April 2013 Archives

Music Outside The Square

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Outside The Square is a series of talks started by I Heart Bendigo and Make A Change Australia. In their words, they "celebrate local people who think a little differently to create positive change in our community". They are held on the last Wednesday of every month.

On 24 April 2013, they held their second event, the subject being "Music". A very wide topic, it is possible to spend ages discussing it and not repeat any ground. Nevertheless, this was the aim of that fresh Wednesday night.

The first speaker was Deb Allan, a member of a handful of singing organizations, notably Sing For Supper. Modelled on the "Vocal Nosh" concept developed by Fay White, it is a community project focussed on two things: singing and eating. Two primal forms of social collective. People have been gathering and bonding over these two things since the dawn of humanity. Unfortunately, the singing aspect has been phasing out over recent years with the advent of media technology. However, movements like Sing For Supper help keep such traditions alive.

Allan also touched on the therapeutic benefits of communal singing, citing more than one example of people whose lives were turned around by Sing For Supper and similar events. They gained a new lease on life and much needed confidence in themselves.

Up next was Colin Thompson, local musician and founder of the Bendigo Blues And Roots Music Festival. Entering its third year this November, the festival has garnered quite the following in its thus far short lifespan. When asked why he started the festival, Thompson would say "Why not?" Support for local live music had been dropping off over the recent years. The talent was there, the punters were not. Something must be done. Enter: Colin Thompson. Here is a man who, between working a job at the bank and supporting a young family, brought an entire music festival into fruition. It was not easy work and he had a plethora of help and support but what he accomplished is definitely no minor achievement.

The night did not end there. After a short break there was an open discussion, kicked off by a spontaneous, crowd demanded, third speaker. Local musician Albert Skipper stepped up to discuss a project that he had recently been working on. Over the past eight weeks, Skipper has been working with a small group of disabled people, teaching them musical instruments and training them to be a band. From all accounts, he and the self-identified "Mixed Nuts" have met and rose above the challenge and we will be able to see their efforts this Friday night at the Newmarket Hotel.

What is music? It is a lot of things to a lot of people. But a consensus seems to be that it brings us all together. Groups will come together to interact, to sing together, to enjoy a band, or even to just talk about the subject. Music creates community, connectedness, conversation. And we are definitely doing ourselves a favour if we embrace it.

For more information:

Outside The Square: facebook.com/outsidethesquarebendigo

I Heart Bendigo: iheartbendigo.com.au/

Make A Change Australia: ecosuccess.com.au/content/make-change-australia

Sing For Supper: singforsupper.org

Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival: bendigobluesandroots.com.au

Albert "Skip" Skipper's The Mixed Nuts will be performing at the Newmarket Hotel, Friday 26 April 2013 from 9.30pm.

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Storm Thorgerson

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You have just arrived home after a long day at work. You want nothing more than to relax with some music and a cup of tea. As you boil the kettle, you leaf through your vinyl collection. 


You first stop at Audioslave's self-titled debut. You quickly dismiss the idea. Audioslave never really lived up to the reputation of the two bands that it formed out of. Before you continue, you once again admire the flame on its cover.


Further down is Black Sabbath's Technical Ecstacy. As big a fan you are of robots on escalators, you rocked out to "Rock 'n' Roll Doctor" last night.


You continue flicking through your records, noting the recognisable the covers as you go. Dream Theater's A Change of Seasons, Bruce Dickinson's Skunkworks, Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy and Presence, the first two Mars Volta albums, Muse's Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations. It continues until you get to Pink Floyd.


You have amassed a number of Pink Floyd records over the years. A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals. As the kettle whistles, you eventually settle on Wish You Were Here. There has always been something striking about the two men on the cover shaking hands, one burning.


As you relax on the couch, tea in hand, experiencing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", you reflect and contemplate these iconic images. You smile.


The world lost a great and influential artist this week. On Thursday, Storm Thorgerson lost his battle with cancer. The man who designed each of the albums listed above as well as many, many others will be remembered just as much as the musicians he worked with are. Most will not know his name but his artistic influence will be felt. Every Dark Side of the Moon T-shirt and phone cover is testament to this fact.


Thorgerson led an accomplished life in his sixty-nine years and will surely be missed.

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Released 1 April 2013

"We want, or wanted, to believe that without love we would disappear, that love, somehow, would save us that, yeah, if we have love, give love and know love, we are truly alive and if there is no love, there would be no life. The Terror is, we know now, that even without love, life goes on... we just go on... there is no mercy killing." - Wayne Coyne, press release for The Terror


The brilliant thing about art is that it gives a snapshot of the heart of the artist. It shows us slice of their soul, eternally timestamped. To the artist, art is very much a therapeutic process. As if all of the personal demons can be round up and imprisoned onto the canvas. Sometimes, it seems that the greater the turmoil, the greater and more prolific the art. Vincent Van Gogh produced some of his most sterling work in the torturous later years of his life. Mark Everett of Eels was not in the brightest of places when he produced his emotionally deep Electro-Shock Blues, having recently suffered more than one personal tragedy. It appears that Wayne Coyne and Stephen Drozd of The Flaming Lips are no exception to this rule, having produced what is arguably their darkest effort in recent years while both reeling from their own personal setbacks.

Is a life without love no life at all? Coyne does not simply ask this, but outright states that not only does life go on, it painfully transpires. This is The Terror. Not the end of life as we know it but a horrific, dire existence that can only be tolerated at best. An existence that we, when in grip of love, fear. We convince ourselves that the loveless life is not like that, in fact, it does not exist. All that prevails is love, and without love there is nothing. This is the world we convince ourselves so we do not have to consider the dark truth.

The Terror offers a rich soundscape, feeling like a natural continuation to the prolific experimentation in music and art that Coyne and his friends have been conducting in recent years. It is more polished and accessible than The Flaming Lips with Neon Indian, yet wilder in ambition than Embryonic or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. This is not an instant hit. In fact the most pop friendly song is not part of the official tracklist, but the iTunes bonus track "Sun Blows Up Today". This record is a journey, a slow burn of progressive jams to be experienced as a whole. It is no coincidence that another of the iTunes bonus tracks is the entire nine track album presented as a single sound file.

Considerably more subdued than recent efforts, The Terror presents us with one of the most compelling releases from The Flaming Lips to date. This will not be reflected in the charts, but it is not a terrible way to mark thirty years of such an eccentric band's existence. Let us hope the next outing is under brighter circumstances.

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