Archive for March, 2013

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Adelaide Festival Review 2013 – Lustmord, Demdike Stare, Pole and Ben Frost

I have one thing to really be thankful for with regard to Adelaide Festival’s hosting of UnSound, and that is that it has reawakened an intensity of love of experimental & ambient music which has somewhat hibernated these past years as musical interests passed through other phases. During that time of sleep a new generation of musical engineers have emerged and play alongside my heroes of old, who themselves have evolved. So I feel I am in a period of grateful rediscovery.

Lustmord’s performance this evening, in a curious way, invoked a memory of first hearing Vangelis’s conceptual work “Heaven & Hell” – albeit they are worlds apart. Subterranean echoes bang behind visuals of rusted shut iron doors, culminating in liberation of sound as swirling iridescent Solomonic Seals open the gateways to sonic planes divine & infernal from a Nemesian black sun. I regaled in the almost restrained aural moments amongst what appeared heavenly clouds on the projected screen– a purity of white suddenly transforming into the darkest of storm clouds, a tempest, heralding avenging angels trumpeting apocalypse from sound treatments reminiscent of Tibetan Chungden horns. The rain of fire then cleanses all, underpinned by deliberate, deeply piercing but measured beat driven atmospherics. This performance was archetypal Lustmord – everything you might imagine it could be, and then experiencing so much more.

Next was an UnSound commissioned work by Demdike Stare, who are the new object of my attention and ongoing exploration. Accompanied onstage by the 8 piece Zephyr Ensemble string section – what follows is a marvellous interplay of the acoustic & electronic over projected sequences: a ballet of desire and slow bleeding, a British Ghurkha Masonic conspiracy and more. There were some truly magical moments of pure electronica involving drum & bass smarts, beautifully arranged soundscaping and visuals of urban decay in states of anti-corrosion, a sequence that met with great audience enthusiasm and even subdued dancing in the crowd. From the applause at the conclusion you could tell the audience bought the ticket on this particular magic bus and enjoyed every mile of the ride.

Germanic electro maestro, Pole – sans visual effects other than subdued lighting, then led the crowd into glitch-ambient-dub nirvana. I have to admit that it probably wasn’t quite my thing, but he was certainly a craftsman of his trade – he had people moving and appreciating, a perhaps was a necessary contrasting spectra to the introverted nature of much other material presented tonight. So despite my preferences, based on audience reaction alone he was a more than worthy inclusion on the bill and a great example of Adelaide Festival stretching their otherwise historically conservative remit.

Lastly was Melbourne born – Iceland residing Ben Frost. Again some wonderful melding of electro-acoustic mastery – but this misterium conjunctus was sometimes violent and assaulting – all necessary and with purpose I hasten to add. Doom laden guitar, treated pianos and electro arpeggiated sequencing alternated with sub-sonic sweeps and booms that shook bodily organs and architecture alike. But there was as much subtlety and moments of minimalist splendour in this divine marriage.

UnSound has been a boon for the Adelaide Festival – and dare I say they have tapped into an artistic current and audience demand that has until now been unrealised. I pray that it continues next year.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 18th 2013 | Filed in Culture,Events,Music,News,People,Reviews | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Review 2013 – Bombay to Beijing By Bicycle

Russell McGiltons ‘Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle’ treads very familiar territory for anyone who has suffered medical misadventure in a third world country.

Certainly my experiences of simultaneous heat stroke and gastroenteritis on a 5 hour boat journey through Cambodia was my own Heart of Darkness moment that came flooding back, and serves as a permanent lesson as to why one should not eat cheese in a country with little refrigeration.

But this one man character & physical comedy extravaganza maybe suffers a little on the basis that it is a one fundamental joke routine – a twilight zone of flashbacks under the feverish spell of malaria. Maybe I was hoping he would get significantly farther than India in the routine – that certainly may be the case in the book accompanying the comedy routine (does that make it multimedia…?).

I’m not 100% sure whether I am comfortable with his stereotypical depictions of the folk he encounters – the cricket mad peasantry, the locals with vested family interests in local businesses, the doctors bordering on quackery and sex-mad Israeli tourists. Look, these things do exist when travelling in far flung places, as I well know first hand (albeit nymphomaniac Jewish princess are notably absent from my travels) – but does that make them a legitimate target of comedic ridicule from the vantage of Western economic advantage, or am I being too politically correct?

He is an excellent performer – and this hour long monologue is well conceived, written and performed. Best you go and make you own mind up.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 16th 2013 | Filed in Cabaret,Culture,Events,People,Reviews | Comments (0)

Adelaide Festival 2013 – UnSound Review – Trinity, Raime & More

I have been dying to attend something at the old Queen Theatre for years – it being the oldest surviving theatre on the Australian mainland, it is a mixture of preserved heritage fighting against the inevitable march of urban decay (not unlike many an old queen…)

What better place to sample offerings from UnSound, the Festival Within The Adelaide Festival showcasing some of the world’s finest dark ambient, experimental, avant-garde electronic artists that I never would have expected to see down here in the antipodeans.

