April marks the end of the fourth year of musical activity at de la Catessen. To celebrate, musicians – with a special emphasis on those working in Adelaide’s underground, experimental, and academic fields – will present a series of concerts from April 12-23. The programme is as follows:

Sunday, April 12th, 3:30pm

Monday, April 13th, 6:30pm

$20/$15

ALEKSANDR TSIBOULSKI & JACOB CORDOVER

Classical Guitars

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Five years after their intensive collaboration at the Banff Centre in Canada, two of Australia’s most gifted young guitarists come together for a one-off reunion tour across Australia. The versatile programme will feature solo sets, and duos, including the rarely heard contemporary virtuosic masterwork “Clocks” by American composer Joan Tower, Antonio Jose’s “Sonata”, and “Three Duets” by Australia’s own guru, Phillip Houghton.

Jacob Cordover resides in Barcelona, and this will be his first concert performance in Adelaide.

At 29 and with countless awards and competition wins under his belt, Aleksandr Tsiboulski easily transcends the image of the technically flawless competition winner. Foremost is the commitment, passion, and intelligence – the “Russian” communicative quality, underpinned by a depth of study, apprenticeship and scholarship to rival any in his generation of guitarists.   

Melbourne newspaper The Age described Mr. Tsiboulski’s concert as “a fine exhibition of responsive virtuosity”. His 2002 recording of Leo Brouwer’s Sonata was hailed by Classical Guitar (UK) as “a towering performance of this monumental work”, and in 2007, Mike Greenberg of the San Antonio Express News (US) wrote, “It would be hard to imagine a more moving performance of John Dowland’s “Lachrimae Pavan” of 1604. Tsiboulski wove gently billowing phrases into a testament of grief, … producing a beautiful, transparent, lute-like sound”.  

Mr. Tsiboulski’s formative studies were with the revered Australian Timothy Kain.  Periods of mentorship with Angelo Gilardino (Italy), Carlo Barone (France), David Leisner (USA), and Carlos Bonell (UK) have proven deeply influential, as have master classes with Leo Brouwer, John Williams and David Russell. Extended residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada gave him the opportunity to perform with leading instrumentalists such as Edgar Meyer (bass) and Patrick Gallois (flute).  

Between 2005 and 2008, Mr. Tsiboulski was based at the University of Texas at Austin as Australian – American Fulbright Scholar in the Visual and Performing Arts.  Currently living in Australia, he is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree through the University of Adelaide, while maintaining a busy schedule of performances and musical collaborations. 

Among Mr. Tsiboulski’s recent highlights was an extensive tour of Japan, and a recently recorded CD of Australian Guitar Works is due for release in 2009 on Naxos.

Jacob Cordover has established a vibrant and varied international career. He has appeared on stage throughout Australia, Canada, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom as a soloist and in his chamber ensembles, Zoco Duo (with oboist Laura Karney) and the Australian Guitar Duo (with Rupert Boyd). His solo CD Stélé, recorded in 2004, is regularly featured on Australian radio and was hailed by Classical Guitar Magazine (UK) as “wonderfully sympathetic and highly accomplished… Cordover managing to get to the very soul of this striking and brilliant music.”

Alongside Jacob Cordover’s established groups, he is in demand as a chamber musician and soloist, having worked with ensembles and orchestras including the Orquestra Simfònica de Balears “Ciutat de Palma” conducted by Geoffrey Simon, the Orchestra Ottocento conducted by Carlo Barone, Z.O.O. guitar ensemble, the Leicester International Music Festival and artists ranging from Nicholas Daniel to Dave Young. In 2004-5 he spent nine months as a Resident Artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, where aside from his regular performances and masterclasses he met international musicians and composers with whom he continues to work.

Whilst Mr Cordover plays the full range of classical guitar repertoire, he is also active in the development and research of contemporary and 19th century music. His interest in contemporary music was inspired by studies with Timothy Kain, which has led to his commissioning and premiering works for solo guitar and guitar with oboe, a previously overlooked combination. He is proving to be an important figure in the development of new guitar repertoire, having had works written for him by British, Norwegian, Mexican, Spanish, Australian, American and Canadian composers. He also works with specialist Carlo Barone in the application of appropriate performance practice of 19th-Century music, including performing this repertoire on a variety of period guitars, including; Rudhlov (England, c. 1820), Lacote (France, 1825), Soriot, (France, c. 1820) and Gaetano Guadagnini (Italy, 1828).

