September 2003 Archives

When I talk to Australians who have travelled widely, I get two very polar responses. One camp is quite critical of Australia when contrasted against the rest of the globe, the other group, although having enjoyed their travels feel Australia is still the best place to live - long term.

I think I would have to say I sit with the second group. However I still need to do more travelling (and living overseas) before I make up my mind completely.

Two of the reasons given by those who prefer other places than Oz are: Isolation, we are a long way from the western hubs of civilisation. Racism/Xenophobia - our track record locally and with migrants is not great.

I don't deny these aspects but they are often overplayed by those who are biased towards Europe.

Personally I prefer the space and lack of high population density offered by Australia. Most resources are available via internet import, leaving us only as isolated as we want to be. As for the racism, we are indeed unique in our position - surrounded by non European countries, different religions and heavily populated by migrants. I think it takes two generations for the Xenophobia to fade and that this is natural human behaviour to initially fear the unknown/new.

Trying hard not to channel the fanboy, however this is news worth repeating.

Dr Who may be returning After many previous announcements that have not come to pass, I choose to take the jaded cynical view until I actually see it on the screen.

In analysis, this news seems quite plausible, some may scoff at the BBC Wales involvement but this actually makes a lot of sense from an internal politics perspective. One wonders if BBC London won't ever learn from it's prior mistakes (they rejected Red Dwarf, which was then picked up by BBC Manchester and went on to be wildly successful)

The choice of Russell T Davies as writer is probably the aspect that excites me the most. Of the wide array of writers who have written Who in the 14 years since the TV series ended, Russell's work has been up there with the best. I will understand if he take a slightly more conservative approach than seen in his outstanding novel Damaged Goods, granted TV audiences and expectations have changed significantly and what would Dr Who be if not for public outcry over it's damaging effect on young minds!

A couple of days back I was chatting with a friend about music, he surprised me by describing Metallica as prog. I'm not currently a fan of Metallica at all, but there was a period as a teen when I thought they were great. As such I have a solid knowledge of their music. My response to his comment was: "I'm going to see a proper prog band on the weekend." However i was curious and I asked him about why he defined Metallica as prog. "They switch between multiple time signatures" was his answer.

Realistically, I know my friend was just trying to rile me up for an argument, but I was amazed by the conundrum, particularly as there were very few Metallica albums which even got that technical, only in their mid period culminating with ...And Justice for All. However I think that many of the supposedly prog aspects have just always been a part of metal

I love mucking about in boats

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In less than a week, those in Oz will have the joy of Dr Who back on their screens for almost the first time in a decade. And unlike the last screening, this one will be in near prime-time.

The reason for the re-screening is the upcoming 40th birthday of the show, and rather than just being a token screening of 1 story, the ABC have decided to start from the beginning and screen every story that is still complete.

When I was out with friends on sat nite, many made a point of telling me how excited they were that the venerable Doctor would be back on the screen. Of course they knew I was a long time fan of the show, but I was surprised at the strength of their reaction, it seems like Who has been off the radar for long enough to ferment nostalgia amongst the general populace.

As happy as I was to see people speaking fondly of Dr Who and it's imminent return I couldn't help feeling a twinge as I mentally interpreted their reaction to early Who. 60's Who is a totally different beast to the teeth, curls and wooly scarf of Tom Baker's popular era. As both a fan of the show and also someone interested in the early days of drama on TV, I find a lot to interest me in Hartnell's grumpy, often improvised performance.

I have my doubts that the ABC will end up sticking with the timeslot for the 4 years it will take to screen all of the complete Who episodes. Also, I'm pretty sure that aside from the episodes that have recently been released on DVD/video, the rest of the older material will be screened in an un-restored state, and as such will feature pretty awful audio and lack the powerful VidFIRE video restoration processing.

Regardless, this suggests I may need to alter my working hours to be home by 6PM.

I've been really slack with my blogging recently, despite mentally reviewing new music as i'm listening to it during the day, I never seem to get around to writing proper reviews.

To make a start, I'm going to tackle the hardest one of them all to review.

Solefald have been around since the mid 90's releasing four albums which successively distanced themselves from their Black Metal origins.

With the 2003 release of In Harmonium Universali, Solefald have balanced their desire to push the boundaries of their music against the need to offer a vaugely accessible route for the listener.

Multi-instrumental, multi-lingual, with a classical and literary background, the two man team that is Solefald incorporate a dizzying array of influence styles and techniques this in itself would present a challenge to most bands.

Yet in the talented hands of Cornelius and Lazare, the end result not just works, but this is probably their strongest album yet.

For those who need a description of the music, here goes: The most obvious influence is 70's Yes but re-interpreted through the eyes of two individuals who were shaped by the Norwegian Black Metal scene. Singing in four languages, using both almost pop(ish), clean vocals and harsh (but not shrieked or growled) rasped vocals which creates an interesting counterpoint. The guitar work stays mainly in the metal genre, with regular deviations into classical/Spanish style where appropriate. Keys are an obvious showcase with styles ranging from 70's organs to baroque styled sections and blackened atmospherics. The other standout is the occasional use of saxophone, which soars above the mix an in extremely sultry manner.

As a whole, the end result is chaotic and complex but extremely enjoyable, something that is quite rare in the field of art-music.

I'd recommend this only to the adventurous listener, many won't be able to get past the abrasive vocals and metal elements, however the effort to do so will culminate in time well spent.

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