The problem with writing a song as killer as ‘Young Men Dead’ from The Black Angels’ first record, is that it haunts later efforts, insurmountable. But four albums in, the Austin band is so good at cranking out hard-edged psych-rock that even its second-best efforts are as cool as Ken Kesey.
The Big Issue,
It’s been five years since Beaches released their debut record. Yet the follow-up, She Beats, is defined by a crackling synergy, as though the Melbourne band’s three guitars crept off and kept jamming through the hiatus. Were a guitar to develop sentience, what would it do? Indulge in the wah and the whammy bar and bathe itself in feedback – which is what happens here.
First published in Spectrum (Sydney Morning Herald – weekend)
This is Low’s tenth LP and their twentieth year together. Milestones that, for another band of similar cult status, would spark a flare-up of hyperbolic praise. But the music of Minnesota-based trio Low doesn’t befit hyperbole.
“You know our M.O.,” says singer and guitarist Alan Sparhawk. “Slow, quiet, sometimes melancholy, sometimes pretty.” And good enough to enchant Robert Plant (he covered two songs on 2010 record Band of Joy).
Come, whoever you may be
Even if you may be an infidel, a pagan or a fire-worshipper, come
Ours is not a brotherhood of despair.
Even if you have broken your vows of repentance a hundred times, come
The vision steals your breath: five robed Sufis, heads cocked, eyes closed, arms outstretched in supplication, spinning. Seeing Turkey’s whirling dervishes is an experience of sight, sound and soul that you never forget.
Yet an authentic performance is harder to find than you might imagine. In touristy Istanbul, several cafes and restaurants have whirling dervish evenings. But while the performances have justifiably become tourist attractions, the dance is a mystical Islamic ritual with deep spiritual significance, performed as a means to reach the divine.
First published in Mess+Noise, here.
Hippies carrying pillows file into Paddington Uniting Church. An events company called My Heart Space is producing the evening and a guy in a company tee welcomes us. On a table dressed with pink candles and oil burners is a sign instructing us to ‘LIVE every moment’ and ‘LAUGH every day’. There’s a lesson about LOVE too, but a large pink heart obscures it.