Cultural Elsewhere

Essays and interviews in the world of the arts, architecture, design, journalism, politics and culture. And more, which appeal to the curious spirit of Elsewhere  . . .

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

YET MORE PROVOCATIONS OF RATTLES (2023): From art music to thanks-but-no-thanks

2 Sep 2023  |  3 min read

As we have noted in previous Provocation/Provocations of Rattles columns, the Auckland label releases albums at such a rate it is often impossible to keep up. And so here, as in the past, we simply offer snapshots of four recent releases. The label also put out Alan Brown's Ondulation album but we wrote about that here, so we leave that one aside now and turn our attention to these... > Read more

RAVENSCAR HOUSE, CHRISTCHURCH (2023): Behind these walls

28 Aug 2023  |  4 min read

The historic tram circling Christchurch's central city – a hop-on hop-off service for tourists – rattles past the repurposed and restored Arts Centre, the beautiful Canterbury Museum (currently closed) and along Rolleston Avenue towards spacious and leafy Hagley Park. The driver-cum-guide offers commentary and after stopping outside the Arts Centre points out the Botanic Gardens... > Read more

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS, PROFILED (2023): Have you felt the clouds?

1 Aug 2023  |  4 min read

Although classical music hasn't been central to Elsewhere's self-defined mandate, we've certainly covered a fair share: archival interviews with John Tavener, Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, Michael Nyman, Ute Lemper, Maxim Shostakovich and Mstislav Rostropovich as well as articles about Douglas Lilburn, Victoria Kelly, Jack Body, John Psathas, Arvo Part, Henryk Gorecki, Leonie Holmes and Eve De... > Read more

FURTHER PROVOCATIONS OF RATTLES (2023): From the sublime to the not-mundane

3 Apr 2023  |  4 min read

As we have previously noted in these columns about provocations from Auckland's Rattle, the label is so productive we sometimes find it necessary to just to scoop up four releases at a time. Last year for example Rattle released 10 albums – from Brahms to Brett Adams – and this year has another 10 on its books so far. So in running to keep up, we offer here pocket edition... > Read more

JUSTIN DeHART, PROFILED AND PLAYED (2023): The drummer getting some

27 Mar 2023  |  2 min read

Introducing Sacramento-raised percussionist Justin DeHart to a lay audience isn't easy because as illustrious as his connections and collaborations are, outside the true church of his world they aren't that familiar. So let us start with something recognisable about this versatile musician who has performed with the rock band Cheap Trick, Police drummer Stewart Copeland and pipa master Wu... > Read more

VICTORIA KELLY, INTERVIEWED (2022): Poetry, Prince and meditations on death

25 Feb 2023  |  11 min read

No matter what you say about Victoria Kelly she is always bigger and more important than words can convey. She is a composer, producer and singer certainly, but that hardly scratches the surface. Let's just note she has worked with – arranged and sung for – Neil Finn, Tami Neilson, Anika Moa, Don McGlashan, Sola Rosa and Shapeshifter. Then there is her classical work: her... > Read more

SALVADOR DALI CONSIDERED (1987): The artist and the art of the fakes

29 Jan 2023  |  7 min read  |  1

The old man is frail. He sits propped up by pillows, visited by few and a virtual prisoner behind a locked door. He tells his daily visitor, local artist Antonio Pitxot, "Today I am going to die." And there is every reason to think he might. For 83-year-old Salvador Dali, at one time the brightest star in the surrealist firmament, these are tragic days indeed. Once... > Read more

ROLL OVER GO-KART MOZART AND TELL LUDWIG VAN THE NEWS (1995): Beethoven the omnipotent

15 Jan 2023  |  1 min read

In the Nineties when I was writing a regular column for Real Groove magazine, the idea was offered to do something on Ludwig Van Beethoven . . . in a way that lay people might actually read. In other words, make it amusing and have references which rock culture people would recognise. It seems, from reading this again -- it was sent to me recently -- that the Beet-bio pix Immortal... > Read more

Brian Harnetty: Words and Silences (Winesap/digital outlets)

27 Nov 2022  |  2 min read

Another album at Elsewhere which we freely concede with not be for everyone. But if you've ever heard those whimsically philosophical/Zen readings by John Cage, have enjoyed solo piano, ambient music, bird song and/or spoken word readings, then this thoughtful 49-year old American interdisciplinary writer/researcher/musician and sound artist might just have considerable appeal. Here... > Read more

Michael Houstoun: Brahms Complete Intermezzi (Rattle/digital outlets)

31 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

Elsewhere freely concedes it doesn't know a lot about the music of Johann Sebastian Brahms, the man who wrote the opera Fanny's Cosy Tutu (it's in Italian so don't worry, no one else understands it either), that monumental “da-da-da-DUM” thing played on radio in the Second World War which defeated the Nazis and the Sugar Plum Fairy ballet, most commonly known as Tchaikovsky's... > Read more

