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The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Filtering by Category: livemusic

Pikelet - Evelyn Ida Morris - Speaks Camp Doogs Highlights with Amber Fresh

Andrew Ryan

Ev has her "best Pikelet show ever" and talks "nature", euphoria and melancholy…

Doogs was amazing. More mud, maybe less magic, still amazing. Mink Mussel Creek blew our minds, so did many others. Evelyn Ida Morris came to play solo as Pikelet and with wild ones Baseball as le drummer. We talked in the backyard post-Doogs and here's what she said:

Evelyn: bonjour

Amber: bonjour. why are you learning french?

EM: because i want to live in france for a little while, and just try it out.

AF: what do you like about france?

EM: it's in europe (laughing). there's lots of things actually. i just want to live somewhere where i can tour easily. also i just want to learn another language and being there would make that easy.

AF: what was your general impression of doogs? for someone who's been to lots of festivals and played all over the place?

EM: well it reminded me a lot of being at camp a low hum in new zealand which i've been to a few times and i really love.

general impression was it was very muddy (laughing). but also what i loved about it was… it wasn't trying to be a bigger festival… i liked that it was doing some things like putting bands in an order that they wouldn't have them at a bigger festival.

like, i was really shocked that i was playing a pikelet set later on in the evening, because i thought that that wouldn't work. but what was amazing was that all of that stuff did work just because the crowd was super up for things. and that's what makes it a really good festival i think. the crowd is just like, just up for everything. like when krakatau played last on the first night it just felt really good.

AF: cool. what was it like to play a baseball show again?

EM: we had two shows in melbourne before we came over to prepare. actually i think i wasn't prepared enough or something. i didn't do a very good set, i thought. everyone said all this nice stuff to me and i was trying to be all humble about it, but really i was just beating myself up cos i didn't play as well as i wanted to - i wanted to do a REALLY good job because i have such fond memories of coming to perth really early on in baseball.

AF: i think i permanently injured my neck dancing sitting squished underneath the bar of the hyde park hotel, just dancing with my head when you guys played.

EM: yeah that show was so fun. and was that the first time we met?

AF: maybe…

EM: it was at the swan. that one you and i played together, with baseball, we were meant to play in the basement but it flooded so we played upstairs. it was the first time i met nick… anyway (at doogs) i was just "do a good job for the perth people!" and then i fucked it up.

AF: well, yeah, i mean my perspective is it's quite obvious that you're a genius even if you're making a few mistakes.

EM: oh thank you amber (laughs).

AF: what did you particularly love at the festival music-wise that was a surprise for you?

EM: i have to say i was a bit in my melbourne bubble so i saw a lot of my friends' bands that i would always see in melbourne, which is probably a bit of a bad move and i hope people don't hate me for that. but Hearing actually kind of stole the show for me, and hardly anyone was watching them.

AF: i was watching them

EM: yeah i remember. there was something fucking magic going on during their set. it was raining lots so there was hardly anyone down front, but they're great songs and they just had such a good set, i really felt very moved by it.

it wasn't super a surprise because i've felt that way before with them, but something about the setting, and the comraderie of everyone standing in the rain just felt really special. so yeah they were definitely my faves, Hearing.

AF: did you feel connected to the landscape at all, aside from just having it upon you in mud form?

EM: that's something that i actually find really interesting about festivals. but it's not unique to festivals; it's actually how i feel about nature throughout my life. i have this kind of weird melancholy, whenever i'm around nature. which feels like "i'm sorry". like i feel bad because of i know that i've done so much damage to general environmental situations.

i feel like that especially at festivals because you can see the literal destruction, but also i feel bad because i don't feel connected to it, and i never have, and i understand that the best, respectful, most best way for me to treat nature is to just not fuck with it. and to keep my distance.

i have this urge in me to be connected to nature but i know it's probably not going to happen because our systems have gone too far apart. it's not going to happen in my lifetime. so whenever i'm at festivals, it's almost like more of an actual literal expression of how i feel in nature all the time.

AF: woh

EM: deep, hah!

AF: yeah that's pretty heavy. i have it sometimes.

EM: yeah

AF: when i'm not basically ejaculating in my pants of happiness at looking at small bits of nature, i get the melancholy too. even last night from the sunset. it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen in your life, but there's a melancholy. i feel like maybe it's something to do with infinite things, and that it's hard for us to integrate

AF: infinity (simultaneous)

EM: that amount of knowledge (simultaneous)

EM: i agree. i think that's why the systems we have were created. because infinity and mortality are intangible to us. we can't deal with them. that's why we made all these systems that are about, "go to work!" and, "do daily tasks!" because those bigger things are too impossible.

i don't know. nature is just always going to be a crush i have that i can't quite grasp. i've never had the guts to ask it out on a date.

AF: well i was wondering when you were talking before if maybe your gardening (ev gardens, even doing 'green composting' with broad beans) is a way to be close?

EM: yeah, well gardening is… a bit futile as well. i always feel like i'm just… what's the saying - there's definitely a saying for this - it's like trying to hold the ocean in your hands, like there's always weeds coming back in and you're constantly trying to fend off the "natural growth". weeds are not natural though, so i kind of feel ok about killing them. anyway, i sound like a hippy.

AF: that's ok it's good to be a hippy. .. yeah, any other special moments? any other non-melbourne musical special moments from dooglets?

EM: hmm. well actually, but this is another melbourne one. sarah chadwick's music makes me cry every time. and also she's an old friend and we haven't seen each other much lately and so i miss herd early. actually i wept like a baby during her set. and gregor was standing next to me and i had to like hug him and cry. which i think happens to a lot of people during her sets.

i just felt like wandering around that everyone was being really respectful. it didn't feel like a gross festival vibe. like, people were wasted but … it felt like people were taking care of each other. i guess that's not really a moment but it's a vibe and honestly, during the pikelet set - 

the whole time i was there - i think i told you this - i was trying to practice this thing where i was in the audience but trying to let go of the fact that other people might see me. like that other people might be looking at me. i was trying to let go of the gaze, i was just trying to be in my body. and that all sort of culminated that when i was playing the pikelet set, i just felt completely, really present and that audience were just so loving that i just felt extreme euphoria.

i've never had a pikelet set feel that good.

AF: woh

EM: that was definitely one of the best times i've had playing music. and ever since doogs i keep thinking back on it and just going "wow". haha! like it just felt… i don't feel like i played especially well, but i just felt so good. you know, it was a really really good situation they set up. and i loved all the banter in between the bands as well. i thought that was pretty amazing.

AF: i gotta type this up so i gotta stop. any final words?

EM: i feel bad that i haven't got any perth bands to speak of.

AF: don't worry there were hardly any.

EM: yeah exactly. ok.

AF: it was special for us to have lots of guests over you know. there were only a few local bands.

EM: yeah there was mink mussel creek, and they were…

AF: they've not played for four years.

EM: that was pretty wild, i was dancing a lot behind them.

AF: and mile end, and adam said galore, and verge collection. i think they were the only local ones. oh no actually the choir - (Burundi Band and Peace Choir)

EM: OH THAT WAS AMAZING! and actually i have to say that soukouss internationale they

AF: i think they're actually from here

EM: they were fucking amazing. i had the most incredible conversation with someone while they were playing and we were dancing, they were just the funnest band. i thought they were great and the choir were great. the end.

AF: thank you

EM: no worries

AF: eleven minutes!

 

Akioka Tape Launch Pt 1

Andrew Ryan

it started with breathing, lots of breathing. that's how life started and that's how akioka started for her tape launch. well, first she began with her palms together and her eyes closed inside a placenta, in front of the screen, with a crowd of people waiting outside the opening in front of her, to see her as she emerged. well, she emerged from that meditative place, sitting in front of us, sitting in front of the screen, and opened her mouth and began to breathe.

before that i'd been talking to my old friend sage, who used to be thomas when we knew each other. she is studying something about the intersection between insight meditation and non-traditional, or super-traditional forms of singing, as in throat singing and all the rest. these were not all her words, these are my words to describe what she generously was describing to me, her eyes wide as when we knew each other in the past, my eyes wide as ever too. when she lived with my friend edd, edd used to wear raver pants and feed me frozen peas under the doona while we watched movies, but now i think he would find a show where someone's just breathing "pretty weird". what is weird though, breathing, or wearing raver pants?

well, akioka, who is tessa began, and it was all breathing. then she opened her mouth but what came out, and through the microphone, pedals, PA, didn't seem like it could be her voice. imagine someone talking with helium, except this time it's not funny it's primordial and cosmically interesting/confusing/real/intriguing. that's what it was like. and these were looped over one another and her bff aside from her son (i assume this relationship, based on photos) had set videos to go over and through the experience.

the videos are like this: you are seeing a galaxied sky, turning in front of your eyes. you don't know how she has made this galaxy, green planets, vision rods, the goo which makes up dark matter. in fact the french man called me on skype today and told me if i really want to know about physics, the only and most important thing is, in fact, dark matter. well, it seems like a galaxy, the video going behind akioka, in front of us, on to her face, through her music, but then very eventually you see it's the particles floating on a lake top or something similar, and you realise - well, the same thing really isn't it? lake, galaxy, planet, particle, gooey dark matter, gooey dark matter.

 glossalalia - akioka, is this part of what you're doing?

 Well, this is Part One, because this week I go on camp, to run the camp, with 13 lucky number of kids with a parent or both of them in prison. And Akioka, aka Tessa, is going to do music with the kids and Part 2 is going to be telling you all and every thing about that.

 

WAYS TO LISTEN: FARNSEY, CARPET, CUPPING

Andrew Ryan

would you like to know a secret for listening to music? well, there’s the way the music is presented to you and then there are the options where you can make some decisions of your own. one thing that makes me like people an extra amount is when they know how to whisper. people who can keep the whisper up. they start at a very small volume, very close to your ear or from across the makeshift sofa in the tv room, and then they just stay at that same volume.

not everyone can do this: you might be one of those people who start like this ANDEND UP LIKE THIS. ask your friends. if you want to change it’s possible.

my friend at soup kitchen has just started gambling a bit on his phone to add to the drinking. “perry” i said (not his name) “life has enough problems and pain, why you wanna add to it?” but he knows. it’s just the way it goes. a guy brought a keyboard to soup kitchen too. started punching out the hits, with everyone singing along. 60s classics, maybe some farnesy and chisel, some zeppelin, beatles. at one point dudley on the keys said “amber you’re going to play” and i said “no!” and the others started changing “amber! amber!” another thing i really like about people is when you ask them to play or sing they just play or sing. but i’m not a cool guy like that. “i’m too shy!” i say, but shyness is not quite the thing. the thing is protecting yourself against the potential neg thoughts of others when maybe all people want to do is love you more and have a little musical whisper straight in their ear. it’s possible to change. one day i’ll just say yes, and go down in flames on the soup kitchen floor.

hm. the talk of the town was benjamin witt’s album launch and so it should have been. i don’t know if he made the gutsy move to hire “mei saraswati acapella group” or if mei just told him “i don’t wanna bring instruments”. i always remember abbe may telling me about one sex panther show where mei took all her clothes of at mojos and swung from the rafters. whenever i watch her is till wait for that moment to come again, but her, tessa and natalie were all in raincoats and full winter swamp gear. so the options for sound are life this, to begin with: eyes open, ears open; eyes closed, ears open; eyes open, hands cupping ears to collect more sound from the front; eyes open, hands cupping ears to the back. then there’s the subtle flanger options with your fingers in and out at various tendernesses into your ears. then there’s eyes closed and prayer/meditation directed by the music and your spirit all at once. then there’s imagining your body’s movement as a way to communicate your pleasure and gratefulness for all your limbs, as a way to please the mind of the big. well, these are the ways of listening i use regularly, that are available to all and that i used for mei’s group, dianas and benjamin witt.

in their raincoats they were as good as you imagine – so good -. i watched jamie terry’s face watching them. i watched strangers watching for the first time, and i mixed eyes closed and eyes open. there were feedback problems, there was one song by natalie that was a bit less powerful, and there were songs that used the three of them to put people smack band in the spirit swamp, dipped in mud, peering through reeds to the fullest version of unpaved life on display.

then dianas. i was up close, cupping my hands each of the ways. we all know, all of us here, that they belong on big stages with thousands of fans, but it’s not how it works here. i cupped to the on stage sound because i felt it was the best. they are delicate angels, they are soft surf shredders. come back dianas and live here and play for us every week. yeah, the on-stage sound – you’re in a lounge room with them, carpet floor, pastel coloured walls and decor from the late seventies, early eighties. this is an all-ways good thing.

then be. world class. we link you now to our favourite track:https://benjaminwitt.bandcamp.com/track/marble-orchard and let the music speak for itself. typewriter is full of rice and we’re at the end of the page….

