The Australian Chamber Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House: Bach Brandenburg ConcertosSun, Dec 08, 2013./noise/music | Link
My Christmas present to myself. They played four Bach Brandenburg Concertos: No. 1 in F major (BWV1046), No. 6 in B flat major (BWV1051), No. 2 in F major (BWV1047) and No. 3 in G major (BWV1048). For an encore they played the final (third) movement of No. 4 in G major (BWV1049). I enjoyed No. 6 the most, perhaps because it was a much smaller ensemble and the two blokes (Christopher Moore and Alexandru-Mihai Bota) leading on violas (no violins) enjoyed themselves so much. I was sitting in the front row of the choir, which was a mixed blessing; the hunting horns pointed backwards so they tended to blot out the rest of the instruments. The couple sitting next to me told me I was sitting where Barbara usually sits, and presumably her health issues prevented her coming today. Overall I'd prefer to buy a recording and listen to it multiple times than go to this kind of concert, if only because (irritatingly) the familiar bits were the best.
Apparently I went to two previous New Music Network gigs this year: Synergy Percussion and Tangents. This one was in the Paddington Reservoir and was quite restful. The ambient noise (traffic, pedestrians, tourists) drowned any subtleties the two saxophones may have had.
Before this I went to the COFA annual exhibition. Several Tracey Emin-inspired pieces there, such as the chained lion in the semi-made bed, and the prize-winning laundry line with embroidered self-loathing. The undies looked far too clean. (GOMA in Brisbane has a Tracey Emin neon piece.) Whoever stuck some hands made from soap on the wall (also prize-winning) is very skillful but needs to work on the politics of placement. Contrary to what I'd been told, there was a small amount of glasswork there too. Apparently they have a Creative Robotics Lab now. Looks like fun.
I was going to ride Betts down to Campbelltown (specifically Campbelltown Road) with this gig as the excuse. The rain put paid to that, and I was giving Erina a lift anyway. As always they had some nice bits but it was difficult to get into the whole thing. I liked the gong as played by Bree van Reyk. They did some performance art-y bits in the middle - and I had to wonder if these came with the piece or were intended to spice up some fairly abstract sounds. The venue was the same as, very pleasant (and I do like the neon in the foyer). We had a drink and a light dinner at the cafe in between the sets.
Erina invited me along to see this men's choir which is certainly not a men's group. The best part for me was when they momentarily paused in their cleverness and sang a Gregorian chant straight; that was captivating. I enjoyed the rest in a Monty Python sort of way. We had their pizza for dinner, and the bar staff were very friendly. A pretty stock inner-west kind of crowd, I think. The venue is full of Camel (cigarettes) paraphernalia, upstairs from the Django bar which is full of other sorts of stuff. Teascapes was this kitsch back in the day.
David Angell, my first-year calculus tutor, took up conducting amateur orchestras some time in the late 1990s. I made it to a couple of his gigs years ago. At $30 for an adult, the crowd was small and appreciative, and St. Stephen's in Newtown has super acoustics for this kind of chamber music. Betts is super-happy after her tune-up, and I enjoyed the ride over despite some overly aggressive traffic (for a Sunday, anyway). I think one of the music profs was was playing cello; last time I saw him (or the bloke he most resembles) he was opposite some of his students: the Tawadros brothers and a bloke playing tabla, in the Clancy. The draw was Barber's Adagio for Strings, which I only recently realised was at the heart of Ennio Morricone's score for Lyne's Lolita. The second set featured some lovely harp.
A 6pm gig at the venue that looks like something out of A Clockwork Orange (no, no, not the korova bar). I liked the first set by A Slow Rip; a wall of noise slickly done. I skipped the second one due to running out of energy (again). The inbetween guys were interesting too.
Alaska Projects: Musical Alaska #12 — Phillip Glass: Music in FifthsSat, Oct 05, 2013./noise/music | Link
I headed back to the carpark in the Cross for another subterranean gig. Free booze and all that for their second birthday, and I missed out as I was on Betts. The Glass piece came over OK after I realised that the squealing children and barking dog (yes, someone brought their dog) improved it. I skipped the second set in response to an urgent need to hack, the like of which I haven't felt for years. My attempt to buy their free water with a $10 donation was met with a copy of the third issue of the World's Only zine.
I've been meaning to see Tognetti play his violin for years now. For thirty five bucks I also got to see him play the keyboard ala Warren Ellis, or more accurately, Leonard Cohen. (OK, he didn't actually make a big deal of switching it on.) Shades of Dylan in a park in London in 2004? I guess I can see why Ellis will never play with these guys.
