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New aural adventures

Keith Gallasch

d>art04 Sound d>art04 Sound
photo Patrick Neu
d>Art.04 Sound, curated by RealTime Associate Editor and sound artist Gail Priest, was an intriguing and enveloping journey into 10 sound spaces while seated on glowing design furniture (2Design: Henrietta Gothe-Ellis + Roger Veitch) and headphoned into attractive players (Yamaha MusicCAST interactive wireless home music network). The engaging ambience of the space, the easy utility of the players and the brevity of the works encouraged taking in the whole program, replaying or skipping at will.

In Ben Byrne's Sewing Machine Beheads itself (Feet Up) bright signals play across your head, go chordal, and loop in and out of sync like a cloud of busy morse-coding critters. Camilla Hannan's Itchy is like a journey across a landscape of industrial squeal and electrical discharge, almost familiar but otherwise quite alien, until finally a crackling right inside your ears begins to take you down into something deep, very dark and you fill with water. Lithuanian Gintas Kraptavicius' titled#9dub seems one of those pure sine wave experiences that for all its apparent abstraction hits like a 100% alcohol Vodka-chaser. In fact it's not all distillation: there's a lot going on as high bright sounds blip and glide up yielding increasing musicality. Jasper Norda's A week in June in a space of 5 minutes/Butterfly (Sweden) has a similar purity of tone, ticking and whistling around spoken word that reflects on cancer, death and time, deep in the ears.

Untitled, a 15 minute collaboration between Kazumichi Grime and Anthony Guerra, begins with crackles and bells and a spacey depth of field which it gradually fills out with big riffs and rumbles, layers of vibration and bristlings, generating a liquid density with breaking waves of sounds and booming closure. It's a sonically interesting if structurally predictable romantic soundscape. Matt Warren's So Close reflects on his mother's near-drowning when she was a child with a kind of aural simulation of the event, moving from a literal surface (the sounds of kids at play in water) into the big splash that takes you under, the thump in the ear, the dark vibrations of some big, other space, a consuming high pitched buzzing and the gasping eruption of escape.

Philip Pietruschka's Valeria listens attentively to the playing of musical instruments (electro-acoustic guitar and percussion), to plucking, vibration, the scrape of surfaces, the spaces in between and curious incidental effects that, like a watery clacking, are not easy to locate. Not surprisingly, the composer cites Takemitsu's film scores as an influence. Acutus (Takumi Endo, Japan) is described in the program note as "an exploration of a hyper-monochrome sound environment", the artist calling it "dance music for the synapses." It fairly bops along, shuffling and blipping like some hip morse-coder across great distances, growing nearer and sharper and increasingly hypnotic.

Tim Catlin's Friction is another close listening venture, this time to household sounds resonating like old machinery, the aural space gradually opening out, the higher rattlings and squeakings anchored by deeper notes from something unidentifiable. Although more interesting for its collection of intriguing sounds than its compositional virtues, the ambience is oddly like being in the bush at night. In Kerr, Vicky Browne conjures up a spooky room from her childhood without literal referencing, generating something much larger, humming, surging, plummeting and expanding harmonically with all the spaciness of Kubrick's 2001. Must have been some room.

d>Art.04 Sound is a collection of class acts, the cliches are few, and, as with d>Art.04's screen program, although not every work appeals there are more than enough of high calibre, whether in the developing aural-tracking idiom of Camilla Hannan, Matt Warren's experiential micro-narrative, or in the new experiences offered me by Gintas Kraptavicius, Jesper Norda and Takumi Endo.

dLux media arts, d>Art.04 Sound, Exhibition Hall, Sydney Opera House; Sydney International Film Festival, June 17-27

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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