LANA AT SUCCESS

Andrew Ryan

hello! i’m sitting on a grassy knoll. from here i can see boys playing soccer, men playing football, and the place where me, nick and jules became better friends. we climbed the peppermint trees and rolled little clumps of cut grass into pretend truffles and a pretend chicken dinner. i guess the reason is shooting memories down from here and not bullets is a matter of luck and sustained luck.

i never got taught to hate anyone and i never had to watch anything bad happen to my family or my people. i just saw my friends playing guitars and flutes and eating pretty much whatever they wanted for dinner. my grandparents came here escaping the destruction of war and the name of their ship is printed into concrete just down the coast fifteen walking minutes outside the maritime museum.

one time a lady chased me down there for “lookin at her man”, but that’s a much longer story involving c y o’connor blowing up the reef that helped her great great great grandparents collect their food in the season of bunuru when whey would travel down the songlines to the coast with their belts made of the hair of generations of their people who had all gone this way, waiting for the right time to catch the mullet and salmon all trapped there by the destructible ancient reef.

this week i saw music that really truly made me listen. it was a woman going by the name of “lana”. the first time on the weekend i saw her she played after me and after erasers (oooh so good) at paper mountain in an event called “how to love a mountain”. i made a song about it – about how to love a mountain, about the way in california you can actually hear the mountains crumbling as you walk by in the moonlight, as trees talk to each other and you get to hear them. they were saying “i am here for you” which is part of the words of the song, song which also has the sound of my mouth crunching toast at the start and at the end, an unintentional sonic reference to the crumbling mountain of the song. anyway it’s easy to love and save a mountain when you’re on the victor’s team, someone else shooting on your behalf – oil, armies, multi-continental corporations acting for tax purposes as individuals etc – and not a people with hair belts and only spears to defend yourselves. so lana started playing and this first time i was transfixed. it seemed really truly strange which is something that makes you attend. it seemed simultaneously good and not good which makes me attend and also is the sign i’m going to love something completely eventually and also a sign to me that something is wonderful but i just don’t quite get it yet. it was like the emperor’s new clothes but where at the end of the story the thing is that the clothes are in fact marvelous because they are the pure naked man, stripped of all artifice and resplendent in an unexpected divine suit of his own self.

anyway so that was the thing. it seemed good and not so good all at the same time. she was using a drum machine but the rhythms were not making sense, there were background loops of feedback going that were too loud and then too soft, she was singing with this sincere, straight but trained voice that no-one really sings with here, that was mainly strong and melodious but occasionally pitchy, my mind chimed in from watching too much ‘the voice’.

“rupert this is really really weird!” i said into the ear of erasers’ rupert. “i’m pretty sure it’s on purpose” whispered rupert back into my own small ear where all these things, lana, drum machines, two great strange oldnew keyboards, rupert’s trusted friend voice go. “have you heard of blah blah blah?” here rupert gave me the musical references to make sense of what was going on but the names were new so i can’t remember, and anyway my mind was taken back over again by this weird beautiful thing and then there was a beegees cover, the strong rained (yes rained) voice floating over, and me and matt aitken slow dancing with our eyes closed but at full arms-length to show we’re just funny friends slow dancing on some special night.

then the crowd went crazy. lana stopped and tristan and matt djed everyone into some collective euphoria. i took one photo and it just looks like a handful of people being lame but it’s like, how does a baby take a picture to show how wonderful and strange and alien it feels inside the late-term womb, becoming a someone discovering sound at the same time as its ears are forming?

well, another time i wrote a piece called “this is success”. it ends with a true story scene of my friend at the psych ward in royal perth hospital, freshly high after scoring heroin on a brief foray into the city, so high and almost nodding off, his cigarette falling from his mouth and his eyes almost closed, but him still almost beating me at table tennis. at the end of the story is the refrain “this is success”. so, the next time i saw lana play it was at ‘success’, great wide dark cavern underground gallery dimlit music space art land in fremantle. there was a work all about a maybe fake meteorite coming to hit the earth in a country town in australia in the late 1980s – that’s my time frame – with rocks everywhere and headphones to hear wonderful static and music and a girl talking, the artist closest being the ex-boyfriend of my neighbour who giggled at my questions and tried to explain it through his shiny brown rock eyes.

but in the other room lana was playing again, and this time i could just understand it all and let my mind sink into it. it was still so weird, still unpolished “mistakes” but that’s what i like in rocks and music, and still so delicate in the feelings it called up. behind lana’s own fluffy helmet a projected man in a movie with a helmet to stop bullets was kind of following her around the drum machine, to the keyboards, some medieval film, unaware of what he now, suddenly, with the voice of lana all around, could become.

PETER DUTTON AND THE BEAUTY, AT SUNSET

Andrew Ryan

it’s nearly sunset and i’m free. there’s the moon already in front of us, in a soup of white clouds, freely moving through the sky. when you’ve got it easy, everything gets easier. when you have it hard, everything is hard.

i made a new friend last night at soup kitchen, we’ll call him john. he had sixteen years in prison and then never went back. while we were sitting out the front two boys came on bikes. first they wanted to buy weed. then they wanted john to go up to the bottle-o and buy them booze. so he went. when he came back he was all shaky and told me why, but with his way of talking and with all his broken teeth i made faces and noises like i understood, but i didn’t understand. my friend nigel explained it to me: john’s friend hung himself – the boys just told him.

did you know the richest fifth of australians have seven more teeth than the poorest fifth? well, it’s true.

when things are hard they’re really hard. your teeth fall out. your family rip you off. you borrow money and cash converters spring on you suddenly with 54% interest.

this morning i watched a video of peter dutton talking about people fleeing their countries. he said they can’t read and write, they can’t do maths and they’ll stand in queues wanting money, or try to take jobs off people. there’s something wrong with him that apparently a thousand sunsets haven’t fixed.

at dusk i’m going to go out in a field and send good energy to him. i sometimes think about sending curses or bomb threats, but we watched a documentary last night about the weathermen – white college students who learned to make bombs to stop the vietnam war, but ended up blowing some of themselves up and so changed their tactics a little. they also got good at public speaking and humped each other in the back of vans going to rallies, to sink in the point that they were all truly together in a new way. but that part of it didn’t work either.

they had the right idea though – some things we just can’t stand, and won’t stand and don’t have to stand.

pete, nick and i played at the bird, but the best song i heard that friday was at 7:30am in the morning. a young nyoongar man stood up in front of a bunch of generally white and free people and sung a welcome to country song in his own language. it was in the middle of the city which we all know now used to be lakes. all the people walking by would have heard, but us standing right in front of him also saw his hands move, as if over the moving waters under our feet, freely moving, freely calling up the waters running beneath us all, freely freeing something inside us that is going to grow and grow and grow.

i’ll watch the sunset and it will change me. i’ll call on something big and it will change mr dutton. i’ll call on the moon to move the waters, with friends and spirits everywhere, and it all will, just wait and see.

also i just went to the ballet, with my housemate and lots of people from the soup kitchen. it was beauty and the beast. an orchestra down in the pit lit up like the late afternoon, and dancers on the stage in flowing clothes all jumping and tiptoeing into each other. they had a beggar near the beginning of the story coming to ask the prince for something – shelter? food? love and care? it’s hard to know because there was no speaking, but what was easy to know was that the prince was turned into a beast by a magical being on tiptoes, and the only thing that could save him was true love, and his beastliness was an outward showing of what had been in his heart, but in the end of the story of course the beastliness is over come by a kiss and a rose and if someone comes to his house again dirty and mishappen by misfortune this time he will know exactly what to do. a prince, a monster, a curse, a rose, everything turning out at the end how it’s meant to. just wait and see.

The Drones at Rosemount

Andrew Ryan

Well I fried some bananas and then went downtown to see The Drones. I’d been thinking all day about this one lyric “You came here on a boat you fucking cunt”. When I showed my french housemate who The Drones were I played her that one song, from “Taman Shud”. After about sixteen seconds she said through her lipstick and accent, “I can see already they are good”. And that is how it happens with all ‘good’ music – people who ‘know’ only need a few seconds to know. When Joe Alexander who runs Bedroom Suck Records was watching Peter Bibby for the first time though it took him several songs in, in fact ‘til Pete did that one song about Australia/Straya where the whole crowd was whipped into a confused and then riotous fever by the same spirit of “You came here on a boat you fucken’ cunt”, that he realised why Pete was special. What do bananas and Peter Bibby and refugees on fire all have to do with The Drones playing at Rosemount? Plenty.

So I was frying some bananas for dinner before The Drones show. I was doing them the way my friend’s African drug dealer in Paris, who’s name means liberty, did them. In France if you rock up unannounced and then declare yourself as a refugee they are not allowed to lock you straight into prison, so this free man without papers was frying up bananas in a Parisian apartment for me and my friend.

And I was here in Fremantle frying bananas his way – just in oil in thick rounds in a very hot pan, while Nick and Tayo made dubby music in the other room. When we visited the Fremantle prison on band camp in high school, all my friends laughed and made jokes about ‘garotting’, but I as the perpetually serious one burned against them with the words “These were REAL PEOPLE” making the whites of my eyes tattooed and bloodshot in the spirit realms.

What was Gareth Liddiard like in high school? Did he laugh with the garotters or was he already burning up at any mention of injustice, but already mainly impotent except in words? Well, as the bananas fried I kept thinking about what I’d said to Eva the night before, “I feel like The Drones are sort of the only important band in Australia,” and was thinking just three songs are needed for our country right now: ‘Taman Shud’, ‘Treaty’ by Yothu Yindi, and ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly. Love songs have some place somewhere in the landscape, but right now mainly it feels beside the point.

So I fried the bananas and went to the show. At first I wasn’t allowed in due to some miscommunication, and I stood at the entrance shifting my weight from foot to foot, looking at my phone, looking at the door people doing their job, looking at my phone. I could hear Ben playing, all great but all thin from far off. I just had to imagine everyone getting into it, new fans I assumed would be created, until they let me burst into the scene for the last song and some guy absolutely wild on either music or some highly effective upper/outer was emphatically with his whole body and heaps of fast words exclaiming the injustice of Ben, James, Marc and Brett not getting to continue for hours more. In the front row was our musical city’s private photographer Amber Bateup, and members of Rag n’ Bone, and of Usurper of Modern Medicine and in the second row members of Shit Narnia and Pat Chow, and Tristan Fidler, always Tristan. We’re always amongst friends now, but what are we going to politically do with it, all this friendship? Just keep on having a good time as people literally burn to be there too? Not at the Rosemount ready to hear Gareth repeat “You came here on a boat,” but somewhere close by with a free bed to sleep in, able to go to the markets in the morning for bananas or listen to the radio even if it’s not Tristan Fidler on RTR, or even watch Masterchef and gradually be able to see things on fire without traumatic memories rushing back in.

I hardly ever get the rush of waiting, waiting for the band to come on and then they come and it’s explosive, but that happened.

I rehearsed in my mind the songs they played in order as they played them, so I could do a blow by blow, but it’s all muddled in now and all I remember is the power of ‘Taman Shud’, maybe two songs in, and hearing voices singing the words all ‘round, but not knowing if it was the crowd or a trick of my acoustic mind or a bunch of angels on fire asking our country to start a riot. That’s what weaved through the whole show, a vision of everyone somehow rising up from apathy to actually break every single thing, set it all on fire until the basic justices are put in place: treaty, free entry for those that need it, someone to answer the fucking phone at Centrelink.