Complementing his performance schedule, Jacob Cordover has won prizes and awards in international competitions the world over. These include 1st prize at the III Concurso Internacional de Guitarra Festival de Córdoba, Spain, 1st prize at the Sydney Performing Arts Challenge, 2nd prize at the Australian Guitar Competition, Chamber Music Section and 3rd prize at the Performing Australian Music Competition, London.

Jacob Cordover has been the recipient of grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, the Australian National University Friends of the School of Music, artsACT, Swiss Global Artistic Foundation and the Australian Music Foundation.

Monday, April 13th, 3pm $10/$8

DAVID KOTLOWY: prepared guitar, ruined piano, shakuhachi

ADE SUHARTO: dance

STEVEN KOTLOWY: bowed metallophones

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Leading Adelaide composer David Kotlowy gives his final performance here before embarking for an extended stay in Japan as the 2008 recipient of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Japan Travel Fund. 

Japanese aesthetics play a major role in Kotlowy’s music; most notably, the aim of obtaining maximum results from limited resources. This principle can be found in Zen art, garden design, Butoh dance and shakuhachi music. Ruined pianos provide another example of this aesthetic.

Ruined pianos are instruments that have no useful “musical” life left and are therefore considered unsuitable for restoration. Typically, they have been abandoned, usually to all weathers. No two pianos ruin in the same way, and any one instrument may vary radically even from one day to the next. The important sounds are the small sounds and the “uninvited” ones that are normally disregarded and filtered out of performance.

Probably because they are regarded as symbols of revered European musical culture, pianos are regularly degraded. (Piano burning is popular, but they are also dropped from buildings, dragged behind cars and bludgeoned with sledgehammers.) By contrast, players of ruined piano do not set out to destroy the instrument, but rather to (re)discover the musicality in an instrument others have forsaken. Ruined pianos are not mere artifacts in a state of neglect, they exemplify transformation and the transience of the present.

Ruined Piano and Shakuhachi therefore combine beautifully, for they both inhabit a sound-world that is open at the edges. The aesthetic of ‘ma’ – complementary space – and the structural importance of breath durations are central to Honkyoku Shakuhachi music, and Kotlowy’s oeuvre.

Ade Suharto’s choreography is a synthesis of her classical Javanese and contemporary Western dance training. It also reflects her work with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (Taiwan) and Gumerang Sakti (Jakarta).

“Europe is a small peninsula in North-West Asia” Lou Harrison

Tuesday, April 14th, 10pm $5

DEREK PASCOE

saxophone

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Derek Pascoe is among the leading free improvisers in Adelaide, whose rigorous approach to musical self-discipline gives a profound assurance to his rare extended solo public performances.

“When you experience (and experiencing is the key) the power of group improvisation (as both a performer and listener)
then you crave it like a junkie. 
What makes it exciting for me as a performer is connected to the edge that you are looking over before the jump into… the abyss … or flying with the angles.” (Derek Pascoe)

I first heard Derek Pascoe perform a solo saxophone improvisation in 2006 at a Tyndall Assembly concert. Besides his instrument, he had brought with him a beautiful coffee table book – Buddhist Offerings 365 Days – which quotes a contemplative text for each day of the year. As he prepared himself on stage for performance Derek spoke out to me over the audience; “Luke, what’s your birthday?” He looked up the date in the book and read aloud the following statement by the 14th Dalai Lama:

“I think that there is a very close connection between humility and patience. Humility involves having the capacity to take a more confrontational stance, having the capacity to 
retaliate if you wish, yet deliberately deciding not to do so. That is what I would call genuine humility. I think that true tolerance or patience has a component or element of self-discipline and restraint – the realization that you could have acted otherwise, you could have adopted a more aggressive approach, but decided not to do so.”

