Saturday, January 20, 2018

Gotye and MESS Present Jean-Jacques Perrey Et Son Ondioline

On what would have been electronic pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey's 89th birthday, we were treated to an intimate tribute to the man by Gotye (aka Wally De Backer) in the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Mary and I attended the first of two sold out shows this evening, which were presented by arrangement with MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio), a not-for-profit organisation supported by Wally that is dedicated to the creation of electronic sound and music.

Unlike the other Australian shows over the past couple weeks that Wally has done with the Ondioline Orchestra at Mofo in Launceston and the Sydney Festival, this one was just him solo talking about the career of Jean-Jacques Perrey and the Ondioline (invented by Georges Jenny). The Ondioline was an early precursor to the modern synthesizer, and Perrey was a virtuoso on the instrument which produced some unique sounds. Wally got to know Perrey and his daughter Patricia in the last few years of his life and was given access to a treasure trove of recordings and other rare materials.

The research and archival work Wally has done resulted in the release of the vinyl compilation Jean-Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline on his label Forgotten Futures. Wally took us through many of the songs on the record that highlighted the different whimsical styles of Perrey's work, and told stories about the people he collaborated with (including Edith Piaf and Angelo Badalamenti). Wally's enthusiasm and love of Perrey and the Ondioline was so infectious throughout the night as he spoke about and played along with some of the songs. I really liked when he said Perrey's songs have humor in them, which is something he strives to bring to his own music.

The effort it has taken to find and restore these Ondiolines and get them playable again is pretty impressive. Wally has even gotten the original Ondioline manuals and instructions translated into English so those that are interested can understand how the instrument works. Some of the highlights of the hour and a half show were getting to watch Wally play "Chicken On The Rocks" and "Cigale," as well as sing in French the song "The Soul Of The Poets." This has clearly been a passion project for Wally and it's great that he's preserving the works of these innovators so that they are not forgotten.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Fleet Foxes- Palais Theatre

Tonight I headed down to the newly renovated Palais Theatre in St Kilda to see Fleet Foxes play their only Falls Festival side show in Australia. Opening the evening was Australian singer-songwriter Gordi (aka Sophie Payten) who played a solo set on acoustic guitar and keyboard (with some loops and vocal effects thrown in). Besides her own songs she also did a cover of Courtney Barnett's "Avant Gardener."

It's been six years since Fleet Foxes last played in Melbourne, although I was fortunate enough to see them last year in May at Vivid in Sydney. They started the evening with the opening tracks "I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar" and "Cassius, -" off their latest album Crack-Up. It was good to hear these album tracks again now that the band have been touring them over the past six months, especially my favorites "On Another Ocean (January / June)," "Fool’s Errand" and "Third Of May / Odaigahara."

The band powered through their set, often not stopping in between songs. There was an energy and joy as they sang each song, and the harmonies were amazing as they worked their way through their back catalogue. There were so many highlights, including "The Shrine / An Argument" and "Grown Ocean" off Helplessness Blues and "White Winter Hymnal," "Ragged Wood" and "Your Protector" off their self-titled debut album. The most special moments though were when lead singer Robin Pecknold took to the stage solo with just an acoustic guitar to sing "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" and "Oliver James," which had the crowd silent and transfixed.  They finished off the night with an impassioned version of "Helplessness Blues" and the audience sent them off with a standing ovation.

Here's the video for "Fool's Errand:"

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Indie Australia Sampler Vol. 8

It is New Year's Eve and I just arrived back in Melbourne this morning. In celebration of the end of the year, here is my annual compilation of some of my favorite Australian songs of 2017. Once again it is a mix of different genres and shows the diversity of music that has been released here this year.

1. Alex Lahey - "Every Day's The Weekend"


2. Bloods - "Bug Eyes"


3. The Preatures - "Girlhood"


4. Dan Sultan - "Hold It Together"


5. Cloud Control - "Rainbow City"


6. San Cisco - "Did You Get What You Came For?"


7. The Harpoons - "Do You Want My Love"


8. Omar Musa - "Like A Cat Move"


9. Sensible J - "Fire Sign"


10. Saskwatch - "Shrinking Violet"


11. Holy Holy - "Amateurs"


12. RVG - "Cause And Effect"


13. The Ocean Party - "If I Blink"


14. Oh Mercy - "National Park"


15. Slow Dancer - "It Goes On"


16. Sampa The Great - "Inner Voice"


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Call Me By Your Name and All The Money In The World

