Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Orator sounds....

a week ago Hinemoana and i went to see The Orator (O Le Tulafale) by Tusi Tamasese. There has been a lot of buzz about this film and we were really keen to see it because of this but also because the sound design and music had been done by Tim Prebble. I follow Tim - he is one of the few twittery tweeters who's tweets come direct to my phone so i get to see his day to day thoughts and workings on sound design and whatever else is of interest to him. Tim is an amazing blogger - his site Music of Sound is posted regularly and contains all things sound from the internet that are of interest to him, and as if he hasn't got enough to do, he has created a new site Music for films. Tim has done sound design in numerous films - most recent examples include Boy and Home by Christmas. From what I've seen of him through his work and writings, he has a minimalist aesthetic, a high attention to detail, a love of a wide range music and sound. 

In much the same way that i delighted in following blog snippets during the making of the Radiohead album In Rainbows before savouring the final product, i was able to follow Tim's bloggings about his field recordings for the film so it gave me an added bonus feeling of having been there in just a small way in the creative process leading up to the finished product.

because of all this, i was determined to pay special attention to sound design aspects of the film - this could be detrimental to the viewing of a film but i decided to trust that the story would hold up even though i was viewing with one eye on the story and one on the sound so to speak.

i really enjoyed this viewing approach and it didnt take away from the experience at all - The Orator is a strong story which is beautiful in every aspect - visually, in sound/story and acting.

i won't say too much about the story itself except to say that it addresses some powerful themes around relationship estrangement, forgiveness, courage, vulnerability, isolation (physical/psychological) stubborness, ritual and more besides. it is a film that stays with you in that it is multi-layered. hinemoana and i had a lengthy conversation all the way home about different aspects of the film. i highly recommend it.

i am not a film reviewer by any means but wanted to note the various sound design elements that were a highlight for me - this is also a week later so they will obviously be the ones that have really stuck!

  • Atmosphere - because of my concentrated listening i gained a lot more appreciation of the role of general sound background in creating a sense of place and atmosphere. these were numerous and included the sounds of wildlife - both near and fact the distant sounds (dogs, chickens) added to the sense of separation that was experienced by the main protagonists as they were, either through choice or in punishment, banished from normal village life. the echoing animals added to this sense of distance and detachment from normal village life.
  • Voices - this same effect was created many times by the use of distant and off-camera voices which either taunted the main characters or provided another contrasting joyful and communal sound to contrast the isolation they were experiencing. it was a fabulous tool in that often we would hear these off camera voices but wouldn't see them. this added to the sense of disconnection and loneliness and we got to experience it too.
  • Change of shot = change of sound (sometimes) - this is kind of obvious but the realisation of the attention to detail required in every shot came through very early in the film. There was a very dstinctive shot which was upward looking through holes in large leaves through to the sky. from memory the sound was that of general landscape (air, animals, wind etc) - what was interesting was that the next shot was of the dirt and the sound changed right at edit point to reflect really was like if you're standing in a bush and then you duck down, the sound of the atmosphere becomes muted and the bass frequencies more prominent.
  • multiple places interelated - one of my favourite sound design elements was in a climactic part of the movie. a lot of powerful elements were coming together in the thought processes of multiple characters, so the edits were moving more quickly between them - from Saili cutting yam plants to his wife Vaaiga who  rapidly declining in health, to shots of the Ifoga (offending party seeking forgiveness). the sounds used reflected what was happening on screen but were used against different visuals - eg. from memory the sounds of the machete cutting came in early before the actual shot and maybe against images of the Ifoga or Vaaiga's face....conversely Vaaiga's laboured breathing appeared over shots of Saili thinking. this was a powerful device for me as it served to link together metaphorically the destinies of the characters and illustrated that whatever decisions they were making or processes they were going through were each going to affect them relative to each other and as a community.
  • sound to emphasise dialogue - another scene that captivated me sound-wise was when Vaaiga is reprimanding her daughter...she says 'my words are going be emblazoned on your mind' or something to that effect. as she says this the sound of distant dogs barking appears which, to my mind, emphasised the 'doggedness' of Vaaiga's determination that her daughter should never forget this the way that dogs barking in the distance can be a form of aural torture - so were these words going to be. at the same time another processed sound appeared that reminded me of a distant choir of altered voices.
  • soundtrack - i didn't realise til the conclusion of the movie that Tim was responsible although i should have been able to tell from the subtlety of it...i can't remember what the source material of the score was and i think this is a good thing - Tim has put up excerpts of it for us to listen to or download here. i have chosen not to listen to it while writing this as my response here is based on memory. whatever the sound source was - the remarkable thing about the score is that there was no discernible melody - in fact the score could almost have been linked with the sound seemed to be mixed in with it - not separate from or out front of but a sound design device itself.
    this was truly a stunning film, exquisitely paced - slowed down to the speed of life you could say...immersive, restrained and powerful.
     thanks too Tim for sharing your skills and experiences with us.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

