Saturday, January 31, 2004

To continue with my account/review of the MoonshakeIV concert the band which followed me were The Magic Lantern. It was very interesting beginning with an old gramophone at the front playing to an empty stage as the light show proceeded above (thanks to the lighting guy for his help during my set also). I scratchy old 78 played for several minutes as colored oil lights and slides from someone’s holidays in the 1970's were projected on to the stage and rounded ceiling. The band members then walked onto the stage: drums guitars keyboards vocals percussion. A swirling ambient sound of great beauty was produced by the band with poetry and samples added at times. I did not record their set as they had already arranged to do so through the desk so my memory of their performance is now somewhat dreamlike, perhaps this is also a result of their music which did not leap out at the listener but rather drew you in to be swept up by the developing and enveloping sounds. I would like to see them play again as it was needful of greater attention.
Following The Magic Lantern was Protestkillerna (The Protest Guys) who were accompanied by the amazing acrobatics of Cirkus Empati (Empathy Circus). The Guys play good electronic dub variations and each one flowed really well with mouth piano, guitar, bass, drums and samples. The song 'Protest Machine' bought out the beauty of circus with one acrobat suspending herself from a three meter long piece of cloth hanging from the ceiling and performing incredible manipulations, twisting, turning, hanging upside down, and finally hanging like a huge spiders egg in the web, suspended in air among the gossamer twine. It fitted in perfect with the slow dub rhythms of the band. This was (I believe) the first performance for Protestkillerna and they were great, I hope we see them again soon.
Next came our guests from Providence Rhode Island USA: Black Forest Black Sea. These two (Jeffrey and Miriam) were really just lovely people. Humble, warm and positive they came to the stage prepared to show us something that was new and at the same time very accessible. Black Forest/Black Sea are the purveyors of engaging music. It is really something different but everywhere within its lush folds and dark caverns there is something familiar for us to be guided by. The drone layers of the cello (Miriam) with effects and the delicate melody of the fingerpicked guitar (Jeffrey- also with effects of course) build and swirl in a way that removes any conception of time in the listener (although its own musical timing seems grounded in classical or traditional musical systems). The affect is you just float away, flying over the Black Forest out over the Black Sea in a musical expanse which is geographical in proportions. Dark dips and loops draw and uncurl themselves from the cello bow while around their hollows are placed the dry sticks, jagged stones, bits of bone and sea shells which flow from the strings of Jeffrey's guitar. The effect is other worldly, especially when singing accompanies the music. Thanks for the inspiration and taking the trouble to travel from the south of Sweden to the north.
Then there was The Spacious Mind.......I have not see the Mind before but I have listened to their music for several years but the power of their performance was a surprise for me. With six people on stage, all dressed in loud printed frocks the Mind began a performance which invoked images of psychedelic cathedrals in my minds eye. It soared high aloft like some magic bird. The two drummers driving a rhythm of steady and measured force occasionally providing a guide for the improvised progression to develop upon (this was contributed by all the members of the band at various stages). The first piece was simple introduced as "In G" and from there on it was 76 minutes of in flight expansion.
In fact I will continue this account next time as I should be listening to them while writing and at the moment I don't have the strength to do so.........Next Time: The Spacious Mind

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Although I intended to continue with the review of the concert last weekend I will write now about the presentation I made at University today of what I learnt yesterday was actually my masters thesis. I did not realise that it was such due to.....I'm not sure??...I thought it was the final completion of my undergraduate studies in Sweden but because I already have a Bachelor of Arts degree [Journalism and Asian Studies University of Southern Queensland 1988-90] from Australia I have now therefore obtained the equivalent of a masters degree. It was great to be able to present the results of five months work to people (admittedly a small group) who were interested in the subject. Something I got back from the experience was perceiving the edges of my knowledge...I can be comfortable explaining some term or concept and then the wall hits and the point is reached where more work is needed on my part. This did not really effect the presentation but there where a few points I had to hold back on due to uncertainty of knowledge. I think a doctoral research post could change all this (if anyone from the faculty happens to be reading) and after five years of reading, writing and study I probably could speak about the Kantian concept of the sublime, chonotope and cybertexts in dialogic relation without having to pause for breath let alone absolute blinding doubt (I wonder if my spelling will improve also...perhaps a miracle could be arranged somewhere along the line as well) ......there are a couple of photos here and there should be a streamed video of the event online soon (will post address soon)......So next......well there is something very exciting on the horizon....I have to dig out my fur-lined Sámi boots and leather pants (not fur-lined unfortunatly) ready to head north soon........Jokkmokk here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2004

