Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Sigur Ros - Valtari for Rave Magazine

Read it online here, or in the latest issue. 

Somewhere between lapping up Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s triumphant solo efforts and replaying 2008’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust on desperate nights, I had begun to believe we’d heard the last from this Icelandic dream quartet. Yes, their sixth studio release was very nearly abandoned, but Valtari – which translates to ‘steamroller’ – is finally tangible. The bulk of the record stems from pre-recorded material; orphaned musical tangents and tracks that outgrew the projects that birthed them. Wherever they were once hiding, these eight tracks together form a striking and cohesive work. Valtari is certainly more minimal than we’ve heard Sigur Rós before. You could almost put it in the ‘ambient’ box, given the floating soundscapes and chilling stillness of Varðeldur and the title track, amongst others. Yet Valtari doesn’t feel lacking for its subtlety. Each layer is given due time to resonate, acting in harmony with Birgisson’s falsetto instead of pushing against it. There are the characteristic breakdowns and flashes of joyous frenzy, but they, too, feel more refined. Google-translating the titles and lyrics of any Sigur Rós track is risky, given their penchant for mixing their invented ‘Hopelandic’ with Icelandic. On the mercifully easy-to-translate finale Fjögur Piano (yep, ‘Four Piano’), the notes hang in the air by a single thread, before weaving into a fittingly haunting end. This steamroller doesn’t hit all at once. It moves gently, sweeping you up inch by inch before knocking the wind out of you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Article: 'Sailing for Trash' for Run Rabbit Magazine

The second issue of Run, Rabbit magazine is coming together a treat. Here's a post I wrote for the blog since I can't reveal any of the main event yet. I am thrilled by the talent of all the contributors on board for this one, and I can't wait to share it with the world.

I come from a thrifty family. Our motto was always ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ – it may as well have been inscribed on our family crest. Growing up, Saturday morning meant trawling the Weekend Shopper for garage sale listings within an hour’s distance from our house. We’d each take a few dollars and high hopes of what we might uncover in a stranger’s carport.
When I was eight or nine, I found toys others had outgrown for only fifty cents. They were always cherished more because I felt I’d rescued them from a mess of unwanted junk. Later, as a self-conscious teen, I’d be scared to get out of the car in case I saw someone I knew from school. I was quickly lured out with the promise of cheap vintage finds my mother’s hawk eye often spotted. Some weekends were more lucrative than others, but it didn’t matter if we came home empty handed. It was the nature of the hunt.

Now, some five years since I last garage sailed with my family, the seas seem to have dried up. Driving through the Brisbane suburbs neighbouring my own, there’s a distinct lack of tatty cardboard signs advertising ‘MEGA BARGAINS’ and sausage sizzles. Is it because we can now list any unwanted bits and bobs on Gumtree or eBay without much hassle? Are we less inclined to invite strangers into our personal space – even if it’s just the front lawn or garage?