peteg's blog - noise - music - 2013 05 21 BetweenTheKeys

Ensemble Offspring: Between the Keys at the Riverside Theatre

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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.