I think Satu Vänskä usually plays second fiddle to Tognetti, but this was certainly her night. She was super-awesomely-excellent on the violin. Her repartee made it clear she was amongst (north shore, Vaucluse) friends. They did two renditions of Reznor's Something I can never have (the latter the entirety of the encore) , citing Natural Born Killers, somewhat spartan and cleaned-up where Reznor does fragile violence, which is inward directed and hence somehow OK. Some other songs that I can't name verged on the twee. I had to wonder if we've seen all this before with Fourplay's "infamous" Metallica cover. And that was back when I was a kid. They closed out the main set with some pleasant Vivaldi before an aborted encore and then the reprise.
I got wondering if they should have kept their other night jobs; did almost everyone in the crowd wish they were playing something else, or with their old bands? Guests Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil) and Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes) left me hungry for words with bite.
The warm-up was a poetry-slam over some nice violin work by one of the ACO blokes. They called themselves Marcie.
MacDonald/Spence/Denley/Altman/Pettigrew @ The People's RepublicMon, Sep 23, 2013./noise/music | Link
A Laura Altman segue from her Alaska Projects gig, pointer from the NOW now. She was playing clarinet as part of an improv five-piece, and it had nothing to do with frogs. I bailed after the first set as I stupidly didn't eat before I went. Nice venue. I'll be back.
Synergy Percussion: Check My Machine at 107 Projects, Redfern.Thu, Sep 19, 2013./noise/music | Link
A Bree van Reyk segue from the Ensemble Offspring gig out at Parramatta. Twenty bucks. Bree played most of the gig, with two or three blokes. Also a solo by one of the blokes. Some of it was quite good, other bits twee, like the 8-bit synthesisers / sequencers that put me in mind of the gameboy thing I went to a few months back with Ben. There seemed to be a fair bit of improv. Some of the automation was quite funky: automatic bass drums, and a snare (? - I think). Some ambient-ish stuff. 107 Projects is a nice space.
"Ethiopian Soul" for $5 on a Wednesday night. With Dave and Dan Ferguson, who both got right into it.
Alaska Projects: Musical Alaska #11 — [Volta Collective] time without lightSun, Sep 01, 2013./noise/music | Link
Dave and I got there in time (having been trained by them starting promptly at the last one) to hear the six-voice choir sing Carlo Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday. The acoustics of the carpark were perfect. Dave reckoned Laura Altman's interspersed compositions reminded him of a frogs' chorus after rain in Bangkok.
Alice Terry (and guitarist friend Dave Rodriguez) at Bohemian GroveSun, Sep 01, 2013./noise/music | Link
Dave's mate Em was heading out to this gig down near Central, so we went along too, after the gig in Kings Cross, in the spirit of why-not. Dave legged it from the Cross in record time. Em said she'd been to this venue a few times, and caught the performer at 505 last week (?). Smokey vocals for sombre jazzy (or country?) tunes, some covers, some originals. Small crowd. As always, it was someone's living room. $10 donation at the door.
The Silent Hour: Ion Pearce, Julian Day, Andrew Tuttle, Live&DirectWed, Aug 14, 2013./noise/music | Link
A NOW now advertised gig, though I didn't see any of that crowd there. Their blurb:
She's BACK.. elegantly composed! For those of you who appreciate the beauty of sound and symphonic textures. The Silent Hour is an intimate evening dedicated to electroacoustic and audiovisual composition.
Established in 2011, TSH is one of its kind and has presented Internationally acclaimed artists in the field of electroacoustic and audiovisual explorations such as Daniel Blinkhorn, Axel Singer, Chihei Hatakeyama, minamo, Greg Haines, Spartak, Pollen Trio, Ollie Bown, Seaworthy, Fourcolor, Pimmon and Moskitoo in the heart of William Street East Sydney.
Wednesday, August 14
Level 2, 77-83 William St, Darlinghurst
I went for Julian Day; Jacob keeps telling me he's into weird stuff, and he didn't disappoint. He turned up with his girlfriend, two vintage Casio keyboards and about ten hefty bolts (of perhaps 20mm diameter; see here). Seated on a cushion on the floor, his performance consisted of carefully placing the bolts on the keys of the synthesisers and adopting a zen of concentration. The result were lots of beats and harmonics between the notes and the two synthesisers, which was far more interesting than my description implies; as the perceived sound depends on the propagation path, moving one's head was enough to discover another timbre. It was certainly more emphatic than Eno's ambient, and I found it quite relaxing.
