Thursday, 26 November 2009

"Will she ever come out? Or are we to be here forever?"

I had to complete a major Composition 3 with Kynan Robinson assignment for uni this semester, and here's what I did.

It was based around the concepts of aleatory, tone rows, indeterminacy and text based composition. I'm a big fan of John Cage, and I find calculated aleatory and human reaction/interaction absolutely fascinating.

I drew quite a lot of inspiration from a video of John Cage performing Water Walk in 1960 on TV show "I've Got A Secret."

I haven't really told anyone what the piece was about (for me), as I'm a big believer in the concept that once an artwork leaves an artists hands, it no longer belongs to the artist, but the viewer/receiver. I've had so many people tell me their own interpretations of this piece, and almost all of them are completely different. Which tells me that the piece is a success.

I've included the master score behind the break. Hit "read more" if you'd like to see it. (This is the score my lecturer was given. Each performer received their own individual scores, and none of them knew what each other was to be doing).

Feel free to leave your responses, I'd love to hear them.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Brown and Bunting Booksellers - Northcote

Brown and Bunting Booksellers are pretty much my favourite new bookstore in my little patch of Melbourne. I first discovered this awesome little second hand bookstore on the opening night of Northcote's "Northern Exposure" festival, which was ironically their opening night. It seems, without fail, every time I go in there, I always come out with if not at least one new book, an arm full.

When you walk into the store, you're immediately hit by a deliciously refreshing smell of what I can only guess is the only recently installed (they only opened some five months ago) timber shop fittings. Something about it just puts me right into a book hunting mood, and it seems every time I then manage to remember something I've been meaning to track down.

I think what makes Brown and Bunting so awesome, while it might seem to be a bit obvious, is their range. They always have an exceptional range of recent, and out of print books, and they're always organised and easy to find. The books are always in excellent, if not perfect condition. And best of all, they're actually really well priced (often surprisingly so!). Since discovering Amazon (and it's deliciously ethical clone, I have found myself compiling lusty shopping carts full of "been meaning to read that.." books from 'market place' sources, often because it's just so damn cheap. But, I'm actually stoked to be able to say that B&B are generally cheaper than Amazon. Yep, how about that? And you get to feel good about supporting a small business of gorgeous, lovely Northcote people. And there's something about second hand books that's just a bit nicer, I find. Especially old ones.

I might be getting on a bit of a theme here with all my record store/cafe/bookstore trail here, but the staff (who I'm pretty sure are the owners as well) are absolutely lovely. Benita, who seems to always be working when I go in there is always really friendly, and I tend to always end up standing at the counter and yakking away with her about all sorts of delightfully interesting things.

I've been on a bit of a quest to read all the 1930's-1960's American classics, and it's just been amazing how every time I've been in there, the exact book I've been thinking I'd like to read has been sitting on the shelf. A bit of a feat, I'd say, for a second hand book store. They proudly exclaim on their website that they add/process four boxes of new books a day, and it really shows. Their range is terrific. I even found Wolfgang Flur's (former drummer from Kraftwerk) "I was a Robot". Which I got halfway through and left in a pub, to discover exactly how difficult it is to track down ANYWHERE, to B&B's credit. And another time, a brand new copy of Craig Schuftan's "Hey Nietzsche, leave them kids alone!". And another time, a gorgeous old copy of a Steinbeck Omnibus ("Grapes of Wrath", "Of Mice and Men"). Of course, you'll find your own gems.

In short, it's a really nice second hand book store run by lovely people, with everything you want, all in excellent condition, very reasonably priced. You should go there.

237 High Street, Northcote.

Nice site too.

(Benita jumped out of the frame when I lifted up my iphone to take this one.. I think I might have weirded her out a little.. It's ok! I'm just going to post it on the internet and say your shop's cool! Serious!). Gotta figure out a way of doing that without making people think I'm creepy. Hmm.

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Monday, 23 November 2009

El Joyero Cafe - Thornbury

A new cafe has just opened up near our house, and it's called El Joyero. Located just south of the High/Plenty intersection in Thornbury, kinda over the road and down a bit from South Preston Safeway. As someone forced to move away from the inner North by the great rental price soar of 2007, I am always excited when I find another gem surface along the ever northern creeping trail of High Street beauties (not that I'd rather live anywhere else now..!).

Ollie and Christina have done a great job with the conversion at El Joyero. Apparently the place used to be a jewellers (as a quick google search will verify), and they've kept some of the best bits of the furnishings. Beautifully decorated with everything indie nerds love (70's kitsch art, random music memorabilia, old toys etc etc) the atmosphere is gorgeously welcoming and cosy.

While the food menu is basic (but still tasty), the coffee is what wins here. El Joyero brews St. Ali coffee, a label of roasters with passion matched perhaps only by Alchemists.

So far I've had three flat whites and a long black here, and all have been really yummy. I thought at first the flat whites were a little on the weak side, but I'm thinking now that it's actually the flavour of the coffee, a bit more subtle and round.

