Unsound Adelaide Review 2014 – Snowtown Live (Jed Kurzel) & Stars Of The Lid

In stark contrast to the colonial decay of Queens Theatre that seems an ideal crucible for much of the Unsound line up, tonight’s first Unsound performance is instead within the more regal splendour of the Adelaide Town Hall. Pristine decorations, pipe organ, a reminder of days of Empire and our ties to Monarchy, it is almost ironic then that Jed Kurzel’s “Snowtown:Live” provides the undercurrent for a movie principally set in the suburbs of Salisbury North, in the boundaries of what was once the City of Elizabeth, named in honour of Her Majesty in 1955 as an experimental satellite town.

There is in fact a strange resonance to this unique performance of Snowtown: Live, here as part of the main arts festival in the city that housed the individuals that committed the Bodies in Barrels murders, as it is all closer to home for us.

Classic analog synths, live percussion & cello combined with a rich wall of layered guitars from Jed Kurzel’s ensemble, ambient feedback treatment reminding me strongly of Michael Brook but with considerably more isolationism. Images of housing commission homes, the corroding corpses of cars scattered on front lawns, the sickly sweet pastel shades of cheap lilac paint lining the interiors of dwellings.  How much is really a projected middle class distaste for a blue collar heartland, and how much is truly an awareness of the banality of evil given the events that transpired there?  It is a question I keep asking myself later in the interval amongst the glitterati of Adelaide arts personalities.

Musically there are themes that rise and return, one which reminds me of an unhinged reflection of Receurdos de la Alhambra, all melancholic tremelo, while another is underpinned in percussive panicked heart beats that switch between sequencer & skin.  Projected on the screen on the long road to Snowtown from the northern suburbs are the metal grain silos that appear like upright bullet casings, sentinels to the violence inflicted upon the eleven victims.

If Jed Kurzel & company’s sonic brilliance picked at a wound, then drone-ambient meisters Stars of the Lid were possibly the countering Balm of Gilead.  Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie weaved a most unquiet void that combined with the projected visuals gave rise to feelings of time running out to some uncertain end.  The wave wash of harmony felt like an unsung polyphony of Gesualdo-proportioned interplay. Treated guitars gave rise to a crescendo of sound synonymous in puissance to that of a pipe organ, otherwise laying silent in the background. And supporting this structure, and sometimes rising above it, were the Zephyr Ensemble, who we last saw at the 2013 Unsound Adelaide weaving their stringed alchemy under Demdike Stare.

I looked around and saw some slumped in a soporific daze, not in boredom, but as in a methadonic anaesthesia. I myself re-emerged several times into lucidity from this beautiful catatonia, awakening into a sound as though I was at the heart of a hornets nest.

If this is what it means to be Unsound of mind, then may this musical madness never stop.

Jonathan Mar 9th 2014 01:10 am Events,Music,People,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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