Chilling to Sydney’s summer sounds
It’s been an eclectic month in the Lewis-Jones sound lounge. Here’s the music that helped me chill.
Mozart – Our English houseguests are music lovers and come to visit us in Australia every two years. Somehow, though, they’ve never been to a concert in the Sydney Opera House. We saved our pennies and went to hear Emanuel Ax playing Mozart with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on February 7. The lads were lukewarm about much of the program but I’m a sucker for piano music, and Ax played beautifully, so I went home happy.
Mercurial – One of our visitors, Paul Cowell, is an accomplished composer and arranger. His works have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles in the UK, the US, Japan and Europe, and played on the BBC and ABC. His percussion pieces can be eerie and compelling, and I particularly love the spare edginess of “Prière du Petit Poisson Rouge” and “Prière du Chat”. These pieces were inspired by Prayers from Inside the Ark (Prières dans l’Arche), poems by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold who lived in a Benedictine Abbey in France after World War II.
Mourning – I was so moved by the backstory behind A Crow Looked at Me released by Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum last year I had to hunt it down – and it is haunting. “DEATH IS REAL could be the name of this album,” writes Elverum about the record, which he wrote in response to the illness and death of his wife, Geneviève Castrée. “These cold mechanics of sickness and loss are real and inescapable, and can bring an alienating, detached sharpness. But it is not the thing I want to remember. A crow did look at me. There is an echo of Geneviève that still rings, a reminder of the love and infinity beneath all of this obliteration. That’s why.” If you can stand feeling desolate, and a bit out of your depth, clear a quiet corner and hear him out.
Marling – I finally caught up on Laura Marling’s Semper Femina (Latin for “Always a woman”). Her supple voice and lyrics in “Soothing” make it a favourite track. “Always This Way” combines a jaunty sound with words that rue the end of a friendship: “Twenty-five years and nothing to show for it/Nothing of any weight”. Another standout tune was “The Valley” with its fluid evocation of longing for a partner when you are no longer welcome in her life. Gorgeous guitar riffs all the way on this record.
Mood lifter – When a stupid injury and the senseless jabbering of pundits threatened to plough me under, I played the “Follow the Sun” video clip by Xavier Rudd every few days. It’s an old song but it’s a pick-me-up. As Rudd sings the lines, “When you feel this crazy society/ Adding to the strain/ Take a stroll to the nearest waters/ And remember your place/ Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came” I get perspective, hum along.