coral bleaching giving an aspect of sadness to
the whole thing), then inland to Emerald and back down through
subtropical rainforest at Mt Glorious. Then looking at the map we
only covered a little corner of the state!

Even though the temperatures were comfortably warm, it did still feel like winter: the Aussie birds & insects, which get pretty raucous in summer, were quite subdued. We came near a kookaburra in a tree at one point and it sat there silent, not laughing. We also caught a small cane toad (noxious introduced pest) and put it in the freezer (most humane way of killing them apparently).

Queensland is a whole other world from NZ as it goes right up into the tropics. The drought there has been going for a few years now and nobody seems to have any solutions. Several fields were barren dirt as crops were unable to be planted - green irrigated pastures stood out in sharply artificial relief. We passed a number of dry creek beds, and the landscape had a bleached out look the colour of kangaroo fur. Kangaroos are a frequent sight, usually as roadkill carcasses, but you also see a lot of live ones at dusk - and have to be careful of them while driving. I find it deeply ironic that the Australian national animal is most often seen squashed.

Silver eucalyptus trees look and smell amazing.

Windmills are a recurring theme in the landscape.

Australia has dozens of national parks, but most are tiny: 0.3% of the subtropical rainforest is left.

The size of Australia is on a whole different scale from NZ - driving for days is common, and when it's evening on the east coast it's still mid afternoon in Western Australia. On the other hand the arable strip along the east coast is surprisingly narrow - beyond the Great Dividing Range it simply doesn't rain enough, and huge areas are sparsely populated.

The mountains of the Great Dividing Range look more like hills to NZ eyes.

Rainbow lorikeets are a frequent sight, and fruit bats fly around at night.

The Queensland motto is "one day perfect, next day the same".

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Back to music school for term 3 now. This term will be a buildup to Dunedin Fringe Festival - I'm doing two different shows over three nights and should also play at the Wunderbar in Lyttelton on the way back.

Next album I think could be a soundtrack for Dunedin Fringe - I'm keen
to experiment with some new instruments, eg trumpet, saxophone,
clarinet, marimba, and the music school's harpsichord and full-scale
pipe organ...

Plan for next year is taking shape - back to Australia to hopefully
tour the main centres and spend a month or two each in Canberra and
Brisbane saving up, then on to Asia, maybe staying a while in Japan,
and then Europe. I do see the temptation to keep exploring Australia
(we've hopefully found a place to stay and plant trees 50km out of
Darwin) but on the other hand I should probably keep going further...

dave 027.jpg


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