Sunday, March 7, 2010

Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mining

Another in the collection of influential albums from my childhood.

Talking about things was never a strong point in my family. Yet each and every member of the McCorriston family has a firm passion for music lying underneath the skin, excepting maybe my grandmother, who I never really witnessed enjoying music in any great capacity. Myself and my cousin Robert are the only two who seem to immediately wear it on our sleeve, playing music in some capacity.

My mother sometimes seemed to communicate with me through the music she would play on the loungeroom stereo, often inadvertedly steering me towards my own music legacy that I wouldn't fully understand until just now.

Midnight Oil were one of the bands that were thrashed constantly in our house, with Mum owning most of their albums, but being selective about what periods of Oils that she liked. Late 80's Oils stood out, with the first half of Diesel & Dust (she didn't seem to like the second side) and Blue Sky Mining etching their mark firmly on my young brain. These two records blur together for me a fair bit, except for the production quality on Blue Sky Mining clearly being much worse than Diesel & Dust.

It seems to me like the Oils had a few distinct periods throughout their career. They started out as a roughneck pub band in the 70's and early 80's, started to politicize themselves publicly throughout the early to mid-80's, hit their commercial and critical peak towards the late 80's and early 90's, plateu'd into rock obscurity into the 90's, then became a reforming nostalgia act for most of the late 90's/noughties. They had immense success for a band that never appeared on Countdown due to their attitude towards music media in the 80's, a move that usually saw bands dismissed and disregarded by the Australian music buying public. But their overtly political, left-wing principles helped them stand out from the crowd and created a rift between themselves and everyone else in music in Australia which brought with it a fair share of enemies, but endeared their fans to them even more and created a 'cult' status has kept them popular ever since.

Blue Sky Mining is to me another example of their amazingly original sound. Peter Garrett's vocals have instilled in me a belief about using your own voice when singing, in both the words you use and in your intonation. The album stand for me as a culmination of years of politicized lyrics and studio experimentation into their most solid, considered and best written work. You cannot name another band that sounds like the Oils, and they are so distinctly Australian in everything they do. Blue Sky Mine and King Of The Mountain are the recognizable singles, but the whole album strikes such a dinstictive feeling in me, its synaesthetic in the way I experience every song on the record.

An album I connected with deeply on a musical level as a child, the melodies and arrangements that exist here will always stir something up that makes me an 8 year old boy again.

Across The Water

Work-in-progress lyrics for an unconceived project. Opinions/critiques welcome.

as a white man, i hear a call
from somewhere across the water
about knowing who you were
before you know who you are.

as a white man, I know,
that I'm a liar, and a cheater
a stealer and a raper
as far back as anyone can see.

as far as I go across the water
this boat is always moored
but everything I hear
comes across loud and clear.

Scotland and England, white European
Polish and German, and convicts from Ireland
classical music and country and western
excuse me for missing some cultural passion.

as far as I go across the water
this boat is always moored
but everything I hear
comes across loud and clear.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Suzanne Vega - 99.9F°

I thought I'd write a bit about a few albums that I heard around the house alot as a kid, and consequently, some of the music that I've listened to the most in my lifetime.

Suzanne Vega, a fairly underrated, if maybe a little boring overall, singer-songwriter grew into focus for the general music loving public in 1987 when her songs 'Luka' and 'Tom's Diner' made the charts in various countries. Both songs are memorable for their quaint pop charm, especially 'Tom's Diner', which became a hit in 1990 when remixed by dance duo DNA. The song found touch with the Fraunhofer Institute of scientists who used the original vocal track to test and refine the boundaries of the MP3 codec which we all know and use today. The diner in the song is alternately known as Tom's Restaurant, featured so prominently through Seinfeld's run on television.

She released another album after all this brew-ha-ha, Days Of Open Hand, an album that has never really caught me. But her next album, 1992's '99.9F°' was thrashed so often on my mother's sound system at home, it dug into my head and pops up in everyday situations for me all the time.

It's an album that features a harder edge to most of Vega's other work; there's beats on this album (albeit well disguised) combined with industrial-tinged samples and loops which give the album a real sense of danger for me as a small person. There are softer moments on the album which reinstate Vega's authority as a singer-songwriter, but it was always the full-blooded band tracks that stood out to me across my Dad's homemade speakers in our house at Flynn.

The thing that strikes me about Vega is the lack of personality she seems to have in interviews, soundbytes and comments. Yet the music is so distinctly her, I haven't heard a single artist play music like her's ever, I've never likened any artist to Suzanne Vega and hope never to. She's an artist that has always existed solely in the music for me, music without a physical body that it emanates from.

So '99.9F°' is a landmark album for me because I still don't have a sense of who Suzanne Vega is, yet her music stood miles apart from the Joan Armatrading, Carly Simon and Toni Childs records that my mother used to play.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A change in the weather, is known to be extreme.

4 months to the day since I decide on the impulse to throw words down this umbilical cord between me and the giant massing sea of self-importance and tortured ingenuity. Must have felt about time to throw my own heap of steam onto the pile again.

