December 17, 2013
July 7, 2013
October 23, 2012
Since I keep mentioning on this blog that Shaun and I had been planning/just arrived back from a big adventure overseas, and since we arrived home from said trip several months ago, I thought it was high time I elaborated on what that entailed.
Starting on the Autumn/Spring equinox, the former in the Southern hemisphere where we left off, and the latter in the Northern hemisphere where we were going, Shaun and I embarked on a journey best described by the great Julian Cope as a Gnostic Odyssey. Our main objective was to connect with our ancestral heritage by visiting various important megalithic sites, and though I couldn’t tell you exactly why, the opportunity to experience them first-hand meant more to me than words can possibly describe.
The Menec Alignments, Carnac.
As Shaun and I are both of European descent, and as we live about as far away from Europe as you can possibly get, we have felt for some time now a profound desire to visit the land that our families hail from; particularly sites that were of importance to our pre-Christian ancestors. Having only a month to do so, we planned our journey with the aid of Cope’s wonderful guidebooks to Megalithic Britain and Europe, and made sure we saw as many of these magical places as we could. We also wanted to make sure we could spend time at each site rather than drop in or drive past, so we arranged accommodation within walking distance of them where possible. Beginning our trip with a few relaxing days in Barcelona, where we saw a breathtaking Gothic Cathedral and an equally breathtaking live show by Earth, we headed over to Paris where we would be taking several trains and buses to reach our first megalithic destination: Carnac.
Carnac is a remote coastal town in Brittany with a particularly large number of well-preserved standing stones and other pre-historic sites, many over 6000 years old. It’s an extremely beautiful place and we were lucky enough to have arrived there while the weather was perfect, but tourist season hadn’t quite begun. The whole town was practically deserted and we had the megaliths to ourselves for the most part. Rather than being overly commercialised, the sites in Carnac were mostly just part of the landscape, with some discreet ropes and fences in place for protection. Nothing can describe the feeling of seeing them for the first time, as we rushed from our hotel to beat the sunset on the day we arrived, but Shaun attempted to on his blog and said it better than I ever could. His photos are also better than mine, naturally.
We spent the better part of a week in Carnac, and since there is nothing except the stones there and little in the way of public transport, the majority of that time was spent walking the length of the alignments, which extend for about 3.5 kilometers from the Menec stones through the Kermario stones and Lann Mane Dolmen, to the Kerlescan stones and Dolmen De Kerlescan. We experienced the stones in cold misty mornings, clear spring days and beautiful sunsets, each of which lent them a different atmosphere. Other sites we managed to see along the way were the magnificent Kercado Tumulus, Le Geant Du Manio, the Manio Quadrilateral and the Christianised Tumulus Saint Michel. (For the uninitiated, a dolmen or tumulus is a prehistoric burial mound with an internal structure of heavy stones, and many have been found to contain human remains and various other artifacts).
Kercado in some ways was one of the most profound sites we saw in Carnac - not as visually spectacular as the towering rows of giant stones at Kermario or Menec, but incredibly old and well preserved, with its original cairn still intact . We were also able to walk inside the eerie stone chamber, which had been fitted with a small light; arrowheads, pottery and axes were among the artifacts discovered in there and some primitive carvings remained on the walls.The setting was quite remote and beautiful, and we didn’t see a single other person during our two visits.
At the end of our long days of hiking we collapsed into chairs at local Creperies, which had cool names like the Magic Potion, and enjoyed some of the best food we ate in all of Europe, as well as the best hospitality. After an overwhelming first week that we’d hoped would never end, we bid Carnac farewell and headed to London for the next leg of our trip. After a few days enjoying the comforts of a big city, delicious warm beer in pubs without TVs or pokies, the company of some dear old friends and the delights of the British Museum, we jumped on a train once more and headed towards Wiltshire where Stonehenge, Avebury and other wonders awaited us…but they’ll have to wait for another post. In the meantime, here are some more photos from our trip to Carnac:
And if you’re not bored out of your brain already, you can see more of these on my Flickr page.