Derek proceeded with a short warm up improvisation as an initial reaction to the text. He then read the text aloud again, and proceeded with his improvisation in full, surrounded by sympathetically resonating gongs. Having such a warm text associated with my birthday was not necessary to become deeply engrossed in the performance, for it was a wonderful musical journey. The connection between the philosophy of the 14th Dalai Lama and the music it spontaneously inspired was a key to its success. What is more, this concert was not just a happily successful once-only experiment, but part of a large-scale exercise in solo improvisational development which Derek had conceived along the lines of Stockhausen’s seminal work ‘Aus den Sieben Tagen’… but less musically direct and fifty-two times longer. I asked Derek about this exercise as it related to ‘Buddhist Offerings 365 days’:

“I decided to use the book as a score to play each day for a year. I was looking for a method to adopt which would allow me to move away from the cliché jazz language that I had been using for most of my playing career. I recorded the results every day (usually at the same time so as to create a sense of ritual) and as I moved through the days and months the changes in my playing were remarkable. The sense of freedom that I achieved through this discipline was evident in over forty hours of recorded music. (…) Another practice technique was to play two long tones a semi-tone apart for a very long time – in some cases up to an hour. After a certain time, fifteen to twenty minutes, I had moved through the pain barrier to some sort of reverie that gave me a ‘feeling’ of elimination of intention and control from what I played next.”

A fascinating aspect of improvised music is the balance between the performer seeking to spontaneously express the self, and something beyond the self. For example, while a masterful technique is invaluable, how does one overcome its conventions? On one hand, technique is required for musical expression; on the other hand, it is often through pushing this technique to breaking point that the divine is glimpsed for unsustainable moments as though by accident, when the instrument and performer become one. Furthermore, the relatively rare combination and balance of these conditions are of much less value in improvisation if the performer is without a strong sense of intuition. The achievement of all this can only be approached modestly – through application, discipline, and meditation – and when revealed can ironically relate closely to effortlessness and naivety. As Derek comments:

“… I constantly strive to remove the barrier between the saxophone and myself, and this is the exact way that allows me to approach each performance as a blank slate. It is in a way similar to the Japanese calligraphers who spend all morning preparing the paint in a methodical and contemplative way to allow them to perform their painting instantly in a ‘stream of inspiration”. (…) I heard a cassette tape of myself playing the saxophone from 1972 – I had been playing for only a few months – it sounded closely to the ‘voice’ I was trying to achieve in my playing now, it had an edgy rawness and purity that only someone without the baggage of years of playing could have. I was reminded of a TV program on Picasso, where he said ‘I’ve spent all my years trying to paint like a child’…”

Wednesday, April 15th, 8pm $5

JASON SWEENEY with Tristan Louth-Robins:

Panoptique Electrical

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Panoptique Electrical is both an experimental studio project by Jason Sweeney and occasional collaborations with Zoë Barry, Jed Palmer, Tristan Louth-Robins (live performers) and Steve Phillips (Sensory Projects record label). Sweeney has been composing sound and music scores for live theatre, dance, film/video and installation projects since 1998. The first album Let The Darkness At You was released in 2008. The new album Yes to Fear, Yes to Desire will be released in July 2009 on Sensory Projects/Inertia Music.

Interview – Luke Altmann to Jason Sweeney, March 24th 2009.

LA:   What role does Panoptique Electrical play in your activities as a whole?

JS:   It plays a pretty significant part in my artistic life. I guess Panoptique Electrical is kind of like the sum of the parts of all the musical things that I do – but in saying that, it’s like the stripping away of the extraneous layers and finding the essentials. So yeah it occupies a lot my mind and because I also make music for other people (theatre, dance, film) I’m also composing as a job too, which is a great thing.

LA:   What do you aim to do for  yourself/the audience through performance?

JS:   I’m really trying to find a mood, which is usually melancholy or dark or a kind of sadness, and to draw out sound sketches that capture that state. I’m always thinking about larger sketches though, that are made out of a series of pieces. So in a way, maybe the music making is kind of episodic or similar to making ‘movements’ that piece together. And in this making process I am always imagining how a listener/audience might feel or respond… you know, how do I lure them in and keep them there, into this place where they can kind of lose themselves for a while before they have to go back to other noise of the world. I am really wanting to quieten things down, slow them down, make moments where lying down or sitting and just taking something in for an hour or so is worth something.

LA:   The music of yours I’ve heard is instrumental. What are your views  of communication through music in a non-verbal sense?

JS:   Well I reckon you can say so much more with non-verbal music (and I’ve made heaps of lyric based music too) – because in a way, once someone starts singing or speaking with sound, there’s already a story there or kind of message that’s hard to escape. Instrumental music can open that right up because you can go back to it anytime and listen in different ways – the subtleties or intensities in the music can draw out new and interesting listening responses. In my experience of listening to Stars of the Lid, for example, I can hear a piece of theirs and think ‘wow last time I was listening to this I was sure it made me feel happier…but now it just makes me want to cry’… but you know, when someone is using their words to make a musical statement, then there is an instant limitation in how you might interpret it. I mean, that’s not always the case, but a human voice in music is very powerful and will more often than not detract from the sounds going on underneath.

