Writers festival favourites

I got an email out of the blue on Tuesday night, asking my five picks for the Sydney writers festival. Only catch, they needed them before work started the next morning.

I dashed out the following, and a sub-edited selection of three made it into the Spectrum section, in today’s Herald, alongside an interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

The other picks were from Susan Wyndham (SMH literary editor), Elizabeth Ann McGregor (MCA director), Sandra Yates (SWF chair of the board), Susan Hayes (OzCo literature director). Illustrious company, maybe they were after gender balance.

(Alex Ross – taken from Stop Smiling interview)

Alex Ross in Conversation with Ramona Koval: Hip-hop and Pere Ubu and Sonic Youth helped New Yorker music critic Alex Ross see classical music through a different window, and as an outsider to that world, it really changed the way I listen to music.

From Hot Copy to Hard Cover: Asa Wahlquist has spent plenty of time on the land as a reporter; her writing brings a dry, pragmatism to the environmental debate.

Rock’n’Roll Lives: Don Walker’s poetic reflections. Stephen Cummings’s tell all shock. In between, the warm Mark Mordue. Does it get better?

The Inside Out of Book Design: I know, I shouldn’t. But as a design lover, the cover catches my eye long before I open the pages. Shapes my opinions. I’m looking forward to an insider’s view.

Penguin Plays Rough
: In a Newtown sharehouse, a clutch of Sydney writers and readers meet every month to read and rant their work. It’s wild and wonderful and this time the readers are Craig Silvey, Eddie Sharp, Lexi Freiman and Pip Smith.

Out of the Box with Christos Tsiolkas: OK, so I’m also doing something at the festival, which I’m nervously looking forward to. I’m interviewing the fantastic writer, Christos Tsiolkas, via his records. I’m comandeering the format of another FBI radio show – Out of the Box – to do it.

Big up community radio

A lot of you regular readers are community radio presenters and producers. There aren’t too many opportunities to big up stations or presenters doing good stuff, but here’s one. The CBAA Awards will be announced at the annual CBAA conference (held in Alice Springs this year).


  • Best New Program or Content Initiative (individual programs, a programming initiative, segment, or other forms of media content, such as podcasting, blogging, magazine articles)
  • Excellence in Community Participation
  • Excellence in Digital Media (digital broadcasting, web streaming, podcasting, blogging, digital video, general digital media content, etc)
  • Excellence in Training
  • Excellence in Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasting
  • Contribution to Local Music (Proudly Sponsored by APRA)
  • Excellence in Music Programming (Proudly Sponsored by PPCA)
  • Contribution to Indigenous Broadcasting
  • Excellence in Spoken Word, News and Current Affairs Programming (Proudly Sponsored by Deutsche Welle)
  • Most Innovative Outside Broadcast or Special Event Broadcast
  • Best Initiative to Build Station Capacity
  • Troy Garner Excellence in Sports Programming

Plenty of shows and ideas on offer at my station – FBI 94.5 in Sydney – could line up against those categories, and I’m sure at most stations around the country. Go ahead and nominate.

Art in manic cities

Sydney’s been overrun by Hummers lately, but Americans know how to rock this stuff properly. Today I saw a Winnebago (a huge Grey Nomad caravan/bus that could comfortably carry Aerosmith around the country) towing a Hummer! It’s like the driver asked him/herself, “How can I burn through the most fuel per mile?” – the answer was all too obvious.

I’m in Williams, Arizona, at the moment – somewhere between Vegas and the Grand Canyon – but I might take a step back. A few days back, I visited the Hammer Museum in LA.

The Hammer Museum, LA

Kara Walker’s show, ‘My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love’, was all race and sex. The intense silhouettes were beautiful, witty, comical, tawdry, depressing and awkward. All that.

Kara Walker’s ‘Work On Progress’

Just (5000 or so numbers) up Wilshire Boulevard from the Hammer is the metastasizing contemporary gallery LACMA. Without a few days to explore we had to choose our targets wisely, which we may or may not have done in checking their contemporary collection and a Chicano show.

