13 May 2012

The outreaches of downtown Manuka

Spartak is currently in season at the Canberra Contemporary Arts Space at Manuka and I got to last night’s gig. They are playing with a series of visitors. Last night’s was Londoner, Ollie Bown of Icarus, who is now resident in Melbourne.

For me, Spartak is always the outreaches of my sonic experience: minimalist digitally-effected guitar drones from Shoeb with percussive expression layered over the top from Evan. I joke with Megan about it (she prefers Beethoven) but I like it, even if my understanding is short. But then understanding it probably not what’s required with this music. Ollie added laptop convolutions of the live stage sounds that droned or pulsed or mutated to our ears. It was loud or delicate or percussive and always meditative. I heard authentic BBC Radiophonic Workshop (think Dr Who) at one stage and I also felt dense, deep power when I sat near a bass trap corner. I heard Evan’s richly interpretative drummer that just says training and craft to my ears. I heard Shoeb’s electronics and minimal, recurring, slightly mutating guitar chords, although Shoeb's and Ollie's drones often merged to my ears. I even heard some thinly present voice from Shoeb at one stage, although I may have missed it if I wasn’t looking. Experimental and free music of this style is always a walk on the wildside, but I’m refreshed by it and taught again to listen meditatively.

Even Manuka has its outreaches. The minimalism continued in the visual arts on display and the space. The art was mostly tiny and dwarfed, even in this small room; seating was minimal (actually, none) but I felt that suited the music; most sadly, the walls are bare and refective and so the sound was mushy and the drums sounded distant with reverb. All part of the challenge that is a walk in the wilds of Manuka.

Spartak performed one night of its Cue Funktion residency with Ollie Bown (laptop) of Icarus. Spartak are Shoed Ahmad (guitar, electronics) and Evan Dorrian (drums).

No comments: