28 January 2014

SoundOut2014/2 (Saturday afternoon)

It's the most glorious of sunny days and I wonder why I'm going inside to listen to music. This will be recognised later in the afternoon session with some music in the Art School garden, but in the meantime, it's into theatre dark.

The first performer is setting up a complex piece of kit as I arrive. Ross seems to keep adjusting it throughout the performance, because he doesn't really play this, the gear plays itself, but he moves and adjusts and mixes to allow and then manipulate the sounds. There's a loose spinning string forming sine-like curves when it doesn't hit an object in its path. Ross has placed various objects in its path and these seem to have pickups which transfer to a few little mixers and at least one foot pedal. The objects are a zither and various home-built timber panels with nail-like protrusions, and later a set of cow bells. It's a complex sound of percussion and drone, changing pitches with zither movements, various rings and springs and the like. Visually it's strange and aurally, too, but mesmeric. Home-made instruments making intriguing sounds.

The basses are back, this time in two separate outfits, and that's influenced the sessions I attended. Firstly Slawek with John alto and Dave guitar. Dave started with sparse notes, but it's Slawek who bores into this music and leads with prodigious energy. He's a big man with impressive mane. He rocks searching for inspiration before he so much as plays a note, then pizz, bow, thumps, slides, always forceful, unrelenting. Guitar goes through single notes, eBow, feedback and tenor through tonguing and flaps. Slawek stopped for the feedback, loud and simple, still rolling on his feet, then strong notes, heavy vibrato, 5th, 6th intervals, strong German bowing. This is powerful bass. I was not surprised when he told me of a background in punk. Unrelenting and overwhelmingly assertive bass.

Next was bassist Clayton playing a free jazz set with pianist Cor and drummer Evan. Evan is Evan Dorrian well known to the local modern jazz community. He's delved considerably into free and new musics for years, but a strong drummer in jazz and presumably other fields. Cor is from the Netherlands, but apparently now resident in Sydney. Clayton is ex-Sydney recently Berlin. More traditional, if you can say this of free jazz (I think you can). They warmed up, jokingly, with another fast swing although hardly a standard. Then into a delicious set of hard swing, recogisable but malleable harmonies (I found the chords refreshing) that moved in symmetrical steps, diminished or whole tone, piano played with the felt over the keys (strange, this), piano played by directly manipulating the hammers, deliriously free keyboard. Bass moved through swing and walks and tapping and bows to a fabulously effective section as a percussion instrument with drums (sticks placed between strings, other stick tapping, flapping first stick). Stunningly in confluence with Evan. And Evan, explosive, riding, following with body and eyes. These were stares through that percussion passage, and there was close contact here, although not with Cor whose piano was positioned so he couldn't easily glance. A fabulously effective free jazz set and my favourite for this SoundOut.

The three picked up instruments (Cor took a guitar; Evan one tom) and they moved with audience to the garden outside. Some playing with background birds, then a merge into Radio Celeste and her laptop and turntable created musical environment. Earthy sounds; seemingly of the garden we sat in. Pretty and involving and of nature, although perhaps less of a sunny day like that one.

So, that's what I heard of SoundOut 2014, other than one last appearance. I was listening to ABC FM after 11pm, listening to some fascinating modern classical recordings. The I recognised Julian Day's voice, then later SoundOut. He played two tracks from the Friday evening session, Psithurism Trio + (Richard, Rhys, John, Krista, Rosalind) then the trio set of Viv, Melanie and filmist Lousie. More in mid-Feb.

Ross Manning (string instrument) played the first set. Then a trio of Slawek Janicki (bass), John Porter (tenor) and Sean Baxter (guitar). Then another trio of Cor Fuhler (piano, guitar), Clayton Thomas (bass) and Evan Dorrian (drums). An end in the garden with Radio Celeste (radiophonics).

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