The second dude (Andrew Tuttle) had a laptop and a banjo and did something atmospheric. The last guy (Ion Pearce) was a poet-of-sorts, recounting over moody drums/bass/guitar, played by his two collaborators. I could see where he was going.
The venue was a Shaolin monk / martial arts room. Their propaganda (respect/trust yourself and your master, ...) is touchingly fascistic. There was no blood on the dojo floor, and the present Bruce Lee revival proved as yet insufficient for him to put in a showing. I think it used to be the General Store for Contemporary Art.
With Dave and his mates (Justin, Dan Ferguson, Em). Just like old times for them, and now that I am twice the age of those wearing not more than their underwear, kinda fun for me too. The music is clearly keyed to altered states of being, rushy and not too melodic. Too much bass for Dave until we found a possie up the back near the bar.
The NOW now promoted this gig. Ben and I got in for $10 by virtue of being on their mailing list. The appeal was to see Peter Hollo (ex-Fourplay) again after so long. We missed about half of the opening set, which I quite liked: Cycle 440 (Sam Gillies and Kevin Pen) on the piano and laptop, manufacturing soporific ambience. I didn't really get into Tangents proper.
I headed out to the Cambelltown Arts Centre with Ben. It's a strange little sub-genre: making danceable music with Gameboys. The last guy (cTrix) was pretty good and 10k Free Men kind-of funny in an aggressive ocker sort-of way.
Ben sucked me into this at the last minute. $10 he says, but Pia at the door says $15. Oh well. The schtick was making music using synthesisers and chains of sundry processing devices; laptops have almost, but not quite, made this anachronistic. I enjoyed the second set somewhat as it reminded me a little of Tooth and Nine Inch Nails. (The first was interesting but he cut too quickly between his samples.) The last act was essentially some kind of dance music familiar to 1980s/1990s club denizens.
I scored a freebie to an Ensemble Offspring gig via their email list, and so after a design workshop at NICTA's ATP site in the afternoon, I rode Betty out to Parramatta; traffic was already slow on the M4 by 4pm. By riding in the breakdown lane (with lots of care and not much speed), I got there reasonably quickly. Having no idea where to park, and being allergic to paying for it and parking stations, I eventually found a free motorcycle spot at the Parramatta City Library; all streets in the city centre are 4P ticket after 6pm, and 1P ticket otherwise. The traffic in downtown Parramatta itself was quite light.
I haven't been to Parramatta for years. Imagine my surprise that the concert was in the same theatre in which I listened to Quiggin et al with Pete R. back in 2009 and not the one in which I saw John play in Codgers in 2007. I burnt a bit of time talking to Dave and perusing the Behind the Lines political cartoons in the Riverside foyer, most of which were meh.
Everything was improv/experimental-ish, albeit far more polished than the usual gigs I go to; all instruments were bespoke, as was much of the music. Something in the last piece (Hidden Sidetracks (2011) by Terumi Narushima, partner to Kraig Grady who made several of the instruments) resonated, perhaps because the "undachin tarhu" played by Anna McMichael took on something from East European folk. (This instrument is roughly a violin with a wooden cone and some "sympathetic strings" that lead to some interesting timbres.) The gig was recorded by the ABC, and perhaps the acoustics will be better when Julian Day gets around to broadcasting it; the modified vibraphone got a bit much at times where I was sitting. I liked the harmonium though as its player (Jason Noble) observed, it wasn't called on to do much.
I took Victoria Road back to the CBD; crossing the Anzac Bridge was easier than I thought, though I choked on the blind corner that winds down to it. Fortunately the four-wheel tank behind me was patient and gave me a lot of space.
I heard about this microgig from a NOW now email. Alaska Projects is a tiny artspace on level two of a Kings Cross underground carpark, which means it is four floors under the streets. The email said 6pm-7pm, the website 5pm-7pm, and as it turned out the email was right; I blew an hour pacing the streets of the Cross, and then waited until 6:20pm for the music to start.
The blurb was otherwise accurate: Jonathan Baker played Toru Takemitsu's Paths, solo, on his trumpet, and that was sort-of awesome. Peter Jenkin (Principal Clarinet in the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra) did Bach's Partita in A Minor and something jazzy afterwards. Apparently doing that Bach piece with a clarinet instead of a flute is revolutionary. The acoustics were pretty good, and even the few cars driving past didn't disturb it too much. As they didn't have any drinkable non-alcoholic drinks, they got no donation from me (and I still feel mean).