Over the past two Wednesday evenings I have been catching up with friends from school for dinner and a movie. Last week Lynne, Gabby and I went to see Call Me By Your Name, which is based on the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman. Set over an Italian summer in the 1980s, it centers around 17 year old Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and his family, who take in an American grad student each summer to work with his archaeology professor father. On this occasion the person who comes to stay with them is 24 year old Oliver (Armie Hammer). Oliver has a more outgoing personality than Elio, who likes to read and focus on his music. In this coming of age story told from the point of view of Elio, he becomes more infatuated with Oliver as the summer progresses, and eventually they start a romantic relationship in the last weeks of Oliver's stay. The movie is very well done and shot in a beautiful location. The only problem I had was that the actors look like the age gap between them is much more than in the script, which was a bit distracting and could be perceived as slightly predatory in this day and age.

Tonight Lynne and I saw All The Money In The World, which is based on the true story of the kidnapping of 16 year old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in Italy in 1973. As the grandson of the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (played by Christopher Plummer, who replaced Kevin Spacey in the role), the kidnappers assumed that they would get their ransom immediately, but Getty refused to pay it. The film mainly follows how Paul's mother Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) and Getty's adviser and ex-CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) work to try and negotiate with the abductors around the ransom payment and get money from Getty in order to pay it and free Paul. It's definitely a good crime thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat at many points and in disbelief at the cruelty and greed displayed by J. Paul Getty even in regards to his own family.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

It's been two years since I was last home for Christmas. Since my brother was working on Christmas Day he and the kids came over to my parents' house a couple days early on Saturday for lunch and to open presents. Logan, Kylie and I also baked some Christmas sugar cookies together. It was really nice to get to spend some quality time together.

Today we had our annual Christmas dinner with my Aunt Chris and cousins Lei, Mei and Fiorella. It was our usual menu, which allowed me to get some of the Thanksgiving meal I always miss out on. We began with different cheeses for hors d'oeuvres also had my favorite mulled apple cider. For dinner we ate my Mom's famous jello salad and then had turkey, stuffing, scalloped potatoes and green beans for the main meal.

After digesting and opening presents we had dessert, which is always my job to prepare (I did all my baking yesterday). We had a selection of pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, snowball cookies, and mini gingerbread houses, which came out really cute considering it was the first time I made them. We were very full by the end of the night, but everyone had a good time. I'm very happy I was able to spend the holidays with family this year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Museum Of Ice Cream San Francisco

The Museum of Ice Cream is a pop-up interactive museum located in different major cities across the United States. The San Francisco museum is housed in an old bank building at 1 Grant Avenue. Tickets to get in are hard to come by, so I was very excited when my cousin Lei informed me a couple months ago that she would be taking me along with her sister Mei and daughter Fiorella.

We had tickets for 6pm, and when we arrived they put us into a small group with other attendees to explain the philosophy and rules for the venue. The decor is a sensory explosion of color (mainly pink) and kitsch design as you enter each themed room. Our first stop was Marye's Diner, which was themed like a 1950s diner and served up some local peach flavored ice cream. Fiorella had fun dancing to the tunes, and the records on the wall had their artists and song titles changed to be more ice cream themed.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

The Make A Statement room was where you could spell out a message on the wall with pink magnetised letters. They also served My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, which is ice cream wrapped in mochi dough. I had the cookies and cream and it was really good.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

Next up was the Cherry on Top room, where we got cherry flavored cotton candy sprayed with glitter to eat. The room is a social media dream with its giant cherries and clouds hanging from the ceiling.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

The Gummy Garden room is like walking into a life-size Candy Land game with its giant gummy bears, lollipops, candies and macarons.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

The Ice Cream Truck Pick room takes its inspiration from the different types popsicles you can buy from an ice cream truck (although normally they wouldn't be protruding from a wall).

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

The Rainbow room is a tribute to San Francisco's history and includes a unicorn! They even served little cones of unicorn milk ice cream. The room next to it was inspired by Pop Rocks with an entire giant geometric pop rock wall.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

The most popular room at every Museum of Ice Cream is the Sprinkle Pool, which as you can guess was a giant pool filled with plastic sprinkles. When you step into the pool you immediately sink down into them. We only got to spend a short time in there, but it was Fiorella's favorite spot (and she was upset when we had to get out).

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

After shaking and blowing off the sprinkles hiding in our clothes we headed out to a row of themed spaces with swings before ending up at the gift shop. The Museum of Ice Cream is a lot of fun, and really built for kids and those young at heart. The San Francisco museum has been extended until February 2018, so if you get the chance to go take advantage of it.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

SFMOMA

I took the Golden Gate Ferry into San Francisco today to explore some of the latest exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). My first stop was the retrospective of photographer Walker Evans work. It contained 300 prints and around 100 other objects spanning the Great Depression and postwar period which documented everyday American life in the twentieth century. The exhibition runs until 4 February 2018.

Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules contains more that 150 of his artworks from throughout his career. He often collaborated with other artists and combined multiple disciplines and media within his work while commentating on various cultural and social issues of the time. The exhibition runs on Floor 4 through 25 March 2018.


Next I checked out Louis Bourgeois Spiders. I have seen some of her spider sculptures in the past, and this exhibition featured spiders in a range of different sizes and materials. It's located in the sculpture gallery on Floor 5 and runs until 4 September 2018.


The final exhibition I saw (and heard) was Soundtracks, which featured works from different artists across the entire museum, but mainly spanned Floor 7. This large-scale exhibition focused on the role of sound in contemporary art and how it relates to space. There were so many different types of works, from sculptures to immersive installations to recorded performances. It was really interesting to walk around and experience the different soundscapes of each piece. If you would like to check it out get in quick as Soundtracks finishes on 1 January 2018.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Seattle

I have spent the past three days on a short weekend trip to Seattle. This was my first time to the city and I managed to pack in a few key tourist attractions and activities while I was here. I arrived early afternoon on Friday and took the Link light rail from the airport to the downtown Seattle Westlake stop. The trip lasted 40 minutes and only cost $3.00 one way, which was a great bargain.

I stayed at the newly renovated Hotel Theodore (1531 7th Avenue), which was centrally located to public transport, shops and attractions. It's a really cute hotel with nice, clean rooms and offers its guests daily complementary happy hour drinks. Check out their website to see if there are any deals before booking.


On Friday after checking in I walked down Pine Street past all the stores and holiday decorations to the waterfront to check out the Pike Place Market. It's a massive space and maze of different food and product stalls as well as little shops (kind of a bigger version of Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market). I stopped in to the French bakery Le Panier for a croissant and some macarons, and after wandering around for a bit I grabbed dinner from Pike Place Chowder, who are famous for their different seafood chowders (I had the New England clam chowder, which was tasty). That evening I headed out to the Neptune theater to see comedian Hari Kondabolu, which was the impetus for this trip.


On Saturday I took the short journey on the monorail to the Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle and other tourist attractions. My first stop though was a walk down Broad Street to the Olympic Sculpture Park, which contains large scale sculptures and native plants within its nine acres along the waterfront. There were diverse and interesting pieces throughout, and it is a calming place to wander around (and appears to be a local exercise spot).



Next I walked back to the Seattle Center and went to the amazing Chihuly Garden and Glass (read a detailed post about my visit here). Then I headed to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) to check out a few of their exhibitions. There were lots of different little music exhibits, including ones on Jimmy Hendrix, David Bowie, and a history of guitars.


One thing I was really excited to see was The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited. As someone who grew up on Sesame Street and The Muppets it was great to learn more about Jim Henson's career and get to see some of the puppets up close and personal (I nearly gasped when I saw Kermit). The exhibition also has storyboards, costumes and film clips from Henson's various projects over the years. It is definitely work checking out and has been extended until 25 February 2018.



After my day at the Seattle Center I took the monorail back and then walked a couple blocks up to the Pacific Place Center to finally see the movie Thor: Ragnarok. I do not follow the Marvel comics at all but am a huge fan of New Zealand director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows is one of my favorite movies) so wanted to check out the film. Not really knowing much about the history of Thor made the first part a bit slow, but once Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was captured on the planet Sakaar and forced to be a gladiator under the Grandmaster (brilliantly played by Jeff Goldblum) things picked up. Thor gets reunited in the ring with his buddy Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and also makes a new friend in Korg (Taika Waititi hilariously voicing the character as a Maori bouncer from Auckland). Eventually they all escape and head back to the planet Asgard to try and rescue the citizens from Thor's sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) who has taken over as ruler. I enjoyed the Australian and New Zealand references Taika put into the movie such as mentions of the film The Castle, the Holden Commodore car, and painting spaceships in the colors of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. For a big budget action picture Taika did manage to get a lot of his humor and style into the film, and it's great that it has been so successful.

This morning I wandered around a bit at Pacific Place Center before heading back to the airport for my afternoon flight to San Francisco. Overall my trip to Seattle was a good taster and gave me an opportunity to orient myself with the city. I was very lucky with the weather in that although it was cold I didn't experience any rain. Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to return again someday to explore more of Seattle.
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