October 21, 2012
For those who haven’t heard them, Grails are an instrumental band from Portland Oregon, who draw inspiration from a vast array of eclectic music that ranges from Pink Floyd and Sun City Girls to Italian film soundtracks and library music. Their sound changes from song to song and album to album, and is sometimes dark, sometimes exotic, but always beautiful, atmospheric and amazingly descriptive.
It was pretty great to see each musician up close and get a better grasp of their individual styles, as most of them play a number of different instruments both live and on the recordings. Standing right up the front with only a couple of people occasionally blocking my view, I watched Zac work his magic on 12-string guitar, William lay down his distinctively mellow bass-lines whilst juggling a few keys and even some vocal texture, and blood pour out of Emil’s left hand after some over-exuberant drumming (if you’ve seen Emil play with Om you’ll know this isn’t particularly uncommon).
Jesse Bates (lap steel), Emil Amos (drums) and Bill Slater (bass):
Zac Riles (12 string and guitar):
Sitting quietly to the side of the stage, Jay contributed melodica and other keyboards as well as some samples and extra percussion here and there, while Jesse proved to be an incredible lap steel player who sat up the front and played many of the familiar lead guitar lines throughout the show. He also added some extra percussion here and there, and played drums on several songs including the wonderful ‘Almost Grew My Hair’ which was possibly the highlight of the whole show for me.
Jay Clarke (melodica):
Jesse Bates (lap steel):
Alex Hall (guitar) and Bill Slater (bass):
If my memory doesn’t fail me, the set was opened with the semi-spooky ‘I Led Three Lives’ from their latest album Deep Politics, and then proceeded through a surprising catalog of my personal favourites from every album after and including the Black Tar Prophecies collection. We were treated to a synth-driven re-imagining of ‘Back to the Monastery’ that gave it an awesome futuristic prog vibe, the majestic ‘Silk Road’ and ‘Origin-ing’ from Burning Off Impurities, ‘Reincarnation Blues’, ‘Immediate Mate’ and ‘Acid Rain’ from Doomsdayer’s Holiday, ‘Take Refuge’ from Take Refuge in Clean Living, and also from Deep Politics was the gorgeously cinematic ‘All the Colors of the Dark’. I couldn’t have really hoped for a more perfect set-list, and every track sounded even bigger and more intense than I expected.
Emil Amos (guitar), Jesse Bates (drums) and Bill Slater (bass):
Not many people were filming or recording, which was actually a nice change from the majority of shows I see these days, so I doubt many videos will surface of this show, but someone did catch the second half of ‘Take Refuge’ which you can enjoy below (bummer they didn’t get the first). If you ever get the chance to see this band live, do yourself a favour and go. They don’t tour often, and when they do it’s a rare and special experience.
Thanks Grails, you’re the best!
July 30, 2012
Once again I have neglected my blog, and as with my last post I have dusted off my keyboard to tell you about a group art show I have a piece in. This time it’s a Melbourne based show conceived by lovely local artist Simple Sime, involving 50 artists from 15 different tattoo studios around Australia and New Zealand. All artists were instructed to create a piece of art in plain black ink on white, which would then be screen-printed by Dangerfork for the exhibition. A limited edition of 20 signed and numbered prints per piece will be for sale, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Cancer Council of Victoria. An impressive list of the artists involved and other relevant details can be found on the website here.
I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a piece without the smooth gradients I usually employ to give depth and tone. I’ve always wanted to try plain ink work for the purpose of screen-printing, but have shied away from it for that very reason – I still think I’m better at drawing and painting in my usual style, but I think having tried this method I’ll experiment with it some more. I will happily admit to being strongly influenced by gorgeous poster artist David D’Andrea with this piece, one of my favourite illustrators whose prints I have hanging both at home and above my bench at the tattoo studio. As he works almost exclusively with black ink I thought of his posters often for much needed guidance.