sCratchings aND duMpiNgs

i have woken in the small hours of morning to another itch-fest and thoughts about the oil spill in the Bay of cat is expecting an early feed and is staring at me wide-eyed around the corners of the table.

i woke as per usual these past four months only this time four hours after going to sleep, not two - and this time decided to try and curb the incessant itching by reading so i grabbed an old favourite from the shelf "Original Blessing" by Matthew Fox and mentally chose a page number - 96.

"...King Yahweh preserves creation and sustains it by being a just king. Justice preserves creation  and makes it thrive and blossom in ever fertile ways...

Say among the nations, 'Yahweh is King...Firm has he made the world, and unshakeable; he will judge each nation with strict justice. Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice. Let the sea thunder and all that it holds...(Psalm 96:10)

...God, Creator and King, has entrusted humans the needs of the creation and its preservation.....It was the work of the prophets to constantl confront the kings when they failed - as they so often did - at carrying on creation by way of preservation and justice-making"

(Original Blessing pages 96 and 97)

once again i am challenged at my lack of outrage given the events of the spill - my cat's eyes are still imploring me for food but he has resigned himself to more of a sit-in/occupation response!

i have often been slow towards verbal outrage and often even the feelings of outrage - it must be in some ways a form of my phlegmatic nature - whilst slow to anger it is certainly deeply felt when it arises.

the oil spill is a gutting and tragic event there can be no doubt - i am fortunate in that i am currently not on the beach staring at the waves of black coming in. my partners father lives in Matata so i have grown to love the wildness of that beach - the particular way in which the great swelling waves come right up to shore and then dump suddenly downwards - it is a difficult sea to get out in for a swim as it is a short trajectory from standing on the shore to being in the deep water. Hamu the dog has spent many an afternoon pacing the beach and barking in concern for his dad's safety. Val is a diver and we have gone across the bar with him - he talks about the country down there - it is most probably his first home and the house he lives in his second...

so to think of that whole area covered in black slick is gutting.

in the quiet of the night when my mind races as fast as my skin irritates me, i have had many thoughts about what i feel and think about the tragedy and if i can regrasp some of those thoughts they will appear here in a somewhat stream of consciousness form i'm sure...

like it or not, we have all benefited and live in a world that has been driven by fossil fuels - the navy boats that have been sent to assist in the oil salvage operations have been powered by oil to get to their destination alongside the Rena. Hinemoana's friend who works in the assessment of possible oil drilling sites has on occaision reminded her that the scope of the oil industry is far greater than what we immediately perceive...did he say it even relates to computing and other modern technologies - did i get that right?

my cat has just chirped at me - he thinks i'm getting up - i'm just changing position...he feigns disinterest 'i'm just cleaning myself here...nearby....very near...with one eye on the bowl'...

it does now seem like a very antiquated way of transporting goods - now that we see it in all it's glory...some very run-down looking over-sized barge overladen with huge containers - it all looks very precarious now that it is on a 6 degree, 11 degree, 22 degree list...

in a curious way, it has made me mindful of all the tonnes and tonnes of goods that have made its way in and out of the country for days and weeks and months and reminds me of when my flatmate Fe used to give thanks for our food and she would bless the truck-drivers and the people who grew the food etc...sometimes these disasters, while dotting our newspapers frequently, remind me of the many myriads of ways that humans make things and make things happen and build things and move things and fix things and deliver things and transport things without makes me thankful on a level for the creativity and resourcefulness of humans....but yes, there is that thing about justice and co-operating with the earth...a town that has built itself economically on the back of its port is now in shock that it too can suffer at the hands of industry much as it has witnessed overseas - we are not about those All Blacks.