LA:  You first came to create music, I understand, through theatre and  dance. Do they still preoccupy you – and if so, how do they inform  the music you compose and perform? How do they influence your  personal experience of sound?

JS:   Well I actually started making music when I was about 14 when I discovered those great tape-to-tape boom boxes and just found these old keyboards with a friends and recorded hours of very strange and stupid music. But then years later after playing in bands and doing more pop oriented stuff, I went on to study and perform theatre..so it was a natural progression to end up making music for performing arts productions and the like. I guess I work almost full-time now making music for other people’s theatre, dance, media or film projects and in between I am making my own music – but as I say, the sounds that get made for these productions often end up as pieces that I would perform and record/release as Panoptique Electrical. The first album comprised entirely of re-worked compositions I had made for productions between 1998-2008…but that was interesting to select pieces because a lot of the time I am making music that I wouldn’t necessarily use on a record as it is made specifically for a style needed in this or that arts production. But the great thing about being employed to make music in these circumstances is I am forced to keep learning how to compose and to play and to find new ways and sounds. I was still making music on an old 8-track tape machine 8 years ago! It’s only been in the last 7 years that I really started to make music on a laptop – and still I use a computer like I would a tape machine, a simple recording device…as I’m not all that interested in plug-ins and the intricacies of ‘recording technologies’. But having said that, of course, I use some plug-ins to achieve some effects needed, especially for arts productions but then generally avoid them in my recorded works!

Thursday, April 16th, 8pm FREE

CHRISTIAN HAINES

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This performance by Christian Haines will be an eclectic exploration of the mobile phone, Ligeti, failure aesthetics and the highly relevant amplification of the sound of ice melting.

If an iceberg melts at the pole and no-one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?

This is the first question I asked myself when Christian Haines told me that his upcoming concert would feature, among other things, the sound of ice melting. The second question: if an iceberg melts in a concert and 30 people have come to listen, does it really make a sound? According to Christian: yes. It does.

“The idea behind the piece is about revealing the hidden,” he says. “There are many sonic events that we obviously do not hear simply by virtue of not being present or not having the means by which to present the sound with the attributes suited for human hearing – frequency, amplitude, etc. Everything is or can practically be made audible. It’s more about the human curiosity about whether we actually want, or can be bothered, to hear it.”

There would seem to be few more highly pertinent examples of an event we need made audible than the melting of ice: from the moment of birth we use sound as the most expedient way to communicate a need for attention in situations of distress, and this preference for sound continues through life – if we witness a crime, we cry ‘stop’; if we are in danger, we cry ‘help’; and through extension in society we use sirens, alarms, whistles, and so on, to spread the word about accident, theft, fire, and other threats…

…and although Christian affirms that the work “isn’t trying to make any strong statements one way or the other in terms of environment”, it’s hard not to consider the performance in the context of climate change and the fact that nature, while holding us all in her chaotic power, is incapable of crying audibly ‘stop’ or ‘help’ – we are left only with a mixture of her vague signals of distress which require our close attention to recognise, and we squabble protractedly over their interpretation.

So do we want, or can we be bothered, to listen? Christian at least confronts us with this question and leaves the decision to us.

Sunday, April 19th, 8pm $5

TRISTAN LOUTH-ROBINS

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Tristan Louth-Robins is a sound artist, writer, and curated the Tyndall Assembly experimental music series in 2006 and 2007.

TLR/ My approach to making music usually begins with wanting to investigate something via a system or process.  This might involve a curiosity about a certain sounding process or technology that governs or informs that process.  In either case, the sound itself is the most important part! Implementing a process and/or a technology gives me the means to situate the sound in an art context.  I could use my recent vinyl compositions as an example of this – the sounding process of a vinyl record (artifacts: crackle, hiss), the turntable itself (a tactile instrument) and the manipulation of the sounding process using additional tools (such as a laptop.)  In short, I like using systems and processes.

LA/            What are the ideas that obsess you? How do those obsessions inform the direction your music takes? Do you welcome or resist them?

