Technology, Humans, Music and Magic

As most people who know me will be aware, I love technology, and I love music. The two have been intertwined in my journey, since I was a teenager. From the outside it might seem like a cold and expressionless way of making “sounds,” rather than music. I’ve recently come across a few videos that to me really articulate some of the magic that can happen when music and technology collide…
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Music and purpose

One of the mental barriers I’ve been wrestling with is what to do with my songs once they’re written? I have plenty to say, and I enjoy the writing process. But there is a big part of me that finds it hard to get motivated unless I have a clear “point” in doing it. That was the crux of my previous post—how to break free of that mentality, and find motivation and momentum…
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Making progress…

In rekindling this blog, I’ve been going through and cleaning up some recent posts.

I came across this one, Reconnecting with music, and reading it felt like I could have written last month, not 4 years ago!

Well kinda… it’s been a journey since then, but a slow one.
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Don’t fall…

I have a confession to make. I’m a “closet fan” of Linkin Park. While they’re not the “coolest” of bands in my circles, especially among my music friends, their first two albums Hybrid Theory and Meteora in particular sit amongst my fave albums of all time. Definitely a case of “I like your old stuff better than your new stuff,” but still…
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Reconnecting with music

I’ve been trying to reconnect with the art of having fun making music.

Anyone that knows me well knows that making and performing music has been a big part of my life for, like, forever.

But since Fuzu called it a day, in part due to my sojourn into Sustainable Practice at uni, I’ve found it hard to reconnect with any particular musical venture.
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Annandale brick in the wall…

I’m a fan of live music. I am a musician and count on venues to remain viable as an outlet for my artistic expression. The Annandale is a long-running venue in Sydney’s inner-west. I’ve played there, and seen countless great gigs there. It would be a great shame to see it close, especially so to make way for residential apartments.

The Annandale recently launched a “buy a brick” campaign, where fans of the venue can contribute $20–250 to get their name on a plaque at the venue. This is to help reduce debt and upgrade facilities.

At face value, this seems like a great thing to contribute to — a way of supporting live music into the future. Especially important with venues like the Hopetoun having shutdown some months ago and there being very few venues around in the inner-city continuing to support live music.

But… I have a doubt. As the FasterLouder article (linked above) notes, the venue has been under the same management for 10 years. There is no indication anywhere in the article, nor the Annandale’s campaign page, is how the Rule brothers intend on actually turning around the fortunes of the hotel (e.g. get it out of debt and into a sustainable, viable ongoing concern).

I assume (though it’s not clear) that the “membership” system is one of renewing annual membership. It’s not clear how much money the scheme is intended to raise. There’s no indication as to the level of debt that needs to be cleared, or how much the upgrades are going to cost and thus how much the scheme will likely assist in achieving this goal. While I’m sure it was a last ditch effort to avoid foreclosure, selling the poker machines has devalued the venue and removed an important revenue stream — this seems like a very short-sighted and ultimately detrimental decision.

I want to support this initiative. But I want to know my money is going to actually create the desired outcome — a vibrant, ongoing, sustainable Annandale hotel. Unfortunately, based on the information provided to date it’s hard to say whether this would be a worthwhile thing to put my money into. Not because I don’t care, but because I don’t know if it would actually work/help.

This is the second crowdsourcing project that I’ve seen that has suffered from this problem. NewMatilda.com also put the call out to supporters to bankroll it for a year, with promises of “bold plans” for becoming an ongoing, sustainable journalistic enterprise. These bold plans never materialised (unless the odd sponsorship/prize draw are the extent). Promises of a new site design and mobile tools never seemed to come about. A year rolled by and NewMatilda were again asking for support. Without any sense that the organisation is self-sustaining on the basis of anything but an annual membership drive makes it a harder to support.

If you’re going to enlist the support of the “crowd”, you really need to communicate your plans and increase your transparency so that we can make an informed judgement. Be honest about what your plans are, and honest when you aren’t able to deliver on them.