Then there were the songs when the three women came out. Gareth had been the centre-point of all of it ‘til then, your eyes moving to the joyous enthusiasm of Christian the drummer, the impenetrable sheen of Dan the guitarist, never a misplacing a note or tone, the guarded and generous mystery of Fiona the bass player, the cheeky monkey keyboardist Steve, holding in his full weirdness for the music (this is all my wild assumptions of personality), which all together is at certain moments the only thing that matters, the realest and most violent and effective way to change everything, feel everything, and at other times is actually just a band. guitar, bass, guitar, keys, drums and one white man out the front singing about his feelings that he might not say to her face.

So, the three women came out, and I looked upon it with a feminist critique, which is to say, just logic, but knowing there was no critique really here. But just in case, three women, dressed the same, singing with one voice, lit demurely, while the man in the middle strains and stomps across his pedal board and still has the spotlight square on his chest. But this is not a band of patriarchy, this is a band like no/every other, pulling at the strings of a dying country knowing that the strings are attached to something living still, even if there’s only a twitch of movement to prove it.

(I repeat, I am not making a critique of this band and their set up, I was letting my mind wander to the places it goes, where in other contexts the mud sticks, but here the mud is flinging off everywhere, showing some pearl of great price underneath.)

Prove it. Prove we’re not dead. Prove we care that someone’s alight. Prove we care all the coral is bleaching white, the shit white of a colonial past and present.

And in between all that, we do fall in love. I didn’t mean what I said, that it doesn’t matter. Gareth with all the women there singing “To Think That I Once Loved You” made so many tears well and fall. Imagine – everyone knows that thing, that feeling. I cried, I think Tristan cried. The Rag n’ Bones singer and bass player touched hand and shoulder from in front and behind me. The room swelled up, as much as with the violence and fire feeling, but with something different. When the three women sung too it was all a mess sonically, my brain couldn’t take it all in, but for moments when reached that same place of the Shud, wide, deep, motivating and frustrating and tear pulling.

Jimbo the sound man had given us all bottles of water, all the faces he knew from all our own shows, and to the weaker amongst us – me – gave earplugs which I kept taking in and out. It’s a travesty, but I want to hear all this forever if I have the choice. In history class in year 6 our teacher was explaining to us in detail medieval torture methods like ‘hung drawn and quartered’ and I put my fingers in my ears. I didn’t believe we needed to know all of the detail, I knew it wouldn’t help me to know the detail then, so I shoved my pointers in and defied Mr Beeck. We want to hear forever, and really hear, so sometimes we have to wear ear plugs for a few moments.

Whatever, the show was amazing. The next night I discussed with Bibby in the backyard how good or not good we reckon The Drones are, Liddiard’s solo album, instagram etc. and I remembered the car-sized silver flecked bass amp of Fiona, and Gareth’s heaving chest that reminded me of my Polish granddad as a young man, lifting itself up into the lights, the facial expressions of the other three men, and just the same question over and over and over, of how to get everyone to be at least kinda free.

Leafy Suburbs on the Lawn, One Band of In the Pines, Race to Your Face

Andrew Ryan


sometimes i write a “three best things in music this week” – that’s what i’m going to do right now, almost.

but the best thing in australian political life this week is png saying it’s illegal to detain refugees on manus island. here is a quote from the judgement and from abc news:

‘“Both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments shall forthwith take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum seekers or transferees at the relocation centre on Manus Island and the continued breach of the asylum seekers or transferees constitutional and human rights,” the judges ordered.
In one of two lead judgments, Justice Terence Higgins said the detention also breached asylum seekers’ fundamental human rights guaranteed by various conventions on human rights at international law and under the PNG constitution.
“Treating those required to remain in the relocation centre as prisoners irrespective of their circumstances or status … is to offend against their rights and freedoms,” Judge Higgins said.’
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-26/png-court-rules-asylum-seeker-detention-manus-island-illegal/7360078
some people might say this is irrelevant to perth music, but of course, as all the large political questions of our time are, this is completely relevant.

on friday i was to play on a grassy flat outside the new perth library, outside the big cathedral. lyndon was there to play too as leafy suburbs. while i played the sun beat down in the most white heat way it possibly could, i squinted through the tiniest slit of eyelids for the times i had my eyes “open”, except for a few moments to look up up at the blue and white sky. the clouds were going crazy. my spirit was going crazy as i played, but in the best possible way, all the songs being resung back to me by the spirit of the earth and sky, saying “this is how this song is about me, and this and this”. i sung for my friend who watched another friend become braindead by overdosing in the car next to him, he was visiting the hospital while i played. i sung into the few people watching who i knew, wondering if they could feel what i was feeling at the time. i sung into the bright white heat of the sun and up through into the clouds. but from the outside it might have just looked like a small person squinting and sweating in the heat with a guitar pressed to their arms and torso.

that wasn’t one of the best things i was going to write about. the best thing was lyndon playing next. lyndon started to play at the end of the big grassy flatlands. to his left and to all our rights was the cathedral towering up, but in a perth way, so not outrageously impressive, into the sky, and to the other side the new glassy perth library, slitted windows all the way, mirrored glass impenetrable unlike every book in there waiting to be opened. it’s at the same time welcoming and dont-come-in ish. we are meant to be impressed, we are mildly interested, we are put off, but we are allowed to move freely at least. so, lyndon started playing and from the first beats i turned to rupert on the grass and said “i like this already”. then the special thing happened. an old man, in long rumpled pants, a wide akubra with the aboriginal flag colours twined around the head piece, emerged from the side of the stage area. he looked like someone playing his role in a play – even though we were spread a long distance across the grass rectangle, everyone could see his facial expressions and were all responding too them. he staggered a slight bit. he theatrically cocked his ears towards the stage, while still facing all of us. and then he pipped a harmonica straight into his mouth and pipped out one single blow which was exactly at a good timing and exactly in tune.

everyone’s bodies, eyes and ears became more focussed. we looked at the man, we looked at lyndon, this was classic theatre and we wanted to know what was next. the man edged closer to lyndon, still faced us and pipped again – again on time, again in the right key – magically as every harmonica is in a different key. and then he headed to the microphone. the next moments were tense… lyndon was creating loops of a song, beats and synth melodies, and this new staggery man was at the mic. he pipped the harmonica again and lyndon nodded and everybody took out their phones. then came bird noises – you know, you don’t want to turn the scene into a ‘mystical elder character’ scene, but that’s actually what it was like. the bird noises and then the man’s talking turned lyndon’s music into something bigger and yes, more like ancient sounds than the references might already have been.

and then the man started touching the synth. what would lyndon do? roll with it, be put off? did this piece of land belong only a few generations ago to this man’s family and now a bunch of foreigners were all seated on the fakely placed grass, between the monoliths of european invasion – church and library? hmm. well, the scene played out as it does in our country. the sound man felt obliged to step in, taking a long time to convince the man it wasn’t his place to play on lyndon’s equipment, but clearly not convinced himself, every other person on the grass watching with their own private thoughts about just the music, the coffee they were drinking, the history of their country, etc. etc. who knows. and after a while the man ambled away, lyndon kept playing, and everything went back to beigely normal.

second ‘best thing’ – benjamin witt’s last song at in the pines. his whole set was fine, good, great songs, but the last song i believe many people in the crowd were transported up and outwards and something special was happening. i actually thought “i never want this song to end” as the music took me elsewhere entirely, and after ben and his band finished playing dimity who had been next to me said “i never wanted that last song to end, i was in a different place!” so at least for two of us the same thing happened.

third ‘best thing’ – race to your face at mojos on sunday. they were playing for shit narnia’s end of tour launch show, and they were beautiful. the drummer, lee, covering his shirt from the inside with the sweat of true performance, majestically locking in to the loops created by the f-off good guitarist chris – drumming to loops is so so so so so hard, getting loops tight enough for someone to drum to them is so so so so hard. i wanted to see them paired song for song in a battle (but where both are on the same side) with mudlark. intricacies, effort, all of it. it reminded me of michelangleo painting the sistine chapel, im not being ridiculous, but just that thing of watching people who are putting in true effort and making something you couldn’t even dream of appear before your eyes. i was embarrassed to play after them, and didn’t do a great job, but then got cheered up by foam who i have loved from afar since the first time i watched them…

imagine one day if we could all make music in a country where there’s just the necessary injustices – like a few health problems and a bit of romantic heartbreak to deal with – instead of the big time fucked things like incarceration of refugees and people from poorer areas of the country, and insidious corporate and military power, and human created climate change, and an unrecognised and unredressed invasion history. that would be sick.

Flume: Beau Gosse at Le Trianon in Paris

Andrew Ryan

If you’re also someone who hasn’t really listened to Flume because you’re surrounded by snobs, try the track “Ezra”, that’s what I’m trying now. Last week I didn’t have to try because I got to have Flume right in the face in the middle of Paris, with hundreds of French people going absolutely crazy and singing along to every single thing except for the two girls who broke up their karaoke devotion with “F*** me Flume!!!” over and over. I don’t know if that’s the best pick up line in the over-privileged world. Personally I could be won over with “You look like you want to work hard on creating utopia on earth, want someone to make you sandwiches and push you to truly get on with it?”

Anyway, our own Perth Kučka (Laura Lowther) was there in Paris on tour with Flume to just sing two songs at each show and to gradually draw around her more people to love her music. An easy task if any one ever sees her play. My favourite person to watch watching Kučka do shows is the boyfriend of RTR’s music director. Every time he’s a little bit drunk and gets more and more inebriated and invigorated on his own body’s reaction to Laura’s music.

Well, me and Laura hung out in her dressing room. This is what tours seem to be made of from what I’ve seen of all the friends. It’s just transport, being in rooms, instagram, playing a tiny bit of music and then taking up whatever oysters of quick friendship and delicious food and beverages occasionally come your way as everyone wants to please a star. How do you please a star? Just by looking up at them through time and space as they gradually burn out as all of us do, back in to dust, etc.

Well, Laura put on her makeup, we talked about whether it was possible for either of us to be a spy as a job, or whether we both just can’t be truly normal in make up. She did great big eyes, a good hairstyle with her pink hair that in so conservative Paris was enough to make people turn around in the street when we walked along later that night and in the morning. We listened to my masters and talked about songs and she gave me some insight into what the Flume boy is like: basically a truly “beau gosse” (bo goss) which is a French way of saying what a deeply babing babe. You can see it when you look at his face, a truly nice guy, the best possible guy to be having girls yelling “F*** me” and not take it seriously, the best possible guy to be rolling in dollars and slightly embarrassed about it and wondering how to use it for good. And a truly great musician.

Well, yes, Flume played and I got to be in my favourite place, at the front, saved by the barriers and not crushed in the crowd. He was beautiful, he did the same hand gestures to try and give a “Yes! I can see you and want you to be excited” to the crowd, but so humble too. How can you be in front of hundreds (or tens of thousands) of screaming people, just you on the stage, all the love and devotion directed at you, and exude humility? Dunno but he did it. He obviously played all the hits because everyone knew all the words, but the parts I could truly love were where it went away from easy poppy production and into some darker places – but darker like the beauty spots on a smiling 13 year old who had kind parents and is looking after a lamb out in the back yard and defends anyone at school who gets picked on. Not like Slayer dark. The other day I made the mistake of saying to my friend in between showing more and more good Australian music “Let’s listen to some Slayer!” and I’m still traumatised by the first five seconds of the film clip. Not that kind of dark.

