Melbourne – A Musical Montage

I’ve always been passionate about music – which feels like kind of a cliched thing to say; seems nearly everyone’s a music lover these days – but perhaps one difference about my love for it is that listening to music is not just a passive experience for me, but an intrinsically creative process. I don’t just absorb songs and let them relax me or hype me up; my mind actually plays out, without any real forethought, a vivid cinematic clip to accompany the music that I enjoy. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting down and meticulously drawing the robots that I believed composed and sang Kraftwerk’s ‘Die Roboter’. By the time I was a teenager, whethering listening to Chopin’s piano concertos or Prodigy’s Music for the Jilted Generation, my mind would storyboard entire sequences that would play in synch with the music – private psychedelic reels, to quote the Chemical Brothers, that I’d revisit every time I sat down and lost myself in a particular track.

Which isn’t quite what I’ve done here, but it’s a start.

The idea to create a YouTube clip came to me less than a week ago, but as happens with certain creative brainwaves, the moment I thought of it I felt compelled to get it done as soon as possible. I was amazed I’d never thought of it before and knew straightaway what I’d do – a combination of text and photography celebrating the weird and wonderful beauty of inland Australia, an expression of my pagan and patriotic nature, set to Solar Fields’ 8-minute track ‘Summer’. But I figured I’d better start with something shorter & simpler first – a sort of practise run to familiarize myself with the free software I’d downloaded – and after burning the midnight oil for the last three nights, that practise run is finished. The result is Melbourne – A Musical Montage.

I’ve always had this idea that music can be divided into two basic categories: daytime and night-time. Music for the Jilted Generation, for example, is very much a night-time album, while its successor Fat of the Land is very daytime. Seeing as my Australiana clip is going to be almost completely ‘daytime’ – full of vibrant colours and sunscorched landscapes – I decided to make its predecessor a night-time clip… and few songs are more night-time, or indeed more Melbourne, than Sander van Doorn’s Bliksem.

To get back to my opening paragraph, the first time I heard Bliksem, images of Melbourne’s CBD late at night immediately played through my head. With its combination of stone/wrought-iron Gothic architecture, looming alongside cloud-scraping steel towers with black-tinted windows, Melbourne has a distinct Gotham City atmosphere that’s beautifully complimented by the song. Bliksem itself represents the kind of trance that I love – dark and brooding, slightly epic, and stirring emotions more subtle and complex than the braindead euphoria most commercial trance is geared for. Starting off as a deep, sombre hum, it begins to pulsate with a contemporary rhythm offset by unusual Baroque-style chords, resulting in a very Melburnian mix of modern and Old World vibes, heavily imbued with the mystery and melancholia of night. It also lends the song a somewhat ambivalent, bittersweet quality that encapulsates my own feelings towards Melbourne: a city I both love and loathe, but that in the end I recognize as my home, the place I grew up in and have gone out and dated and worked in countless times, and whose shady laneways and brightly lit boulevards I’m familiar with in a way no other place in the world can share.

So without any further ado, here it is – my very first video clip, painstakingly sourced and and lovingly arranged, celebrating our unique waterfront city in all of its haunting and colourful glory.

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TWTWB: The Soundtrack It Should’ve Had

One of the things that interests me most about cinema is the use of music to enhance the atmosphere or energy of certain scenes.  Of course some films work fine without musical backing – like The Magician, a favourite of mine also based and produced in Australia – but I felt Tomorrow, When The War Began should’ve had a diverse and epic soundtrack, powerfully reminiscent of the book’s period, setting and youthful spirit. A few memorable ‘music sequences’ is something that could’ve made the movie a much more stirring and evocative experience, even with all of the acting and directing flaws intact, and its absence is one of the reasons it fell flat for me. Of course the film did feature some music but with the absence of Homer’s ‘theme song’ (when he’s first presented in that over-the-top cop shop skit), it was either very generic rock – an obvious attempt to inject some ‘teen cool’ into the movie – or a repetitive synthetic beat, designed to build suspense, which would’ve been perfect for a techno thriller like Inception but sounded too industrial against footage of rural Australian houses, making me far too conscious of it.

Of course it’s one thing to merely criticize and another to put forward solutions, so here’s the soundtrack for TWTBT as I imagine it. I’d suggest just listening to rather than watching the links provided, so that you can appreciate the music on its own terms and picture it in the intended context.

Opening credits – Smashing Pumpkins – 1979

Singing along in the 4WD on the way to Hell – Bloc Party – One Month Off

Hiking through Australian landscape into Hell – Icehouse – Great Southern Land

Discovering the clearing in Hell – Dan Gibson – Kookaburra

Wirrawee Showgrounds/preparations for Show Day – Connie Francis – Everybody Somebody’s Fool

Discovery of Wirrawee’s fate – Synaesthesia – Surface System

Occupied Wirrawee by night/approaching the Showgrounds – Aphex Twin – Spots

Romantic rapport with Lee – Sophie B. Hawkins – As I Lay Me Down

Preparing to blow up the bridge – Aes Dana – Onset Data

Return to Hell + credits – Enigma – Return To Innocence