Featured Band: Obscura Hail

ARTICLE – BY MORGAN THISTLETHWAITE

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Let’s be real for a moment – it’s been a pretty average year for me. On top of this, the old ennui always sets in pretty hard around the last few weeks of Winter, and with Spring being a little slow to pick up its game in the warmth department, that lacklustre passion for staying alive has been lingering a little longer than I’d prefer.

That said, I’ve been trying my darndest to re-engage with life and get excited about my place in this world over the last month, and one thing that helped me to do this was a little band brought to my attention via a Facebook event alert I received the other week.

Further investigation revealed that somewhere along the way I must have shown interest in this band called Obscura Hail as I’d already ‘liked’ their band page, hence the invite, even though I had no idea who they were. Before I got too excited and responded with my standard non-committal indicator of ‘interested’, I thought I’d better do more research and have a listen to what they do. So, off I went to the band’s Soundcloud where I heard this:

Did you listen to it? Stop what you’re doing and listen to it. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Right, now we’re on the same page.

What I heard was instantly likable and I soon found myself gushing about the track to a friend, describing it to them as somewhere between Jose Gonzales and Boards of Canada. Feeling inspired, I then spent a little time going through the rest of their tracks.

The band draw from many influences and the diversity of sounds on display is very promising in that they manage to deliver a unique and recognisable sound of their own.

If Laces is any indication of what’s in store for us on the album upcoming album Pallbearer, consider me a fan.

So yes, the band will be playing a gig next week at the Edinburgh Castle in Brunswick and that’s as good a reason as any to get out and visit the old local.

These guys are all over social media, so if you like this track and, like me, can’t wait to hear the new stuff, get along and follow them online so you’re in the loop. Even better, why not join me at the gig. See you there.

Where: Edinburgh Castle Brunswick

When: Thursday 11.10.18 @8pm


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Pallbearer by Obscura Hail is due for release on the 15.11.18


https://www.instagram.com/obscurahail/

https://www.facebook.com/obscurahail/

http://www.patreon.com/obscurahail

https://soundcloud.com/obscurahail

https://obscurahail.bandcamp.com/

Live Show: Enlighten Me a Little – Reeni Inosha

Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

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Hey hey hey! Everyone in Melbourne has Fringe festival fever right now (except for the AFL fans, but whatevs), and everyone who’s anyone has a show going on right now.

As a diligent patron of the arts, it’s Friday night and I’m at home in my underpants while I back up my PS3 hard drive. For me, this is no surprise. I mean, looking back through the archives, the last time we plugged a live show around here was waaay back in May 2017.

DON’T BE LIKE ME!!!

There’s a whole world out there to experience and there’s a Fringe Festival on and there’s a bunch of talented people doing unique and amazing things and they want to do those things in front of you (and I’m working on getting out more, I promise)!

Anyhoo, that little show (Hey Femmily! It’s Me, Tomp Canks) led me on a journey toward making a killer podcast with a great bunch of people, and some of these great people are doing their own shows or somehow involved in helping other folks out.

05-26-2018-053829-6747-20But what about Reeni, you ask, why am I talking about all this other stuff? Shut up, I’ll get to her now. One of the integral elements to making The Quest Inn at the Centre of the Universe a success is Indiana (Indy) Kiely. She’s driven, hard-working and an all-round amazing person that does so much good stuff for the performing arts. One of the many things she’s good at is directing. Along with Hayley Tantau, Indy has assisted Reeni Inosha in putting together her debut solo show (I told you we’d get there, didn’t I?).

Enlighten Me a Little is a hybrid of standup, sketch and storytelling with a little song and dance thrown in too.

I’ll be checking this out for myself on Monday, but you don’t have to wait that long as it’s playing every night until September 26th, with one last show on Friday the 28th at Pilgrim.

If this sounds like your bag, get out and see Reeni for a funny and thought-provoking 50 minutes of true stories about a girl in the world just trying to make things work.

Get your tickets here.


When: 22nd-26th & 28th Sept (6 shows to go)

What time and where: 6pm @ Pilgrim Bar

How much: $15-$20

How long: 50min

Summary: Standup / sketch / storytelling

For Reeni Ekanayake, maintaining her market rate is important – but how far will she go?

In her debut solo performance, Reeni explores why she’s no longer worried about growing old and alone. She’s got access to the Buddha, retinol and a foster care puppy program.

Through hilarious sketches and storytelling of life experiences, Reeni invites you into her world of protecting her ‘happy’.

Reeni is a standout improviser and comedian who performed in Improvised Real Housewives, a sell-out production at the 2018 Melbourne Comedy Festival. She’s also an ensemble cast member at The Improv Conspiracy’s flagship show.

