Friday, 27 June 2008

Photo Gallery: UNSW lower campus

Hiya! Here are some random photos of the Lower Campus @ the University of New South Wales, Kensington, Sydney Australia. The shots were taken during my lunch break, around 3pm, from drama school across the road on Anzac Parade. I decided on Wednesday I'd take my camera in the next day and shoot some afternoon cameos. The weather this week has been so sunny and yet delicately winter-soft in the afternoon. Needless to say I love lunch breaks on lovely days but hey, the rest of it, with district views, ain't too bad either! Enjoy!!
Uni bar fence, trees, a stage and alfresco drinking! The walkway above leads onto Anzac Parade. Drama school is across the road from there. Notice the trees overhangin the walkway have shed all their leaves.

'Birds of Paradise' shrubs are profuse at this campus.
That crane, reminds me of a puppy calling to attention... something hard and mechanical can actually appear innocent in a photo.

The oval, much play and frolic. Notice the Qantas (?) jet!

Above, nice metal art by the new law building that is to the side of the main walkway.

Nice, isn't it. I love the way the sun glistens through the trees.

The upper campus is nowhere near as pretty!!

I've been at this campus, either as a student (I did both my degrees there) or employee, since I was 18 pretty much, save for about 3 years. Much has changed since 1988. (In '88 we had a cafe with sofas of orange vinyl, sadly in '89 it got renovated, 'modern'ised...I miss the orange!)

Bye for now! (That's me in the photo there, a true Aussie magpie!!)

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

dream (22)

i bought a couple of albums on the weekend
and they were serious purchases too
one is Paul Weller's new album
22 dreams
and the other..
Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue
a remastered remixed repackaged rebookleted
re theworks double CD pack
for the new millennia
with bonus tracks added for extra tantalisemint
and a cd-rom pdf-file hidden somewhere in the swirly silver grooves
the bonus cd included in the pacific ocean blue toolkit
is of the unfinished Bambu album
...unfinished of course because Dennis was exhorting himself
on gigantean amounts of coke & booze
may he rest in peace
his was a gifted soul
a beach boy surfer and kick-arse rock'n'roll drummer
and arguably as gifted a composer as big brother bri

interestingly enough
as i listen to these albums
slowly carving rivers through my musical grey matter
they're actually quite alike in performance and style
Weller's album, 2008
Dennis Wilson's, 1977
it's very organic music
full of soul and flavour
gutsy immediate performances
inspired with a sense of life and nowness
the excitement news is...
Paul Weller is touring Australia in August
his first visit since the shire council
( sister's endearing name for TSC...!)
toured australia in 1985
...the Jam never made it here of course
in 1977 in a hotel in Leeds
an aggressive young weller glassed the manager of the australian rugby team
after the manager accidentally spilled weller's beers
only to cop a glass in the face from a wired mr Weller as retribution
weller ran for it
though bassist bruce foxton copped a ribbing in the kick
from a pack of aussie rugby players
not my idea of funn
and the jam never were to cross that equator
yet in 1985
Paul Weller landed here with the cleaner sounds of the style council
complete with brass bands and eighties leather caps
i was 15 at the time the style council toured osstraylia
and my interest in weller and the council was seeding fast
about to explode into an obsession for the Jam
if Weller's trip was a put a few months back
i would have been at the concert
calling out for 'going underground' or 'town called malice'
like the rest of them louts
some 23 years on
(....where does the time fly!!?....)
weller won't recognise the place
i hope he has and his band have a good time here
gigging and seeing many sights and places
sealines and gumtrees and desert
and on the 19th August
at the enmore theatre
i'll be there
to see and hear Weller & band crank it

as for dennis he passed on
at the age of 39
drowning in cold california waters
in december of 1983
i'm a big fan of Dennis Wilson
he's my favourite Beach Boy
...well...he and Brian are i suppose
followed by Carl
followed by Al
then ...a long way down, here comes mr mikey Love
bruce johnson somewhere between al & mike
dennis was the opposite of mike
mike is clean republican right-wing immensely-egotistical domineering
dennis was primal impulsive inspired musical wild nature-loving emotional
there is a lot to say about the beach boys of my favourite bands...
and soon i will pen an article about dennis wilson
to give to my mate Gav who runs a monthly newsletter
called the Songsmith
he publishes most of what i grazenly offer him
after he berates me for my copious lack of grammatical judgement
and expertise
sorry i say
i've forgotten the rules
but i'm learning the runes
in anticipation of ruins
that's the important thing...

merry christmas
it's June 25
this is what Christmas should feel like
where i am December 25 is usually a long hot day
now the days are short and the house is freezing
no central heating in syd
i'm seriously in hibernation mode
i don't want to do anything
went to the studio last night
did a bit of work with acoustic guitar
frustrated because i couldn't get the sound right
and besides
i was non-plussed and not-interested
to be anywhere other than Home
as the thermometer hits 1 July
i'm sure some motivation will begin to swell in me
until then
this brown bear signs cave closed!


Monday, 2 June 2008

Song: Sea in June

I've posted a new recording of a song of mine called 'Sea in June' on MySpace; it will play first as you enter the website . 'Sea in June' has been recently re-recorded (its third incarnation!) featuring my dear friend Brigette on lead vocal. The song was recorded and engineered by Stewart Havill at his Sound Dog Recording Studios at Lane Cove in Sydney.

I haven't written a 'proper' song in a long while - mainly because I've moved and evolved onto other things both musically and creatively; songwriting doesn't interest me anymore though that can always change. This song, 'Sea in June', is my personal favourite of the songs I've written and the one piece I'm genuinely proud of. I like the other songs too though ‘Sea in June’ holds special credence for me. It's a gentle piece that pretty much sums up everything I ever want or need to say in two verses and chorus.
Here are the lyrics to 'Sea in June' © Ross B 2006, that was written in September 1996...