Had an immaculate time working with Erik Sanko and Jess Grindstaff on the Shackleton project late last year, which resulted in a fairly amazing soundtrack, which you can hear below. We used a variety of different sounds to make a delicate reconstruction of parts of Antarctica and also to add narrative and emotion to actions that the marionettes were making onstage. We used samples that were given to us by the composition students from the Music school along with alot of found sounds that both myself and Erik sourced from both our diverse catalogues of sounds. Erik contributed many pieces of his own music for the soundtrack, and as a whole listen, it's actually quite worthwhile, now that I've had some distance from the project. View some photos of the show after link, courtesy of Gina Moss, one of the back-breakingly awesome puppeteers.

69 Degrees: The Shackleton Project Photos

Transmissions Myspace ft. 69 Degrees Tracks

Since then, it's been a struggle to get things out of myself. Lack of work has rendered me inefficient, in a creative sense, and upon reflection, all my self-loathing about not being a functional member of this world has helped me to discover a few things about myself, things I've been forced to stare right into the face of and tackle. This has been to the detriment of a few people close to me, bearing the brunt of my quiet ineptitude and OCD-riddled functionality. However I feel it's making me a more honest person. As much as I've wanted to in the past, the use of this blog has become more of a mediocre airbrush over my life at any point in time, rather than a factual bleeding out of my personal neuroses, usually because I struggle to comprehend how anyone could relate to my self-conscious, inhibited ramblings. I believe this window-on-rail-tracks view out into the world is another opportunity for myself, or anyone, to drag their skin off their bones and throw themselves into the boiling pot, whether they believe it to be real or not.

Maybe, if you look hard enough, you'll see something in me that isn't that far from you. We'll relate across copper wires, and hopefully that will be something that will make us both happy. Cause I like you, I really do.

Goofbang #3 IS ROLLING, I swear it is, however my expected target of the giant Zine fair weekend will not be reached, due to many underlying factors including late submissions and inability to print, once again. It has twirled my thinking on having a launch show in an arts space somewhere soon, but that, once again, is for the twinkling hairy fairies to decide. In any case, the feature artist is my fast-good friend Paul Gough (aka Pimmon) from Sydney, with ramblings from Steve Smart, a track from sydney name-hijacker AFXJIM and a sprinkling of more randomness. Soon.

Listening: Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks

Friday, October 9, 2009

Musicakal Madness

But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really, really nice.

Been relating a whole lot of James Murphy lately. I've been feeling a lot more comfortable just diving back into my own collection of music, not listening to much new stuff (other than local bands). I've felt the wave of new music completely topple over me. I used to feel ahead of the curve, like I knew things that were cool and awesome before they became awesome. Now I feel like all the things that I think are awesome have been and gone in an indie sense, chewed up and spat out again by a generation that I understand very little about, or care to relate with in any way.

This is a symptom of getting older, I realize that. I'm turning into what I hated as a teenager, a bitter and twisted old music cynic. But I miss that 'edge'. About the newest, most 'indie' (whatever the fuck that means, seriously, fuck that fucking non-descriptive buzz word in its self-important ass) thing that I can sink my teeth into lately is some Arcade Fire, Animal Collective and Health.

Is this how it all plays out though? That we reach a time where we individually get to a stalemate with modern music, disappear into the depths of our own collections and live there, spitting vitriol now and again without ever being able to crack the surface of what's real and honest about the music? I want to 'get' new music, but none of it grabs me in any way, shaoe or form. In fact most of it pisses me right off. Meticulously styled haircuts, neon-bright clothing, spacey-face paint... I'm so of the opinion that this decade has been about nothing but re-treading old ground, the decade of reunions and synth-revival. The fact that the best, most standout albums have all been from bands that started out the decade being awesome already (Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Jay-Z) makes we worry about the future of music. There just seems to be a mess of music these days, no pioneering genre, no defining artists that have sprung forth and taken music by the scruff of the neck and said 'HEY! FUCK YOU! WE ROCK, FUCK OFF!'. Punk has descended to a DIY culture so up its own ass with morals and stigmas that it feels awkward talking to anyone about it. I reside in some of the skramz (the new buzz term for DIY punk) culture here in Melbourne and although it is filled with more genuine, honest musicians than I see anywhere else, they're all so stuck on not being 'sell-outs' and all that other baggage that comes with trying to 'keep it real' in a moral sense that bands never last more than a year and see any form of mass attention as a negative thing.

This is a fairly shallow viewpoint, all stemming from a frustration with not being 'hip' and 'cool' with the 'indie kids'. Then again I never was. In any way. James Murphy just gives me some hope that maybe there are other artists out there realizing a similar thing to me. Indie is now a commercial entity and until it falls by the wayside, we may not see any great originality in popular music. The 'electro' scene as I see it now is so incredibly derivative and marketed, industry seems so able and willing to package this shite together and thrust it on teenagers until they gag on the music's own self-importance.

