NoizeMaschin is the Perth Artifactory’s monthly experimental night and its March edition, curated by Josten Myburgh, was one of the best I have attended.
Akioka’s set started with a circling drone that gradually thickened with the addition of vocals, loops and delays. It was the sonic equivalent of being inside a planetarium, with Akioka pointing out to sound objects around us, zooming in and out of them while constantly informing our perspective. Thus she focused on a short vocal loop, speeding it up until it acquired a new identity before letting it out in the revolving mass again. Video images of microscopic life accompanied her set courtesy of local artist Dolphin Secrets; I thought the mix of visuals and sound gave listeners the opportunity to create their own experience by “blending” these two to taste.
Vocalist Sage Of Pbbbt’s current practice focuses on a capella improvisations drawing from Tuvan and Mongolian throat singing. Emitting a torrent of gasps, screeches and super low grunts, their set had a vulnerability I have rarely encountered in public performance. It seemed to me that Sage was using the voice to create an honest experience within the listener. It felt confronting in an inward sort of way.
Mixing from a laptop, Meg Travers introduced sounds of thunder, spoken excerpts and chilling drum beats to create a desperate atmosphere. These sounds revolved around a bass line going up and down a major second while her vocals pushed through the dense soundscape. It was a thrilling performance despite its short length, with Meg’s voice and forceful character engaging the audience throughout.
Armed with an electric guitar, loop station and violin, Hayden built layers of guitar while adding vocal lines of natural phrasing. The guitarist has a captivating stage presence and their set had a well thought-out structure, borrowing from the song format as well as the Minimalist “process” approach. When the violin was finally introduced, more as sound texture than melodic development, it gave the piece a satisfying closure.
Harp player Catherine Ashley is among the most prominent figures in the local experimental scene and her set was widely anticipated. Using an e-bow, she drew sustained sounds from the strings that went from smooth to coarse, until clashing frequencies began to produce beating. Her playing has become grittier of late, adding more abandon to her gestures, like when she introduced a percussive ostinato over which the voice of Donald Trump was looped “…You are really beautiful… oh I love that…”. At this point, her playing lost any semblance of composure, becoming instead an incensed response to very specific evils.
Shoshana Rosenberg (Bass Clarinet) and Kirsten Symczycz (Piano) presented an improvised set informed by Classical and Folk music with their use of scalar patterns and complementary phrasing. The pair presented a wealth of ideas that could have been explored further but that were quickly discarded instead, somehow the energy was lost in trying to find something both could fully realise. Still, I would like to see more of this duo as their lyricism and empathy is refreshing to listen to.
Lana’s performance had dramatic detours that gave a semi-improvised feel to her song, these detours served as counterpoint to the heartfelt moods she evoked. The nuanced timbres of her keyboard synth added edge to her song writing, and I liked the use of figuration to extract more possibilities from motifs. Her set was rewarding for its raw emotion as well as the integrity of her explorations.
Next up was Opium, the project of local producer Sophia Lewis. Her music was a welcomed change in the night’s proceedings as it eased the atmosphere of heady scrutiny among the audience, while pointing towards a more relaxed and sociable way of making music.
The last performer on the night was Laura Halligan, a graduate of the Composition Degree at WAAPA. Her practice includes session work as a performer (she is currently doing a degree in Classical trumpet) and electro-acoustic composition. Using a laptop to trigger and mix sounds, she presented an acoustmatic piece exploring metallic timbres, harsh resonances and a steady pulse that was slowed down to the point of playing with the listener’s expectations of time and rhythm. There was a sense of space and “air” in the piece that could benefit from spatialisation, a practice that Laura is already accomplished in.
* Sage and Hayden prefer to be addressed by the pronoun "They"
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