 

 

Featured Album: Resolution (2017) by Krisis

Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Krisis (aka Shannon Michels) is a Wollongong-based music producer who’s been tinkering away in his studio on beats and soundscapes for the better half of his life now. His new instrumental album Resolution is the culmination of this work.

“I had 17 years of my work to make something from. I chose to choose tracks from the last five years to give it some sort of coherence … my music has evolved.”

The Gong, as it’s known, is a seaside city of almost 300,000 on the east coast of NSW characterised by picturesque beaches and surrounding bushland. This natural beauty cocoons Wollongong’s heavy industry, the city’s beating heart that lights up the night sky like some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare.

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By Robert Montgomery [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In Resolution, the influence of his hometown and the hip-hop sensibilities that Krisis was weaned on are evident. The tracks It Isn’t Any Fun and Respek reflect these roots and from track to track, you can feel the evolution. The Bottom, Got Dark and Hard Labour thump, brood, and evoke imagery that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Philip K Dick novel, and the lighter, more contemplative tracks Tribute, New Dawn and The End Is A New beginning speak a language that suggests maturity that only comes with experience.

Among its influences, the album draws on triphop, dubstep, trap and ambient music to present an eclectic collection of tracks that reflect urban living, science fiction themes, and the fragility of humanity. It’s a solid collection of sounds that illustrates the breadth of ideas and moods that Krisis is able to evoke through his soundscapes.

Pump up that bass and give it a listen.

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Follow and support Krisis on Facebook and Soundcloud.

Featured Podcast: Tales from the Mind Boat

Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

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Artist Trav Nash has achieved a lot in his time. I first met him in his previous incarnation as a comedian and room-runner for a modest little comedy night called Death Star Comedy back in 2011.

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When not weaving one of his high-energy comic stories on stage, you could find him each week, somewhere off to the side, making sure that proceedings went smoothly and drawing in his ever-present sketchbook.

Since then, among the many projects he’s managed to complete are, a point-and-click adventure game, and also an online comic.

The Trav Nash of today has moved away from the mantle of comedian but still tells stories that you can sometimes hear at storytelling events, like Bazaar Tales, in and around Melbourne. If you do manage to see him, you’ll find that he still carries his sketchbook (a necessary accessory if ever he gets made into a collectible action figure).

This sketchbook yields a bountiful collection of drawings that you can see and buy here on his Tumblr.

Sketchbook in hand, he’s still just off to the side making sure proceedings are running smoothly, but it’s no longer a comedy night he’s running but his day-by-day existence, chronicled in part by Tales from the Mind Boat.

Each episode features Trav’s musings and attempts of making sense of the world as he sees it. There’s also a story from his own past or that of a guest and the package is woven together by the soothing musical sounds of Tim Whitt. Sometimes funny, sad, poignant, or strange; what each story shares is that that they are all true.

With a list of guest storytellers that includes Justin Hamilton, Jon Bennett, Rob Hunter, and a huge variety of equally-entertaining people that you may not have heard of (but probably should), this podcast is well-worth the half an hour of your time that it asks.

Interested but don’t know where to start? Here are some recommendations:

Good-Grief-Peanuts-square-itunes-300x300If you want to hear Trav’s standup material, Episode 46 features a live recording of his 2011 show “Good Grief”.

Episode 50 is an off-script tangent on what the podcast means to Trav. Guest storyteller Gabe Hogan tells of a truly startling post-gig experience in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

In Episode 61, Trav documents the process of telling a story at Bazaar Tales. Included is a live recording from the night that has potatoes in it.

For more Tales from the Mind Boat, go to iTunes and follow the show on Facebook.

Iggy Pop and David Bowie – two decades of uneasy collaboration Part 2: the ‘80s

Music review / Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Iggy_Bowie_1986In this two-part series, I look at every album that, for better or worse, rock icons David Bowie and Iggy Pop share credits.

Find Part 1: the ‘70s here.

Tonight from 1984 is Bowie’s follow-up to the commercial success of Let’s Dance (1983).

david-bowie_tonightDavid Bowie – Tonight (1984)

Iggy’s presence on this record is not comparable to that of Bowie on the Iggy Pop records. However, including Tonight, Iggy is credited on five of the nine tracks with this mess of an album.

Don’t get me wrong, Blue Jean (with its mini-film Jazzin’ For Blue Jean by Julien Temple) is a classic pop song and Loving the Alien Doesn’t fair too badly either, but these two tracks show little to no evidence of input from Iggy.

For the title track, Bowie brought in Tina Tuner to duet with on this neutered (drug references removed) reggae version of Iggy’s song, and it sounds as bad as it looks on paper, believe me.

Neighborhood Threat, also from Lust For Life, makes the cut as well. Iggy’s 1977 version sounds very much like a precursor to what Bowie ends up doing on Scary Monsters and Super Creeps (1980). Perhaps if Bowie had delivered his version a few years earlier, it could have sounded better than it does here.

