Subject: A (re-)View from Oz fwd.tnx
From: KEVIN AUSTIN (KAUSTIN@vax2.concordia.ca)
Date: Thu May 27 1999 - 09:18:38 EDT
Quite long ...
Re-posted from oz-computer for its fascinating insights, depth of
personal commitment and developed articulation about ea/cm.
Sorry for dbbles!
From: IN%"firstname.lastname@example.org" 27-MAY-1999 06:51:28.90
Subj: Sound Diffusion : Plant Syntax... an appreciation as requested.
gabbling on about [aus_emusic] Fwd: sound diffusion event on wednes
Shannon was heard to mutter...
> From: Shannon O'Neill <email@example.com>
> if anyone on the list is going to this very-interesting-looking event,
> please post a review.
here follows a purely personal impression of the evenings offerings.
as a primer my perspective is pretty much emotional/historical in that if
I am moved emotionally and the piece evokes references respecfully
integrated with the odd new idea I'm likely to enjoy it.
Technical condsiderations rarely move me other than when they are the
centrepice of any innovative aspect of the music and are completely
transparent to the lay listener.. rare, obviously. Just so you know where
Im coming from.
So to dispense with one aspect of the evening at first. It was billed as
'Diffusion': dynamic localisation of sound processed through 12 speakers
and 12 channels.'
Well there were the 12's but the level of dynamism was low as there was
not really the right gear, esp the mixing desk which was a standrad desk.
That that was dynamic was merely the volume dynamics of various channels
assigned to various speakers attenuated in real time by the
mixer/actualiser and came across as a fairly cheap effect to my mind. But
you gotta start soemwhere and it was an excellent start all round.
It must be said its not the start. I have attended two other events at
Plant Syntax, one a multi media event uti.ising various interesting if
fairly twee effects of computer based image projection and music and the
Farmers Manual intenets feed event which was dogged by tech difficulities
but which was still a success in that it was done, it happened and thats
better than nothing.
I return to this observation beceause until the Plant and a few other
spaces... in fact I can really only thnk of one.. Hard Listening at the
Musicians club... there seems no outlet for electronic music as
adventurous and marginal as what was presented at those previous events
and last night. End salutations.
To sum up briefly all the music was in essence of an abstract nature in
that there was a pretty complete absence of any regular rhythm
underpinning any of it and nothing at all to be called a beat. Pulse
perhaps in some pieces... but barely that. None of it would be generally
termed electronica, in my understanding of the basket. So.... to the
In order of apearance:
Terry will be known to those on the Oz Computer Music mailing list and is
a teacher at Latrobe uni. His piece was for me the highlight of the
evening, but I am old so bear that in mind. It was deeply reminiscent of
the music of an american composer, who Terry professes no knowledge of,
I highly recommend same.
It seemed the only piece that was composed and 'finished' on the night,
though that may well be innacurate. It ceratinly had that quality though
and was presented played from 4 track tape. Titled 'I Love You' it was
composed from the said phrase, the last words heard by the deceased in a
romantic tragedy Terry outlined at the start.
The piece was maybe 15 mins in duration and comprised permutations of the
phrase, minimally affected but fractured and resequenced/arranged to
stratospheric heights. It was captivating, immersive and occasionally when
the text was apparant a little threatening especially when the whole
phrase was repeated.The balance was maintained throughout and the piece
never lost its complex nature and degenerated into any one dimensional
polemic, as would be easy to do with the material.
Very sonoric and clean sounding it seemed entirely composed on computer,
having that tell tale digital timbre about it... take it or leave
it....there were sections where I was reminded of the chamber pieces of
Ligeti... but I cant explain that.
The vocal quality of the source material was retained throughout giving it
a warmth and resonance that I found very moving, a sonic centre that
retained interest and generated an intensity and a sense of forward
developement, yet the editing and arrangements were sufficient to render
it generally unintelligible linguistically and this made for even greater
dramatis when the whole phrase was reproduced. Marvellous.
s .ko p j e
Here we enter the domain of the digital glitch as sound source, and I hope
thats the case cos I'll be sent to coventry if its not. Sounded that way
to me. The piece was performed/mixed at the desk in real time from files
Jordan said he had had lying around for a while coming off a lap top for
the purpose of the night.
In a sense there was a quality of improv in this piece and perhaps it
suffered for that as there was a meandering quality to it throughout,
little sense of purpose or direction and a sense of being at sea and
encoutering the same waves again and again. On the other hand perhpas
there was an ambient quality to it that was intentional. I doubt it, but
Im not sure.
The sources were reminiscent of the sound of people like Microstoria,
Fennez et al. Neverthless there remained an enticing quality to the piece,
many very rich and captivating sounds and I enjoyed listening to it. Thing
is, I can't really remember anything of what it sounded like, it had
little.... forgive me....personality and as such it left little trace on
It apparantly was put together at the last minute.
The Fox and The Rose.
A concert suite composed from two sound sources... the music of a radio
adaption of the Little Prince by Antione De Saint Exupery and the actors
voices who did the radio adaption. A long spiel follows in the program and
the piece seems to have concern with onomatopoeia and babble. French in
Cds seem to be available and I suggest Synaesthesia as Mark was babbling
on about this after. His favourite piece of the night.