I'm worried. And confused. If you need me, I'll be head deep in my own tunes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

it's nice to have time to nap.

Back from TiNA, it was a big old push on the RESET button. Am enjoying not doing ANYTHING except seeing The Bird on saturday night for the first time in so fucking long, and then starting full-time on the Shackleton Project, a multi-university project spanning 5 cities in Canada, USA, France and here, inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Get to work with Erik Sanko (The Lounge Lizards, Skeleton Key, John Cale, Yoko Ono, Jim Carroll, They Might Be Giants, The Melvins, James Chance and the Contortions, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) who now makes the marionettes featured in this show. Just to talk to him about his musical life will blow my head off my shoulders. Also hopefully adapt and rework some stuff by the Kronos Quartet. Maybe. Still not sure how it's going to pan out, but it's going to rule the next month of my life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ambient Sound Design and the hazards of such practice.

Over the last month my time has been filtered amongst a filthy selection of events and projects that I've swung between enjoying and loathing.

- Goofbang continues, still however struggling to find a decent cheap printing joint in this town. Launching our second issue at This Is Not Art with a live event featuring Blastcorp from Newcastle, ORLY from Sydney, Reuben Ingall and myself, plus a bunch of spoken word performers who will perform between acts.

- Invisible Connections, a government funded installation and performance piece that strings together a bunch of local Wangaratta organisations for the town's jubilee. I was drafted in to create the ambient soundtrack to be played behind readings from local writers which I recorded.

- The Seewell Family Cabaret; The major production for me in second semester, and also the second to last show for the Puppetry faculty at VCA, as they got axed along with Musical Theatre in the recent budget cuts. It's running as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

TFSC is the tale of a traveling troupe of b-grade magic, circus and cabaret peformers that consists of Jude Seewell, the host and ringmaster, Sonya Seewell, the luscious, vitriolic female co-star and Margarat, who is Jude's wife and token puppy for most of Jude's acts.

The show is actually a performance from the troupe, and the black comedy that ensues is not really what you expect from the outset. Jude has a number of crazed mental problems involving his dead parents who haunt him, and he takes it out on his sister and his wife. The tongue-in-cheek masochism in this play is worth the price of entry alone, even if the play is free. The puppetry in the show is often to portray the insanity inside the characters heads, with ghosts, teddy bears, gin bottles and coathangers all being manipulated in wonderful ways.

I was the sound designer on the project, which allowed me to use some of my Transmissions soundscapes as key parts of the ambience and soundtrack, which has been massively satisfying, as I finally get to churn out my scapes loudly to an unsuspecting audience. I'm playing back all the samples and tracks for the show from a midi-keyboard interface being run through Logic, a program I'm only just becoming acquainted with. I have a 6 speaker setup in the venue, trying to spread the sound through the space and create some depth for the audience.

I've never really worked on a show quite like this before, it's been a new experience. The cast has been the most cohesive and fun since shows in Canberra and I'm really feeling like I have my foot in the door with this whole sound design biz. As there are no second year sound students, both myself and Raya, the other sound student, have taken on board alot more than we're supposed to in first year, which is putting us a cut above others in terms of workload and experience.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Repenting For Murdering Instruments (Mix for Finig 18-08-09)

As we've been known to do for each other for many years now, I've made a new installment in the long-running series of mixtapes traded between herr Finig and myself. Seeing as we haven't seen each other in a while and have slowed down on the whole process, this disc is a catchup of many different songs that have meant many different things to me over the course of my stay here in Melbourne, and also some songs that I fear Finig might actually dig.


01. The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready To Die
02. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul (ft. David Lynch)
03. GREYMACHINE - Vultures Descend
04. Danger Mouse - Lucifer 9
05. Eminem - Infinite
06. Jaco Pastorius - Come On, Come Over (ft. Sam & Dave)
07. Parliament - If It Don't Fit (Don't Force It)
08. Jakob - Safety In Numbers
09. Devin Townsend Project - Terminal
10. Scarface - I Seen A Man Die
11. One Day As A Lion - If You Fear Dying
12. Beastie Boys - Rock Hard
13. The Jesus Lizard - Monkey Trick
14. Torche - In Return
15. Burial - Spaceape (ft. Spaceape)
16. Lazytown - Cooking By The Book (Lil Bigger Remix) (ft. Lil Jon)


Friday, August 14, 2009


Mick Harris is the entire reason I'm on Myspace. And yes, I chose to capitalise the letter M in Myspace. Your husband's mother fucked your brother.





Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Transmissions - The Smoking Man

New track on mah myspace, recorded this eve. Have discovered my computer no longer creates its' own feedback like it used to, so I have to create it now by leaving mics just close enough to the speakers.

Bit of a new bio on the site too, trying to make the point that while I may not make especially technical music, what I try to do with every piece I create is have something in it that might make you think of something else, make you sit and listen to what your head is saying in whatever space you're in.

Or something like that, I don't know, I just don't want to over-complicate things.

Here's a new picture of an old man smoking. The idea is that they tell me stories, don't know if you're picking up on that.