The third Iggy Pop cover present is Don’t Look Down from New Values (1979), his first solo record without Bowie. The original is a decent soul-influenced track that wouldn’t feel too out of place on Bowie’s Young Americans (1975). For some reason, Bowie gives this a reggae twist as well.

Two original tracks are credited to the pair: Tumble and Twirl and Dancing with the Big Boys. The former rolls along just like its namesake. With a heavy horn rhythm section, this track feels very of its time but solid, nonetheless. The latter includes Iggy on vocals and is very much a signal of what Bowie’s next studio album will sound like.

An album with less than fifty percent new material, Bowie said of Tonight:

…I thought it a kind of violent effort at a kind of Pin Ups.

Pin Ups was a collection of covers from 1973 released to cash in on the success of Aladdin Sane.

Blah-blah-blah_iggy-popBlah-Blah-Blah (1986)

Iggy says this is not his album. The most well-known song on here is the re-worked Johnny O’Keefe track Real Wild Child (Wild One). Half of the album is written with or by Bowie. It’s sound is a pop album with some kind of punk rock edge. It’s even got Steve Jones on it, how punk is that? Mind you, the tracks written with Jones don’t sound anything like the Sex Pistols.

Still, the tracks credited with Bowie sound like what he will do in future with Tin Machine (1988-1992). For those that don’t know, Tin Machine was Bowie’s attempt to shed his popstar skin to become one of the boys. Those boys included, not coincidentally, the Sales brothers—rhythm section from the Lust for Life (1977) album.

However Iggy feels about it, Blah-Blah-Blah is a solid album and his most commercially successful. Also, Cry for Love (one of the three songs co-written with Jones), is a killer track.

This is the last album that Iggy and Bowie will make together.


Never-Let-Me-DownBowie’s following studio album Never Let Me Down (1987) features a cover of Bang Bang from Iggy’s Party (1981). It pales in comparison to the original but it’s better than anything that features Mickey Rourke rapping on it.

Iggy Pop and David Bowie – two decades of uneasy collaboration Part 1: the ‘70s

Music review / Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Bowie_Iggy_1977In this two-part series, I look at the albums that rock-icons David Bowie and Iggy Pop, for better or worse, share credits.

Post_Pop_Depression_(Front_Cover)Iggy Pop’s album Post-Pop Depression (2016) was unfortunately timely. Recorded in secrecy with Josh Homme and friends the year before, it was released in the months following the death of David Bowie. Not only is it the poignant statement of a punk-rock god feeling that perhaps he’s not long for this world, but also a great addition to an already-impressive body of work. It was this album that got me thinking about the relationship of Bowie and Iggy.

Individually, the pair are no strangers to collaboration. Each have a string of recordings that draw on the talents of others, but among those, the entwined relationship of this pair is unique. It’s also fair to say that one may simply not exist as we know them today without the influence of the other.

This relationship tracks back to the early ‘70s. Before Bowie brought Ziggy Stardust to the world, Bowie saw something in Iggy that many overlooked, and that was the great song-writing at the core of the ensuing chaos that Iggy’s band The Stooges had become synonymous with. So convinced was Bowie of this talent, that he travelled to America to find Iggy, and while there persuaded him to sign with his own UK management. Bowie’s intention was to bring attention to Iggy’s music to an audience that he felt was deserved.

Lou-Reed_TransformerBy the time Ziggy Stardust hit the stage in 1972, Bowie was neck-deep in behind-the-scenes side-projects such as producing Mott the Hoople’s All the Young Dudes, as well as Lou Reed’s now-classic Transformer. The Stooges had, by this point, broken up and their future was unlikely, so when Bowie approached Iggy about joining him in England to do another Stooges record but with a different line-up, Iggy agreed.

Bowie learned the hard way that Iggy wasn’t quite ready allow him to step in on the process in the same way that prior projects had. Finally, he had no option but to step back and let Iggy record the album his own way. The completed recordings were then handed to Bowie for mixing.

Iggy-and-the-stooges_raw-powerBowie did what he could with what he had and Raw Power was released in 1973. Multiple attempts to mix this album exist, and Bowie’s version is certainly not the best. It would be another three years before he and Iggy would attempt to work together again.

During this time, Bowie’s career continued to blossom. Ziggy Stardust rose then fell, and Bowie found success in the US and it’s the hangover from this superstardom that started Bowie down the path toward his “Berlin trilogy” phase. In 1976, Bowie and Iggy began work on the tracks that would become The Idiot, Iggy’s debut album as a solo artist.

