Friday, November 25, 2005

Random Travel Photos 3: An Unearthly Object

About 3 and half years ago, I took a trip to Glasgow for a job interview at a sound post facility. While there I discretely snapped this innocuous looking blue box from afar. Is this proof that extra terrestrials are among us? Can you see what I'm talking about?

Jose Gonzalez

Last night I popped out to catch Swedish singer/guitarist Jose Gonzales at Sydney venue @ Newtown. Jose puts on a pretty straightfoward show. Himself, a guitar, a chair, couple of mics, that's about it. I bought his album Veneer earlier in the year after hearing the song Crosses on the Peacefrog label website. He has quite a nice voice and penisve classical guitar technique. His performance last night was pretty good, bar a few tuning problems and other things, but I think its easy to overlook that when you consider one man and his guitar had about 300 people pretty rapt for an hour. He also did a great cover of Massive Attack's Teardrop from their album Mezzanine. Have a read about him here. I recommed checking out his album Veneer, which you buy online on the Australian iTunes music store. It's mellow, but vey beautiful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Well a lot of people don't think much of football in this country, but those of us that do are stoked that the Socceroos have pulled a rabbit out of the hat and finally made it to the World Cup. Australian football is finally coming of age once again. Well done boys!!!

Read about it in the Sydney Morning Herald here

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rockin' on a Monday Night

Last night I played a gig with Sydney band Albert The Good, at the Cat & Fiddle pub in Balmain. It was a great gig for a Monday night. Playing live is in many ways the ultimate musical test. Given an audience of about 20 people and up it can be a very rewarding experience. You have to just get up there and do it. No excuses, just focus and play well. It's easier when you're in a relaxed frame of mind, which we all were last night. There were a few mistakes here and there but generally we're relaxed enough now to play through them and move it. It teaches you that the effort reaps the reward not perfectionism, if you hit a wrong note, just move on, and you'll improve over time. The band is sounding tight these days, and we're all still motivated after a huge year for the band. Hoping to get some new tunes rolling soon.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Daily Leon

OK, I've altered comments so anyone can leave a message. It was set to registered users only, so if any of you silent Daily Leon readers have been trying to leave comments, now you can. Hopefully the sea of spam won't come my way...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Random Travel Photos 2: Impressions of Berlin

Around this time last year (late October early November 2004) I took a trip to Berlin from London. It was a cold, overcast and atmospheric Saturday afternoon when I arrived in Berlin around 3pm, probably the sort of day Berlin residents wish they lived in Sydney on. I loved it.

Berlin Schonefeld Airport

I grew up listening to lot of moody German electronic music and have kept up with a lot of the current music, so it was fascinating and inspiring for me to finally visit Berlin. When traveling some places strike you straight away while others you never really get a feel for. I felt at home pretty much as soon as I stepped off the plane in Berlin.

I stayed with a friend in the Prenzlauer Alle district, in the old eastern part of the city. It's an attractive area for young artists as it has reasonable rents and is accessible to the rest of the city, and has quite a thriving artistic community. Many of the parts of the east have been reengergized in this way since the fall of the Berlin wall 15 years ago. I loved the wide avenues and the style of the buildings.

Prenzlauer Alle

The buildings in this area were mostly survivors from the pre communist era that have been restored, as many parts of Berlin are. Staying with a friend was great as I got taken along to a few venues and I got to meet a lot of interesting people. The pace of life seemed much gentler in Berlin, and the cost of living much lower, probably why so many electronic artists live there now (for more info, check out the Berlin Digital DVD) It's also home to two of the leading music software development companies Native Instruments and Ableton, makers of Live. Berlin is a fantastic city to get around. Good transport; trams, buses, metro lines, cycle paths, even walking across town is easy. Sydney really lacks this feel due to its sprawl. So by night I was out and about all night, then catching some sleep and during the day I stepped out and went exploring, which is where these photos come from. I covered the main "tourist" bits such as having a look round Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenberg Gate, the Jewish memorial and the all new buildings etc that have gone up since 1990, which has given Berlin some of the world's most modern architecture. Of course this area was a complete no mans land before 1990 during the time of the divided city, which makes it's reestablishment as the heart of the Berlin all the more interesting.

Potsdamer Platz u-bahn station

New Architecture

Fragment of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenberg Gate

Jewish Holocaust memorial

The Brandenberg Gate

I had a look a the Reichstag, quite a fascinating, yet mildly creepy experience, considering its history. Just goes to show that grandiose civil buildings last longer than the ideology of the people that have governed from there. I lined up for and hour and a half to get inside and check out Norman Fosters glass dome. Quite interesting. By then it had gone dark.

The Reichstag

The Reichstag Glass Dome

I started a night walk down Unter den Linden, not really knowing what I was doing and stumbling across the Opera House, the French Protestant church, the very street or platz that the Nazi's did their infamous book burning at and eventually crossed the river spree into Mitte. The next day I covered Alexander Platz, home to the famous communist era TV tower.

The Fernsehtrum (TV Tower)

Next off to Kreuzberg and the Turkish district, then I had a look at Friedrichshain; there were many great record stores along the way; then eventually through to Tiergarten to look at the Siegessaule (Victory Column), the famous column with a gold goddess of victory astride it with wings, the one Bono jumped off in Wim Wenders video of U2's Stay (faraway, so close), named after the film of the same title, the sequel to Wings of Desire.

Siegessaule (Victory Column)

Finally, I made my way to Charlotteburg which was right up there with the commercial shopping area tackiness of Pitt Street mall (Sydney) or Oxford St (London) or the Champs Elysee. It had one interesting factor though, a Church bombed by the Allies in WW2. Interesting to see the effects of the war from the other side.


It was a quick trip, only three days, but three very powerful and fascinating days. I hope to spend more time in Berlin in the near future. For more information on German life, culture and their view of the world, check out the English edition of German magazine Der Spiegel and for more info on the electronic arts scene have a look at De:Bug Mag online and be sure to look at the links, podcasts and blog there.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Beer of the week

This weeks fine beverage is called Leffe Brune. It's a fine Belgian beer that I first consumed in Belgium many years ago and it's become a favourite. A little tricky to find, but I got this one from a booze shop on Parramatta Road in Camperdown. I've also seen it in Balmain on Darling St somewhere. It's a dark beer and has a strong powerful flavour, about 6.5% alcohol content. Of course, like all beautiful brunettes, it goes down very well. Cheers!!

A New Machine

Hello readers! As you probably remember, a few weeks ago I was hanging out for a new Powerbook. Well this Tuesday I finally got one and a fine machine it is too. Even though it's not as fast as a G5, it seems to be handling my musical work pretty well. Should be fine for editing as well. Also the tests for using it live at gigs went well too. All in all a good buy. Also Apple are very thoughtful and had a simple way to transfer all my files from the old laptop via firewire, like a mind meld that Mr Spock would do. The hi res screen is amazing too. Going back to my old laptop I couldn't believe I had settled for that. How quickly we move on...