The weekend has been an intense two days of joy.
I shall get straight to the point and review my own performance at the mini-festival "Moonshake 4" which I had the pleasure of participating in last night.
I was the opening act in a theatre which was circular with a balcony forming a mezzanine floor above a stage and enough room for the 120 people who attended.
I began with a sample recorded by myself in Diskit Gompa in Ladakh in 1996 it was a Yama Durga Puja which went for three days of chanting in the 900 years old monastery. Last night it set a mood of psychedelic attunement and I followed this feeling with an ambient beginning to my didgeridoo playing. Following the breath stops of the hundred chanting monks provided me with a early guide to warm up with (although I had played acoustically 30 minutes earlier when the power failed and I provided some spectacle while the technically minded traced the blown fuse - too many light being used). The slow sweep of the first piece led into the second sample/track performed...the famous record from the 1970's Songs of the Humpback Whale provided me with a beautiful piece of two Humpback whales communicating in the waters off Trinidad. A series of high pitched short calls in steady rhythm and (I suspect later added in the original mix) the sound of ocean waves and running water allowed for increased tempo and some clap stick playing as I began my approach to the jump off into frenzy traced playing which appeared later in the set. The whale sample was actually cut short as it was twelve minutes long and after about six minutes it felt like there should be something new added to the arrangement. The third piece I rode along was begun with a sample from Marcel Duchamp in a 1957 talk he gave about The Creative Act:
"The creative act is not performed by the artist alone. The spectator brings the work into contact with the external world by deciphering and determining its inner qualifications."
"The relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed"
"All the decisions in the artistic execution of the work rest with pure intuition and cannot be translated into a self-analysis spoken of or written or even thought out."
These three quotes from a master of dialogic reality were dispersed by the short burst deep bass rumble of a blue whale.
It was at this point I used the wah wah peddle for the first time and it fitted together perfectly (thanks to Jon). The intensity began building seriously here and toward the end my face was numb and the back of my neck tingling.
The bass build of the Duchamp piece was shattered by the horns, cymbals and bells of the venerable monks of Tikseh Gompa in a looped sequence recoded at a lion dance performed in Leh Ladakh at the Ladakh festival in 1996. It was short but it signified the break between the build up and flight.
Following this was a return to the Diskit Gompa with a long series of chanting what I played I can't remember much of except by this stage I was using the Tibetan bell rather violently, the wah wah peddle, and the clap sticks. The drone of the monks with reverb attached in the mix came as a hum in the round theatre. Projected over me were images of surrealist art as I attempted to consciously follow the harmonic drones of the monks. By this stage the room was beginning to spin.
The bell of the Abbot of Diskit Gompa changed the rhythm of the chant to slow steady swing back and forth between two tones. This I droned and popped between, wrapping the didge sound around the tones with the aid of the modulation from the wah wah peddle. A final bell from the Abbot and it was the final piece. I thanked Dave Whitely from The Cozmic Shop for the loan of the fine wall hangings which lined the walls of the theatre (depicting Buddha, Shiva, mandalas and Celtic designs) and advised people to buy the chai tea from Erika (my wife) which she was selling in the corner.
The final piece was a fast loop from the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco of drums and horns (perhaps Jilala). I played the smallest and fastest didge I own in order to keep up with the driving trance rhythm but by the end of it (7:30 Mins) I was totally finished having blown the breath from my body.
The audience clapped and cheered. I thanked and left the stage a very happy little camper.
The acts that followed me where all excellent I and I shall continue my review of them tomorrow (The magic lantern, Protest Killern, Black Forest Black Sea and The Spacious Mind)..........................................

Friday, January 23, 2004

I have recently had a brush with Open Access versus Closed Copyright Control and it has made me think and raised emotions in me I have thus far reserved only for the Lunar Right.....we all remember them hey.
After recent financial benefit (i.e. wages) I made a purchase for which I had begun planning three years ago...a recording minidisc. The Sony MZ-N910 is in many ways an amazing (small!!!) piece of equipment but it has a dark side. In order to direct upload sound files to one's hard drive one must download the software which accompanies the product. This carries with it something called OpenMG technology (TM.) which "allows you to enjoy digital music while maintaining the copyright of its holders" according to the booklet. So any sound file that has not originated with the computer carrying the software which uploads the soundfile is read as 'failed'. Furthermore each sound file can only be transfered a maximum of three times,reducing (not really preventing) illegal sharing of files. Direct download from computer to minidisc is no problem once the file has been played on the computer using the minidisc software (called 'Sonic Stage'...positioning the user well and truly in the audience I feel).
One queston: what if I am the copyright holder of the soundfile??????? What if I want to use the features of the minidisc system (equivalent 16 bit recording) to construct sound collages from the birdlife outside my window or document a performance I have made of my own music?
Buy an Mp3 recorder.....yes.....maybe thats what I should have done.
I fail to understand why (apart from Sony being one of the big five multinational recording companies) a manufacturer would limit the capacity of a tool to perform its function? To protect their interests of course, but their interests could also be changing with their own developing technology, thus removing the danger of redundancy in a media enviroment which is startling for its level of inovation. I am certain that there are, shall we say, customized versions of the Sonic Stage software which comes with the MZ-N910.......the market in such cracked software is created by the companies which spend so much time and money in developing the reasons/built in restrictions which the pirate material negates......It is reminiscent of other struggles against deviant behavior as enshrined in law throughout history....a chastity belt anyone?