Anyway, after dancing with Laura after her beautiful two song triumphant appearance, and the crowds ongoing going-wildness, three stories of a beautiful remade palatially theatrical room in Le Trianon, we went for a late night drink and kept talking about music, and our town, and all the good things about it and the moments of shittiness when people rag on other people’s music, and how to change the world, and Harley (that’s Flume’s actual name for all the snobs) came by with some crew members with a brand new keyboard under his arm – one where the keys are even more sensitive than the keys of an actual piano, and at this point I saw how he’s like the other “big stars” we know, because he told us “I’m going to go play with this for a while and then go to sleep”, instead of staying downstairs with us, talking and eating soup and soaking up a room full of random Parisian late night energy. Good choice little Flume, you’re truly a true beau gosse. <> <> <>

Bananas, Condoms and The End of The World

Andrew Ryan

so tonight in the next to last metro home a woman came nearly past but instead up to me and said “do we know each other?” “no,” i said, “i just smile all the time.” i had been smiling at her momentarily and so that was her chance to stop in front of me and begin talking. she had grey white hair with all the hair the same colour – that’s kind of rare if you look around at your friends or at your own hair in the mirror – and her top teeth were squiggly and her bottom teeth were all long and encrusted with age and food. this is a grosteque picture of her mouth but in fact she was lovely to look at, and a welcome voice on the same train platform, creating a circle of two women talking, one with grey white hair and one with various light and dark brown and reddy blonde hair, to make a small temporary force field together against late-night man trouble.

although it turned out she hadn’t always had a force field around her. she showed me in the first few minutes of conversation a plastic bag and inside the plastic bag was a dvd with her same face on it – grey white hair, long bottom teeth, smooth 69 year old french skin, looking at least ten years younger than australian skin. when she was 18 a man took her to america to be a prostitute and so, this was the story she recounted to me in the six metro stops to where we were both getting off the train. she told me about selling the dvds of her life story, which is how she earns her living now, and about how things got bad in the time of peak aids, and about the fact of not drinking or smoking and just eating fruit making her skin stay nice as it truly was. when she asked me to guess her age i thought about my mum – how old was this woman compared with her? – and thought about how to give a true but also potentially flattering answer. it didn’t occur to me at the time that she too could be my mum.

this happens often, people tell their whole story, or some particularly intimate part to me. earlier in the day i went to buy a banana on the way down through the streets towards the river and the man in the grocery store and i ended up talking about french attitudes to contraception. he was not being sleazy when he said, through his long eyelashes and islamically and grocery-store influenced world view, amongst all his opinions “it’s like licking honey through a pane of glass”. at first i thought he meant sex without being in love is like that, but in fact this was his way of describing sex with a condom. he explained to me how women in his village who didn’t have access to the pill or other contraceptives seemed to do very well with taking care with their husbands of the times in their menstrual cycle for not getting pregnant, and other special methods for when that way couldn’t account for desire.

i couldn’t understand everything the woman in the metro was saying, but one of the things was definitely about her job changing during the biggest aids time and how that affected condoms/no condoms/being able to do the job she was doing with or without the fear of death. “life and death” were also mentioned in the little grocery store, through the smiling conversation with the long lashes man. i can see his face and her face now as i think back to them.

i went to see music too, in a record store. a band called “volage” who later my friends and i agreed on a rating of 65% for, given the mainly excellent self-mix the band did of the semi-acoustic versions of their songs, the mix of songs that seemed like solid hits and those that lacked some balls, the mix of band members with and without charisma, the feeling it was all good but not mind-blowing, but still good. during the show the room of variously cool 20-45 year olds nodded along, drank the free wine and beer, mainly refrained from talking so as to be respectful to the music, and kept their ideas about aids, contraception, making a living by working 16 hour shifts in a grocery shop or as an international prostitute for the moment to themselves. it’s not a fair review because we only saw them play once and it’s hard to compete general folk-rock lyrics with a man bringing out “it’s like licking honey through a pane of glass”, but in french, in a grocery store where you’ve got a banana in your hand and as usual the almost-total absurdity and impending end of the world on your mind.

p.s. climate change

p.p.s here is an unrelated photo of some great dogs we saw in the bois de vincennes

International Women's Day and King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard Heal My Broken Heart

Andrew Ryan

Can I fit those two topics into one article? YES I CAN.

So, yesterday was International Women’s Day. Wikipedia threw up a great image from 1932 in Russia, colour palette reds through to yellows, white and grey. At first I interpreted it as a woman helping another woman off the street, but in fact it was a woman helping another out of a pile of furniture and kitchen items. Both of these have their place in a general utopia of equalities becoming manifest. As soon as I realised what the day was, starting from a facebook post from Matthew Aitken about his great Greek grandmother who was the first female bus driver in WA, I felt good. Because, truly, sometimes being a female is actually fucked. And somehow, having this day where lots of friends made posts about their female heroes did achieve something, at least in my own heartbrain.

The thing the Russian poster taught me, via wikipedia, was that the day was initially about workers rights, and I thought – even for Coolperthnights – imagine if me and Lyndon got paid differently just because of being peeny or vageeny. But of course, there’s still a billion direct ways and vestiges of ways that living in patriarchy and often misogynistiarchy in Australia or France 2016 sucks balls.

All day I revelled in the feeling of “Make it count”, “Think differently”, “Do things differently”. Alex Griffin interviewed me for some project where he asked lots of questions about women in music and directly asked the question “What can we (men) do?”. He asked this question several times and I tried to answer, but the thing is, we’re taught from really young ages to not say what we (females) really want, to swallow our own desires, to put ourselves second. Putting oneself second is a wonderful way to go through life if it’s done the right way, but when it’s a symptom of systematic small and large oppressions and violences from when you pop out to when you get dug down, it’s not wonderful.

Anyway, five nights before that I was in my usual heartbroken state, not having been re-engergized yet by a day just for my downtrodden sex, and I was contemplating bailing on the King Gizzard show. I had wangled free tickets though, and had a friend who wanted to go for his first time to the Flèche d’Or, so I rallied. Every time King Gizzys play in Perth I seem to miss it. Never again. Thanks to RTR I had heard them in bits and pieces on the radio and from the radio their music somehow intrigued me but somehow also seemed like a cypher of itself, of its own genre. But seeing them live the cypher was filled in, the Lacanian hole was made replete and my little heart was sewn up again song by song, drum fill by drum fill.

So yeah, we got to the Flèche, I wangled the door lady, said a quick hello to Ambrose whose keyboards we’d hardly hear but can wait til their Perth show, told my friend “I’ll just watch two songs and then leave, ok?” except in French, and then headed to the closest possible place to watch amongst a full room of initially reserved and soon stage-diving French people. It was so beautiful from the first moment and then all the way through. Beautiful in the way that unconsciously my mouth blurted out quiet “Fuck yeah!“s many many times through the show and I could actually feel the tears of the day quick-drying as if the two drum kits and closest amp were emanating a delicate form of liquid nitrogen. On particular middle-tier of the musical podium (that means GOLD rather than MEDIOCRE) was the guitarist closest to us. What is his name? I shall “phone a friend”. Only four pedals and one of them was a tuner – what a tru boss. It seemed like there were guitars everywhere, but his was the closest amp, and his were the most delicate tones that floated my way, stuck in at every point by the simultaneously tight and humble bass and those two drummers. Oh how I eat up the double drums when it’s not a curly affected mannerism but impressive and necessary.

It’s hard to distinguish ones own feelings from the spirit of the crowd – in a way this is good, a reminder of all being one one one one one – and in another way it sucks because I don’t know if I’m right or egotistically interpreting the mood of the night to say that the more languid songs were more loved, where the drums swung, where spaces were left. I did the usual thing my mind does with Melbourne boy-bands for some reason, which is imagining what each member would be like as a father, and what jobs and hobbies each have outside the band and which one is an architect or barista, who learns piano concertos on the side, who mainly plays video games, immobile and slouched as both a complement and inversion of their role as psych musician on stage.

Well, it was wall-to-wall bewdiful and the full crowd of Parisians, and one guy from Sydney who we found out after the show had met his girlfriend via their shared love of the Gizz, were all heaving in joy, creamy breasted red-heads and overly zealous drunkards expressing admiration in their own ways. I’ve never heard an encore call as long as that – it was left unanswered and we all spilled out into the smoking section. There I met Eric, maybe drummer, maybe architect/barista, who was being accosted on all sides by tru-fans and beery-eyed moderately lovable douchebags. My friend asked me, laughing, “Do you remember all the songs they played to write in your review?” and I laughed back “I’m lucky if I even remember any of my own songs,” but magically enough another friend happened to be one of the tru-fans with a brain of titanium. And so this first ever set list to grace a Chronicle comes direct from Pierre-Jean’s phone to mine, to Coolperthnights for those of you who care, along with the name of my favourite guitarist because of proximity on the night: Joe Walker, and photographic screen-proof that P-J has listened to the song “Am I In Heaven” from the album “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” 292 times just on his computer. Emoji hearts as original in text message.

Set list for King Gizzard, La Flèche d’Or, Paris, Jeudi 3 Mars 2016 (thanks to Pierre-Jean)
Robot stop (Nonagon Infinite 29.04.2016)
??? (Probablement une chanson de Nonagon Infinite 2016)
Nonagon Infinite (Nonagon Infinite 2016)
Gamma Knife (Nonagon Infinite 2016)
Hot Water (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014)
Trapdoor (Paper Mâché Dream Balloon 2015)
River (Quarters!2015) <3
I’m not in your mind (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014)
Cellophane (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014)
Head On (Float Along – Fill Your Lungs 2013 <3)
Am I In Heaven? (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014 <3 pour l’original)
Head On reprise (Float Along – Fill Your Lungs 2013 <#)

Pierre-Jean’s caveat:
“If you listen to the albums you’ll see that Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, Quarters!, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon are often variations on a musical theme. It’s very probable that there are other songs which were played together. That said, I’m pretty certain about my tracklist.”

So anyway, King Gizzard show ended with a salmon pizza, a reconstituted heart and an introduction to the French version of Aesop’s tales in the metro on the way home, and International Women’s Day ended with me sitting with three men discussing their trips to strip clubs in Pigalle (the strippy part of Paris where a few days later I’d meet great Australian actor Noah Taylor), and then a few moments of awkwardness as I made my friend say in a louder and louder voice “Today is International Women’s Day!” and then my final interjection at the end of the strip club story of “You know, you can’t buy a woman!”

King Gizz 10/10
International Women’s Day 8/10

DAVID BOWIE REINCARNATED IN A PARIS METRO AND OTHER BRIEF INTERACTIONS

Andrew Ryan

Let me give you an update on a few people. Remember Mehmed? He’s the man that sits outside the bakery and asks for money in a little plastic cup. And Amina? The lady that was sitting in a big triangle of doonas and bags in the metro. Well, I saw them again.

Mehmed was sitting in the same place as three months ago, the same bakery. This time he had more clothes on – it’s winter somewhere in the world that’s not heatdeath Perth – a big beanie, sleeping bags around him. He saw me from far off and his face went pink and happy, mine too. He speaks about 50 words of French and the rest is in Bulgarian but somehow last time he managed to explain to me the whole story of him and his wife and his family. This time we tried again but even though we were smiling the conversation was full of non-comprehension. Even to try and tell him “I’m very happy to see you” midway through the conversation dropped into a ditch of indecipherable sign language. He tried to explain something about papers and something about Monday and something about me coming at 1 or 2 on Monday to see him. But still, I guess like with birds and trees there’s something you understand and appreciate about each other even if you can’t actually talk. Hmm.

Do you know the story of the Tower of Babel? It’s somewhere in the bible, probably every way of understanding the world through a book has its story about how all the languages came to be. This one is about maybe humans trying to build a tower up to the sky, because they wanted to be as powerful as gods, but the god god was like, uh-uh I don’t think so and crumbled it all down and sent a wind that carried a million different languages so none of the people could understand each other enough to build large-scale constructions, the ones in the style of our love, C. Y. O’connor. Well, I made up the bit about the wind. I don’t have a book here to look it up.

But, I don’t want to build a tower to heaven, just want to be able to have one proper conversation with Mehmed.