Bondi in June the wind is cold
and wrapped around my lilting fingers
and the tide has come to rise
it comes to claim its source again this evening

staring out to sea
sweeps its power back to me
it's the mirror of my dreams
this is all I want to be

When dreams are lost they rise and fall
and fade along with those who dream them
as the winners catch their breath
they watch the tide that comes along to claim them

staring out to sea
old art deco balcony
it's the window of my dreams
this is all I want to be
this is all I want to be

'Sea in June' was written under pressured circumstances because I needed to come up with a song to go onto a duo project. As the pressure was on I had the hint of what I wanted....this song is musically (and lyrically) influenced by what I was listening to at the time, and that is primarily Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left and in particular the finale off that album 'Saturday Sun', and, Adiemus Songs of Sanctuary. Songs of Sanctuary is akin to a modern "world music" adaptation of a tradional European requiem mass. The singing utilises no words as such, moreso phrases that fit in with the emotion and the sound. It sounds like Pacific Island music melded into a more traditional format and is replete with wonderful melodies and harmonic movements.

This version of 'Sea in June' features the second chorus doubled over to enhance the effect. It commences with finger-picked acoustic guitar and Brigette's vocal. The second verse has the add-on of piano to provide a 'washy' bed of sound behind the acoustic guitar. And in the last verse I've added a pipe-organ (or an approximation was the best Stewy and I could find in the time we had) featuring a descant to Brigette's vocal. After mastering I was concerned that I didn't spend enough time producing and mixing the organ, concerned that it sounds a bit clamorous there in the mix. But as it is, I'm very pleased with the effect. I wanted a "white spiritual sound" akin to the Brian Wilson's Smile-session declarations. This is very much a white-spiritual sound - a prayer to life and God.

'Sea in June' was written very quickly. There's something melancolically romantic about being in the Southern Hemisphere during winter, we suffer it alone in a way. In winter the beaches here on the eastern seaborn darken quickly and there is almost a whiff of an antarctic feel encroaching on our antipodean seaboard expanse during those few weeks encircling the solstice, 22 June. Bondi, Sydney, is where the song is set; I have vivid memories of Bondi, partly because I've lived near there on and off for much of my life (and still do) and it's where I used to go a lot as a child to play with my cousins. My wonderful sister Elida, told me that one of the things she likes about 'Sea in June' is that it reminds her of the time our family was living in Bondi Beach - I was two and she was 16; she remembers that wintertime during her final year of school in 1972, carrying me around the beach in those cool sunset afternoons. Bondi is an incredibly alluring place - hence it remains the focal point of the song though the message is universal to any sea or shore line.

Musically the song meanders through many chord changes and modulations settling into the more temperate "crowdie" (of the 'house' variety) chorus. It sounds like an eastern seaboard song in the wintertime, in mood and flavour.

Lyrically....let's break it down...

Bondi in June the wind is cold
and wrapped around my lilting fingers
and the tide has come to rise
it comes to claim its source again this evening

what is the tide, and what is the "source"?? The tide of course is the continual tide of circumstances arising to claim those who've created the tide in the first place, as one reaps one sows, all that come from the earth go back into it, hence the neverending moving of the tide atop the sea that rests eternal.

staring out to sea
sweeps its power back to me
it's the mirror of my dreams
this is all I want to be

I want to be this eternality, this rest, this vastness, this peace, the sea mirrors this 'dream' of what I wish to be.

When dreams are lost they rise and fall
and fade along with those who dream them

what a sad couplet! The dreams we hold will fade along with the generations that dreamt them, all lie awash in that vast sea of time and past.

as the winners catch their breath
they watch the tide that comes along to claim them

curiously, in a cartoon-caricature way, I had Nick Drake and John Lennon in mind's eye over these lines. Lennon and Drake didn't know each other, but I had this vision of looking over Bondi Beach from the north side and imagining Nick Drake passing away in 1974. John Lennon may have breathed a sigh of relief and glee that it wasn't him, but as soon as the clock struck his number at the time of 8 December 1980, the tide had claimed him too, as it will all people, when their eras have passed.

I add a bit of backing vocal in that "claim" line too ;)

staring out to sea
old art deco balcony
it's the window of my dreams
this is all I want to be
this is all I want to be

and there I am, observing from my balcony overlooking Bondi Beach knowing well-too that I am an organic participant in this timeless and universal flow we are all involved and share in.

Elida my sister compared the song to a zen koan, that's very nice, though that's also related to the music as it twists and turns and modulates around with the lyrics.

I read in an interview recently of Steve Kilbey's that the song 'June' from the Church's 2003 album Forget Yourself is about the wintertime in the southern hemisphere...I was a bit miffed!! I thought..hey, that was my idea!! :)

'Sea in June' was written at a time of great change in my life - in hindsight vast opportunities opened within and without and at crucial points I stamped on them, causing me years of regret and sorrow. Live and learn of course. This was September 1996 and I will post a blog related to that soon.

I believe that every human being on the planet should lift up their palm and declare - this is special to me. It may be a stone, a poem, jewellry, a song, a photo, a piece of the earth, or any such thing that is directly from the heart and a place of love. 'Sea in June' is my such opus; this is my one creation I genuinely love with pure heart and soul. I will blog other songs often as matter of rote but none shall compare to this, they will merely be songs. This is from the depths of my soul. I am privileged to share it with you.

God bless, Ross

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...