It’s Summer. How appropriate a BBQ. It’s also Pop it’s at Matt’s place. On a Saturday at Mid Day on the 13th Dec. Call it Xmas if you want, it’s the right month. The anticipation of Matts BBQ has been building all month. Matt fancies himself as a bit of gourmet, no secret there. And twenty four hours from the igniting of the flames he is looking for the cooking challenges. He emails me. What are they bringing, any clues? I don’t. Maybe Gerald will leave those fantastic sandwiches and bring lamb ribs or marinated sweetbreads. Martin has a flare and fondness for fine food. But he emails last minute the words, can’t come, grandpa duties. Gee maybe I should have grabbed a pack of seafood from the Vic Market. Matt is up for it. Yep, you dwell on it too long it doesn’t happen. Vic Market it is. Some inspiration will come with a walk through the lane ways of plenty.
The tension is easing. My food collected shouldn’t frighten the gourmet Matt, too much. I hear the Market Report on the short trip down to the Market. Squid and Tiger Prawns are plentiful and fresh, they crow and for a small wad of cash they are mine. Green Tigers are not on Reds menu at any time he explains. They extract themselves rather violently over the following twenty fours hours from his body, causing pain and discomfort, from different orificies. OMG. Otherwise he feels a sort of fondness for them and is at least willing to have them near him on the BBQ he is very attentively cooking at today. It was he explains a long time ago. As though wistfully, hopefully, he might not be so affected now.
Equipment, does everyone have trouble with equipment or just Matt. It was inevitable. More later. Will he have his temperamental turntable turning. Will the Phono Amplifier, phono. I’m here, as are the rest of a group audiophiles with miling faces. The numbers have doubled from the two handfuls of audiophiles we had on the books originally.
We know we will be entertained. Matt is good at this.
Excited, all of us now have arrived at Matts place. Tempeh and carrot sandwiches, no not here. This is the place for protein from the Barbie, wine from the gourd and music from the sound system. The anticipated number of punters gather around the host as they arrive and exchange pleasantries and occasionally barbs and taunts with him. Or attempt to. I mentioned Matt is popular, don’t read easy. His eloquence and flourish with the English language will cut you down like a sabre. Be warned.
But look to be honest I don’t think anybody had great expectation for the stereo part of the equation. It is in constant development or should I call it small ‘T’ tinkering. Dave the fixer was small ‘T’ tinkering all morning before we arrived and into the afternoon. Tinkering away moving chairs two microns to the left, back to the couch. Standing on one leg and moaning towards the east, return to the couch. Mumbling in code, back to the couch. Hey Matt, he calls out, “I think I have nailed it, what do you say?” Nah it’s too bright, says Matt. Back he goes to the couch. I think he left with disgust when he found the sausages that Matt manufactured were all gone and a minor pain may have been the discovery that both the rolled edges of the drivers were torn. Matt, it is hard to find capable understanding friends. I’m only being serious Dave. Matt would like to insert and say here to David what a loyal and toiling friend you are and thanks for the tinkering……now back to the thread of the story. BTW it is sensational system at Matts…..ok now, back to the story!
Whereupon we were to learn and were smite with some idle blasphemies from Matt. Some intelligent chatter is always guaranteed from one of the masters of the language, read Matt. Unfortunately this is not to be one of those times.
Kunar arrives in the middle of this commotion. We follow Matt to a “secret location” he says. In hand he has a very ordinary plastic watering can. We disappear around the side of his house to a dry patch of gravel near the side paling fence. In the center of which is an earth peg. The alchemy is contagious, we are filming as Matt pours the liquid over the earth peg. Is he showing off? Probably. As he describes it. The music room has dedicated wiring back to the switch board. In reality the description is full of words like transformer, pure copper, electrical circuit, sequenced power interfaces, GPO’s, blah, blah, blah. The earth peg needs conductivity. Who would have thought. Kunar and I are impressed. The ground is dry you see, it hasn’t rained for days. Do I have an earth peg? No, but I’m mad for one now.
Matt would have made an excellent Druid. You remember the Druids. No. Let me remind you. The ancient Druids were individuals of high status, doctors, etc, in to religious wizardry and so on. A great ceremony on the sixth day of the moon is thus. The Druids gathered around a hard timbered old, great, large Oak Tree. A Priest arrayed in white vestments and gold chains. Takes a Golden Sickle scales the said Great Oak cuts down a Mistletoe which is caught in a White Cloak by a lessor minion. Two identical White Bulls bound by the horns are brought up and ……..well, it gets a bit bloody after this bit. And then they all have a huge banquet, music playing in the background. Sounds a bit like an afternoon at Matts place. He is in to the wizardry, the alchemy, the fractions of probability and microns of earth law that improve something in the universe or gain an edge, unattainable as it may be, to improve his stereo for the better. In this case with a not very significant looking, watering can of ordinary Melbourne water.