I’ve always found Basquiat’s work a bit kitsch. Too much backstory and not enough of the rest. Outsider, I guess. But up close – close enough to see how he’s sewn up the sheets of canvas, the shoeprints scattered over white material, the weird pull to the sheets – I’m amazed how much works like ‘Horn Players’ and ‘Eyes and Eggs’ (both 1983) affect me.

‘Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement’ on the other hand, confirms just how little idea I had before arriving in California of the state’s Spanish history. I’ve read plenty since. Eduardo Sarabia’s ‘Painted Memories’, ‘Tainted Memories’ and ‘Tetris King and Queen of the Monarch Butterflies’ (all 2008, gallery I-20 NYC) were highlights. Sarabia daubs his paintings – landscapes, portraits – with great smudges of colour that obscure or completely deface the subjects. Surprisingly, they don’t nullify the paintings. Instead, they buzz with a fantastic vitality.

Danny Jauregai’s series ‘Stage Set For a Riot (or Whatever Happened to Mt. Vesuvius?)’ (2007) too. Grounded in the frustrated furore following Rodney King’s beating in LA, 1992, by four police officers, Jauregai’s architectural images set rigid urban shapes against a swirling maelstrom. Spellbinding.

Stage Set For a Riot (or, What Ever Happened to Mt. Vesuvius) 2006 – Danny Jauregai.

I think we must have visited one of the world’s least trafficked tourist destinations when we went to the Las Vegas Art Museum. Completely worthwhile though, with a show that pulled together works from local (private) collections, including Jason Martin, and Gerhard Richter’s ‘Grun-Blau-Rot’ – I love Richter.

Gerhard Richter’s ‘Grün – Blau – Rot’

Otherwise, Vegas was a bit crazy. LA too.

LISTEN: Pompey

He’s part of Drama for Yamaha and Melb’s ace Brothersister label, but this lovely record as Pompey comes from Pocketclock.

Pompey vs Vesuvius

LISTEN: Calico

Here’s an old mix of mine for ITM. It’s pretty deep and dancey.

ITM mix

# Abstract Rude & Tribe Unique – Ab live at the Goodlife Cafe ’93 – Battle Axe
# Gray – Drum Mode (Paul Mogg version) – Gomma
# Circadian Rhythms – Seven Seas – Rhythm Love
# Eddie Flashin’ Fowlkes – Soul Train (Rae & Christian’s Soul Strain Mix) – Paper
# Mad Doctor X – Intergalactic Throwdown – Freskanova
# Coda – Latin Quarter (Berlin Mix) – Exceptional
# Daniel Ibbotson – 7 Future Wonders – Clear
# FBA featuring Jason Bruer – From DEIA – Ferox
# New Order – Your Silent Face – Factory
# L’usine – Haze – Ghostly International
# Alexander Robotnick- Dance Boy Dance (Paul Reynolds re-edit) – Art Of Disco
# Matthew Dear – Dog Days – Spectral
# Cassius featuring Ghostface Killah – Thrilla (A Bass Day Remix) – Virgin
# Farley Jackmaster Funk – The Acid Life (Swag’s WGCI Master Mix) – Square Roots
# Marco Passarini – I House U (Radio Edit) – Peacefrog

LISTEN: Scattered Order

A darker side of the Sydney group from post-punk site Nonightsweats‘s newly updated collection. Here’s an old Mark Mordue review from RAM too.

No Night Sweats


Here’s a lovely alternate version from the first artist released on Perth’s Meupe label.


LISTEN: Roll Deep

Grime’s my new religion (this xmas) and it’s sets like this messy, wild and inspirational one from Roll Deep on Rinse FM that have taken it from fave genre to way of life.

Roll Deep on Rinse FM

LISTEN: Wayne&Wax

(Da Capo best) Music writer Wayne Marshall crafted this blazing yule in Chicago, but it’s made for Sydney.