TLR/            I am chiefly concerned (at the moment anyway) with sound and its signification in various contexts.  For example, for the past couple of years I have been very interested in what Rolf Julius calls ‘small sounds’ and sounds that evade conventional forms of listening.  To the average punter this might sound like clouds of quiet noise, but I’m trying to endorse a close form of attentiveness and heightened sensitivity to the condition of sound.  By framing this in an art/music context, I think I’ve got a reasonable chance of achieving this.  Again, the example of my vinyl compositions comes to mind, especially in the case of the very minimal tracks – adding layer upon layer of crackle and static with a few treatments here and there.  Getting back to the ‘small sounds’ and their signification, I see these sort of sounds as an analog of natural sounds – the sound of insects, wind through trees, dripping water, etc.  I guess you could call that something like abstract romantic zen impressionism.  Probably best not to though.

LA/            What do you aim to communicate through your music? Is it concerned with politics, religion, the environment, or purely conceptual problems? What are the concepts you explore musically? Are you looking for answers, or problems?

TLR/            Picking up from my last sentence, the natural world plays a significant part in my work at the moment; its condition combined with omnipresence of technology – whether that involves drawing an analogy to natural phenomena or a certain environment, the interaction of nature and technology (whether they complement or oppose each other) and mainly addressing the challenge of how I can present such esoteric investigations as an art form!  If one considers musings on natural environments and the presence of technology, then political and environmental themes are present in my work.   In a performance context since I started working with vinyl and a turntable, this has given me a new lease on performing music.  For a while, I was a bit stuck on how I might express such interests through performance and on occasion I felt it came across too dry, clinical or completely unlistenable!  Working with vinyl since mid-last year has provided me with a platform to express similar things, though I have thankfully progressed from investigating sole sine waves and resonant bodies.  It provides a tactile interaction for myself as a performer and is probably more visually interesting to the audience too.  Though using vinyl doesn’t really relate to the natural world, that analog to natural sounds is still there in the crackles and hiss.  The live set-up has progressed to point presently where I feel more confident to incorporate other elements into a given performance, such as other electronic instruments and field recordings.  Actual melodies are beginning to come back into my music – whether via ‘other people’s music’ (i.e. vinyl) or the use of simple unintrusive soft synths.

LA/            What has your own experience of organising and writing about experimental music events taught you about the field? And about the attitudes of your peers?

TLR/            That despite your best intentions people might walk out or immolate you in criticism in the comments section!  Curating the two years of Tyndall taught me a lot about how performers and audiences work in the context of experimental music.  In given situations it is a very exciting, confusing, frustrating, beguiling and rewarding position to be in.  Writing about the esoteric tenets and backwaters of music can also be appropriately summed up by those words too.  Off topic a bit, the other night as I was recording sound on a mobile phone in cardboard postpak strategically placed in the backyard to capture the howl of the city, I remarked to Lauren how much I love doing what I do.

LA/            What are your specific plans for the AFUM performance?

TLR/            I’ll be using a combination of turntable/vinyl, laptop, iPod Touch (soft synth, oscillator) and maybe electric guitar.  I’m undecided about the definitive structure of the performance at the moment, but it will consist of recreating tracks from the recent releases of mine with sections of improvisation as well.  Recreating the tracks gives me a good framework to work from in performance situations.  I am leaning towards a ‘quiet’ performance, not so much inaudible but restrained.  But I’m sure to throw in a couple of noisy gestures here and there to shake the punters out of their ambient stupor.

Monday, April 20th, 8pm $5

MINIMAX

featuring

LUKE HARRALD – computers

DEREK PASCOE – saxophone

CHRIS MARTIN – piano

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As a collaborative project between electronic music teacher Luke Harrald and the gestalt of the accomplished free-impro duo of Martin and Pascoe, MiniMax offers a complex live audio-visual performance.

Interview: Luke Altmann to Luke Harrald: 23/03/2009 on the forthcoming MiniMax performance with Chris Martin and Derek Pascoe.

LA            How would you define your own approach to music making?

LH           For some time now, my music has focused on creating frameworks for musical action rather than creating static musical artifacts.  In some ways, this is not all that far from the situation with traditional musical scores, where really the score represents a set of encoded instructions for the performer that they in turn interpret.  If you compare two separate performances of Beethoven for example, while the two performances are recognizable as the work at hand, you get more differences than you do similarities in the details between the two performances.  Once you begin composing using algorithms – which is fairly essential for computer music – the performer finds their interpretative space restricted (they are well outside their normal mode of performance practice).  If you are going to work with other performers rather than machines, then it is important to devise ways of building interpretative space back into the work.  This dilemma was faced by Cage in the 1950’s with the use of chance and subsequent removal of intentionality from his works, and I see this as very much a consideration for composers looking to use computers as creative tools today.

