Melbourne-based DJ Matthew Belleghem brings to this podcast 30+ years of experience as a curator of engaging and eclectic electronic music. Having spent time as a touring musician, club DJ, music producer and dance music journalist, his tastes range from underground progressive house music through to ambient, new wave, nu disco, trip hop, trance, techno, downtempo and psychedelica. Music For Small Audiences is a guided exploration through the most colourful corners of his music collection, and is perfect for headphone and living room listening.
MFSA092: Out And Back
I enjoy long distance running with good music as a physical and psychological release. In particular I like the out-and-back style run, heading out to a distant point and then turning around to head home. Running out, there is a sense of adventure and commitment, knowing that every km out is a km that will need to be covered again on the way back home. More often than I should probably admit, I make a bit of a banking airplane figure with outstretched hands and some verbal sound effects as I make the turnaround. As the way out becomes the way in, the mindset shifts, from exploration to recovery.
There is of course a global pandemic raging. It has been going on for a while now. With the reintroduction of community transmission here in Victoria just announced as I write this, we are clearly nowhere near the end, or even anywhere near the beginning of the end. However, with multiple vaccines approved and in the process of being deployed, my hope is that we are at least coming to the end of the beginning. With any luck we are turning the corner for the return trip home to some semblance of normalcy, even as we accept that things on our return may not be how we left them.
In audio editing terms, normalisation is something you do to a recorded signal in order to proportionally recalibrate it, so that the loudest peak in the program material corresponds to the highest signal intensity possible without distortion. You do not actually lose anything in the process. It is just that the levels are reset to a new standard.
With our very last active COVID case here in Victoria given a clean bill of health and released from the hospital this morning, the second wave of the pandemic has now completely subsided in Australia. As the freedoms return, we are performing a similar reset. It is a recalibration towards a new normal, a reconsideration of what the best and worst case scenarios are, a relook at what we can reasonably roll with, and a rethink as to what our acceptable maximums and minimums really are going to be across a range of different variables at the end of all of this. Having seen through a challenging winter, we are now preparing for a cautious southern summer of comparative freedom and warmth.
Have we normalised the impossible, or merely the incredibly difficult? Without the benefit of hindsight it is hard to say. What I do know is that all around the world, every country, every city, every family is at their own point of the pendulum that seems to endlessly swing between triumph and disaster. Each is doing the best they can with the knowledge and beliefs they have, each finding their own path towards their own new understanding of normal.
MFSA090: Inbetween Days
Early November 2020. Not quite summer in Melbourne, but certainly not winter. Yesterday I wore a scarf over my sunburn.
We are not quite free of restrictions here, but certainly not as held back either. We have spent more quality time with friends over the past week than we did during the six months prior, but while things are improving they are far from normal. There are still no jet planes in the sky.
The counting of votes from an American election has been going on for a number of days, with no clear result quite at the moment.
In time, all of these things will come to resolution.
MFSA089: It Happens Quickly
Hemingway once said that big things happen slowly at first, but then suddenly. Time itself has felt a little weird in recent weeks, a mix of slow and sudden that has felt more than a bit bananas.
Hard to believe that our city has been in some stage of restriction or lockdown for seven months now. Thankfully, daylight savings changes have bought us an extra hour of evening sunshine here in Melbourne, and as the days continue to lengthen I feel like we have finally returned to the stage where there are more hours of daylight than work in the average white collar WFH workday.
At a global level, I have been riveted to what seems like a spiralling finale to a very weird and drawn out American leadership story. The time zone difference between North America and Australia is such that the headlines come thick and fast in the middle of the night, which does not help the already disrupted sleep cycles and disorienting rhythms of pandemic lockdown life.
As befits the stretchy sense of time and timelessness we have felt these recent weeks, this mix starts off very slow before stepping through some of the deeper, more emotive tracks I have been listening to on repeat in recent weeks, along with a few timeless classics and some very groovy techno. It was recorded live as a therapeutic session in our locked down living room a few weeks ago. Wherever you are on the continuum between ‘time flies like an arrow’ and ‘fruit flies like a banana’, let these tunes bring you a bit of peace and perspective while we ride things out.
The first few days of spring have arrived here in Melbourne, and with it has come a sense of renewal and energy. The days are getting longer, minute by minute. Slowly but surely the weather is warming. The trees are starting to blossom. The birds are busily staking out their territory for the coming summer, while the city itself starts to slowly awaken and lockdown restrictions begin to relax.
When movement is restricted, it is easy to draw deep meaning and morals from the sorts of things that have perhaps always been going on but have never before been noticed. The sights and sounds of our neighbourhood, from the soap operas of the skies to the secluded alleyways we have passed many times and are only just now noticing, have in recent months amplified our senses, our empathy, and our connection to place.
More concretely, I have also taken the opportunity presented by our second lockdown to rebuild and upgrade my DJ booth. This mix is the first mix recorded with my new S4 MKIII controller. As always, it reflects the mood of the day. While you may not be able to hear the newly tidied wiring in the recording itself, the mise en place of a well configured booth is inspiring.
MFSA087: Of Limitation And Possibility
Melbourne is in to a Stage 4 lockdown as I write this. This includes the closure of all nonessential businesses, an evening curfew, a heavy police presence and serious penalties for being anywhere other than home without a valid reason. It seems to be making the news worldwide, based on the condolences and words of support that are coming through. There are pretty clear restrictions as to what we can do, and where we can do it. Limiting, yes, but also inspiring in a way because it gives us such a clearly defined space to exist in over the weeks to come.
I have always been fascinated by the possibilities that restriction creates. In music, often the most memorable melodies and vocal lines are those kept to a few notes and based around repeating motifs. Techno as a genre is based in its entirety around repetitive, slowly evolving loops and subtle sonic tweaks. Haiku and limericks require steadfast adherence to structure and meter, while charcoal sketches and watercolour paintings leverage a limited palette to better involve the imagination in artistic appreciation.
I suppose it might be a tad optimistic to suggest that constraints are usually advantages in disguise, but I do think that constraints eliminate the paralysis of choice. With respect to Henry Ford, it is not hard to pick a colour when black is the only option.
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Relates to every damn one
Each new mix is like waking up and enjoying another birthday. Thanks Belleghem