I will be keeping an eye on the Annandale project — I do hope that more details come to light so that I can count myself among their supporter/membership base. But until then, my contribution will be limited to being an interested bystander…

Top 5 albums (in 2010)

I’m a couple of days late, but was just thinking about my fave albums of 2010 and thought it would be nice to document them here for future reference.  This “Top 5” list is of music that I acquired during 2010 (not necessarily released this year) and is in a loose order, though it’s hard to distinguish some of them.

Bon Iver — For Emma, Forever Ago: I’m very late to this particular album, but since picking it up earlier this year, this album has resonated with me in a very deep way.  Absolutely beautiful and spellbinding.  Some may find it a bit depressing, personally I find it quite calming and uplifting.

Fionn Regan — The End of History: I first heard this album at a friend’s party, and managed to pick it up dirt cheap (for $2!) at a record sale shortly after.  The rawness of the acoustic arrangements appeals to me much more than his most current album.  Some lovely turns of phrase and atmospherically charged moments.

Brian Borcherdt — Torches (Side 2004/05): I downloaded this album for free from Brian’s site based on the recommendation of a friend and was immediately taken by it.  Another mellow acoustic set (what is it with me and mellow acoustic male singers this year?) — simple arrangements, but a lovely mood.  I’m a much bigger fan of Side 2004/05 than the second album from the sessions, and I’ve since bought his previous album on iTunes with much the same feeling.

Land of Talk — Cloak and Cipher: Ang and I have become fans of this band since getting their previous album Some are Lakes a little while back, and this new album certainly didn’t disappoint.  A much more polished affair than Some are Lakes, but still retaining the essence and energy of what I suspect is a great live band.

The Mercury Program — A Data Learn the Language: I found this band after hearing them on the cafe speakers at Berkelouw Newtown.  I chased them up on iTunes and grabbed this album (released in 2002) and loved it.  Very reminiscent of Pivot (now PVT), though pre-dating Pivot’s debut, and Tortoise.  Another great atmospheric instrumental, guitar melody-driven album to add to the collection.

There were also two “notable mentions” that came up for me when compiling the list:

Arcade Fire — The Suburbs: I didn’t really get into this band with their previous albums, but I finally caved into the hype and picked this one up after seeing the wonderful Google Maps mashup “video” that accompanied The Wilderness Downtown.  I think that really set the tone as it grounded the songs in my own childhood growing up in a Queensland suburb.  There are a couple of misfires on the album, but the standout tracks like Ready to Start make up for them.

Massive Attack — Heligoland: it’s been a while since I felt Massive Attack hit the mark — this one nearly gets there, but not quite.  It still has some great tracks on it and I hope is a signal of a return to form — really looking forward to the next one.

Novation 25SL – first impressions

While in Hong Kong on my recent holiday (I hope to have some photos and thoughts up on Flickr soonish) I picked up a Novation 25SL mk II. I wanted something a bit smaller for live performance (the previous 49 note keyboard took up a lot of space on stage) that didn’t lack the various faders, controls and triggers of the M-Audio Axiom 49 that I’ve been using for some time.

Over the jump is my first impressions of the Novation, specifically as used with Ableton Live…

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Launching The Point

So in my recent busy-ness, I’ve neglected to post on what’s been happening in Fuzu land…

First single

We recently ran a competition asking folks to choose our first single from our new EP The Point – which they thankfully did 🙂

We’re kicking off with Fire Exit, which you can check out on
MySpace or download from the Fuzu website (does anyone know where the download link went from MySpace’s player? We’ve enabled downloading, but can’t seem to see the download option in the player anymore…)

Launch gig

Launch gig poster (details reproduced below)

We’re booked in to launch the EP at the Supper Club on 9 July.
The Rapids and Sean Carey, who also engineered the EP, will be joining us for the night.

We’re looking forward to officially launching the EP and showing off the limited edition packaging; each is hand screenprinted and numbered, and featuring fab artwork from We Buy Your Kids.

We’ll also be playing the tracks off the EP and debuting some new material. Should be a fun night 🙂

iTunes

The Point is now available on iTunes – which is always a buzz. We’d be stoked if you could leave a review as well. (And just a note that you can also get our previous EP Between The Lines there too…)