Increasingly, my work has involved technology, exploring the ways that we interact with it and how we might engage with technology that is able to exhibit some aspects of free will (or in the future actual free will – how will we react to the first computer that is self aware and says ‘hello world’?)  Spontaneity and improvisation have become fairly central to this work.  I was particularly inspired by a lecture I attended in 2006 given by improviser George Lewis where he pointed out that he doesn’t compose with notes, but composes with “behaviors and potentials”.  This is the way that I approach my interactive computer music works.

LA            Your role as computer musician is the most visually inconspicuous of the trio, yet you have just as much control over the direction the performance will take. How do you exercise that control? How much of the decision making is left to your chosen computer program, and how does it lead the performance as an independent musician without your input? What informs your choice of program, and how do you tailor it to suit the needs of your performances?

LH           One of the unique aspects of our performance is that through using Artificial Intelligence the computer is an active collaborator in shaping the performance, and while I can influence its musical output though the samples selected for a given performance, beyond that the computer is reasonably autonomous.  I mostly respond to its output, just as I would to the musical directions of Derek and Chris, mixing the 8 channels of audio it generates as the performance unfolds.  I can influence the computer by telling it I like or don’t like what it is doing, but this does not directly trigger specific samples, just influences how volatile the computer’s musical selections will be.

The ENSEMBLE system – an interactive computer music environment I created, and have been performing with and tweaking since 2007 – aims to model improvisatory behavior rather than musical structures or processes using Game Theory.  The system is an ensemble of virtual software agents that ‘make decisions’ based on strategies that allow the system to mimic some of the conscious and unconscious strategies of human improvisers.  The virtual ensemble can work autonomously to create algorithmic compositions, or interactively in live performance. 

In interactive mode, the system is essentially a musical game.  Live performers interact with the system (either through a pitch tracking system in the case of Derek, or via the mouse for me) and compete with the virtual ensemble for control of the performance.  The competitive nature of the system is important as rather than just following the improvisations of the live performers, the virtual ensemble is responsive, either reinforcing the live performers initiatives or subverting them depending on how the performers have interacted with the system previously.  If you fair poorly in the game, the system becomes quite unresponsive to your input, and does it’s own thing!

The system has been used in a wide range of settings from generating film soundtracks, to installations, audience mediated performance via wireless and even an orchestral work.  The system is modular, meaning that you can expand its capabilities to cover different situations easily through adding new software components to the existing system.  I program in the MaxMSP programming environment.

As the behavior of the agents mimics real-life behaviors (often the agents flick between channels like small children fighting over which TV channel they are going to watch!) it is interesting working with the system in that it gives the you the impression of a living entity, hence I often perform under the title of ‘AI Hander’, along the lines of the Elephant Handler, or Lion Tamer in the Circus.

LA            Music for string quartet is often described in analogy as a conversation between four intelligent friends. How would you describe the interaction between yourself, Derek, and Chris, on computer, sax, and piano? Friends? Humans? Chemicals? Alien races meeting for the first time?

LH           My normal approach to this kind of collaboration is to incorporate either some samples of the other performers into the library of sounds the computer has in its arsenal, or ask the other performers to give me samples of their choice to feed into the computer.  In this way, the computer can converse in a language the performers understand, and it also expands on the concepts of the social modeling used in the creation of the system to the real world.  The samples I contribute tend to be voice samples and electronic noise.  I do like the ‘Alien races meeting for the first time’ analogy though…

LA            It’s enough to get such a complex performance to go off without a hitch – that’s a success in its own right. But assuming all goes according to plan, what do you hope to communicate through this performance? What is the highest point you hope to reach in terms of expression, or the highest you’ve reached in the past?

LH           My first and foremost goal when using technology is for the technology to be transparent, creating a framework for and serving the musicality of the performance.  It is never the end in itself, although this is a common criticism of many new music performances that feature technology (sometimes a fair call too).

Much of my work in recent times deals with digital culture and media saturation, begging many questions: In a world with so much communication technology how are you supposed to concentrate?  Is the ‘person’ who just replied to your blog or micro-blog real or a bot?  Does that actually matter if you are never going to meet them?  Are the comments made to online news articles real users or a cynical form of agitprop?  Are you too busy playing glittery online role-playing games to actively pursue your real life?