my cat has now repositioned himself so that his body is full on facing in the direction of the mecca bowl...

i have had to relent and feed him as i needed a toilet stop and he was just going to meow and protest and create i have silenced him with food.

my own microcosmic universe has been having its own toxic dumping - four months of being over-run with eczema - a benign sounding but rather unpleasant affliction and one which the health books and Chinese/Indian philosophies say is the result of too much taxing of the cleansing organs. with nowhere to go and being clogged with more than they can handle, they have unceremoniously dumped toxins out through the skin and like shoreline slavage it clears and reappears and clears and reappears...

at times like this we are forced in a way to consider what our life has been like and what it will be like from here on in...this is difficult enough as an individual to think about - what am i willing to change to make my life better in the future? is a massive undertaking for a global community especially one where it seems that the ones affected least are often the ones holding the cards...but we all get to decide how we can be stewards of the planet, of how we can move towards tino rangatiratanga and co-creation with the planet...i have no doubt that a newer, better way will be found...its a matter of when and how much it will be reactionary and desparate last measures...

through my experimentations with eating raw - i'm well aware that it is easier to make such a change when it is thought of as expansion, as adding to a pleasurable life - rather than taking's pretty hard to make drastic changes cold-turkey unless the stakes are high sometimes - though i have read of some people for whom going raw became a natural transition and one that felt better than what was previously lived.

wouldn't it be nice if we found new ways of harnessing energy that felt expansive and beneficial and exciting and not merely a knee-jerk reaction to catastrophe...humans need a good bit of catastrophe sometimes - it humbles us and reminds us of our place and gives us renewed vision.

i am grateful for the ways in which the body can rejuvenate (and i'm counting on it!), i'm grateful for the ways in which the earth rebalances and corrects itself...i'm so sorry for all the birds and fish that have suffered from this tragedy and from the fallout of our activities...i'm grateful that the earth is the supreme self-healer.

the kaumatua says there was too much hui and not enough do-ey...quite possibly

i feel a little weary now and i'm sure i had some amazing thoughts in the dead of night that i can't quite access now...another time another time... 

"see them mining for that precious black gold
it burns with desire and leaves a mark on your soul
see them drilling without asking why
pretty soon we'll see those toxins fly...

and you - why won't you tell me what makes you happy
why do we have to dredge it up until we're left with nothing".

(from song Easy composed by CW)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

'spaghetti and meatballs'

ok - so the raging debate in our household is whether raw food recipes (which are pretty much vegetarian) should give themselves names from the 'meat or cooked food world'. actually it's not really a raging debate - i am clearly in the minority - the other two believe these recipes should drop the 'trying-to-be-like-something-they're-not' and sell themselves for what they really are - delicious food from raw fruit/veges...i guess it's kinda like the-artist-formerly-known-as....scenario.

i'm ok with the old names - it makes me feel somewhat 'normal' and if i have a hankering for some old taste or texture then the recipe names give me something to go on...and there's only so many times you can say mushroom/onion/carrot/celery/nut mixture formed into delicious patties and dehydrated!

hence tonight's dinner - spaghetti and meatballs from the rawmazing blog

i tell you - the artist formally known as 'meatballs' are amazing!!

we'll see what rating the household give this dish....

rAw....the relevance of iTchy skiN in a sOund blOg

so for the second time in the last 7 years, i've had a major outbreak of eczema - major because it has been both sudden and widespread. i had eczema as a kid and patches of it in adult life (nothing i wasn't used to) but 6 years ago, after working myself to the ground and contracting a virus, the eczema appeared and spread right over my body - after trying to treat naturally, i ended up in hospital with skin wraps and potassium baths, and emerged like i'd been in a beauty parlour.

this time, the occurence was quick and fairly widespread, and, although i've had ten days of the steroid prednizone, i'm more determined and, i think, more able to succesfully treat it naturally.

this time, i'm reminded that this may not be a one-off scenario, but something i need to pay attention to - my health is now more precious to me and something i want to proactively nurture. 

eczema for me is more than itchy skin - as Hinemoana's friend Kate said 'there is nobility in rising above pain, but not much nobility in rising above itching'...but, having this severity a second time around, i'm aware of all that it is - a chronic feeling of unwellness, soreness, low energy, cold, vulnerability to weather and temperature - at the moment i function best between 10am and 8pm...sleeplessness (my partner is currently sleeping in the next room to escape the night scratches (and dreaming about running off with David Bowie so i really do need to get a handle on the eczema fast!)