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I wanna go to Burning Man (before George Bush makes it illegal)......
I am writing from the other side......the term has finished and I have completed the academic requirements...although I continue to labour upon the Atmosphere world it is near completion. It took Jahovah just 7 days in which to create and fill the earth will all has taken me three months to create a reasonable appealing example of cyber-neo-Byzantine forum placed in a world resembing the famous Barcoo claypans of Queensland interesting mix.....I wonder what people will think.
My thesis paper has been granted a high pass..It is available for reading in draft format here as a downloadable .pdf file. It is Chonotope and Cybertext (the other by Gottfrid Linge on pressence in virtual enviroments is also a very interesting and detailed piece of work). My paper developed from the idea that all depictions of reality in narrative form are situated within arrangements of time and space. There is much discussion about the 'new media' forms and how narratives are being developed in these technologies. I chose three examples of these cybertexts and plotted a type of "narrative archeology" back to what I believe is one of the most imporatant novels in English of the 20th century; Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. I argue it is a proto-hypertext in the sense that many of the space/time constuctions in the narrative went on to influence and can be equated with the non-linear texts of hypermedia (for definitions...see the paper). A list of online cybertexts has been put up on the HUMlab website here by scrolling the right hand column there can be found a link to the list (it is also available in the English language pages).
What next?.....Mmmmm good question; some recording next week, finishing the Atmosphere world and getting it online, being a househusband for a while as 'my better half' begins studies in child art, I have applied to do some half time pedogogic subjects which begin at the end of feb. At the begining of Feburary (5-7th) is the 399th Jokkmokk S?mi Winter Market, at which I will be playing with the fantastic Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillier (I bought a CD of theirs in Amsterdam with 15 guilders I had extra from busking in 1998 and now I am going to make music with them..bizarre)
It actually looks like the next few weeks are also going to be busy....Ive bought a minidisc recorder also and in the tradition of Alan Lomax Im going to start compiling field recording whenever I get the chance...Jokkmokk should be an adventure.........Oh by the is not only going to be an adventure in this will also be present in Cyberspace......back soon!!

Saturday, January 10, 2004

The sweet sounds of Six Organs of Admittance: "Tribute to Octavio Paz" plays in the background in the lounge of our sub-luxury sub-tundra appartment.....All is cool (in every sense of the words). The essay/thesis/excercise in analytical argument is finished (17 000 word on 42 facing pages) and is being reviewed over this weekend by my supervisors. I hope there won't be too many problems...............This entry is to notify the two or three readers I know I have (whom can speak to me most days of the week and hear about it anyway) that there is to be a concert/mini festival in this ol' town and Im playing/performing at it..........the exciting thing are the other bands Im playing with:
Black Forest/BlackSea. check them out......interesting landscapes created from impressionistic guitar and the slow melencholic warp of cello drone from somewhere called Provedence USA----------and then there was The Spacious Mind..........Im numb with it....I've been living in the north of Sweden for almost 4 years now and Ive waited that long to bear witness to the Mind play live and then it comes to pass that I am also humbly offering up my own innarticulate fumblings in the same space at the same time..........It shall also come to pass that The Magick Lantern and ProtestKillen will play among clowns and jugglers, chai sellers and fortune tellers......poets, mumblers, freaks and mummers (look it up)...........At Lille Teatern (FFUM) Järnvägsallén 20 Umeå Saturday 24 january 2004 kl18:00 to kl02:00
Tickest at Burmans Music, Garageland Records ( a great shop for all you listening needs)........I shall be using this night to have a launch of my long playing CD recording "NaDa" a party record that will have you boogying all night long in the words of the great John Lee Hooker.........It promises to be an excursion into the wilder side of aural life........Trance Drone Digeridoo..............................Let The Games Begin!!!!

Friday, January 02, 2004

The holiday was alright.....a swedish christmas: vegan patté, preserved fish, hams and reindeer meat ( for the non-vegetarians) alcohol (wife's family non-drinkers).....restrained present opening and polite reserved conversation......very different from my own childhood experiences but not bad........rang my family in Australia: hot summer day...chaotic chatter in the background as the phone is passed around between the three actual family members present sharing the meal among the three or four others who have 'dropped by' to eat and brother mixing pina coladas and my father drunk on red wine......animals in the house and the dog given the telephone at one stage (dog recognises my voice and preforms strange roll over ritual of greeting)......can almost sense the olive golden glow of the Australian summer....I will never be anything other than Australian...
And then there is the new year......fireworks with my son of almost 4 years beside himself with the snap crackle and pop of the rockets and other rainbow bright devices as anonomous bundles of clothing stand in the snowy darkness heads turned high toward the glowing lights in descent....not bad either...mainly for the boy's broad grin and glowing eyes........onward to 2004:
Continuing with the thesis and the building of the 3D world in Adobe Atmosphere, have almost finished both.