They've also got a fantastic little collection of records, CD's and books for sale, much of them from bands and artists who've recently performed there (I just saw my first 5" record.. never knew there was such a thing!), as well as home made stuff (a notebook from a Bonsoy carton? Awesome!). I've also been eyeing off the copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Yeah, so it's a decent little selection of stuff.

They also host Sunday afternoon shows, film nights, art exhibitions etc (none of which I've been to yet), which seem to be that really lovely grass-roots community backyard vibe. (Have a look at the Myspace for more info).

Another little thing I love about the springing up of these super-cool little cafes, is how they're often placed in areas which are still very much populated by a high proportion of an older demographic, most of whom don't think "oh I won't go into that cafe, that's way too hipster for me..". On the contrary, they head in, and make the most of the fact that they can now get a decently extracted coffee in Preston. Which means you then get this beautiful juxtaposition of this cute, trendy little cafe full of nostalgia and indie collectibles, and people who remember when this shit was cool the first time round (before most of us were even born. While I was there today, a little old man came in and ordered an iced-coffee (he no doubt saw the sign out the front, which I can imagine was there to take advantage of the recent heatwave), and a little pink cupcake. So there was this 75 year old drinking an iced-coffee from a straw out of one of those old aluminium cups we all grew up with, and a cute little pink iced cupcake. Next to a Bob Dylan poster, and a guy who looked like one of the guys from Architecture in Helsinki. Gorgeous.

Go check it out.

923 High St, Thornbury VIC 3071‎ - (03) 9480 4070‎


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can't sleep so counting.. samples?

While my wife and cat decided I was unworthy of bed space tonight, I was lying unable to sleep. So I got up, made some tea, and fired up my Beta version of Max for Live enabled Ableton and started browsing through the free user patch collection at This is a really cool community where everyone is sharing the patches they've made, and even though it's only been live for a short while, there's some absolutely remarkable development going on.

I downloaded a patch called "sliderAmbience", which plays back a sample at four different speeds. Cool. I plugged it into my copy of Live, and away I went. I threw in a sample from the decarly ep i recorded a year ago with Nathaniel de Heer and the boys (the vocal track from Animal Follow) and started fiddling. The results were really, really impressive, I thought.

A single vocal sample can be transformed into a whole new instrument.. Slowed right down to a ethereal groan, or flicked and twisted to sound like some bizarre turntable.. And there's four of them going on at once!

Anyhoo. Here's what I came up with, just improvising away and a few tiny adjustments afterwards. Listen the whole way through if you've got time, there's some beautiful, amazing textures and tones in there. Especially towards the end. Oh and if you've got decent speakers/headphones.. Use 'em.

By the way, if you're thinking of buying Ableton, or Max for Live, now's the time to do it. They're giving 20% off because it's their tenth birthday or something. Sweeeet.

chilli mocha win.

Hey. Let me brag about a coffee I made today. Chocolate with a sprinkle of chilli powder slow melted with a fondue tea candle thing, poured into a glass. Then a shot of espresso pulled straight in, with steamed milk poured in last. My squiggly was a bit crap, but oh my. Ammmazing.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Let's get this straight.

Many years ago, when I was younger (well, almost ten years younger.. I suppose that's not THAT long), I had the notion that I would like to be a professional photographer. I knew a lot about gear, I knew what different films did, and I thought I could take an alright picture. I burnt through film like there was no tomorrow and exploited my staff discount at Paxton's Chatswood for all it was worth. A year later, I enrolled in a commercial photography course at Ultimo Tafe, where I would spend the next year really learning about photography, and more or less having my spirit completely crushed. The idea being that the commercial world was so cut throat that you needed to know your shit back to front, and it had to be good. Really good. If you weren't going to make it at college, there was no way you were going to make it out there. I think this was a great thing. It was more or less an ethos of "get good.. or get bad marks..". And half the teachers didn't really care if you failed, it was your choice. I actually did pretty well. I blitzed most subjects, except for the Small Business Management subject, which I failed, and never bothered to complete (meaning I never actually graduated). Ironically, this subject was the one which required foresight and the resourcefulness to propose how you would actually go out there and make a living- which at the ripe old age of 19 I didn't have, or just couldn't be bothered. I worked for a while, assisting and shooting, and did okay, but not well enough. The big hole of 2002 sucked up all the work I was getting and I found myself in need of a solid income, so I got a job at Optus and let my soul be raped by the monolith of the corporate world for two long years. Somewhere between then and my last paid photography gig not long after, I decided to call it quits as far as being a working photographer was concerned. Something had changed.

That something was digital. Digital meant that anyone with a few grand could call themselves a photographer. And they did. It's taken a long time for digital SLR cameras been of a capability which I consider actually rivals the performance of film, and I haven't had the cash spare to acquire one, so the closest to shooting digital I come is taking pictures on my iphone. There is a lot that can be debated regarding the skill level of someone who started off shooting film vs. someone who learnt on a digital, but this is not my point. What I want to draw attention to is the fact that many, many people go and spend their money on a digital SLR, and just shoot. In more cases than not, they haven't actually taken the time to learn how to expose and compose an image. They'll fluke a good one here and there, and generally have a few tricks they fall back on which get them through.