Intermezzi Op. 119, No. 1 in B minor, Adagio

THE WORLD OF WEARABLE ART AWARDS SHOW (2022): Cirque du extraordinaire

10 Oct 2022  |  3 min read

We see the footage or photos quite regularly: something from a catwalk in Paris or Milan where a sullen-looking model totters along wearing the most improbable outfit which is often laughably absurd. It is called “fashion”. These catwalk showcases are easy to parody, so Fellini did in Roma with his Vatican fashion show, David Byrne in True Stories and most memorably Steve... > Read more

QUEEN ELIZABETH II, CONSIDERED (2022): The beginning of the end

7 Sep 2022  |  3 min read

Earlier this year, when traveling around England and Scotland for a couple of months, it seemed the biggest news story wasn't in the news. Because there was no news. It was the absence of Queen Elizabeth II from public duties. Clearly she was unwell – not unexpected, she was 95 at the time – but the news media was cautiously respectful, simply noting her... > Read more

St. JAMES THEATRE, AUCKLAND, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2022): Our lady in ruins

17 Aug 2022  |  1 min read  |  1

Much as we mightn't like it, in Auckland's constantly changing cityscape, but entertainment venues come and go. Some fall to property developers (His Majesty's, the Kings Arms), others are “repurposed” (the Gluepot) and some are simply bowled so an empty hole in the ground is all that remains, often for many years (The Box/Cause Celebre) if not decades. Road widening has... > Read more

THE RETURN OF THE WORLD OF WEARABLE ART (2022): Handbags and glam rags

25 May 2022  |  2 min read

If you haven't seen one, it can't easily be explained to you. But here goes: the World of WearableArt (WOW) has the wow-factor as designers from here and overseas compete to deliver fashion and art to be worn which can be avant-garde, made from recycled material, outlandish or funny. It is an event which has captivated people for whom fashion and style don't often... > Read more

SWEDISH URBAN DESIGN, CONSIDERED (2022): Homes for living not housing

2 May 2022  |  3 min read  |  1

The Stockholm apartment of my son and his wife is modest – one bedroom, bathroom, open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge – but was brand new six years ago when they moved in, has a gas hob and oven, central heating, a train station five minutes away, and the ocean the same distance at the bottom of the street. Down there are walking and cycling tracks, a playground, a couple... > Read more

DOUGLAS LILBURN . . . AND BEYOND (2022): The path to electronics . . . and beyond

31 Dec 2021  |  16 min read

Unlike pop and rock musicians, classical composers can't -- or don't - rely on lyrics ("pie cart rock'n'roll", "goin' down to Otaki") to convey a sense of place or mood. Classical composers (mostly) use pure music for an emotional effect to evoke land, sea, sky and moods. So they think in a different (instrumental) way. Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) was not just the... > Read more

THE VALUE OF BOOKS AND READING (2021): Back to the Islands

18 Nov 2021  |  2 min read

Earlier this year Bill Direen approached a number of New Zealand writers for articles, essays, poems or literary reminisences which would be compiled in a book to protest the disposal of books from the National Library of New Zealand. That book has been delayed but the attrition of books continues from the library continues. You can read more at the following sites (Writers Against National... > Read more

JOHN PSATHAS, COMPOSER. IN CONVERSATION (2021): From Wellington to the world

24 Oct 2021  |  11 min read

John Psathas is one of this country's most prolific and diverse composers, and the most internationally acclaimed. The New Zealand-Greek composer came to global attention when his music was heard during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Since then his work has been commissioned by international and local artists, he is a NZ Arts Foundation Laureate and his music... > Read more

Bridget Douglas and Al Fraser: SilverStoneWoodBone (Rattle/bandcamp)

17 Oct 2021  |  1 min read

Elsewhere recently added a new chapter to our many already in the “magazine”, it is Further Out Elsewhere and this is where we are placing “sounds beyond songs, ideas outside the obvious, possibilities far from pop”. It's the kind of place you hear sonic experiments, collaborations between seemingly disparate people, unexpected electronic art and . . . well, ideas... > Read more

Tihei Mauri Ora (by Josiah Carr)

THE BEATLES. LET IT BE COVER, COPIED AND PARODIED (2019): Can you dig it, dig it . . .

13 Sep 2021  |  2 min read  |  1

You can't help but note that after their quickly knocked-off debut album Please Please Me (and its cover taking even less time), the Beatles' album covers were considered and became iconic. All except those for their movies. The cover for A Hard Day's Night was just a montage of uncredited stills from the film, Help! was shot by Robert... > Read more