but now i also want to see the eczema as a gift - and particularly this time around, it seems that every inclination i've had towards healing has been intuited and then confirmed by my readings/learnings. i am grateful to the people who have documented their journeys and learnings and so feel it is my time to do the same - to be more open about my goings on.

this blog was intended as a sound blog and it will continue to be one, but it will incorporate other areas of interest that have remained hidden for fear that i may be a hippie-new-age freak. 

the first learnings when i entered the new zealand school of music to study sonic art was the reminder that sound is vibration - pretty much at the same time i started this study i was interoduced to the teachings of the law of attraction mainly through abraham-hicks. this teaching starts with the premise that we are vibrational beings.

at music school, i became enamoured with the contact mic - a device that amplifies vibration and converts to sound. i have just purchased 2 contact mics and a hydrophone from jez riley french. yahoody.

and of course, eastern thinking identifies the beginiings of dis-ease on a vibrational level - so raw food/raw sound fits in my book.

here is an abraham clip - not the one i was looking for but along the lines...

and yes...i can identify quite a few months of conflicted, out of alignment, negative vibrational thinking that brought me here...

so now the healing begins - in this sense the eczema is a gift - to show where i was vibrationally out of whack and out of alignment with myself. 

one of the areas i was out of alignment was in the area of eating - and when the eczema hit, it was the first thing that my attention came to for change - firstly because i largely lost my appetite straight away...

around about this time, i found these guys...matthew armstrong and victoria whitehead and their 100 day juice feast...

i stumbled on these guys because i was interested in the james arthur ray trial and was googling all over town - they happened to include a post where they commented on the trial - i followed them every day after. so i found them on day 23 of their feast - they are now on day 94...i spent the next 2 weeks predominantly juicing - this worked because my appetite was largely gone anyway - my body's way of telling me that i was detoxifying and needed to help my body do this.

i decided pretty quickly i needed to go off gluten and dairy. 

my first readings led me to consider the alkaline diet - overly acidic foods lead to an acidic pH and the need for rebalancing...alkaline foods are predominantly leafy green vegetables so my juices became greener and more bitter - i also added wheat-grass powder.

around the same time, hinemoana's cousin anahera, leant me the following book....

this book looks at the eastern view of dis-ease. according to this view eczema is caused by the stagnation or over-toxicity of the liver and with it's inability to detox, the skin steps in and becomes a huge detoxifying agent...this condition is also referred to as the heating of the system and so recommends cooling foods - again, the primary ones being leafy green veges and raw food...

in the middle of this, my eczema got worse and one morning i woke with skin that made me feel like i was a burns victim and was weeping - i was also mentally and emotionally feeling more despondent and vulnerable and was concerned about infection (which happened the first time) - so i took myself to a doctor...the result - a one week course of prednizone followed by 7 days of decreasing dose for weaning off...i felt immediate relief and the skin cleared but after the first three days could still feel the eczema in the system - i knew it was being suppressed and would reappear once the course ended - still i was grateful for the relief and, in a way hoped that it would be sufficient to knock it back for good. this wasn't to be and i continued in my research.

i researched other sites of people who have healed from eczema, and overwhelmingly, the sites i found talked about slow, systematic healing and strengthening of the digestive system throug the eating of raw food.

so after much thought, i have decided to go raw...

one thing about this choice is that i want it to be more about moving toward health rather than deprivation - so my intention is to be raw as much as possible but not to slam myself if i deviate...this is a lifestyle change i want to make long-term so even if eventually i am 70-30% that will be better than what i was - for now though i want to give my liver and system a chance to rebalance.

gluten and dairy are definitely off though and i have noticed massive differences particularly in now having clear sinuses.

hinemoana and marian have been supportive and are enjoying (or not) some new recipes...i have to say raw food isn't what it sounds like - there are some amazing flavour is taking some rethinking re: shopping and preparation but i will get there...will post some of the good recipes here...

if i was in new york i'd definitely be visitn the restaurant pure food and wine

so that is me - it's all about vibration and energy at the end of the day...raw food/raw sound.

it's not been a great skin day today, but with contact mics and recipes in hand i'll keep you posted.