Silhouettes and shadows

By Chris Mineral

Penny Ikinger’s third album Tokyo has arrived via Melbourne-label Off The Hip Records and it is a ripper. 

Ikinger, who has been moonlighting in trumpeter Jack Howard’s Epic Brass has teamed up with Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman guitarist) and a bunch of psychedelic musos from Japan.

Tokyo is superb, with overdriven, reverb-drenched guitars, dramatic wild-west vignettes and songs influenced by Sam Shepherd, Patti Smith, Marianne Faithfull and Cormac McCarthy.

On Thursday, September 6, Ikinger with The Silver Bells performed a majority of songs from Tokyo on Michael Mulholland’s excellent Junkyard radio show on 3PBS. They played live in Studio 5. 

Part of a set list:  Gin No Suzu/ Tokyo City/ Ride On Cowboy/ Southern Man/ Tsunami/ Get Away Car – many great heart songs. 

Ikinger has a Gargantua and Pantagruel feel in her vocal delivery – poison berry Zelda-esque, imbued with a Francois Villon sensibility and a real Motor City rock vibe.

I recall Ikinger singing a compelling Maid of Orleans at the Builders Arms Hotel. Ikinger songs have a great capacity for building momentum. They are songs about silhouettes and shadows …

She tips her hat to the magnificent Chrissy Amphlett by including on the Japanese version of Tokyo (Kerosene Records) an extra song, a cover version of Divinyls Boys In Town. Amphlett, of course, interviewed Ikinger on the Electra documentary. In terms of sonic textural DNA, the start of Beasts of Bourbon’s Something to Lean On from their Low Road album is a true signpost for Penny Ikinger’s music.

On September 4, two pianists from the Australian National Academy Music (ANAM) performed a program of Claude Debussy’s music at Scots Church, on the corner of Russell and Collins streets, as part of a musical matinee series. 

Maggie Pang opened proceedings with the Suite Bergamasque. There are four movements here, and the third Claire de Lune would be most familiar to listeners.

Titled after a Paul Verlaine poem and in 9/8 meter, Pang was supreme in the pianissimo sections. Sublime. 

Composed by Debussy in 1890, the year the great Carbine won the Melbourne Cup, and published in 1905, the third movement’s original title was Promenade Sentimentale.

Jennifer Yu followed, performing Danseuses de Delphes and Voiles and she had the scope, facility, firepower and temperament to produce scintillating fireworks on the keyboard. Both pianists concluded the program with Printemps for piano for four hands. 

Debussys inspiration for Printemps was the Sandro Botticelli painting Primavera (1482) via a Jules Barbier poem. The orchestral version by The Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez is worth listening to. 

In the church there were not two pianos together, like Ferrante and Teicher, but one piano with Pang and Yu sitting together. Their hands were weaving above and below one another in intricate, well-choreographed movements. 

The coda sounded like two mountaineers racing one another – rushing up a Swiss mountain. Delightful. The ANAM musicians are the best of the up-and-coming classical musicians and are always entertaining.

Melbourne’s astral progressive space rock machine, Alithia has just released its new album The Moon Has Fallen and some say it is the best material yet. They have a cult following in France and Eastern Europe and their tribal rock is worth investigating. Catch them if you can before they head overseas again.

Every year, the first words of Melbourne International Arts Festival come from those who have carried this land’s stories the longest – the First Peoples of Melbourne.

Tanderrum is a ceremony bringing together the Wurundjeri/Woiwurrung, Boon Wurrung, Taungurung, Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung language groups of the Eastern Kulin Nation – a ceremony of celebration that reaches across Aboriginal time. 

It is a welcome ceremony for the artists, audience and the community of the Melbourne International Arts festival. It is happening on Wednesday, October 3 at Federation Square.

Gigs/Shows

Wednesday, October 3 – Tanderrum, Federation Square 

Sunday arvos in October – Blues sessions at Cherry Bar

Saturday, September 6 – Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Forum Theatre

Sunday, October 7 – Jen Cloher, Melbas – Spiegeltent

Max Headroom Archive, Spencer P Jones Show – 3RRR

Friday, October 26 – Shapeshifter (NZ) – 170 Russell

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