Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hypnagogue Review for Arterial Flow

I'd like to share with you the first review that my sound scape collaboration with USA jazz composer Kirk Kadish has yielded...a great review from John Shanahan in his Hypnagogue Review...I'll share more with you soon on the process of how 'arterial flow' developed...meanwhile.... 'Strap in, friends. It's going to be an experimental ride. Courtesy of the boundary-free nature of the internet, Maryland-based Kirk Kadish and Aussie chanteuse Janice Slater, who have never actually met, have pulled together a twisted sonic knot of intriguing and often daring pieces of music. Largely based around taking Slater's voice and running it through an array of filters, processes and straightforward editing, it';s a solid effort with only minor mis-steps. "Arterial Flow" (the track) opens with tribal drums and a repeating sample of Slater's voice rising amid an effect like she's singing through the back of a fan. (This is not a critique of the sound; it's the best way I could find to describe it.) "Bios" and "Cap Ice" are dark, chilly flows, slow pans across a dead landscape. "Cap Ice" in particular has a certain hold-your-breath quality to it, a tint of dread. I'm entranced by "Crystal Delta," where layered, snipped clips of Slater singing scat-style zig-zag over a simple, jazzy piano-and-drum beat. Hypnotic, and just on the right side of being too repetitive. I find myself falling into the sparse simplicity of "The Loving Arch," where wayward guitar notes express themselves over a rush of electric wind. The wind pares away to a drone, and then re-emerges--if I had to guess, what we have here is one background track that rises to a point, the reverses and comes back down. A lovely piece. "Panama" is an immersive ambient drone, with Slater's ghostly tones drifting in and out. You could loop this one for hours. The closing track, "Venus Red" is another calming piece featuring a drone and a reversed (unless I'm mistaken) voice--the effect has a strange, almsot sacred feel to it. Considering its cross-global origin, Arterial Flow presents a simpatico blend of styles, a chemistry that works fairly effortlessly. It's a good first effort that I hope prompts more work from Kadish and Slater'.

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Interview with Leigh Brill

Leigh Brill is an author and a motivational speaker, she was born in North Carolina with congenital cerebral palsy. Leigh and I are yet to meet face to face and yet we have found a meeting point across the vast ranges of Blue Mountains on two continents. Here is the first part of what I hope will be an ongoing dialogue with Leigh looking at the compassionate action of her much loved Labradors and the world Leigh is now sharing with us all.

Jan.s: Leigh, we’ve yet to meet but it seems we’ve something in common!! I live in the Blue Mountains, Australia and you grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia USA. Can you tell us a little about growing up there and also why the mountains are blue?

Leigh: The Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range in the eastern United States. As I understand it, trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, from the natural chemicals they release into the atmosphere; they contribute to the characteristic haze on the mountains and the distinctive color. That’s why these mountains appear blue when seen from a distance. The Blue Ridge was so much a part of my life growing up. I thought all mountains everywhere must be blue. I’ve always felt attached to these mountains — they offer a sense of peace and belonging. I remember appreciating that as a child. I still do. Nature reminds me to be still, to breathe, and to feel the joy of creation.

Jan.s: Leigh, can you recall the first books that you loved as a child?

Leigh: As a child, I loved every book I could get my hands on. One of my favorites was Where the Wild Things Are (I liked the other Maurice Sendak stories, too). I adored Dr. Seuss, as well—the creativity and the wisdom of his work always appealed to me. When I was little, I spent many long and lonely hours in the hospital—playing with words, rhyming, and creating stories helped me cope and gain a sense of control during those hard times. Sometimes, I would share my stories with other children in the hospital. That seemed to help all of us get through painful and scary things.

Jan.s: When did you begin writing?

Leigh: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. That’s part of who I am. I published my first story at fifteen. The first poem I ever wrote (I think I was six years old at the time) was called Ode to a Brussels Sprout. I remember sitting at the dinner table composing the little verse while I stared at a pile of those dreaded, bitter little vegetables on my plate: Oh little Brussels sprout sitting on my plate, you Nasty little Brussels spout, I really, really hate you. Gee, little Brussels sprout, I wish I already ate you! As I recall, that little goofy composition was quite a hit (given that I was just a kid at the time)…but I still had to eat my vegetables.

Jan.s: To quote : ‘And because of my service dogs, I have learned to define myself not by what I must overcome, but by what I have the strength to become’.

Leigh: Slugger and Kenda have offered nothing short of a transformation in my life. As a child and young adult, my days were marked by physical pain, frightening operations, difficult therapy, and the frustrating realization that no matter how hard I tried, there were some things I just could not do.

I used to watch other children walk smoothly across a room, but when I tried to do the same, my muscles refused to cooperate. My body behaved like a complicated toy that never worked the way I wanted it to. I tried so hard to keep up with people around me —I was taught that keeping up, looking ‘normal’ was the only way I could be as good as everyone else. So for years, that’s what I did—or at least that’s what I tried to do. I thought my own worth was measured not by the way that I lived, but by the way that I moved. A Labrador—a dog named Slugger—taught me otherwise.

Slugger’s eager assistance turned challenges into possibilities. With my service dog by my side, I could walk—even in crowded places—without falling. I could depend on my dog to retrieve things I dropped and carry my belongings. Slugger brought me a sense of confidence, self-worth, and completeness. Other people noticed him too. The stares and pitying whispers I’d known all through my childhood were quickly replaced by expressions like, “Wow, what a great dog!” That’s something Kenda and I hear a lot these days, too. Because of my service dogs, I know that the sweetest devotion can pass from one heart to another without a sound. I am grateful for such unconditional love. I’m inspired, too. Slugger and Kenda remind me that gifts are most beautiful when they are shared. I hope that my work will pass along some of the gifts they first shared with me.

That’s what it’s all about.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bobi (Nicholas) Petch Interview Part Two

Jan.s: Bobi when did you begin painting?

Bobi: I started learning to paint beginning March 1993. I had a friend who had been going to Derek Newton who taught from his home on the North Shore, her husband was an artist and still is. So we all started from the beginning, with learning to draw, something I had never done in my life, watercolours they say its the hardest medium. I would go for a term and have a term off, So I went on an off till 1996. We started using one colour only, light to dark and I really enjoyed it. Derek of course would help us through the painting when we started, and we were all pretty neat and tidy - we learned how to mix paints from the primary 3 colours. Red/blue and yellow. We would go off to the beach and paint also quite early on. Skies, waves, beach, birds, houses, hills, landscapes in 1994 - and painted on and off during 1995/1996 Motor Racing took over our life for a few years so had time off, as I was in charge of the food, cooking for our Team, racing Touring Cars, and Tranzam Cars so painting came second for a time. We shifted from Auckland City, to our farm in Karaka in 1996 and luckily within the first few weeks, a neighbour told me of Erin McRobbie, from Pukekohe. She painted so loosely, I fell in love with her technique. I started in 1997 - a term here and there, as we were still Motor Racing in the summer around NZ. Erin had been an Art teacher. We started off with Red Mushrooms, and Daisys in the Meadows. Again Watecolours, with 6 of us in the class. I joined the Papakura Art Group, and went once a week, they had Artists come in each week, to demonstrate. I also joined the Franklin Arts Festival Committee, as Erin and her husband were on. Was on the committee for 6 years, and ran the Craft Shop - Erin used wonderful colours, in her work, and would critique after every class.