with Dr Matt
Matt Hill is a musician and music teacher living in Dunoon. He teaches at a variety of places in the area including from home (private guitar/keyboard students), at Whian Whian Primary School, at Lismore Conservatorium and at SCU in the contemporary music course. He plays in a number of bands in the area including Red Belly Black and Warm Keep Warm. His album “Warm Keep Warm” won ‘album of the year’ at this year’s Dolphin Awards.
Matt is our new resident music doctor (and he really is a doctor – he has a doctorate in music), reviewing recordings or live performances of artists in the region. His articles will include music making tips based on aspects of the music he is reviewing. Some of this will be fairly technical but knowing the numbers of musicians we have in our communities, I’m sure it will be appreciated. For the rest of us who aren’t so up on musical technique, well, we might just learn something new! Matt aims to review local artists and to foster the spread of creative ideas for music making.
Welcome to Matt and here is his first review for the VJ.
Greg Sheehan: The Life of My Times
(Distributed by Vitamin Records)
In what must surely be one of the richest regions in Australia for musical prowess Greg Sheehan manages to loom large. His technical facility is immense but technique alone doesn’t make interesting music. More important is his idiosyncratic approach to music making which is captured with great clarity on this new album. Greg utilises a veritable smorgasbord of sound making devices including children’s toys, tambourines, Vietnamese jaws harp, electric guitars, jerry cans, body percussion, vocals and the Swiss instrument the Hang (pronounced ‘hung’). The latter is utilised on the haunting and hypnotic opening track “Laura”. (The pitched notes of this piece are C, D, Eb, G and Ab – for the musicians out there, go try improvising something with those notes and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed).
For many years Greg has explored an additive approach to rhythms whereby odd beat groupings are added together to form longer rhythmic cycles. For example in “Paw Paw” a 32 beat cycle is divided into beat grouping of 9, 9, 9 and 5. In the wonderful “Gring”, 32 beats are divided in groups of 11, 11 and 10 (helped along by a doofy kick drum at times). On the CD cover Greg provides rhythm notes for each track. It can be challenging to actually hear how some of these rhythms are realised, particularly with the multiple layers of sounds - I’m still struggling with the 7, 7, 1 combination that gives a 15/16 time signature in “Strange Fruits”. However, I find the playful and comfortable way Greg navigates these complex rhythms overcomes any sense that this is just an intellectual exercise.
This music has rich percussive textures that traverse worldly-folk-hip-hop-fusion genres. For those of you who have had the pleasure of hearing him play, imagine Greg Sheehan playing with a few other Greg Sheehans and you start to get the idea.