LISTEN: Astronomy Class

More bass heavy wobble from Sydney reggae/hip hop crew Astronomy Class. This time a dub of Third Weapon.

ass class


Think there’s no political music out there? Check DJ C‘s ride through the crates. But with Bush imploding here’s hoping the Dems offer something else. (via Mudd Up).

dj c


The lead track from Ollo’s ace second record gets a Dsico workover below. The campaign steps up a notch.

campy ollo

LISTEN: Manshandies

Radge’s first mix hasn’t even hit my ears and here and it’s 100% recommended. This boy plays hot records.

thin ice

LISTEN: Some Freak

Here’s the Sydney DJ in action at Red Bull’s Melbourne Music Academy.

some freak


Everyone’s fave dubstep mutha Eli Murray is a hippie at heart, check his mash of dark psych Floyd outtakes (hosted by Southern Steppa).

fat old sun

READ: Somefreak

Si’s capturing some amazing moments for all to read in a day by day breakdown of the Red Bull Music Academy. It’s pretty much essential reading.

LISTEN: Pastry Chef mix

45 minutes of electro, post punk, ambience, pop and dubstep mixed by yours truly.

calico aka the pastry chef

LISTEN: Catnip

They can be earnest and their name is a little geeky, but Catnip‘s dreamy Mazzy Star-esque pop is lovely too.


Listen: Sydney post punk

Post punk out of Sydney in the early ’80s was better than you’d realise if you’re just reading the standard music press. No Night Sweats has obscure but great mp3s pouring out of its html.


Listen: Julian Nation

I promise this isn’t becoming an indie pop blog, but this song from Melbourne’s Julian Nation is irresistable. Plus you can keep going to Book Club Records for songs from Jens, Lucksmiths, Pipas and more.

Julian Nation

Listen: Camera Obscura

I love Camera Obscura‘s delicate indie pop. Here’s a remix of Books written for girls by Synonym and the lovely Lloyd, I’m ready to be heartbroken.

Camera Obscura

Listen: Kidzen

Bass player Cameron Undy’s new album for Future Classic (as Kidzen) is the best thing from the label to date. Here’s first single Superpeople.


Listen: Astronomy Class

Awesome. Ozi Batla, Chasm and Sir Robbo’s first record together, as Astronomy Class, is about to drop – think heady dancehall hip hop, like this one featuring Lotek.


Listen: Brother Sister

A Melbourne label that’s put all its releases up for free d/l. And they’re really great – lots of interest in songs from Kharkov, Drama for Yamaha and Young Love that I played on FBI on Thursday night. Go and listen!


Listen: Faux Pas remix

Travelling sample masher Faux Pas has an on-the-road Gotye remix on his site that, he says, takes extra ingredients from Konk, Liquid Liquid, Man Parish and Oscar Sulley. It’s ace.

huh, faux pas

Listen: Triosk

Pike, Klumpes and Waples are finally back with a new album after taking time out for Pivot, solo jams and lots of touring. It’s breathtaking as ever, but in case that’s not enough, here’s a live set recorded for Tim Ritchie’s killer show on Radio National.

Triosk - Live on Radio National

Listen: Timeblind

Hell yeah. Like his label boss DJ/Rupture, former NYC and now Berlin-based DJ/music maker Timeblind rolls in jungle, dancehall, hip hop, techno, grime and on and on. It’s hot. Click on the record or find more at his site.

Gotye - Like Drawing Blood

Listen: Gotye

Gotye’s debut got critical props. He’s back with a Francois Tetaz-mastered sequel that sounds like five bands fighting for space – electro, northern soul, dark emotional pop.

Wally De Backer (Gotye/The Basics) on FBI’s Join The Dots Thursday 25/05/06 from 9pm.

Gotye - Like Drawing Blood

Listen: Poni Hoax

Joakim’s at the mixing desk. Bits of Italo, indie, noise – Talking Heads, Joy Division, The Fall – the new album sounds more compilation than album. Here’s a taster:

Poni Hoax - She's On The Radio