Craig Schuftan

Music Means Time

Music means time... Sometimes that time is a childhood memory. A fight, a death, a loss, a movie, or something totally ordinary. If a song catches it, those are the things that keep time in your life - and sometimes change it."

Jeff Buckley, 1994


Doin' the Stuff That You Do

Here, in this building, in 1994, I had a job cutting out styrofoam fish-shapes with a hot wire cutter. I listened to triple j while I worked, and distinctly remember producing slightly more fish than usual when Ween's 'Voodoo Lady' was played.

In November 2011 I went inside the building to take a photo of the room where all this happened, but was escorted from the premises by a security guard, who saw me on the CCTV and thought I was acting suspiciously. This shot of the window is as close as I could get.


Falling to Pieces

This is where I used to catch the bus to Meadowbank TAFE during the second half of 1990. Because it was about ten minutes walk from my parents' house, I associate it with songs that appear roughly ten minutes into the albums I was listening to at the time. As I paced anxiously up and down, peering around the bend in the road hoping to see the bus, I heard New Order's 'Temptation', 'O My God' by The Police, and 'Falling to Pieces' by Faith no More.



Shit List

McDonalds, Broadway. In 1994, I went to see Oliver Stone's 'Natural Born Killers' at the Hoyts movie theatre on George St. The film's hyperactive style, apocalyptic themes and high-energy soundtrack (Patti Smith, Nine Inch Nails, Tha Dogg Pound, L7) got me very worked up. It was after midnight when I walked out of the theatre, but I felt I couldn't just go home. There being nowhere else to go, I went to McDonalds, sat in a chair near the window, and worried about the end of civilisation as we know it.



In 1994, Urge Overkill's cover of Neil Diamond's 'Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon' was released as a single from the soundtrack to 'Pulp Fiction'. I heard it for the first time in a car parked in this parking space.
I lived in an apartment upstairs. Below us, there was a studio where Australian R & B group CDB were recording their cover of Earth Wind and Fire's 'Let's Groove'. They worked late into the night, and I would hear the song's distinctive bass line in my dreams.



There's No Other Way

In the nineties, the only thing people missed more than the seventies was the nineties. One day in 1998, I played Blur's 1991 hit 'There's No Other Way' on a community radio show I was presenting. Afterwards, a girl who worked at the station told me it made her yearn for the days when English music was really good, "back in the early nineties". I stared at this power point, and mumbled some sort of agreement.


You Could Be Mine

One Thursday in 1991, I stood here, outside the Virgin Megastore, trying to decide which of Guns n Roses' simultaneously released new albums I should buy. (Use Your Illusion 1 had 'Don't Cry' and 'November Rain' on it, but Use Your Illusion 2 had 'You Could be Mine'.) In the end I became confused, and bought the CD single of Pearl Jam's 'Alive' instead. 

As a direct result of my decision, Sunset Strip-style heavy metal began its sudden and brutal slide into the dustbin of history, and Alternative Rock was installed in its place as the official soundtrack to youthful rebellion in the 1990s.

Ding a Ding Dang

In 1991, I had a job as a junior clerk at a Barristers' chambers in Sydney. I wore a cheap suit and ran errands for lawyers who were hard at work defending disgraced entrepeneurs of the late eighties. As I pushed trolleys full of legal documents up and down Martin place, I listened to Alternative Rock on my Walkman. The irony of this hadn't escaped me. In fact, like many of the singers I was listening to, I lived on a fairly steady diet of the stuff.
One day I was pushing my trolley along, listening to ministry's Jesus Built My Hotrod, when my friend Arthur Lawrence stopped me, in this exact spot, and said, "what the fuck are you DOING?" 

(A few minutes after I took this picture, I was sitting in a cafe, looking out the window, when I was astonished to see Arthur Lawrence himself walk past.)


Tomorrow's Harvest

"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."



Hold to the Difficult

"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1904

rainer maria rilke | kate bush


Always music in the air

'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'

Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966

pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room


Music Sounds Better

'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'

Susan McClary, 1999

stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition


I Life

"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."

walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd

La perspective Kubrick en 104 secondesw670h372

Infancy and Progress

"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."

Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.

enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001