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.

Jonathan Mar 18th 2013 10:11 pm Culture,Events,Music,News,People,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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