February 2006 Archives
Today as a distraction from the sheer volume of work on my plate currently I took a little while out and checked up on a few different music related topics i'd been keeping my eye on recently.
Loving music as much as I do, the months around christmas are a wasteland for good new releases and I often spend this time revisiting music that didn't grab me initially from earlier in the year, sometimes I find a missed gem or two. Also, I usually bother to pay some attention to the indie rock releases of the past year at this time. Indie/Alt rock gets over-promoted these days and it's much easier to sort the quality releases out when they have been around for a while and the initial fanfare has died down.
However the drought of new material is over! We have of course the still forthcoming Katatonia release which in annoying promo form has kept my interest incredibly strong since the promo's release in December. Some amazing songwriting and great minimalist melodies on that one.
As of today, though in the actually released bucket, we have two albums that i'd highly anticpated. Firstly, is Maaäet third full length from Finland's masters of minimalist neo-folk Tenhi. Another astounding late night companion, with it's stark arrangements and hauntingly subtle performances.
Secondly is Generator the fourth album by Italy's Aborym. This i've not listened to yet, but I loved their second release "Fire Walk With Me" and I'm hoping that with a real drummer (Bård G. "Faust" Eithun) they can improve on that evolutionary black/industrial release. The downside is that Attila Csihar departs on this album, and his amazing, experimental vocal work is a hard gig to fill for his replacement.
Now we just need Negurã Bunget to finish work on their long overdue album - Om
A year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the most enjoyable gigs of my life.
This was in Austria, and the band was Anathema, a group who are remembered more for being one of the original three doom/death pioneers in the early 90s.
After the gig I had a chance to chat with the band and found them to be great guys, completely lacking in pretension.
15 years on from their doom/death days, Anathema have dropped most of their metal elements and forged a unique path which owes more to Pink Floyd than Morbid Angel.
At about the same time I saw Anathema live, BMG decided to close their subsidary record label "Music for Nations" which has left Anathema without record contract for the past year and a half.
On 18 April, Anathema will be releasing 3 songs on iTunes music store - this is the first music they have put out since 2001 and I'd urge all who enjoy really well written music to give this a listen (and if you like buy).
One of my mates, Misha had talked up how good a green papaya salad could be, but they just aren't that common in Sydney's thai eateries.
I'd managed to find this dish once in Sydney - but it was all garlic and no depth flavour.
When I travelled through Thailand, nearly two years ago now - I finally had an opportunity to try a really decent green papaya salad. The experience in Bangkok was outstanding - it was so firey, with an amazing blend of garlic and chilli tempered by freshly roasted peanut. With a lovely sour tamarind flavour counterpointing the intensity of the chilli.
Next time I go to Thailand, I will need to go to Isaan region where this dish originates and see if the local rendition can push the taste buds even further.
Since then, i've discovered Spice I Am do a wonderful rendition but more recently I've perfected my interpretation of it at home. In my version I pump up the garlic/chilli to Bangkok levels, then crush in freshly roasted peanuts while they are still hot.
Also, I've discovered the importance of snake beans infrequently interspersed with the shredded papaya, they add a contrasting green crunch to that of the papaya. Also integral are .roughly crushed cherry tomatoes that still hold their shape but much of the juices are crushed out to intermingle with the tamarind/lime/fish sauce.
When done right, like all good Thai food, it's like each flavour profile bursts out one after the other. Tonight I made it and experimented with substituting fried shallots for the dried shrimp that I usually omit. Wasn't hugely successful - the texture was what i wanted, but it didn't contribute to the flavour.
My nextstep is to move onto a variant somtam ponlamai (Isaan spicy fruit salad)