While I was flicking around Facebook tonight I found a girl who works as a photographer, simply because someone I'm friends with "became a fan". Her work absolutely epitomises this.

To be fair, I'm not going to name her. And just incase she, or anyone in the images comes across this, I'm not doing this to be mean or nasty, I'm simply critically analysing the work for the greater good of the photographing community, and for that matter their clients as well. I've met the girl in question, and she's lovely, however I feel her work is incredibly sloppy, for one particular reason I'm about to show you.

As I flicked through a few of the albums, I was absolutely gobsmacked at how ordinary the work was, yet she's a working photographer. She's charging (and people are paying) good money for work which my teachers back at Ultimo would have locked me in the film loading room until I promised to sell all my equipment and apply for a job at Target (to be fair, they were really, really hard. And I'm sure people that work at Target are very clever. You get my point though). What stunned me even more was this.  Check this small sample of images out, and tell me what you see.

(Hidden behind a break because I got seeing these ugly photos polluting my blog... Critique continues..)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Greville Records:- A piece of Australian and Melbourne music and cultural history..

Greville Records was one of the first places  I ever found in Melbourne that really took my breath away. It's one of those old school record stores immortalised in Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" (and it's subsequent film adaption starring John Cusack and Jack Black..), and I love it. There's quite a few places in Melbourne where you can really feel history. It's like you're stepping back into an age that's almost slipped through our fingers, to be gone forever. This is certainly one of them. Hidden a few hundred meters from Chapel St in Prahan, you could be forgiven for being absolutely shocked to find it in such close proximity to a main road dotted with "high fashion" stores, and their accompanying folk (I was!).

There's a sizeable vinyl section out the back, an extensive CD selection in the middle, and the front is filled with hard to find box sets and special editions, books, new releases, t-shirts, hoodies and who knows what else. It's hard to find anything bad in the place, which I suppose is the one thing they don't stock.. Shit. Warwick, the owner, is also a wealth of information. He's pretty funny, and not afraid to offer opinions (he once told me that he thought Ryan Adams was just some dude who had too many Gram Parsons records, even though I had a copy of Heartbreaker on the counter in front of him). There's just something that soothes my soul about this place, and I wish it weren't on the other side of the river where I tend to not frequent that often. Although, half the time when I DO manage to get there I see too many things I want and just end up buying nothing instead.

These are the kind of record stores that we, as a music loving community need to support. The JB HI-Fi's, while they may be cheap have nothing compared to the wealth of history and knowledge that exists within their doors. Rather than answering to faceless shareholders who buy and sell at a whim, they run their own businesses, and do it because they love it.

Please. Go buy stuff from this shop. It's the best.

Greville Records
152 Greville Street,
Prahran, Victoria, 3181
P: 03 9510 3012

He's even got a shitty, badly designed website too. Perfect.

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

le blog.. rejuvenated and rejigged.

In the past few weeks I've felt like I wanted to start blogging again.. Sharing things that I've found while my wanderings and bumblings. Offering back to the wider community some of the things that help me tick. And some that's just fucking cool.

There's a couple of posts on the way, but in the meantime I thought I'd start things off again with a bit of shameless self-promotion. I've been for a long time thinking that I'd love to combine the two different musical styles that I tend to play to create something a bit less common. These two styles are kinda folkie/alt-country singer-songwriter type stuff, and glitchy laptop electronic music. I've recently been taking part of the 'Max For Live' public beta, which has meant I've been allowed to use a Beta version of M4L. (For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about.. M4L is the result of an agreement between the two companies Ableton and Cycling74, which allows integration of the program MAX/MSP into Ableton Live. A short answer about why anyone would care, is that it means that it is now possible for pretty much anyone to create their own plug-ins and devices for Live, and to be able to share them with anyone else around the world. Cool huh?). I've found the possibilities of this app quite mind-boggling, and extremely conducive to creativity.

I've decided to start making this music under the moniker of "tiny tiger", and here's the first result of me toying with it. It's called "this is a sad song".

this is a sad song  by  kristofferpaulsen

Actually, while I'm posting music.. Here's something else I did this week. It's called "Musik für vier Sänger und einen Bruder" or "Music for Four Singers and a Brother". (But I translated it to German because I'm a big Stockhausen nerd). It's made completely of sewing machine samples. I had the idea for this when Fenella Kernabone said on Twitter that taping someone sewing would be boring. I thought she meant recording the sound, and was mortified (she actually meant videoing. Oops). So I made this. Just to prove her wrong. Dunno if she'll ever actually listen to it. I've been writing a paper on how Stockhausen influenced Miles Davis around the "On The Corner" period (i.e. around 1970), and he was a really fascinating, inspiring composer. Music is everywhere, if we choose to listen to it. 

Have a listen if you like. It's all sewing machine, slowed down, sped up, vocoded, filtered etc etc on Ableton Live. Because I'm a big fat nerd.

Musik für vier Sänger und einen Bruder  by  kristofferpaulsen

Much love! See ya next time! (And it won't just be all me pushing my own music!)