9 May 2015
James Turrell is described as the greatest artist of our time ... by some. I enjoyed some of his exhibition and admired some techniques, but I prefer Botticelli. But James and Oliver of The Noise were playing in the very echoey space of the Turrell Skyspace at the National Gallery yesterday and I enjoyed that experience. The dome itself seems strangely out-of-place to me, non-Australian, with ferns growing over (I saw them dead and dry a year or so ago) and all that water and green grass. The colours are not right. The open eye to the sky gathers some Australian colours, but seems to me to steal it for the benefit of the artist. But the techniques are perfect. The laser-levelled water edges are incredible, if the work of the builder. The sharp edged eye on the sky is also wondrous, although seems to be suffering a little now. Its edge is getting haggard and there are spots in the dome that break the sense of perfection. But perhaps the masterpiece was below me. The woman next to me observed that the concrete seats we were sitting on were heated. So it was! Comfy.
James and Ollie played for about 45 minutes. It was one mutating piece, improvisation perhaps with some guide. Mesmerising, suitable for closed eyes, I think accompanied by drones (presumably that was the purpose of the two speakers fed from a laptop under Ollie's seat). I enjoyed this, didn't find it at all stretched or straining. My android tuner told me A was the central note, moving through C, C#, D, F. Fairly tonal, although mesmeric rather than melodic, sometimes moving stepwise, sometimes making noises rather than clear tones, with backs of bows or whatever. I liked this immensely. It's new, it's even n(N)oise, but it's music of its time and apt for the space. Spacey, even. They did it very well.
James Eccles (viola) and Oliver Miller (cello) are two of The Noise and they played at the Turrell Skyspace at the National Gallery.