There was Amina too. Remember her? She was the moroccan lady. She made me laugh when she explained how people holding on to their money are so ridiculous. This seems to happen here: if I sit down beside the right person they just start talking to me as if we were friends forever, even though we still do the getting-to-know-you part. This time Amina was again in the underground tunnel of the train station and at first I rushed by like everyone but then thought “What is life for” and went back. She got straight into it again, even though we’d only talked once and it was four months ago. And then she started producing food for me. I was going to meet someone I didn’t know for a drink, a fan of one of the friends’ bands who maybe wanted to become a friend, and I hadn’t eaten, and now I was being fed dinner by a lady sitting in the spat-and-peed-upon very all-kinds-of-grey concrete of the dirty underground railway station. She produced a sandwich someone had given her – with ham, so no good to her anyway – and some loaves of sugary bread which in the end I left elsewhere in the street, and a little jar of very good paté. She told me, in her accented French but still French, that she just needed money for her place she lives, to pay the rent, she didn’t need food. So, I gave her nothing again, and she gave me dinner and some paté.

And I guess because this website is about music I could tell you about some music I saw. Again, at the end of a day of thinking about bombs and plastic and love and “What is my place in this world” I went down the metro in another place and underground this time was music, but, BIG music. It’s kind of like Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree – each time you go up, or in this case down, some new weird thing is there to greet you. This time, it was some maybe Portugese people sad to be missing Carnivale, a guy on guitar with long big wavy hair, a man on bass, a man on drums, a woman just shaking a tambourine and all playing a raucous mixture of rock and ska and then two young boys taking turns at freestyling over the top with all their teenage friends egging them on and filming on their phones. The boys were sort of happily invited by the band and sort of wrestling the mic off the man with wavy hair at the same time.

And then there were people watching and then there were people dancing. A woman of maybe thirty in very plain clothes and spectacles who couldn’t help herself and a white man with combed grey hair and a pin stripe suit with pants slightly flared at the bottom and a red tie, and a big tall black man with a different type of suit, more ragged and a leather beret. All around other people were just watching but these three were really dancing and the boys were really singing. My body was moving a little and so the tall black man came and took my hand and danced me over to the woman and the pin stripe and within a few moments me and pinstripe were couples-dancing. He was a good lead, and even though I don’t know how to move unless it’s alone, he lead me through a series of steps that were beautiful, funny, romantic, close, and as I looked into his eyes I actually thought for several moments that he was in fact the reincarnation of David Bowie, come to dance with me for a few minutes in the metro.

Some people might think this is all naïve, but no-one’s trying to steal my wallet. It’s just all people doing what they’re made to do – work to live, dance to enjoy. There’s sometimes talk in my city and probably every other one about beggars ‘organising’ themselves, but you know, who doesn’t work for a corporation that’s organised? And who’s job doesn’t involved mainly sitting, not producing much – as in not producing food or art – and just waiting for a person with more money and the will to do it to put a few coins in your cup?

HOLDING HANDS WITH EVERYTHING: Tame Impala at Zenith, Paris.

Andrew Ryan

I’m jumping out of bed with one cat slipper on to bring you this little review of Tame Impala playing at Zenith in Paris. Yes, white boys from private schools* (fact check) playing successful music. This is a reference to Triple J’s hottest 100 – if you’re not from Australia, don’t look it up, look up the photographer Jean Gaumy instead – but really, that particular night – Sunday – if world justice wasn’t possible, then music from white boys was just what I and thousands of Parisians were in the mood for.

I nearly made Cam late for the show by spending too long drying my hair but when I got to dinner he and Ash told me I looked beautiful. That’s pretty nice if you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they look good most of the time – is that everyone? What does it mean to look beautiful? Where do hairdryers go when we die? Fuck. Anyway, Cam put bits of steak in my mouth with the fork, jiggled his leg and talked about projects, Ash be-d lovely and a small dream of soft-heartedness, I tried to think tough to not be on the heart-break mind train and just soak up some pleasure.

The taxi driver was real nice, Ash and Cam were going song for song on their phones, us three in the backseat – I checked if he minded us playing music but what I really meant was “Is it annoying to have three rich white people in the backseat just having fun as every single day and night and seeming to not know what real work is, what long shifts are, what putting up with shit from strangers is?” It’s not exactly like that, but it’s just that here it’s in your face, every bar you go to it’s all white people having a “good time” inside and the only not-white person is working on the door, sorting through who can get in and who can’t. Pewk. Everyone has their troubles and hardships, but the general sorting of who gets in and who can’t is the layer of weird injustice over everything, all the time.

Well, we made it, those two went through the backdoor, Cam with ten minutes til he was meant to be on stage, and I collected my friend from the front, who put his hand in the middle of my back making me dream of true affection and inside all the boys had already started playing “Let it Happen”. This song is magical, so many of the songs are magical. I didn’t come by to this music via music, but by personal familiarity, but all the songs have been working on me day by day since the first time I really had to listen when I was interviewing Kevin for Oyster magazine. Sometimes “everybody” is wrong about what they like – coffee in takeaway cups, Australia Day, formalised religion/atheistic agnosticism, Rubens/Hoops – but sometimes they’re right, and this is the time.

They played a million great songs, ‘Let it Happen’, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, ‘Cause I’m a Man’, ‘The Less I Know the Better’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ – not in that order, and not only those, and usually I’m not the kind of person to care song for song, but I dunno this was something different, they are all hits and they were all hitting into that right spot for being in heart-break but moving you into uplifting abandon to the possibility of a happy ending despite all the signs to the contrary. And right in the middle of all of it was ‘Eventually’, the most perfect song for me personally right then and there, but also like I said before for several thousand Parisians. Everyone seemed to believe the words. I hear those words for my own heart and for the whole heart of the whole world – eventually, eventually, eventually. And maybe music by white boys from private schools is a wonderful part of that eventually. I believe it is.

Anyway, the whole crowd seemed to rise up in this song, and I didn’t know if it was just me but afterwards my friends said too, in his French accent “Eventually!!” Yes, the big spirit flowing through that song.

And yeah, the sound, nearly perfect, a little on the mud side, a little on the bassy side, the drums always take over but so they should, always simultaneous homage to Julien in the present and Kevin in the creation past, the most ‘Perth’ moment for me being when Kevin stood for a few moments longer than maybe even he expected just playing notes on the guitar to the oscilloscope, letting the notes and the shapes created ring out – like really ring out – creating stars and Lord of the Rings and splitting time and joining light and sound back together in green lasers on the big screen behind him.

Well, so it was a great show. Afterwards up in the room where the boys were there was Nicolas Godin from Air (I didn’t know who he was till they told me), with his gentle lovely teenage son fanboying on Kevin, Kevin and Gum fanboying on Nicolas, me fanboying in friendship on Dom who I only get to see every six months. Ringham who looks after gear talked to me about matters of the heart and possibly mathematics, Noemie who looks after tour managing gave me a true hug, everyone just moved along in their own worlds but at the same time taking care of one another, me included, even though truly they’d all already healed me a little bit in the show.

I could tell you about the rest of the night, but that will happen another time, when I’ve got both slippers on.

(Nice Day for a) ROMANTIC DOG WEDDING, 4th March 2016

Andrew Ryan

Just got my period. It’s pretty exciting really, the way it all works, “it” being our bodies and the whole entire thing. I’m living with another female person in the house so yeah, it all synchs up, and it’s really like magic. You know it’s coming – everyone starts looking more attractive, this time I got wildly angry at my friend for saying he was going to ditch his bass player, even though the sun was shining and we were riding home after a delux swim in the ocean listening to AC/DC – some smooth low-key number I had never heard before – in his beat up van that smells like Australia.

Anyway, nice reminder that one’s an animal. Sex-appeal, anger, tears, all linked up to tiny juices flowing round us, the moon, pheromonal molecules entering our skin. So, yeah, our friends put on a wedding for dogs – “Romantic Dog Wedding” – this week, and it’s good to suddenly remember once in a while that you’re pretty much covered in fur and at the mercy of mysterious forces and not just the workings of your big grey brain too.

The dogs were “Ben” and “Pony”. A Border Collie and a rescued Greyhound. Our country doesn’t recognise unions between two males at the moment, but countries are not as old as love and unions between two dogs or two men so the joke’s on us. (Fact check please). I put on lipstick and high heels, a dress with no bras – my female companion similarly dolled, as in, attired a little less animally that we might otherwise be, and headed to the river.

Big, pale, skin coloured gum trees towered upwards around us, all their crooked arms swaying languidly over the scene. There was a small crowd, writer Matt Giles passed us with his dog Abbey who had to leave early, maybe to finish their respective PhDs. There were tall women in dresses, Alex Last was djing with the dj set up laid out on top of a boogie board, a pathway of vines and flowers showing where the aisle would be, rugs on each side, and Chloe – human Mother of the Groom – came towards us to offer mimosas from a table laid with champagne, beverages and a beautiful coconut wedding cake.

Why a dog wedding? Because we are free, I guess, and because there was no better place to be, or event to conjure than a dog wedding by the river on a Monday afternoon in a city built on stolen land and stolen minerals and a decimated ancient culture. What else are we meant to do? Buy jet skis?

So everyone mingled, the Border Collie groom was a little late but arrived, then the celebrant, Paddle Clubb mastermind Matt Aitken, arrived, then Lyndon Blue, wedding band-member, arrived in a powder blue suit, and the ceremony could begin. The boogie board played “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal as the grooms and a dishevelled Border Collie bridesmaid were walked up the aisle, everyone took their places, and Matt fumbled through a wonderful and brief ceremony, starting somewhat irreverently with the words “Dearly Beloved, Who Let the Dogs Out?” There were salmon-coloured ribbons to tie the rings on to the grooms, they were pronounced husband and husband, kissed, and after much cheering the coconut wedding cake was served, musician Rachael Dease encouraging young kids to not be shy and take some first.

It was definitely the best dog wedding any of us had been to, and the band hadn’t even started. Stephen Bellair was there with Evie, a white teenage miniature falcor labrador. Tristan Fidler was there, resplendent repository of a million beautiful, and tragic, and inspired thoughts I’m yet to be privvy to, Julia Suddenly was there, ray of sun and moonlight showering gold and myrrh on us from her glowing face etc, etc, etc.

Me and my hot date were nearly ready to leave, deciding between going for a paddle on the kayaks or heading back to the coast by the flip of a coin. Luckily the coin said stay because then came the band. This will remain one of my musical highlights of 2016 even if a thousand more great musical things happen. The band was called both “His Master’s Voice” and “The Bark Simpsons”, two names picked from a communal facebook list of suggestions, and they were incredible. Lyndon Blue on guitar, Chris Last on bass, Brett Smith on saxophone, Alex Last on boogie board laptop, and, the pinnacle of the sinuous body of fluff, the unleashable Alex Griffin.

At first it was obvious they had all never played together, they didn’t know at all what they were going to do, and took a long time to set up in which Alex just danced at the front of the group, in front of the boogie board, in his fez and yellow jacket, with his big faux-sad eyes drawing up to the sky then glancing over the crowd, then eyeballing people one by one for effect. Eva next to me, French artist, was instantly obsessed and kept saying “He is Magic!” and it was entirely true.

Then the band began playing: Alex dropped a beat, Chris and Lyndon somehow locked in, Brett breathed panpipe sax over the top and through the just-birthed theme, and Alex started the first of three 100% improvised and 100% classic dog-wedding songs, with each band member having their moment to shine, and all the wedding guests laughing or swaying or iphoning in responsive pleasure.

Yeah, the whole thing was genius, actually filled with love, life-giving, under trees, by the water, honouring to another species, and only possible in a free land of this kind, with all the trouble and lack of trouble resting underneath our feet and in the air around us and up in the gum branches and way up into the spheres. Definitely the nicest day in the history of the world for a dog wedding.

