By Chris Mineral
Two clear examples of the symbiotic relationship between art and music could be found in a couple of art galleries in the CBD.
During lockdown 2.0 many people had the time to listen to and organise their vinyl record collections. One album that got mentioned and rated well was Lou Reed’s Transformer from the early 1970s that he recorded in London. Some consider it one of the pivotal albums of his career with such great songs as Satellite Of Love and Perfect Day.
Sue Beyer’s recent art exhibition at fortyfivedownstairs gallery in Flinders Lane was entitled Transformer.
A collection of vivid colourful geometric paintings, a patchwork quilt of intense colours, an abstract graffiti inspired vivid coloured video installation and a wall of mirrors painted in bright colours with finger traces of graffiti. The colours and feel of Sue Beyer’s Transformer are grandiose and generous. Much like the sentiment of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day.
One song that was popular among many musos in Melbourne during Lockdown 2.0 was Dolly Parton’s impromptu performance in an Irish pub of A Coat of Many Colours. It was an incredible performance where she sang the song with the local Irish band that she had never met before. A great delivery of a song; check it out on YouTube.
The second example of music consciously/unconsciously influencing art could be found in February 2021 at the magnificent Arc One Gallery Space located in Flinders Lane Melbourne. The artist Pat Brassington’s latest show at Arc One was entitled Night Swimming.
Night Swimming is a song from REM’s 1992 album Automatic For The People. It is a song that Michael Stipe already had the lyrics to. When he heard Mike Mills play the circular riff on the piano, he told him to play it again and let rip the complete Night Swimming song. Jaws were dropping in the studio. Night Swimming is all about memory and nostalgia.
A songwriter similar to Stipe is Something For Kate’s (SFK’s) Paul Dempsey. Very Cormac McCarthy in his lyrical depth and drive. Intense lyrical wordplay, very wry, maybe not as cryptic as REM. The new SFK album The Modern Mediaeval is a ripper and is getting a lot of airplay on the radio and is being played in cafes bars and car stereos. SFK had a very active presence during lockdown 2.0. At one stage Paul Dempsey teamed up with Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning to perform the Queen/David Bowie song Under Pressure.
The multi-talented Caroline Kennedy from Dead Star epitomises the creative type that can transcend multiple fields in the artistic realm.
For many the apogee for the band Dead Star was their absolute sublime performance of their major song Deeper Water on the Network Ten late night variety show The Panel. This was a pure zeitgeist moment in many share households around Melbourne.
As well as being a great singer, the charismatic Caroline Kennedy is a compelling visual artist, using blocks of colours, imaginary doorways stairs stars in a distinctive style. Sidney Nolan meeting Mark Rothko.
Preceding the chicane of snap lockdown 3.0, many bands had returned to the live scene, absolutely fired up and raring to go, like a nitrous oxide fuel injected funny car at Calder Park back in the ‘80s. As part of Melbourne Music Week Extended, the band High Tension played a phenomenal gig at Max Watts on Swanston St. People were cheering them on and were impressed with how tight the band was playing, as if they had been gigging all the way through lockdown 2.0. This was as exhilarating as watching Nature Strip fangin’ it over 1000 metres down the Flemington straight to win the 2021 Black Caviar Lighting Stakes the day before Valentine’s Day.
Marsden Williams and 245T were back rehearsing, check this band out, they are like a cross between Royal Truck, Gram Parsons and Gimme Shelter Stones. An awesome bunch of musos, they are based around that Muscle Shoals Record Store. This is the band Alain Delon would watch in his first year at the Sorbonne. Very rock and roll.