Serendipity is always an important part of these performances, and often it is difficult to tell how a performance has gone from the stage, and we don’t know what is going to happen in advance.  We always record the outcome and then review the performance later, often revealing things that we were not aware were happening at the time.

Tuesday, April 21st, 8pm $6

BITCHES OF ZEUS

solo sets and trio by

DANIEL VARRICCHIO

PATRICK SARACINO

MOURGOS GRUND

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Post-rock-logged sponges of musical performance practice: intuitive, unpredictable, uninhibited, confronting, self-taught, and psychedelic, Bitches of Zeus members Varricchio, Saracino, and Mourgos Grund offer sibylline commentary on new music culture.

As impresarios, the members of Bitches of Zeus – Daniel Varricchio, Patrick Saracino, and Lenin Simos – have done more for the local experimental music scene than any Adelaide institution or funding body. With Jon Dale and a small circle of independent aficionados they have kept us in touch with the contemporary and experimental music world by helping to bring here leading musicians who would otherwise almost certainly bypass Adelaide, such as: Domienico Sciajno (Italy); Rafael Toral (Portugul); Philip Jeck (U.K.); Pimmon (Sydney); Richard Francis (N.Z.); Valerio Tricoli (Italy); Buttercup Metal Polish (Switzerland); Daniel Menche (U.S.A.); Matthieu Werchowski (France); Mike Cooper (U.K.); Francis Plagne (Melb); Christian Pruvost (France); Nigel Wright (N.Z.); Werner Dafeldecker (Austria); Martin Brandlmayr (Austria); Dean Roberts (N.Z.); The Same Girl (Germany); Adam Sussman (N.S.W.); Will Guthrie (Melb/France); Matt Earle (N.S.W.); and many others, playing the roles of sponsors, hosts, managers, and support acts all at once.

As a result of working so closely with these guests, their own work is uniquely well informed by current trends, especially those of Europe, to a degree yet to be fully absorbed in its significance to the cultural climate of Adelaide.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 9pm $5

ADAM PAGE SOLO

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Adam Page Solo is at the forefront of a new and unique style of performing, recording live instruments into loop pedals and spontaneously composing intricate grooves in many different styles.

I have spent over 100 hours of my life listening to Adam Page playing solo live. Surely, second only to Adam Page. From June 2006, he played every Wednesday here at de la Catessen for two years straight, honing and developing a form of performance practice for which he is now known globally. Using a wide array of instruments from every family – string, brass, percussion, woodwind, voice, keyboard, electronics (and ‘other’, which includes rockmelon, thong, candle, feather-boa, and any number of unlikely items I’ve seen him take up from the audience and play) – he builds up detailed loop-based improvisations with consistently surprising spontaneity, charisma, and élan.

What I never hesitate to point out is that I looked forward eagerly to every one of those Wednesday nights. After all, any musician has a lot to learn from Adam Page’s approach to
his art: he speaks fluently and with wit in dozens of styles, through the dialects of the sub-genres of rock, jazz, and classical, with a skill acquired through a taste acquired through a hungry love and consumption of music in its broadest senses socially, academically, and practically, and his infectious Dionysian character and earthiness encourages his audience to share his sensual experience of sound.

Guessing at what to expect from Adam Page is difficult due to the spontaneity of his performances and the breadth of his repertoire. It could be anything from a handful of haunting twenty minute long soundscapes, to a series of absurd atonal diversions on overheard fragments of audience conversation, or an homage to a favourite musician, to harmonically angular banks of funk brass, or one of his hypnotic egg shaker solos. Nothing ever quite ‘normal’ – always fresh and ecstatic.


Thursday, April 23rd, 7:30pm

Gold coin donation

HIDDEN VILLAGE

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In the chiptune community Lauren Tomczak and Sebastian Tomczak, As Hidden Village, are internationally recognized. They draw upon an eclectic collection of retro game consoles, such as the Atari 2600, Vectrex, the Sega Master System, and Mega Drive, utilising recently developed sound software to create a performance duo.  They endeavour to explore the use of relatively unconventional hardware and software in music making, such as the use of mobile phones as homebrew portable instruments and the construction of self-designed digital sequencing devices from scratch as performance.