Methless Healing Intent and Some Music Reviewed

Andrew Ryan

so the thing is, i was sad for a month. it was after all the gunshots and explosions, just because for once a thing like that happened exactly where i was walking a month before. exactly where i was walking when i felt The Big give me a cardigan – fluffy and white and with pearled buttons and smelling like soap even though it was abandoned with trash on the street. i picked it up and grinned and also wild tooth smiled up to the blue paris sky, The Big for once not even hiding up there.

but then, same street, bombs go off. so yeah, i got all sad. read some camus and got a bit excited realising i could keep protagonists alive by not reading the end of books, but then the sad was still right there, winding all the way through every single thought.

i nearly let it wash away, the deep sad, with trips to the river, and nearly finding my mindset again of – some things you can’t understand, just follow your path, just enjoy the cardigans left for you, just let love enter when it’s falling your way – but then a trip to the hospital put me back in the place where actually nothing makes sense.

nick is in the other room making singing tracks for a new pond album. joni and tera played one of the best shows i’ve ever seen, at my friend’s dad’s surprise viking party where i felt the world become better and also was crying as they played and spiritual energy pulsed through me as we sat on the floorboards of an enormous floreat home with this incongruous sound invited there as entertainment. and we had a show last night on a jetty where me nick, pete and lucas swam across to the far side of the shore to explore the “mangrove swamp” next to “shit creek”, and then an armada of friends came over on kayaks, matt and mei and amber bateup and ju and all the rest, and even nigel from soup kitchen came to the show and played songs, and mladen sang the most beautifully he ever has, as the sun went right down low and everything was pink and purple or a mangrove swamp or mladen’s hair and the microphone was rigged carefully to an amp and a beer carton seeing as hooking it through mladen’s jumper, tied on to a kayak paddle, wedged upward into a crack in the beams of the jetty didn’t work in the end. all these things, before the deep sadness washed away, couldn’t have had their full effect, because the mind went to the same place “it’s unfair”, and to the same place, “maybe someone will come and shoot us all up, big holes into us that are big enough to go right through the other side” etc.

see, i picked up my friend from a drug den. i knew it was a drug den because no-one had watered the plants. when you get on meth, plants are the first thing to go. you forget you’re addicted to air too, and that you need those plants. they wither away in their rough drying dirt as you head out to someone’s shed to steal bikes, a mirror, some guitar cases, some guitar pedals, in the hope of using some (never going to happen) and selling some (just might happen) because music things have now become money things and plants won’t be watered as they don’t grow notes, coins, or better still – more meth.

i was in the room with my friend just now – not on meth so she waters at least twice a week – and i said to her “i think you’re a healer.” she told me “i think everyone is a healer. it’s just to listen to the body, feel, not think” (but in a french voice). she was right, but the thing that nearly made me lose my hope was being in the hospital car park.

see, i picked my friend up from the drug den. first i stood in the doorway invited in but not invited in, and she went to “collect some things” and went into the kitchen and came back out wiping blood from the inside of her arm. you know that bit – classic part of the body – a place i’d like to get kissed first if i ever get kissed again. that delicate crease inside the elbow (touch it now. let’s do it together. kiss it.)

that was real sad, seeing that blood get wiped, little crystals oozing out with the blood. i try to make it into something nice – “crystals oozing”, but at some point this isn’t possible. in the hospital carpark i saw my friend’s eyes change, from normal coloured to black coloured, and back again. i’d never seen that until the hospital night, and i hope you never do. and then we were there til 3am, the carpark, the hospital, the ER the toilets, the front verandah, all the boring places to watch your friend falling away from life right there next to you. and all the time the thought that it could be anyone but it should be no-one.

see, it’s never just a question of choice and substance, and this is the thing that plunged me into that deep river for a month. why does my friend do that? a million reasons flowing all over her from all time leading to that point, and then one tiny tiny mini choice reason at the end. why do people shoot each other? a million reasons flowing all over them from all time leading to that point, and then one tiny tiny mini choice reason at the end. and that big river flow seemed also to be connected to me, and everyone else, as it is.

at the Unknown Mortal Orchestra concert i took one picture. i held up the plastic cup i got my wine in, over the face of the singer, and the title of the picture in my mind was “what will last longer: this plastic cup or u.m.o?” the answer of course is already in their band name.

meaningless, meaningless, plastic from ancient oil, dug up and carrying liquid to us for some tiny moment and then lasting forever on a junk heap, a trail of destruction in its wake, tiny plastic almost immortal vessel.

but yeah, now it’s christmas, and time to drag yourself out of the river called “Truly, Life is Unfair, Meaningless, and Plagued by Arms, Drugs and Plastic, and You, Tiny Person Are Swimming With That Same Current Even When You Wish You Weren’t”. time to drag yourself up on the jetty to dry out and find a cheap kayak on gumtree, and then get back in but this time on top.

Proximity Festival Opening Party

Andrew Ryan

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we were standing out the front of the soup kitchen. last week one of the men standing smoking on the footpath had a joey with him, in a little pouch around his neck. he was all soft that night and told me everything. but this night there was no joey, so he stood off smoking with the other men, only nodding once or twice instead of telling the whole story.

the joey’s mum had been shot by his friend. they ate the mum and he bundled up the joey in his arms. its face was marked like nice icecream, vanilla, caramel, but you know, furry. it calmed him. it calmed me. i sat there for a lot of the night with the warm little skippy in my arms, heavy nice warm feeling that comes from feeling the heat and fur of an animal through material. you can pat a dog with a coat on for this feeling, or be in the melbourne cup.

proximity is a festival where all the shows are just for one person, but the opening night it was a general opening that allowed many people to be there at once. it was in the back outside parts of the art gallery, the steps and concrete terraces and carpark, and it was laid out with a bar, dj booth, a few hundred people in dress ups, sparkling or bloody, or the best one a robot dolphin – my friend loren – with a face veil and chain mail and underwear made of large hologramatic shards of thick plastic to cover just nips and tips.

there were vans in the carpark. the kind people work in as prostitutes around the big parks of paris, where i’ll go back to. inside these vans tho it was just music. tourist kid, soft loving hearted rory, was playing to the inside of the van, steel benches, room for only ten people. i looked at him and listened and then wandered round outside. going in and out through the art gallery, and everything, made it feel like being in the carpark of a blue light disco, going through the school offices at night, the weird feeling that would come from that, dressed in a way you’d never be for school. seeing everything a new way.

when i played a woman sat very close to the PA by my feet. she asked me what it was going to be like and i told her as best i could, by pointing to the casio and the loop pedal and also telling her she was ‘very close’ to the PA. she kept asking questions so i asked her ‘what do you want a song about’? ‘mother nature. and the aztecs’ she replied yelling, so that’s what i played, plus a looped cover of ‘when i was a sperm i had a lot to learn.’

catlips played next in our one little van. i felt like a creep dancing in there with four or six other strangers, just looking at katie the whole time. it’s ok, she understands i’m not a creep, just respect and like all her music. we all danced. we all danced too when mei (saraswati) played – it got wilder. loren was singing along to all the words of particular songs. i always feel like this is the best thing that happens when bands from our town play – other people singing along with the words, when there are words – no singalongs to mudlark, but people can nod, shake, sway.

hamish djed in overalls, lover jin island by his side. stephen was in stolen pants from target, dressed – for this was also halloween – as a real thief.

the best thing though was the mini magnolias. it’s hard to describe this but i’ll try. i tried to describe it to the person from another country who i love, and that was hard too but i managed. i was lying in bed under a cream doona and between cream sheets and he smiled at me as i told him about the night, proud of doing improvising with a casio, proud of all my friends, heated up from being all mixed in with different groups of pals all muddling together in another perth weird thing.

magnolias is usually a talk show that happens in my friends’ shed, or sometimes in public places. there’s all the normal tv talk show things, stand-up from the host, theme songs, segments. so matt and tristan did this talk show in a car in the carpark. people had to put their names down on a list and at some point in the night they got a call, and got led over to the car and ushered into the backseat and into a sparkling dark lit otherworld with matt and tristan as their hosts. matt had hooked up a small screen in the front seat on which to play ‘the matrix’ on repeat. they had a spin-wheel the guests (two strangers, ten minutes at a time, ushered into the backseat) had to spin to choose the theme of the questions. ‘a.m or p.m?’ matt would ask, and the guests would make their pick for a soundtrack. each time it would be ten minutes of laughing, scintillation and confusion, pre-made jokes, writing postcards to send to the guests’ place of work, and improvised personal banter, and then at the end matt says ‘it’s time to go but there’s a gift for you in the back seat of that car over there. take these, you’ll need them’ and hands the people a pair of scissors.

how do i know what happened? i visited as a guest once, and then with stephen bellair, six of us – hosts, interlopers, strangers – all crammed into the little camry (potentially). and later stephen bellair moving round the outside of the car shining a torch in for special lighting.

proximity, yes. up close, i love all the friends and strangers more. up close, the art gallery seems a small thing too, even if it’s our big one for western australia. up close joeys are calm, calming and feel like a warm cake you just want to hold in your lap on the way to a family friends’ place.

5 stars. 5 close stars all sparkling their way into the past, via vans, joeys, caramel, postcards, friendship, landing in your lap tired out and happy, tucking under the covers with the face of a love on a tiny screen very very close and far far away.

CAMP DOOGS 2015 - Utopia in the Water Parts 1 and 2

Andrew Ryan

how do you create a utopia? apparently it takes about six months and a lot of meetings, but it’s possible. some of my friends did it and it existed for one weekend down near nannup. the utopia happened before, in 2014 and 2013, and each time it was two and a half days where no-one got bombed, everyone washed themselves in the waters of the blackwood river under ‘the tree’ at spliffton, with music only for love and music’s sake, and hundreds of faces of hundreds of friends deep-smiling at you through the bush and across the big ditch of a dusty dance ground, nose getting full of black soot and spirit getting full of yellows and browns and greens of all nature and the clear idea that this is actually what life could be/is/was/will be.

well, we drove down for four hours, listening to mississippi records cds from jake from when we were true friends, and mixtapes from my old love with many tracks to jump over. a big fire had arced up over the country and we saw a tsunami, an actual tsunami of biggest smoke of all colours we’d ever seen, a big storm cloud coming, dark as doom to white grey of death bones, and then all the colours in between, oranges and reds covering and uncovering houses and weeping willows til i thought there was no way the whole world was not ending. the sky was black, fire orange, purple. we stopped and took photos on our phones at the edge of the world and i sent some to my love in france hoping for apocalyptical sympathy.

and then i was over again, we were through the smoke and fire and out the other side, and in fact later we learned from nick it was a ‘controlled burn’, but truly, i never saw a thing like it. the whole world up in orange, the whole sky turned to vapoured lava.

so anyway, next driving, with that memory behind, came the part that’s always the best, between balingup and nannup where hills come straight out of the ground all green with pines dotted across that has made me think the exact same thoughts each year. and sections where the road is all tree lined but the trees were there before the road and have the energy of their hundreds of years and the thousands and millions of years of the soil they draw from and the endless energy of the infinite waters they call into themselves and breathe back out again.

when we go through those trees i think already about all the people who’ll be on shrooms and ecstacies and mdmas and think how they’ll get to feel this thing that’s already there waiting for them, the shimmering of every leaf and every tree, the endless love that can flow from and to them from each face they see.

well, when you arrive it’s tent time, finding the perfect place, reacquainting with the river and beginning the stream of greetings that will last two and a half days and then into the community life that’s changed forever afterwards: nat, tera, joni, first three women to draw their smiles up and outwards, knowing special things about each to already feel thankful for…

kids already, tents already, food vans already, a newly flowered stage, CAMP DOOGS proclaimed in wood and fluouro tubing waiting to be lit, and vines and flowers wrapped all round it, and a million art pieces waiting to be lit or touched or listened to or moved across when everyone was finally in place for the weekend’s wanderings.