During the aforementioned tinkering sessions by Dave. I have a cursory gaze around the music room. It’s like a Hi Fi Store. Cables lie around massive speakers and dismembered amplifiers make intelligent litter around the room. Cables thick enough to jump start a 200 ton mining truck can trip the unwary. Boxes of Xovers are all over the floor. I inspect the CD Player. A piece of 250gsm of dog eared black cardboard sits roughly on top of the Arcam CD Player. I lift it, it is unattached and revealed underneath are the exposed circuits, CD Spinner and internal works. Why is this so I ask of Matt? Oh, he says that’s a manual loading top design. Ah yes I understand the cardboard thingy improves something. He spots my hesitation. I place a “puck” over the CD, he chortles, hmmm, interesting. Later on there is a little consternation regarding the disappearance of yet another “puck” required apparently for a different CD! Really?
It easy to find material to write about Audiophiles. Take Matt, he is a gourmet. He made a very tasty, simple, “Dally” Vegetable Stew. Ask him how! He is the first to point out some of his finest years physically may be behind him……..No! He is passionate to the point of madness, about everything. He has a fanatics collection of music both vinyl and CD, all filed and labelled. A lot of it unplayed. And required also, some would say a necessity, is a fine sense of humor, which fortunately he has in spades. Spend an afternoon in his company? Why yes, it’s a pleasure and also the material required to write about, unfolds before your very eyes.
But what about the music I hear you demanding. Yes he plays in equal measure vinyl and CD. We hear Angel Olsen, Patricia Barber, Ayers Rock(great exclamation by the punters for this one)Michael Hedges, Wings(one of my favorite tracks), Lou Reed and something called Cold Dog Soup by Guy Clark. Were you there for the fun? No. Well you could be, phone or email me for next time.
I am sure a special mention and chef badge should be awarded to Red. He not only suffered the indignity of cleaning the barbie. Chefs don’t do this stuff well. But he more than amply compensated for the owner with his cooking style, while he, the owner, was fluffing about with the guests in cool air conditioned comfort inside. Amongst the audio rabble special mention is applied to the results obtained by erection of the completely disabled Market Umbrella by Ray, Kunar, Dave and Ken. A truly magnificent feat of backyard engineering and innovation. Rachel impressed Matt greatly by her assistance in the kitchen as did Martha. I know how much effort is required to bring these extravaganzas to fruition and grateful gratitude should go to Matt for all the hours preceding this day. But spare him a thought, its Xmas, his stereo is broken. A bit!
“One of the tracks I played was Little Coloured Balloons from John Murry’s debut 2012/13 CD The Graceless Age. Almost universally, critics have heaped praise on this work and some have made comparisons with both Dylan and Cohen which I mentioned before playing it. When it finished a couple of those present said “ b..s.., that’s nothing like either Dylan or Cohen!” I’ve given what they said some thought and would like to make the following observation. Both the music critics and my audience are right.
Why? Well, when you think about it, Dylan and Cohen have this in common. When they first started recording:
· Their vocals were panned for being unmusical. Dylan with his nasal rasp and Cohen with his monotone drone
· Few people could understand their lyrics and what the songs were about due to the complexity of the lyrical images and the fact they each, in their differing ways, broke the mould. Each created a unique poetic language which we all had to learn to understand to appreciate their vision(s) of the world.
THIS, I believe is what the critics mean when they dare to link John Murry with the likes of either Dylan or Cohen. They’re not talking about similarity of style or presentation they’re talking about similarity of ‘effect’ relative to the music of the times. Someone who is ‘fresh’ in almost a revolutionary sense. A singer/songwriter who delivers his unique vision. In his case one born from the pain and suffering of addiction and an exceedingly narrow escape from death. It’s a familiar story but, in this case, both the composition and delivery differ radically from what’s out there on the air waves and need to be listened to with an open mind and ‘fresh’ ears. Otherwise it will be misunderstood.
Those of us who are old enough can clearly remember the backlash and stringent critiques both Dylan and Cohen received from both the musical establishment and the record buying public when they first appeared on the scene. Mass opinion has always favoured familiarity over radical authenticity and therefore takes considerable time and effort to shift.
John Murry’s debut album is a ‘musical convention’ breaker. It’s never going to be Top 40 but it will be enduring and influential.”
Preview YouTube video Matt Does Pop Dec 13th 2014 Mobile
Matt Does Pop Dec 13th 2014 Mobile