Category Archives: Technical

Pure beauty

Nothing for weeks, and now two posts in as many minutes! Just saw that Michael McGlynn had posted this. Knowing some of the strange and awful things I’ve gotten wind of from Michael before (I’m thinking of a particularly hideous rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ from years ago… *shudder*), I confess expecting this to be in some way funny. Well, it’s not. It’s disarmingly beautiful. I’m not going to give any biography or information about the singers (because I don’t know any!). Just enjoy…

Gotye and Jacob Moon

Great/brilliant song by Belgian/Australian singer/songwriter Gotye (his spelling of the French name ‘Gaultier’). I was watching the video (posted on Facebook by my musical maven friend, Jill Deering) and thinking he looked a bit like Sting, just without the high voice. Then he rips into the chorus…! Superb stuff. I’m a big fan of Kimbra, too, who guests beguilingly on this track (the whole thing—even the stop-motion video—prompting comparisons for me with Peter Gabriel). I. Love. It.

I also found this great cover of Rush’s ‘Subdivisions’ by Jacob Moon, recorded on the rooftop of a theatre in Hamilton, Ontario (a town I *think* I visited when I was in that part of the world in August 2000—it certainly has a beautiful twilight that I remember).

4 in a Bar

I supported the barbershop quartet, 4 in a Bar, at their CD launch at The Workman’s Club on Wednesday. I did my three best Sting covers: ‘Roxanne’, ‘Seven Days’ (with obligatory story…), and ‘Message In A Bottle’. I also did ‘The Wild Rover’, and would’ve dearly liked to have played my own ‘Trust You’ but for the small problem of having a total mental blank. I still can’t think how it starts. Brilliant.

Anyway, 4 in a Bar are actually brilliant. They showcased the songs from the CD and threw in a few others (including the haunting ‘All The Fine Young Men’, originally by White Raven). I thoroughly recommend buying their CD and getting along to see them perform. Barbershop music is vocally virtuosic, camply complex, and entrancingly entertaining. These guys are the best in Ireland and recently got a silver medal in international competition. Get them while they’re hot. I hear they do weddings…

Jonny Boyle

It’s my friend Jonny Boyle’s birthday today. He is a brilliant guitar player—melodic, jazzy, and musical beyond belief. He is doing a couple of workshops in his home town of Carrickfergus on 25 June, one called ‘Jazz Up The Blues’ and the other on ‘The Modes’. If I know Jonny, it’ll be a great, inspiring session (astonishing value—3 hours for £20, only 5 in the class) and you’ll come away with lots of tasty licks to use in your playing.

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Here’s Jonny playing a selection of solo guitar tunes suitable for weddings:

50 people, one question

A beautiful video. If you haven’t watched it, then please do before you read on.

The thing that struck me was the pacing of the video. We don’t hear the question until almost three minutes in. When we do, we then don’t hear the people’s answers immediately. There is nothing immediate about this video, although there are moments of quick revelation that catch the breath and brim the eye. I was so moved as I watched the faces of those interviewed as they ingested the question; the surge of emotion as they think about it is heartbreaking.

It occurs to me that the power of this video is in the connection we viewers feel with the subjects. Seeing the question break across the minds of one person, then another, then another, we are given time to really let it sink into our own minds. Each one of these individual vox pops would have been over in a couple of minutes. It is the skilled direction that makes this art. Art is about framing something, throwing something into relief, casting light on something and saying “hey, look at this”. For me, the crux of the video is that portion where they think. The answers are interesting, but it is the nameless regrets that the film touches in its subjects—among whom we, of course, are numbered—that makes this a brilliant study.

Cuban Landscape with Rain

A beautiful performance of Leo Brouwer’s ‘Cuban Landscape with Rain’ by Dublin Guitar Quartet. I came across Leo Brouwer’s work while helping catalogue guitar music at The Victorian Music Library in Melbourne in November. One afternoon I popped out for lunch to a lovely charcoal chicken place and, as I ate, the heavens opened and spewed forth rain such as I’ve never seen before. Then, as swiftly as it had begun, it was over. Listen out for the portrayal of rain in this beautiful piece.