and so started the weekend of everyone choosing their own adventure, and everyone’s adventure mainly ending in something wonderful. mine took me back and forth from the stage, missing some of my favourite friends’ music and catching others but always moving with whatever felt like the persons or places to be at the time. missed hootenanny but took a special photo of hootenanny’s nan with her tiny child and bigger man behind her grinning face. saw methyl ethel, eyes open, eyes closed, some of the songs bringing me shivers, letting my mouth follow all the words to all the songs i already know and have deep down in me. missing mathas but smiling at him too each time we passed in the campsite, hiphop town boys under gum trees and beside only just waterproof tents. and big sounds from mutton and DEAD but i was in the zone of moving, swimming, tenting, watching boys jump from the highest branch over the river, taking photos of amber b and axel kissing with half their bodies in and half their bodies out of the water, ellen’s face lighting up and breaking into laughter at them hamming up the aquatic romance.

that first night i wore lipstick, ruby woo, big red, like essential tomato sauce on a hotdog. i was in the tent of ash baroque, drag queen, and his friend aaron, who became a friend too. the next night they’d both be in g-strings, spreading their cheeks toward amber bateup’s camera, ash whirlying his willy and little grey nuts and ginger hair across the stage and flying at me off the stage to dance me into the dirt. he took the fall though, flinging his white bodyback to the ground first to protect me from the impact. loren chastised him but he said “i protected her! i wouldn’t let amber be hurt!”

this is part of the freedom we were afforded, in this paradise made by the hands of friends – to be sexy one night, lipstick, lace, and the next day to walk along the forested dirt paths with dust encrusted bare feet, dirty tshirts, dirty shorts, sun-red noses. mei, finally making it to a doogs, and with her band it was the first moment of many to look out over a night-time crowd, CAMP DOOGS spelled now in pink light over us all, and see everyone together, dancing for the joy of pride of our place, time, sound, love. mmm.

i danced to brett murray djing and then wandered again with matt, him leaving me mid-d and m to make me go dance in the party van, and in comes laura, kucka, to get down lo together, gyrating and putting our hands to the ceiling which for once in this tiny club bus we could touch. and past deep doogs, which would go all night, all the next night, but which i’d pass by like a thousand other possible treats and conversations. but like i said, every adventure leads to wonder.

and so also with lipstick on we watched kirin callinan. i stood at the side with my friend shannon to bathe in kirin’s emanating heat and unbridled giving. when he sang the words “and god is in the water” it made my whole spirit shake at a fast and tiny pace, like it did when he played that same song at the Death of the Bakery(RIP). he asked if everyone knew donny benet and one boy did and started shaking visibly and so kirin got him up on stage. the boy kept shaking as kirin did perhaps a cover, and then called for all to come on the stage and so everyone rushed it, even shannon and i from the sides, til eventually kirin made us all hoist his glistening body upwards to the scaffolding of the tiny stage, and he hung on the railing posing for photos with the wild mess of people he’d created almost taking care where they were treading below and also spilling beers and happiness all over the stage.

i think i’d been dancing that night near little alby from shit narnia, in his long overalls, grinning like a country banshee, gentle and wild too, like almost everyone seemed to become. overflowing love, overflowing gentle spiritedness, overflowing baccanalian ecstacies where it’s all glow and glitter rather than vomit and tears.

there are always tears too. my friend told me about taking shrooms and crying for his mother, sick with dementia, and crying for feeling alone, even though his friends took care of him, whisking him kindly into some first aid arms til the shrooms were gone.

little rory too, shroomed or mdmaed or ecstacied, coming up and telling me his true feelings, his overwhelming love feelings of gratefulness, which made tears choke up into my own throat.

i felt toddy’s beating heart too, holding him close on saturday night as his body tried to work everything he’d poured inside it out without dying, the fastest beating heart, drooping eyes, words of affection and a body dripping into give-up.

…….but all the rest of that will come later, part II…..

SATURDAY

well, that part one was way too fruity, so this time i’ll just do you the highlights.

nick odell of alzabo brought his children, and his children brought everyone joe. little cuddle-pie zen masters, being cool always as in, being in the moment always. me, nick allbrook, and tiny archer walked around the grounds like a little glowy family. archer fell asleep with his tiny arms around my neck. we walked to the river, sharing holding him and nick stripped into his little undies and i stripped to my little white undies and we took turns swimming and watching over the tiny sleepypie daytime child of archer. boys were jumping off the big branch again, this time i think leigh from flower drums did a back flip off it. what is it like to have a family? i don’t know. but having a 2 hour pretend family is just grand.

nick had arrived earlier. the odells picked him up. i was waiting for a hamburger but then i got the feeling in my spirit ‘nick is here’ so i left the little burger ticket with some friends and ran to where i thought in my spirit they would be and there was nick, all glowing and ready for a day of wandering round as a pretend family and later playing one song with me by the river for the bigboy river set and later again getting up on the shoulders of steve summerlin of alzabo and me up on the shoulders of will stoker of will stoker and the embers and the bachelorette and half dancing half shoulder ride wrestling and nick getting so turned up that he jumped on stage after ben protasiewicz of pat chow played such a beautiful set of songs with his lovely eyes darting round the people up in the deep energy-brewing van he was playing in, people watching from inside and people like us watching from outside up on shoulders or down on haystacks. yes, great songs just him and his eyes and the guitar and his beard being great. and after nick got up and sung one alain bashung song called ‘osez josephine’ on ben’s nice guy borrowed guitar.

anyway, back to the very morning i was sleeping alone in my tent. friday night had turned into saturday morning and i had turned into what i am, a woman alone in a tent with dirty and clean clothes and batteries and musical instruments and a toothbrush somewhere and a little light hanging from the top of the tent, all this in a tiny sea on top of a body and a doona and a sheepskin jacket as a pillow.

then outside the tent i heard “AMBER FRESH, where is amber fresh?” and it was my two adopted brothers, jacob and matthew aitken, who helped put the whole thing together, and big burly emlyn johnson of emlyn johnson and kirin callinan of kirin callinan all wide and fluffy eyed and talking like charred steaks around the camp fire. i crawled out and there was talk of the river, but instead we went and go coffees and kirin and i finally became friends because he wasn’t able to talk having got heavily on all the pills and powders offered in the evening, night, early morning (this is just hypothesis).

everyone was wandering round, some people would have seen leure and erasers and sui zhen and alzabo and injured ninja but i was wandering and swimming and having stephen bellair help set up some little amplifier on top of the big leg root of the big special tree down by the river. i was so tired and slept in my tent while kitchen people played, but from my tent i could hear how great they were. it was just the same as last year when big blondey dean’s other band hideous sun demon played. that year i was laying out flat in my tent too and hearing too how good they are, always good in tiny places but even better with big boy speakers and out in the woods with nothing stopping them from being 100% real. yes, i like them bands, and they like to play great music it seems. all that big bass coming all the way down the sandy paths through the trees and to my tent by the river.

outlordz i got to on time, and stayed long enough to see hamish throw a can that hurtle struck beautiful toby in the nose and cut him open, big drops of lovely bright blood jumping straight out of his face and hamish feeling sorry and toby feeling surprised to suddenly be opened in public like a can.

then i had to run to the river. people came and sat all around and i tried to wait for stephen bellair to arrive but then had to just start playing, the river flowing just like it had when emlyn played the year before and when peter bibby played the year before, and everyone listening like then too as i sung, for once with my eyes open, hoping to give something very good to people and sipping on vb and nick coming down to sing one song in the middle about his grandmother gone and underground at karrakatta cemetery. it felt very special in the way that it seems like a glowing dream, a sea of faces and a big tree under us all.

i went to see that tree on sunday morning. i had almost forgotten how good it was, even though it’s roots stretched all the way out across the weekend. when i looked at it, with the river behind and it stretching all the way above everything, it started sparkling again and giving power. all it takes is to be by that tree for a moment, free, and it talks to you in a way you didn’t realise was possible, like extra ears opening up inside your body for a new kind of music.

and, missed lots of the other bands, even dear catlips, beautiful katie campbell who i like to just smile at as well and hope she thinks nice things back. she had dancers, but i missed them. and tim richmond band with the boys in it who became friends but i got to see them five days later at mojos all great songs like melbourne without sadness, just the good bits and tim the singer teaching me how to make beef stroganoff just by explaining it. and superstar – missed. and scott and charlene’s weeding – just two minutes of seeing them to make me in love. strong songs, the blonde man real and sweating out reality and true words and everyone in the band rising up like an australian castle. and then grace barbe. oh grace barbe. the doogs people did the right thing, to give honor to Real Musicians and to have someone humble and a star and making the crowd actually do dance moves at the most special time of the night. we all danced a lot, during the bands, between the bands. when i wasn’t dancing it felt like “i can’t possibly dance another moment” and when i was dancing it felt like “i can’t do anything but dance every again”.

when no zu played i was by the side with dom from injured ninja and with chloe from true dreamz. we couldn’t help our bodies moving and didn’t want to. at one moment the beautiful boxer shorts singer with a face like george foster from moist oyster sung the words “one touch and i live forever” and the words actually shot through me like a true shooting star and my hands went straight up in the air as if i were on some great drugs that made my body move in shooting ways to music, and i looked and chloe’s arms had shot straight up in the air at the same time. my mind wasn’t strange with anything except the music and the moment, and it shot my arms up like that. woh. NO ZU everyone loved it.

well. i could tell you a terrific number of things more, but there’s a tiny taste, of one person’s choose your own adventure of doogs. if you don’t like it, you can spit it out. if you do like it, you can take it to the river and make a little sail for it and send it out across the water and see if it comes back next year.

photo Aliza Caruso

A Lasting Tinder Date and CellF, from Reabold Hill

Andrew Ryan

Amber walked up Reabold Hill to see the city and listen to birds. On that highest point of the Swan Coastal Plain in the metropolitan area she reflected on David Craft’s video single launch, a Tinder romance that lasted, and Guy Ben-Ary’s recent CellF project through Symbiotica, where he grew an ‘external brain’ and taught it to play modular analogue synthesisers, culminating in a improvisation with jazz drummer Darren Moore at the Nedlands Masonic Hall.

You can listen to her review here.

Amber in Paris #5 Tame Impala at Rock en Seine, Paris 30 August 2015

Andrew Ryan

Pretty much every morning I wake up with songs of one of my friends or acquaintances in my head. At the moment it’s the last 135 seconds of “Let It Happen” by Tame Impala, or, as it’s affectionately known in my mind “Let It Happon.”

I got to see this song played to a billion people in Paris on the weekend. Like, to a sea of people. I tried to get them all into my eyesight at one time but it was impossible. A sea of people all loving the same music. This was the thing that was beautiful about it. Friends’ faces a billion metres high projected beside tiny normal them, hair bouncing, playing these special creations to a whole sea of humans.

While they played we stood in a little loose group, Nick, Ash, Anne, Julie, dancing, grinning at one another. But yeah, the biggest thing was that – that these songs are inside so many people now, right inside, and watching them pour the songs out over this sea was what my mind called over and over ‘The Biggest Treat.’ After dancing the normal way for a while, except always with my hands in front of me in the air, I closed my eyes for a very long time. The new songs – I didn’t understand them the first times I listened… ‘What is Kevin doing!?’ I asked myself – and then after one moment, a simultaneous moment with another friend who was on the other side of the country in Australia, I understood them. We wrote to each other on Facebook, like ‘Ooohhhh, now I get it!’ Suddenly it just happoned.

So yeah, I closed my eyes and put my hands out in front and felt the gathering into my hands of all the good feeling of this whole sea of people. I wondered if we were glowing, the sea and my hands; and then I put my hands down into the waters of the Seine – it was a long way away but with my eyes closed it was right there in front of me – and I shot the good feelings out of the ends of my fingers into the waters, pouring healing into the river that makes its way continually through the whole city.

There’s a story in the bible about some river where people go to go put their bodies in and get healed. There’s enough bad things in the world that something like that could possibly spontaneously happen, a river turning into a river of healing and everyone takes their heartbreak and depression and war to dip in it and be fixed. So, while Tame played that’s what I was doing, making the river with every good feeling around. And then the sun went down slowly over the top of us, and Nick and me had many hugs which meant ‘We’re so happy our friends are so amazing,’ and also meant the joy of being with these tens of thousands of people who had the same tastes some amazing how.

