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)

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