Additionally, they have designed and implemented a number of physical interfaces for use in musical performance involving light and water as well as an interface for the Vectrex videogame console. They have performed at the Australian Computer Music Conference (2006), the Tyndall Assembly Concert Series (2007), and expanded to perform as Hidden City for the opening of the 2008 Adelaide Festival of Arts, alongside Stephen Whittington, Luke Harrald, Derek Pascoe and the Zephyr Quartet. The closing concert of AFUM 09 is one of Hidden Village’s major performances for 2009, and will feature a keyboard-controlled walkman-mellotron, singing bowls, and live VGA hacking. Obviously, I had some questions to ask them ahead of this, beginning with a request for their definition of the under-represented art of Chiptune:

HV: Chiptune or chipmusic is the use of obsolete video game consoles and computers in music composition, production, and performance. The movement revolves around the use of sound chips. However, the meaning of the word has changed over time; originally, the term chiptune was used to describe a certain kind of Amiga music in the very late eighties and early nineties, so it was a very narrow use of the word. Since then, the word has become broader in its application, and today includes music that was made using emulation, music that has its roots in inspiration (music that uses sounds that imitate sound chips rather than emulate), and music that uses traditional instrumentation to complement (or to be complemented by) chipmusic instrumentation. Currently, popular consoles and computers within the chipmusic scene include the Nintendo Game Boy, the NES, the Commodore 64, and the Amiga. However, a wide variety of consoles are in use today.

LA: Most activities of the growing international chiptune community are conducted online. Why are live performances so rare?

HV: Are live performances so rare? They are in Adelaide, but even in Melbourne and Sydney the numbers of concerts and shows featuring Game Boys and Nintendos are increasing. In the US, the UK and Europe, and parts of South-East Asia, live chipmusic performance is more common than here in Australia.

LA: Chiptune music, pervading areas of private entertainment otherwise closed to art music – namely computer and video games – has undeniable connotations of introverted escape. How do people respond to hearing this music in the context of a public concert in room full of strangers?

HV: The responses of people will undoubtedly change depending on the material that is presented as well as their own connection (if any) to these types of electronic sounds. For Hidden Village, chipmusic at its core represents an exploration of decontextualisation and an exploration of constraints – both technical and, as a result, timbral. So in this sense, it is hoped that people do no necessarily connect any feelings of nostalgia directly with our music but, rather, hear these sounds in a new light, in a new context.  

LA: Do you perform as though playing a game, thus building a piece out of personal responses to unforeseeable dilemmas hidden from the audience, or do you largely compose pieces in advance with a focus on musical development in the more or less traditional sense?

HV: Our performances are a mix of through-composed music and improvisation in the sense that the structure and form of a work is not set but certain phrases and instrumentation are set beforehand. In our performance for the AFUM, we are combining aspects of chipmusic, live sampling, improvisation, and field recordings, with a healthy dose of humour and reflexivity, as well as some more serious minimalism. 

LA: The late Tristram Cary was a pioneer of finding new musical uses for old electrical equipment – starting with discarded WWII navy surplus components – and also played a central role in the institutionalisation of electronic music in Australia. We now see Hidden Village taking a similar do-it-yourself approach as graduates of the Adelaide University’s state-of-the-art Electronic Music Unit to which Cary contributed so much. Is this a consciously ironic reaction to the standards of academia or a warm acknowledgement and deep bow to your musical roots? Or both?

HV: I would have to say it’s more of a deep bow to our musical roots. The use of DIY aesthetics and ideologies have been a part of electronic music for as long as music has been electronic – this sense still runs strongly through modern music technology academia. However, the use of hacked, modified or subverted obsolete technology – especially hardware-oriented applications – is something that is not so popular today in academic circles… we are all very good at looking forwards and never looking back. So perhaps in a sense there is a little sense of irony, or at least a sense of going against the grain.  

LA: It’s important to point out that your prominent use of otherwise obsolete and culturally era-specific thus nostalgic equipment does not represent a rejection of current audio technology, which in fact you constantly utilise and explore alongside the vintage models of – for example – Atari and Vectrex. Is this co-existence of old and new employed simply through a need to make various old interfaces compatible with contemporary technology while using their limitations as a structure for performance, or a need or desire to expand the language of musical expression through which you communicate to the public?

HV: We would have to say that the use of obsolete technology in our music and performances represents a need to use a different language of musical expression than what might be otherwise available, especially in the areas of timbre and texture. Technology from different eras has different characteristics and as a result different positive attributes. We don’t see a need to exclude certain technologies based on their age or function but rather try to find a use for a range of different technologies in music performance.