Out the back Nick tried to explain in hilariously great beginners French to a French boy how AFL works, our version of football, and I laughed when we were making crude semen jokes and a French person joined in the conversation and within two minutes it had traversed to Molière and how French and English and German diverged as languages and how much of a role various playwrights had in this process.

~ ~ ~

The next day Jodie said to come to a place called La Géode, so my temporary sweetheart took me there on the tram and left me in sight of the big silver ball (http://wfiles.brothersoft.com/l/la-geode-france_106375-1920×1200.jpg). I didn’t know what was going to be happoning, but I took a few steps after the goodbye kiss and then heard those magical songs again. Down below all tiny and sweating in the sun were the boys, I waved and the security man let me in. They were filming for Blogothèque, a French website. Kevin had apparently chosen this massive beautiful landmark to film in front of, and again as the clouds and the sun moved over the sky, the ball lit itself and the boys up in beautiful ways, the water of the moat below playing its own frequencies and making a million waves of glowing light, and it was exactly the cover of the album as well.

They played the songs over and over, and I talked to Jodie about album business and love and I almost broke a coffee machine, and sweated with all the other hangers-on. The boys were listening back, Cam folding and stuffing as much pizza as possible into his body, and Dom said to me ‘Aren’t you getting sick of hearing the same songs over and over again?’ But I told him the truth that I hadn’t realised til then: that these songs are like a place you can stay for a very very long time, and perhaps that’s why they’re special for a whole sea of people all across the silver globe. Like, right now, I’ve been listening for an hour to those 135 seconds of the end of Let it Happen over and over, and I’ll be fine for another hour still. I said to Dom that it’s like how you never get sick of looking at the clouds, right? And, yeah, that’s the way I feel.

Nick had brought me Vegemite and gave it to me, the boys kept sweating and recording til the power died, and Ringham and Joe and I played the game where you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger on your own body and if the other person looks in it and doesn’t stick their finger in it you get to punch them pretty hard on the arm or the chest. It’s not Molière, but it’s a pretty fucking great game. Dom gave me sunglasses that some shop had given the boys, new beautiful sunglasses like the quality of things I never have because I never buy anything and am not a rockstar. My hands and heart were full. Cam and I made a deal that he’d also get me sunglasses, we spit in our hands and I made him eat it after. So gross. But we are Australians. And Gum was getting deep into Instagram and we tried to convince him Peter Cole is the person to follow if he only wants to follow one person in the Instagram world, as he started unfollowing people and then had to unfollow everyone else to not offend anyone, golden boy that he is.

Anyway, all of this to say, Tame Impala at Rock En Seine were a thing to behold, tiny and enormous, and all the more tiny and enormous as we caught the train home and heard French people discussing the songs, humming them, glowing a little bit in their faces from having seen something they’d been waiting for, dipping their bodies into it, coming out a little bit better for it, some magical how.

Amber in Paris #3 Frogs are the Best People

Andrew Ryan

so soft other humans. i hope wonderful things are happening for you. wonderful things arriving from wonderful times, and wonderful things arriving from times that seem to hard to bear.

im in the apartment in the dark. beautiful david who lives in a tiny room upstairs and comes down to use the kitchen and the bathroom just came by to brush his teeth or collect condoms or just to see our faces. we’ll never know. he just came down in his boxer shorts, his hair is blond at the ends and dark all the rest of the way through, and his mum sees lights flashing by when people in his family die.

asleep, perhaps by now in her bed is melody, getting rested before flying away to america to do shows. i was sitting by her room on the loungey chair, while eva made me a special drink with herbs from melody’s parents garden to help my little throat, and i took the guitar and played ‘hot date’ very softly and without singing the lyrics, just humming, through to melody lightly through the wood of her bedroom door. i imagined her with a smile across her face as she fell asleep, remembering the days of friendship we clothed ourselves in, tears, embraces, prayers, much talk of how dear our dear friends are.

and andras fox is on his way back here with a bottle of wine that i’ll leave to the others, after passing a day of swimming in pools and a day before of buying sunglasses from a man who played the ud in his store and watched ud youtube clips as andy browsed all the frames from 1920 and 1950 and 1960 with special names of special designers. i left after 20 minutes but andy was there for 5 hours, eventually getting taken to a small cafe by a rival vintage sunglass frame peddler who said he had the same pairs for half the price.

an architecht came to see me today. he told us great stories about the way the air feels at his parents home in the south of france after the rain. i remember the word “felt”, as in, that soft touching jumper you might wear while you’re doing meditation in a room with your friend, and all your other friends are brought to mind before your closed eyes, and as each one comes before you, you put good energies across them and see lovely things for and about them and you clothe them in light and touch their faces and their private parts but only as much as you’re meant to.

so last week a man drove me to a forest here, in a very old mercedes where only one door opened so we both had to get in on one side and squiggle across. we went walking in that forest, and came upon a marsh after a while, and some frogs were talking in it. i tried to see – was it frogs or was it little fish jumping in there? and i had the feeling to go over to one side of the marsh and sit by it, and even though it’s hard to express my feelings in a different language, i did, and so we went to the other side of the marsh and sat there by that tree i’d felt to visit. after a few minutes we were quiet and just listened as one by one the frogs jumped, and i tried to learn the name of dragonfly – “libelule”, and touched my hand against the mosses. and after a few minutes a new things happened, in that the entire marsh slowly awakened with ten million thousand billion frogs all singing at exactly the same time. the sound flew in a slow immense wave from one side of the marsh to the other, our two human mouths open in the most complete awe possible at this two minutes of magic, until it all stopped and we sat in awed silence waiting for it to happen again, which, in fact, it never did. we had come just at the right time to hear this one thing, one thing i will never forget.

i went to a big party too, on a boat that david explained a few days later had been sailed over from england where they used to use boats as lighthouses instead of building them on rocks, to show where the sandbanks were. there were drugs around (not in me), and there were just the normal people that go to bars all over the world, andras fox did djing, and my friends asked “how do you know it’s him?”, because he was far away in the dj booth in the dark with a sea of french and australian people swinging their bodies in front of him and i said “i recognise the way he moves” which is in fact the best way to recognise people from afar even if you hardly know them. a great dj set with some australian music with the old languages in it that made me grin wildly in the dark. but still, the frogs, they took the marshy cake.

we went to radio france too, and got to play on the big steinway piano where they record all the famous classical musicians and i played to the others in the dark and we all did duets and the french friends did fake french improvised operas that i wasn’t sure when to laugh in, but yes, still, the frogs win everything.

one thing i’ve been thinking about and saying a little to my friend here, and my friend who sends voice messages back and forth with me from tour, long messages that go in waves across the marsh of time and distance, is that in perth everything is free in music and art – as in, people don’t really try too hard. i said to eva how someone will make something that took five minutes and everyone will say “that’s siiiiiiick!”. and we discussed how this is the great thing and the not so great thing – but mainly great. there is freedom there. (this is an intense generalisation and not particularly true, but there’s a truth in there that people from that place might recognise.) and soon afterwards she was talking with another australian who explained mr squiggle to her, after she’d said how it takes about a year for her to make a drawing. he showed her mr squiggle on the internet, and showed how in one minute, upside down, mr squiggle could take a spontaneous piece and turn it into exactly what it was meant to be. so, i’m going to wonder for a moment now, whether those frogs try or just do, and then head to the dream world where i’ll see them again and maybe speak the same language too.

Mark Ronson at Metros City, 22 July 2015

Andrew Ryan

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one thing i like to do is have two musics playing at the same time. today it’s a song called ‘the gold hall beckons’, by a local band, and an album called ‘pensée d’automne’ by jean lumière. you just put two songs on pretty loud and let them slow dance together, or just let them be in the same room with their own thoughts, perhaps unaware of how they’re affecting one another, but definitely affecting one another.

i was thinking that maybe that’s what he likes too, mark ronson, putting two musics together. this morning i woke up with the words “what is a ‘mark ronson’” in my head, and a bruise on my nose, and i’ve been turning both things over in my mind. it’s fine to not know who someone is or anything about them, in fact, it’s very normal. so yes, when i went to the show last night, i didn’t know what a mark ronson was. i was lifting my body to see what was happening on stage, but the man singing had long curly hair which was a surprise to me. i’d seen a photo of ronson on my friend’s phone and his hair was slicked back and not like this at all. who was this man with a high slung guitar and what had he done with mark ronson?

so this morning it reminded me of meeting a no-home man from deep in the wheatbelt who taught me how to throw a spear – crack a stick to make the animal move, then throw. and he mentioned eating ‘bardies’ to me, and i asked “what’s bardies” and then he had a funny look on his face and we both started giggling and i said “is that like asking ‘what’s eggs?’” and he nodded and grinned. i’ve told this story before.

so i don’t really know what happened at the show, except that a beautiful man with slicked back hair who apparently is a type of soft genius sat up on top of a big screen, words flashing over, as in big lyrics, and underneath him people sang in the way of him putting music together, weaving the thought of someone’s voice into a song by some other one, and a glorious sound coming out. at one time when kevin parker was singing, and kirin callinan was playing guitar and mark ronson was puppetteering them, or more like life coaching them from the side, i danced so ferociously that i banged my nose on one of metro city’s many shiny silver poles that hold the whole place up, hold all the people in, away from each other, close to each other.

so that’s really my review, to sum it up: “i have a little red bruise across the top of my nose from mark ronson.” i showed kevin, to prove that i’d enjoyed the performance, but really, a few thousand people glued to his voice and the rest of the band is proof enough of something special, this time.

it was a lovely thing, just floating around in that room watching people watching the stage. everyone singing along – that was the best part. a whole crowd of people who didn’t seem to be sleazy or fucked up, just very glad to be there. and a stream of famous singers and players who were like bardies to me or eggs to a martian that hasn’t spied on us for long went on and off the stage being energetically optimistic and wonderful.

i went upstairs sometime, right, right upstairs, to some sky bar that was just a big open space of tiles and the night sky, wide open, and you could still feel the music lifting you up up there and so i went running and sliding on the tiles with my friends jules and freddy, dancing across the big black space with no-one to bother us, except the hundredth person of the night going up to freddy to ask “how tall are you?” or to make the unbelievably vapid comment “hey, you’re tall”. being tall or being famous, it’s a daily small burden until you’re on a desert island, or maybe deep in the wheatbelt where everyone knows who you are but in a very different way.

up at the sky bar The Big told me ‘go now, find your friend, he’s downstairs outside’, which was very helpful as the friend didn’t have a phone. and that’s the main thing i think about these days, how there’s these two songs going on the same time, getting helped to find my friend by a large cosmic voice, and all sorts of nasty things happening to lovely people everywhere, every moment. like, maybe one day you just have a tiny bruise on your noise from saucily dancing into a pole, but then the next day someone from the next town who wants to live in your town comes and smashes you and all your family and burns down your crops…

well, the last thing is, at soup kitchen this week i met a man who was really hanging out to talk. he had the big grey fluffy hair of someone who has no-one to look after him, and the real sad look in his eyes. but we got talking about music, and he can play everything, guitar, mandolin, piano, harmonica, some drums, but found it hard to make his own songs. “i’d get to a certain point and then at the end, it was just really hard to finish.” he lived at a place called ’55 central’ that sounds like something from a book about down and out people, but is a real place that real people actually live. anyway, we talked for a long time and he told me about his real dream he’s working towards, even while things are rough, and it’s some way to help kids on the street in malaysia and also developing an app to help people start their own small businesses, people who are down and out, a real comprehensive but easy way to get things going. i asked him why he cares about kids on the street in malaysia and he said how he’d once watched a program about children in rwanda, after the genocide, and just seeing one little kid crying, alone, parents gone, and he decided on that spot that he would do something for children who are in that predicament. malaysia is closer than africa, so he’s planning to start there.

try not to be cynical. listen to some mark ronson over the top of some mendelsohn, and just see how it all fits in. mark ronson and pond at metros city, 5 stars.