30 October 2012

New Action

New Acton is often a place of edgy, civilised, arty action. Last Saturday it was Art, Not Apart. It amused me that it was described as Melbourne-like. Melbourne has such a reputation these days, and as far as I’ve seen it fits. But this is Canberra, with its intimate scale and all-ages familiarity. It’s an intelligent community, if staid, and this was a perfect, sunny day. I’d gone to check out the Afrobeats of some mates in Nyash; all jazz school trained. But there were dancers aplenty, arty markets, a short film festival, poets, graffiti walls, a range of musics and more. Nyash were great fun. How can you not groove to Afrobeat. I loved it; many danced to it; this was seriously good cheer. Just one set, of two Fela Kuti numbers, one from the Skatalites, an original, maybe another. I understood the style by seeing it live: two guitars, one strummed, one funky single note lines; busy, synocapted but constant and repeated bass; drums and cross-rhythmic percussion; some yelps and hollers; and that neat horn front line of trombone, bari and alto saxes. Lively, insistent, involving music. I’d just caught the end of Goji Berry Jam. Then there was Schwa. This was intriguing, experimental art: improvisations of double bass, chalk and dance. Chalk? Yes, chalk wall and pavement painting. All to Rohan Dasica’s improvised double bass on pizz and bow. I was not wholy convinced, but maybe that’s too much swing and melody in my mind. This was experimental. The rhythms were there but hardly grooving like the soul of Nigeria. This was not the only experimental music. A quintet taken from classical players of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra played an original set in a style something like Miles fusion accompanying a story of outback travel. I wasn’t too comfortable with this. They were certainly capable players, but it’s a different awareness from dots on pages, as were the electronics at their feet. And perhaps the words might have been more image-rich and poetic. But there was a poet, too. I heard CJ Bowerbird with several poems, and I enjoyed these immensely, even if I missed some lines. He used deceptively common language but there was musicality and also lighthearted but serious intent. Much enjoyed. Otherwise, there were scantily dressed, body-painted girls dancing (one of many sights for very many oggling cameras), markets, demos, sales, films. I saw my first 3D printer at a geek table. I drooled for crepes but forgot to return to eat some. I watched the community graphics and joined in for a short film but didn’t await the delayed start. I played with tuned bells. The sun was direct but the shadows were gentle. This was a lovely afternoon, for all ages and all indugences (and all photographers – have I ever seen so many in one place at one time?). Some oddities of contemporary arts and some inculcated grooves. Very cool.

Urban dictionary tells me that Nyash are female buttocks with personality. Its also a local Afrobeat band comprising Dan Kempers (drums), Rafael Florez (percussion), Simon Milman (bass), Jack Palmer (guitar), Matt Lustri (guitar), Sophie Chapman (trombone), Andrew Fedorivich (alto sax), Nick Combe (baritone sax). The event was Art, Not Apart. CJ Bowerbird poetised, Schwa improvised and an ensemble taken from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra memorised; Alison and Jamie were were colourised then mobilised; Goji Berry Jam extemporised. Schwa comprised Rohan Dasica (double bass) with Adelina Larsson (dance) and David Keany (chalk). Everyone photographed.

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