More Mona!

More memories are coming back to me now about the show that flew past my ears on the night like bats in the dark. (I wonder where those memories were hiding until now?)
Faces in the front rows, to bodies in bean bags, to musicians looking to me for musical cues that I apparently knew and must have transmitted well…judging by the outcome.
This show has taken more pre and post work than anything else…ever!…but WOW, wasn’t it worth it?!
Enjoy the media as it trickles on out of the files. First photographs, then sound, then…aah yes…the film crew. What did they see?

10 boxes in my kitchen

…and all of them full of goodness to share.

The new album has arrived, looking and sounding just like we’d planned.

What a relief!

With the show this weekend, I hope we can deliver on the promise we’ve made you all. That being a new sound with a new presentation, in a new space on old instruments.

Sound good yes?

I will be.

Thanks so much to all the people who have been a part of this wonderful journey with Al and myself to this pointy point. We treasure your enthusiasm, advice critical appraisal and damnation all with the same intensity that we would take a kiss from a lover on the neck. That is to say, we have cared about what we have made and we care about what you feel.

Thank you so much.


On to MONA. How busy are you?

Time gets away doesn’t it?
You know that.
The best greeting I’ve heard yet is someone saying first “So, how busy are you?”
Cuts to the chase.
We’re all busy, some more than others. Either the world has sped up and we’re all busier, or we’ve ac-rewed poor time management skills which means we’re not getting as much done any more due to…distractions?!?!?!
You bet!

But here, I have mislaid my best intentions of spewing forth my workings to this page. A long time has passed and now I see the difference in my work since the last entry.
Tonight, I await the mail tomorrow which should bring with it CD’s bearing my name and that of the Arco Set. It’s release time! The show for release is this Saturday in the belly of MONA.
It’s the most ambitious solo thing to date for me and my family. The scale of it is awesome and frightening. 17 people in a world class room with a camera crew, a live audience and the absolute need to sell as many of these CD’s as god made flies to pay it off.

It will work.

It’s dangerous.

So it can’t fail.

Only the brave get ahead. Or the squeaky wheels.

This is bravery and my crew are awesome for following me into the darkness.

Arco Set. The Album.

The premiss for working exclusively with strings over a band is a fine idea: until you try to explain it. It sounds at first exotic, new, unique and many other adjectives around a creative step away from convention. But then, is it really that different?

Inspired by his performance of the Juliet Letters for the first MONA FOMA in 2009, Dean decided to re-arrange his own back catalogue of songs away from the band, and into the hands of a string quartet. Late nights of writing and exploring this new beast came to reality in Tasmania’s Amplified Festival the following year. It worked. And it rang a bell in Dean’s creative room that began an extensive journey towards this sound.

MONA FOMA the following year invited Dean to play again and this time a full new work was written for the event called The Cloud Suite: A 4 movement piece for voice, chamber orchestra and noise that crystallised Dean’s vision of the Arco Set direction.

The next year saw Dean, with producer Al Future, record the Arco Set for a full album of songs plus the Cloud Suite. This album showcased Dean’s melodic song writing and his ability to adapt grooves and rhythms into the string section, exploring contemporary song forms within the classical instrumentation.

The full album is available through iTunes and CDBaby.

What happens when you do this?

Well, it sometimes happens. I sit down, or I’m driving, or eating…or anything really and a notion comes to me. A notion of soaring strings and a grand canyon of a musical idea that will hold the world at it’s feet and make all the mean people weep. But when pen meets paper (or digital means meet), what comes out is…’River with you’. A song that cries for a banjo to get it into the hearts and feet of bluegrass dance halls the world over. What happened?!?!
This I cannot explain, but the song exploded from my head and I could barely keep the pen (and Sibelius) moving fast enough to catch it.
My advice to writers of any kind…’don’t fight it’. when its coming that fast, its for a good reason and who are you to stop it? In fact you are the catcher and you MUST catch it. That is the responsibility of your craft. A gift, if you like. Sometimes a burden, but always a gift.
‘River with you’ is a dark tale of obsession and control, not autobiographical at all, but a story that is worth telling. The song is about someone who is alone, confined to a sinking ship (metaphorically) and unable to get off. My favorite line is “my stalemate sail mate till the end”. A sad resignation of one who has lost courage, but sings about it with such passion.
And how good does it sound with a choir? Thanks to all who were there.

The planting of a Pear Tree

This evening finds me in front of a canvas (so to speak) that is filling up with dots. Music.
I have named it, before I began, ‘Pear Tree’. I did this with my winter pear tree in mind, the one in my back yard that I wish to write about and write under. Now of course I wonder, what would the pear tree sound like? Is this music really the tree’s or mine. Upon answering ‘mine’, I press on and make the sounds ‘I’ want to make.
These sounds are fun, bold and it is my winter music.
I have a show in two weeks whereon my Arco set, accompanied by a choir, will need these notes to sing, bow, strum and beat. I’m sure it will be fine…and on time.

Here in a Hobart winter, I intend to write many things yet unwritten. Adventures in music I wish to take both myself, my ensembles and my audience with. I don’t take the responsibility lightly. You, if you are an audient, deserve the respect of an equal member of every performance. We all show up and we take something home. I trust you take something that helps you to understand a little more. This is not an arrogant claim of ‘knowledge to bestowed’, but lighting the hour in which we all meet and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, deliberately, intentionally.
I hope we all meet there soon. My winter Viking songs await!