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31 March 2009

Club Zho 82

Perth // WA // 17.03.2009

Jonathan Mustard Image: Jonathan Mustard  

Tura New Music’s ongoing series continued in fine style with its 82nd show, an intriguing combination of improvisation, electronics and interactivity. Once again, Club Zho maintained an astonishing level of ingenuity and artistic exploration that it has provided throughout its long history. On this night, the event was situated at the prestigious and new Ellington Jazz Club, which provided a great stage and setting, close and intimate for performers and audience to jointly enjoy a night of new music.

Lindsay Vickery is a stalwart of the Perth electronic music scene, a world-renowned musician and an inspiring improviser. His brief set featured two pieces arranged for bass clarinet/soprano saxophone and laptop. Vickery’s works displayed a transient nature, his extended techniques on both clarinet and alto saxophone rapidly moving between extremes of pitch, while his laptop processing constantly shifted, providing a channel of interaction.

His improvisations focused on timbre and rhythm, generally sounding atonal but occasionally harmonised tonally with electronic playback. The electronic component consisted of delays, modulations, pitch shifting and looping at various tempi. Constantly changing, the electronics were used to great effect as an intelligent reactive machine and provided a constantly fresh and inventive backing for Vickery to control, and to interact with, as an improviser.

Vickery’s second piece was a version of Earle Brown’s December 1952 and included recordings of Brown speaking about his piece, as Vickery electronically manipulated both Brown’s voice and his own live saxophone parts - a strong interpretation of an open work. It struck resonances with Brown’s more modular works, with different musical ideas (held dissonant chords, fast delayed notes, slowed voice playback) being utilised, but ordered by random.

Colonel Mustard’s Famous Audio Visual Show is the solo work of Jonathan Mustard, incorporating audio and visuals as well as performance. Mustard plays a variety of instruments, generally utilising one per work to control and interact with computer-generated visuals.

The opening piece set a definite trend for what the Colonel’s show (in the words of Tos Mahoney, director of Tura New Music: a ‘great, whimsical, entertaining and sometimes provocative event’) aims to provide. Polyoctagon no.1, a ‘vocal piece for keyboard’, was made up of samples of vocal phrases that each had a corresponding video section. Beginning with a single repeating sample and then adding more and more layers, Mustard controlled the audio and video with a MIDI keyboard controller. The performance was musically interesting due to the textures, harmonies and phasing created between voices. The video comprised of computer-generated heads that emotively sung each line, the ‘audience pleaser’ being the group of what appeared to be African men singing a particularly low choral sample.

The following pieces Pizzicato and Fragile Playground for flute, and Bully and Whistles and Bells each explored audio-visual relationships, with the particular sounds evoked from the wind instrument pushing the video along or manipulating pre-imagined video. The layers of sound and video for each of these pieces created a very enjoyable viewing experience, as the listener could try to wrap their brain around the specific relationships occurring, or simply enjoy the pieces for their auditory and image creativity.

The video comprised of computer-generated female and male forms, which were trapped somewhere between being synthetic and life-like - a grey area which I found to not have much weight. The movements in Pizzicato were very formulaic and structured, which was effective, overall however the continued use of these characters was not as impressive as in Mustard’s previous dance collaborations with Chrissie Parrot, where the figures served as a contrast to live dancers.

Later pieces included a hilarious work of samples, triggered by the MIDI keyboard, that would rapidly change the image projected on screen to an image of the Colonel playing that particular instrument. The barrage of winds, chimes, jaw harp and brass was rapid and frantic, but the images were lighthearted and amusing.

The strength of the Famous Audio Visual show is its ability to draw the viewer in with the interaction of sound and video. The attention to detail in the audio sculpting can be overlooked if too much attention is paid to the visuals. Mustard must be commended on his show that is entertaining, yet provides carefully constructed musical ideas, compelling relationships between audio and visual and a performance that is constantly amusing and thought-provoking.

As an extra treat, the ‘extraordinarily unplanned’ duo of Anthony Pateras and Lindsay Vickery took to the stage for an improvised set of piano and winds. Anthony Pateras is a beast of improvisation, creating layered textures of speedy piano notes and chord clusters, resonating the piano to produce clouds of sound. Vickery’s wind playing is equally inventive, extracting seemingly impossible sounds from his reeds, and utilising great dynamics to create an impassioned performance. The set was frenetic, with Pateras beginning with sheets of sound and clusters of notes, and Vickery following suit.

If improvisation is the ‘regurgitation of one’s old habits’, then these two musicians have some incredibly intriguing habits. The impromptu nature aided the performance. The dynamics shifted and swayed but overall there was an incredible interplay between the two, allowing for space at times but at other times simply creating massive, rapid fire sounds which filled the room and demanded attention.

Club Zho 82 delivered yet again with a night filled with NEW music, that being music that is improvised, creative and exploratory. Each act of the night found different ways to create these effects, but each featured fresh and exciting instances of improvisation, interaction and musicality. Kudos must be given to Tura New Music for consistently putting on shows that combine many elements of ‘new music’ yet are always a celebration for new creations and different sounds.

Event details

Club Zho 82 presented by Tura New Music
Lindsay Vickery
Colonel Mustard’s Famous Audio Visual Show
Lindsay Vickery + Anthony Pateras
The Ellington Jazz Club, Northbridge, Perth, WA

Further links

Jonathan Mustard - AMC
Anthony Pateras
Lindsay Vickery
Tura New Music's Club Zho

Subjects discussed by this article:

Kynan Tan is a musician and sound artist from Perth, Australia. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Music: Music Technology, under the guidance of Cat Hope. He has performed on solo electronics in Berlin and composes music for electroacoustic ensembles, interactive music and installations.


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Did anyone else just hear the live broadcast on CABC FM of the THE PASTICHE ACCORDING TO ST RICHARD?