Archive for June, 2012

World Refugee Day Protest @ Town Hall – 24/6/2012

World Refugee Day was last weekend, and so there were two rallies to mark the occasion. I attended the Sunday rally. I arrived a little bit early, and just after I arrived a band started playing. So I recorded them.

12 min 23 sec / 17 MB / 192 kbps
Ember is a 3-piece band fronted by Mohsen Soltani, an Iranian refugee, who reads his poetry and plays an instrument whose name I do not know. Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of at least one song/poem. Also, while I was recording a group of Acehnese men gathered near me and started talking loudly, so as well as Ember and their music you can also listen to the sound of Acehnese men speaking Acehnese and English.

The Riff Raff Radical Marching Band were also in attendance playing their repertoire that ranges from Pokerface to Bella Ciao to Killing in the Name Of. But I did not record them.

For more information on refugee issues and actions check out Refugee Action Coalition Sydney.

Nara, where did you go?

So, a few of my good friends have started working on a documentary of Street Art in Western Sydney (see: Deep Corridors) and it got me thinking back to 2007, a time when Oatley had its own playful and mischievous stencil artist. I think their name was ‘nara’, but it’s a little hard to tell.

By the time I was in Year 12, sleeping became more important than the public transport social, so I spent most mornings in the car with my mum (who also attended the same school), hijacking her CD player and car sound system with the sounds of more acceptable punk bands such as Defiance, Ohio. In art class one morning, a friend told me about a big piece of street art on the wall just outside the entrance of Oatley train station. She described it as huge stencil of a person (doing something, that five years of time has caused me to forget) with the words “Bow your head to no one”  scribbled next to it. A few days later, I went down to the train station to take a picture. Unfortunately I had arrived too late. The piece had been painted over, however the outline of the words could still be made out.

Further up the hill, toward Georges River College, just before you get to the one lane bridge that connects Oatley to the rest of the world, there was another piece. This one not so explicitly anti-authoritarian, but more playful and cute, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why it had stayed up for a lot longer.

There was at least one more piece by ‘nara’. It was in Penshurst, along Railway Parade. A few bricks of a wall had been painted gold. On top of these golden bricks were perched the silhouettes of a few birds. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of this piece.

Since finishing school in November 2007, I haven’t been back in Oatley or surrounding areas such as Mortdale and Penshurst. I have no idea if any of these pieces still exist or if more pieces have appeared in the streets since then.

The Birds Outside Casula Train Station

The Birds Outside Casula Train Station
1 min 35 sec / 2.18 MB / 192 kbps MP3

I went to Casula train station for the first time yesterday. I went out that way to go to Casula Powerhouse for an Acehnese dancing workshop which was part of No Added Sugar exhibition of Australian Muslim women artists.

I arrived at the train station a little bit late, but there was this sound I needed to record. I couldn’t work it out at first. I thought it was coming from the train. Maybe the sound of the wheels on the tracks or a sound made by the electrical wires. But when the train left the sound was still there. I came assumed that I was surrounded by many birds that I couldn’t see, but I could hear them. Surrounded birds sitting in different directions and distances away from my ears, all making the same sound. There was some amazing delay plus reverb surround sound thing going on.

And, sorry about the extra sounds made by things touching the recorder while trying to make the recording. Also, I have no idea what kind of birds these are.

Yayli Tanbur in Central Tunnel

Yayli Tanbur in Central Tunnel
3 min 49 sec / 5.24 MB / 192 kbps MP3

Last night I was on my usual Friday night walk from Sydney Uni to Central when I started to hear the sound of a bowed instrument reverberating through Central tunnel. I thought it must have been the old Chinese man who sometimes sits at Town Hall playing erhu, or the guy who busks in Newtown with something that might be a morin khuur. As I got closer I saw that it was neither of them. A man was sitting, playing an instrument that I’d never seen before.

I walked past him. At the entrance to the station I checked my train time and found out I had a twelve minute wait for the next all stops to Campbelltown. So I decided I’d waste the time by retracing my steps and find out what the instrument was. Fortunately, the man had stopped playing to re-tune whatever the long-necked thing sitting on his lap was, so starting a conversation was relatively simple.

He told me that he was playing a Turkish instrument called a Yayli Tanbur. I’d never heard of it, and I pretended that I’d remember the name. He introduced himself as Zane Lazos and told me he’s from America but is currently travelling down the east coast of Australia – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Armidale. Armidale seemed an odd choice amongst the obvious east coast destinations but I soon found out that there’s a man named Peter Biffin who builds and invents instruments similar to the yayli tanbur – and he lives in Armidale.

I asked if I could record him playing a piece and he gave his permission. Here is a short recording of him playing, complete with a backing track of footsteps, winter coughs, a lot of chatter and some “overhead train track sub-bass”. If you want to hear what Zane does with his yayli tanbur, without the ambience of Central tunnel on a Friday night, there’s a few recordings that you can check out on his website.