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QBFM 2003

Liquid Architecture 4

Greg Hooper

Gail Priest opened the show. A couple of laptops, logos glowing in the darkness. Priest’s work involved live mixing of samples, and some text to speech improv. Beautifully paced set, starting slow with spooky wooo-wooos, scissors working, clanking train journeys with delays. The limited palette produced coherence with just the right amount of variation. The text to speech was hard to decipher at times, losing semantics to become punctuation for the underlying drones. One highlight of the set was the use of very deep register tones—sub-bass better than I have previously heard, no oscillating feedback boom resonating to the architecture, just clear and large. At the end, the lid goes down, and the machine shuts down.

Bruce Mowson then introduced his work with a slyly disarming apology. He told us that it would be fairly static, a case of turning a sound on then waiting 12 minutes for it to end. Ready. Set. Go. The sound jumped out like a real bastard, harsh pumping machine noise full on into the head. And it kept on coming, no let up, no change. Except to the listener, modulating their attention to the relentless interplay between room acoustics and sound source. Only criticism was the volume—too loud. Consult that audiologist. I joined many others in putting my fingers in my ears about halfway through. But quality music. And then it stopped.

Lawrence English and Philip Samartzis then stepped up and improvised some statics and circuits. Beginnings were gradual, slow microsounds from the turntable, walks on moist gravel. Some sine waves wandered in and got close enough to set up interference. Sounds of foraging and late night listening to something scrabbling inside the wall. Not so much overt structure in this performance. More crafted sounds and obsessive tweaking. Fine motor control. Rifling through cases of white label CDs.

After the interval came the grand old man. Bernard Parmegiani, pioneer of tape music and loops when loops were rings of physical tape, not a method for addressing files. Parmegiani mixed 3 stereo tracks from CD across all the speakers of the diffusion system to get those sounds moving through the space. Worked a treat, much better than just playing straight stereo.

The pieces came in chronological order. First up was Capture Ephemere from 1967. I’d forgotten how much I missed the rich sound of analog tapes. The piece had an economy of means that strengthened its impact. Speed changes and echoes, cut and splice. Next was Rouge Mort from 1987. Nightbirds. Wind. Trees. Hipster bongos and violins. From natural to abstract and back. 17 minutes of sonic and dynamic variety. Last up was Les Memoire des Sons from 2001, a more electro-acoustic work using the sounds of bells, the wind, blowing through pipes, accelerating to create headlong rushing and hurtling through electro-acoustic space.

Liquid Architecture 4, Brisbane Powerhouse, July 19

RealTime issue #58 Dec-Jan 2003 pg. 43

© Greg Hooper; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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