Iggy_Pop_-_The_IdiotIggy Pop – The Idiot (1977)

A wonderful piece of work. The angular sounds and electronic swagger that feature on this album is nothing like what Iggy has done before or since. Essentially, it works as a template for the musical direction that Bowie would explore further while in Berlin.

The opening track Sister Midnight would find its way onto Bowie’s 1979 album Lodger as the re-worked Red Money. More recognised, however, is the Side A closer, China Girl, which became the second single from Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance.

To me, Bowie’s polished version always sounded like a karaoke cover, only emphasised by the accompanying video that features a suited Bowie crooning along with a microphone in front of what could be a wallpapered stage in the corner of a cheap bar.

Iggy-Pop_Lust-For-LifeIggy Pop – Lust for Life (1977)

This follow-up to The Idiot came quickly. Written, recorded and mixed in eight days, the sound of this record is far more in line with the sound with which Iggy is known. A true classic, the title track bounces onto the stage with an infectious energy that is still imitated today, but never equaled. Lust for Life sets the upbeat tone for this album, barely taking a breath between tracks.

Turn Blue is the exception to this rule. This Blues-based track is a confessional of how Iggy’s drug addiction thwarted previous efforts to collaborate with Bowie.

Bowie’s influence on this album is strong but far less imposing than it was on The Idiot and sits closer to what his presence was on Lou Reed’s Transformer (1972).

Once again, the last track of Side A would find its way onto a following Bowie album, as well as becoming said album’s title.


david-bowie_tonightFind out all about Tonight (1984) and beyond, when we explore the continued collaboration of Iggy and Bowie throughout the 80’s in part 2 of this article.

Pictures for Sad Children: the rise and fall of John Campbell

Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

pfsc_fireThe story behind Pictures for Sad Children is contentious. Was the Kickstarter scheme that raised more than USD$50,000 merely a hoodwink to swindle fans, or is John Campbell’s very public fall from grace merely the sum of the facts presented?

I first discovered Campbell’s webcomic in 2012, and like many, I became a little obsessed with it. So drawn in was I by the strip and its absurdist tone that, when I learned that I had five years of content to catch up on, I was like a little kid in a candy store (albeit, a little kid with some kind of ongoing mental condition).

Not unlike many other comics I had discovered, Campbell’s comic was captivating. But unlike those other comics, it was not for its artwork, colours, or even laugh-out-loud humour that I am often so fond of. No, Pictures for Sad Children stood out because it was precisely none of these things.

The characters were little more than stick figures, the colour scheme consisted of grey in a variety of hues, and its humour was far more contemplative and underplayed than, “Ha! That’s a funny one right there.”

Elegant in its minimalism, Campbell’s comic spoke to me (and many others) about depression and anxiety—dual conditions I deal with to varying degrees on a regular basis.

Campbell began the comic in 2007 and after five years, it had made quite an impact. You might even think that there was enough content to publish a printed collection. It turns out, in 2009, that’s exactly what Campbell did and it was met with some success. So much so, that in 2012, Campbell set up a Kickstarter campaign to release the follow-up, Sad Pictures for Children.

Campbell planned to raise USD$8,000 to publish and distribute 2000 copies of the 200-page hardcover collection. The campaign raised USD$51,615 in pledges.

In hindsight, perhaps the way this story ends is not all that surprising.

These are the facts as we know them:

May 26, 2012:

1,073 backers pledged $51,615 to Campbell’s Kickstarter campaign.

September 20, 2012:

Campbell posts this update on Kickstarter stating that they’ve been “pretending to be depressed for profit”.

September 22, 2012:

Campbell retracts prior statement with this one stating that they were “pretending to pretend to be depressed”.

October 25, 2013:

Campbell states that shipping has been delayed due to running out of money.

February 28, 2014:

Campbell posts this update stating that 75% of the Kickstarter rewards were met but no further books will be shipped. There is an accompanying video showing boxes of unsent books being burnt.


Since this update, all content on the website has been removed and any trace of John Campbell has disappeared from the internet.

Following Campbell’s online disappearance, a fellow artist and friend of Campbell was able to retrieve the surviving books (about 100 in total) and distribute them to backers still in need of a delivered product.

For anyone looking for remnants of the webcomic, it may still be out there if you can find it, but as these articles (How to disappear completely from the internet, Book burning, webcomics, and the fate of Pictures for Sad Children) can attest, Campbell has done a pretty good job of removing all traces.

Whatever the real story is here, I think it’s worth looking at the big picture. At the end of the day, John Campbell found success doing something they loved doing. Starting out, it’s easy to play the game your own way with little to no regard for what others might think. Success can come at any moment and if you’re not ready for it (mentally or emotionally), you may just find that you’re not be equipped to deal with it. But then, only you can know this and you won’t really know until it happens.

I guess, just look after yourself and only give what you can live without.