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Posts tagged ‘Music’

To be lost in a forest

Okay so it’s been a while since I promised I’d post about Bloc Party’s recent concert in Auckland, but I’m hoping it’s a case of better late than never. This was the second time in less than a year that I’d had the privilege of seeing these boys from London take to the stage (the first being at Zurich Open Air last August) and they absolutely delivered second-time around as good as if it was the first. The Powerstation provided a venue of perfect proportions (not too big, not too small, great acoustics) and the crowd was suitably excited. After all, it had been six years since Bloc Party had toured these distant shores.

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Best party on the bloc

Bloc Party visited New Zealand this week. It had been six long years since they had last seen these shores. Yes, they kept us waiting, but the wait sure was worth it…

Bloc Party

…I think it probably made the concert even better than we had hoped it would be. More tomorrow!


Photo by CIA, Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand, 7 March 2013.

The Weeknd, live.

As I walked along the waterfront this evening, I came across this quite random chalking. “The Weeknd” looked great in yellow chalk, along the side of whatever wharf shed this was. It reminded me of Pitch, and though we’ve already mentioned how great Jessie Ware, SBTRKT and Gui Boratto were, we’ve neglected the Weeknd.

I first came across The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) when I heard a song on an NPR broadcast (Public Radio is a good thing!). The song, House of Balloons, included a sample from the Siouxsie and the Banshees song Happy House. The guitar was slowed right down, but I recognised it right away – a remnant from my mis-spent youth, appropriated from the mis-spent youth of the generation before me. I have, since then, become completely hooked.

I was lucky enough to download his three mixtapes before the release of the album Trilogy, which includes remastered versions of the tapes*. If you weren’t, it’s probably worth getting. Because it’s a m a z i n g.

Our friend and her sister are also huge fans, and at Pitch, we were all stupendously excited to see how the music we loved converted into a live experience.

We were not disappointed. It was not a flawless performance, and at times, the live sound struggled to capture the layered richness of his recordings, whilst the vocal performance was at times a little pitchy. But Tesfaye has awesome stage presence, and he had the enthusiastic Dutch crowd thrashing about in front of the stage in ecstatic rhythm.


Photos by CIA & PJD, Pitch Festival, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, July 2012.

* Mixtapes seems like an awful misnomer in the age of digital music.

Rules you don’t see

I came across a piece of music yesterday that I found extraordinary. It came up in a discussion between Brian Eno and Ha-Joon Chang. That these two were in discussion was peculiar to me, but more of this kind of crossover discussion is a good idea. Cross-pollination of ideas is almost always worthwhile, if only because it helps uncover the rules you don’t see.

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It’s not Paradiso, but…

… last night we got to see the Black Keys play live, at Vector Arena. This was unexpected (thanks so much, Occasionally Travelled!), and a nice reminder for the two of us how much we enjoy the sounds of this American duo. Patrick Carney drums like his life depends on it, and Dan Auerbach sings his heart out till his throat must surely be sore and his voice hoarse, and the result is a huge rock sound that filled up the spaces left in between the near-capacity stadium crowd. The set was a fantastic mix of old and new, with favourite moments being Girl is on my mind (from third studio album Rubber Factory), the encore made up of Everlasting Light (from Brothers) and I got mine (from Attack and Release), as well as Little Black Submarines taken from their latest album El Camino. Oh and needless to say, the crowd went wild, complete with some crazy dancing, for Lonely Boy. I first came to love the music of the Black Keys sitting in Sweet Mothers Kitchen in Wellington when they played the entire Chulahoma (tribute) album (listen to it, if you haven’t! I really never get sick of this album), so I inherently have a preference for the more bluesy numbers in the ‘Keys repertoire. But PJD and I both remain convinced that Blackroc is their most exciting offering to date (so ridiculously good!), with the amazing crossover and collaboration being right up our alley.

Vector Arena is no Paradiso (oh how we are missing our small, gezellig concert venues of the Netherlands!), but we sure enjoyed the Black Keys live.


Photos by CIA and PJD, Vector Arena, Auckland, 2012


The ambitious narrative structure is what first caught me with David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. As I was pulled deeper into each part of the novel’s Russian doll-style story, it was the characters and their complex, interwoven state which sucker-punched me, and I as hooked. It appealed to my nature as a reader — the novel wove the stories of the characters together in a clever way, and Mitchell’s skill at pastiche* is exploited to its fullest extent.

Nevertheless, Cloud Atlas divides people. The London Review of Books, for example, suggested that perhaps Mitchell’s novel lacked a solid core, and that the novel itself, by working to demonstrate how small the world was (with the interwoven nature of past, present and future) worked towards a very conservative world view. On the other hand, writing for the Guardian, A.S. Byatt could not have been more glowing in her praise of the novel.

Regardless of the mixed critical reception, I loved the novel. I still do.

When the intended adaptation to film was mentioned to me by CIA some time ago, I pushed the thought far out of my mind: “you cannot possibly turn this book into a film; it’ll be awful!”. A year later, in the middle of a Reykjavík living room, we talked about the extended trailer, which my friends had seen, but I had not…

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Road trip, part I

I went to Iceland.

Iceland is pretty nice.

In Iceland, I went on a road trip.

For road trips, it’s important to get the music right.

And we did.

Ásgeir Trausti’s new album is called Dýrð í dauðaþögn. It’s really good, and works well with the landscape, which from the car looked something like this:

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