First was duo Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin (the latter also known a Oneohtrix Point Never) who put the structural engineering of the Queens Theatre (and the scaffolding based stands I was sitting on) under severe stress by continually hitting their subharmonic mechanical resonance, risking a potential building collapse. Their weaving of low end frequency drone with sweeping high end attack, oscillating between harmony and discordance was not easily listening by any means – but perseverance brought revelation about the ability to manifest visceral intensity that is not reliant on volume alone.

The term ‘synaesthesia’ is often and easily bandied about when talking of the Laser & Audio show developed by Robin Fox, and I am not going to argue any differently. What this man achieves with a single beam green laser and synchronised sound treatments, diffused and refracted, demonstrates that minimalism is not necessarily synonymous with subtle. He traverses the gap between sound and form, to the point where they are indistinguishable. He is a master of Quantum Musica Universalis – instead of the planetary bodies his music arises from the dance of sub-atomic space, the violent exchange of charge and a confusion of causality.

Raime was a real discovery– noir down tempo techno sensibilities, it immediately invoked memories of my early exploration of electronic acts such as Morthound and James Bernard. With their visual montages of elemental destitution, desolation and resurrection, it was like the Queens Theatre was a natural performance space for them to inhabit, their particular aural offerings birthing renewal from fallen forms.

Lastly we had a rare performance of Trinity, manifested by Lustmord (Brian Williams) & MFO, being a commissioned exploration of the stark emotional space, cold visuals and inevitable dissolution of an old age arising from the nuclear weapons research program in the New Mexico desert . This definitive Atompunk audio / visual manifesto lowers a thick cloud of melancholic reflection over the observer, framing close scrutiny of fine lines between the salvation and destruction of civilization. Mr Williams’ chthonic invocations churn and regurgitate from below, punctuated by sonorific howling wails dropping liking divine tears – unable to extinguish the all-consuming incandescence that eventually erupts behind our performers.

One could not but walk away from tonight a little numb, intellectually and emotionally exhausted. Every bodily sense tangible and metaphysical was tried and tested. Big Kudos to the Adelaide Festival for curating a wheel within a wheel, the likes of which we have never seen.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 15th 2013 | Filed in Art,Culture,Events,Music,News,People,Reviews,Style | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Review 2013 – Fetish For Burlesque

We first reviewed Fetish Burlesque last year, and they got a fair bit of attention amongst the traps and have needed to scale up venue size – great to see a local act evolving and building on success.

Due to an unfortunate mis-reading of the start time I got to Fetish for Burlesque late to miss the opening act by former-Miss Burlesque SA 2012, Dezzie Damned…but more on her later.

Fortunately for me, host Jethro Heller’s sly comedic double entendre laden monologues gave me enough time to slip in to see the remaining proceedings.

Desert Rose has no doubt been reading the Poisoner’s Handbook for this routine as she drugs and does away with some poor soul, all the while swaying and swinging to heavy trip hop electro beats. In fact there is something of the minimalist charm in Ms Rose’s routines, particularly in her follow up Pin Up style tease which she does with restraint, tease and a tinge of dark melancholy over a heavy reverb laden guitar playing “Bang Bang”. Despite the rocked out end of the routine ending with a major pastie failure – she kept a certain composure and continuity that makes me think we will see a lot of good things from her in the future (and I mean artistically, not anatomically, dear reader…)

Roxy L Danger’s first routine had her emerge to stage in Art Deco splendour, like she had just been ripped off a statue mounting. Strutting over an up-tempo version of “Do Right”, wielding a striking pair of scarlett fans, she demonstrated high poise and grace. Being adept in light & shade her follow up routine was a Vodou-Noir tale of esoteric manipulation, seduction and revenge – the victim becoming torturer underpinned by Marilyn Manson’s cover of “I Put A Spell On You”. Woman, versatility is thy name.

The divine Ms Dezzi Damned never fails to impress – a grand entrance and costuming style having a certain Cruella DeVille presence over some impressive dark ambient sounds laying down some gravitas. What followed over screaming metal shredding, was a gorelesque erotica extravaganza as she channelled the very essence of Elizabeth Bathory in all her regal glory. Imagination is what marks good burlesque these days, not just by the numbers routines, and Dezzie showed why she took our last years State crown.

Troupe producer Skye Williams deserves kudos for pushing the production smarts up a notch or ten, and we look forward to seeing what 2014 brings.

See the remaining performances while you can.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 10th 2013 | Filed in Burlesque,Culture,Events,News,People,Reviews,Style,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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