(click to enlarge)
The concept was something I’d been planning for a while, and that I felt could be re-imagined fairly well for a detailed, line-heavy drawing. Passionflowers are by far my favourite flower and a treasured herb in my personal pharmacopeia. I fell in love with them after their gentle sedative effects saved me from crippling anxiety as a teenager, and have used them ever since (though these days it’s mostly for insomnia). They are truly beautiful and amazing flowers, rather like strange organic space ships…and as if that weren’t enough, they also give us sweet, delicious passionfruit! For some reason I can’t discern, I’m infatuated with portraying fruits that have been torn open by birds, exposing their flesh and seeds. So…without wanting to delve too deep into what that’s all about, that’s how my disorganised ideas about those things managed to become a halfway organised drawing.
Some close-ups of the detail in the flowers and nest:
Hopefully some of you will like the print (or someone else’s) enough to buy one and help out a worthy cause. The exhibition opens on Thursday August 16th at The Vic Bar in Abbotsford, and all prints are reasonably priced at $60. Would be great to see some of you there.
April 20, 2012
It's opening happens tonight I believe (I'm not good with the time-zone thing) and is being organised by a particularly awesome and talented lady named Jeanne and her (also awesome) partner Mike. The show is a benefit in aid of bats, as the poor critters are dying rapidly in that part of the world and are in dire need of help - you can read more about the plight of bats and Jeanne's reasons for doing this show on her own excellent blog here. You can also see the humbling list of participating artists, which includes the rather incredible Paul Romano whom some of you may know from Mastodon's first four album covers.
I really loved the idea of doing something a little more artistic with this piece, but knowing my rather time consuming working habits and having a really strict deadline before I left for Europe, I figured it might be best to stick with graphite pencil and a straight scientific study from a real bat - a style of drawing I feel comfortable with and that can be chipped away at over a number of weeks. I also figured the chances of someone else having done something similar were slim...here's hoping. You can click these images to enlarge:
This piece and many other excellent artworks will be for sale at Empty Night Skies, with all proceeds going to Bat Con, and I believe some artists will have prints to buy both at the show and perhaps online. I wasn't able to get prints ready in time for the exhibition, but I will make prints at some point soon and will donate a percentage of each sale to Bat Con. If you're interested in a print, keep your eye on Lepus Luna, and check out Empty Night Skies on Facebook.
March 10, 2012
March 4, 2012
A bunch of our dearest friends/freaks rocked up not long after we did, which was just perfect...one of the nicest things about Adelaide is knowing that you’ll see people you know just about everywhere. We felt the ponchos contributed to the cult-like atmosphere that was only too appropriate for a Psychic TV show, and it made for a bit of fun.
Then came the rainbow….it was far more impressive than I managed to capture with my camera.
Psychic TV finally made it on stage once the rain eased off, and were actually better than I thought they might be. Shaun is the true fan in our household anyway, but neither of us were sure what to expect…it didn’t matter to us if the show was good or not anyway, because frontman/woman Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been such an important and influential figure in art and music for so many years that it was an honour to simply see the man and pay him some respect. For Shaun, it was a 20-year dream come true.
As it turns out, we were treated to a full set of new material, all of which was amazing Pink Floydy type stuff with Juno synthesizer, flute and killer guitar solos, interjected with Can and Hawkwind covers. There were visuals behind them as well, many of which featured pictures of his late wife Lady Jaye, who Genesis talked about a number of times between songs and to whom most of the new material seems to be dedicated. At one particularly touching moment towards the end of a song that was clearly about her, it started raining again lightly and Gen commented that she must be crying for him, right before busting out a cover of Mother Sky by Can. Shaun and I have tickets to see The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye tomorrow night, followed by a Q&A with Gen, which I’m expecting to be both beautiful and heartbreaking.
Altogether it was a pretty special weekend…happy anniversary to the best man I know.
March 1, 2012
February 28, 2012
LILACS! from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.
I think what I love about sampled music is the juxtaposition of soundbites both new and familiar, arranged in unexpected and harmonious ways to create mood and texture and narrative unobtainable by conventional instrumentation or vocalisation. Perhaps it's partly to do with referencing or capturing someone else's sentiment and re-framing it to say something different, or to emphasise something that would be difficult or awkward to express more candidly...either way, it's fun and I hope L&C have more like this to come. If you're into it, order the CD or LP from Mexican Summer here, check out the L&C Facebook page here, and check out more of Emil's effed-up videos on Vimeo here.