Well for me this piece was a little bloated, but I need to say that for
want of any other term, Im into minimalism in general.. so sonorously
diffuse music is often confusing to me.
This was a very beautiful piece... sound washed over us like waves on the
shore, chugging splashes of sound, a little more aggressive than other
pieces on the night and the piece again was marked by the precisopn and
timbre of computer generated music. Im not the greatest fan of this
'sound' and enjoy it best when its mixed with less anally retentive
arrangement devices... like tape loops and the sound of babies crying for
example. I found it as I said, sonically diffuse and the sections that
were more focussed and simpler were more captivating to me.... got me
thinking about the elemental attraction of simple ideas deeply
investigated and reminded me of why I never enjoyed a lot of Stockhausens
music when I was in my 20's and why the likes of Tony Conrad takes years
off my life. So there seemd a hotch potch quality to sections of the
piece, though they were for me rescued by several humourous dislocations
injected at unpredicatble points. By this time I had figured there was a
language here that I wasn't privy to and maybe I shouldnt be doing this.
But I chose to ignore that.
A piece seemingly concerned with objects in space, if the poetic
elaboration on the program notes is to be taken seriously.
The composer did give a spiel at the start but she was both very nervous
and in immediate need of public speaking instruction so despite trying
hard to catch it and being 10 feet away I have no idea what she said.
The piece began with minimal pristine electronics a la a kinda grungy
Ikeda and I was very encouraged. This is my schtick...these etherealities
were pierced...theres some masculinist metaphor for you..by crashing
jingling sounds not wearing their FX on their sleeves, reminiscent of the
timbe of the early concrete music of the 50's/60's.
The piece for me was deeply characterised by a tremedously skillfull use
of dynamics in a dramatic way that wasn't at all bombastic and
particularly in regard to the placement of silence. The piece had some
considerable dramatic momentum and was really exciting at certain points.
The ending was a kinda fizzle and seemed at odds with so much of the
focussed direction of the earlier parts of the piece though again I felt
that as it became more varied sonically throughout it lost some focus. Of
the pieces performed off the desk.. I think it was.... it seemed the most
severly disciplined piece of the night.
This piece had a darker more threatening feel than the other pieces. Great
use of dynamics and drama and an older electronic feel to it... lotsa ring
modulation used carefully in each instance, but a lot so that the piece
was colured by that sound... of which I heartedly approve.
There were very very delicate moments of quiet sound trespassing the space
yet hanging, anticipating the cataclysm....
It had a greater sense of conventional prograssion about it with quietly
developing passages following a brief introduction that canvbassed
momentarily the elements to follow in greater elaboration. sound sources
unknown... hard to make a guess.. no program notes, my second favourite of
the night. Antiorp.
Well Antiorp apparantly crashed the computer and none too soon. The\is was
allmost old school 60's academic compouter music washed out to an
unengaging ring modulated and filter swept mush. initially I wanted to
like it, it sounding so nostalgic, but even I have a limit. Therev were
some aspects I can comment fovourably though.
There was use of a vocal sample modulated to be only just
indistinguishable and all the more intriguing for that. There was LOTS of
use of Subotnik like washes of electronic soundscapes...rich boingy sounds
anchored by a shifting reveberative drone that anchored the fleeting
frequencies in a manner that reminded me of the use of the tamboura in
Perhaps this was a piece in several distinct parts - on the whole a little
disjointed, but with each discernable 'section' having some internal
consistency to it. Wrecked though by the thoroughly overwhelming
indulgence in what has gone before. A shame.
circum events (pix,yl)
A piece inspired perhaps, certainly connected to the 'accidental' bombing
of the Chinese embassy by NATO where the blame was laid at the use of
topographically outdated maps showing a space where the embassy shouldn't
havebeen. You'd never have got this from the music, but that doesnt matter
Quotes from Virillio and Natassja Kinski further inform the reader about
the piece in typically obscure fashion. In other words they don't inform
This piece really irritated me. It was FAR too long. But that wasn't the
problem really. For me there were several good pieces lost in the morass
of samples endlessly dripping out of the desk.... short passages of
considerable focus and distinct character lost in a drifting directionless
river of sound that in the end was rendered disfunctional and meaningless.
It was the lost potential of so much of the material that was got my goat.
There were sections where a limited pallette of sound was used to great
effect where sounds coincidntally provided contrast and complementarity.
The music had many moments of considerable momentum and dynamism with the
odd staccatto burst to further propell proceedings while avoiding any
metronomic underpinnings and was effectively mixed and created in real
But all these good moments were lost as the focus shifted to the next lot
of sounds with, to me, no apparant connection beyond their location in the
computer. Very frustrating, but as well I must concede, very promising.May
I patronisingly recommend a listen to Init Ding by Microstoria for an
object lesson in the construction of short abstract electronic music.
All in all a marvellous night of stimulating music, well
attended and well appreciated to boot.
Plant Syntax exists it seems as the result of the vision of Julian and
Jordan who it appears endure some considerable penury in order to maintain
the space in the CBD. Send money.
372-378 Lt Bourke st, Melb, 3001.
there are many web references on the programme that I cannot be bothered
transcribing. Contact the Plant and perhaps they can be sent to you.
You won't ask again, will you Shannon?
Sound goes into the inner part of the human soul...
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