Re: what is music?
- In reply to ken's suggestion, heres a brief review of the What is Music?
festival. It was written for one of the Melbourne tabloids, so excuse the
brevity. If anything intrigues you, feel free to inqure.
What is Music? Melb. feb 2-5.
The What is Music? festival, Australia's premiere showcase of the
international sonic avant garde, kicked off at the Big Day Out with typical
aggression, scandal and musical illumination. The BDO organisers showed
great faith by including a stage highlighting the local and international
talent involved in the Melbourne leg of WIM?, illustrating their commitment
to the darker realms of alternative culture. Adventurous punters,
dissatisfied with the commercial tenor of the BDO were shocked and delighted
by what they encountered at this alternative of alternative BDO attractions.
The philosophy behind the What is Music? festival was encapsulated in a
particularly newsworthy collaboration between Sydney's noise-rock
desecrators, Testicle Candy, and Melbourne hip hop miscreants, Curse ov
Dialect. Their stage-destroying set, replete with the puerile antics of
infantile punk rock machismo - nudity, toilet-antics, garbage-throwing, and
physical danger - was bolstered by the inclusion of former Nirvana drummer
and Foo Fighters heart-throb, Dave Grohl on drums, and, fresh from his
controversial appearance at the men's final of the Australian Open, serial
pest and friend to vegetarians, Peter Hoare. Hoare's idiosyncratic
performance was overshadowed, however, by the punk intensity of this
inspired collaboration. That Grohl and Hoare would choose What is Music? to
wind down from a hectic day at the office is testament to the festival's
relevance and inclusivity. It also proves that art intent on challenging the
norms of an increasingly complacent music scene has its own committed
audience, whether pop star or public nuisance.
On Wednesday, the festival moved to Revolver in Chapel Street for what would
be four nights of mind-shredding music featuring an eclectic cast of
international and local performers. Including the likes of influential
English table-top improviser Keith Rowe and US anticomic Neil Hamburger,
local improvisers like the Tasmanian tiger of guitar-skronk, Greg Kingston,
and AC/DC alumni, Dave Brown, What is Music? brought together some of the
most challenging and absorbing purveyors of adventurous music. Now in its
fifth year, the 2000 festival provided audiences with a privileged look at
emergent new music talent from around the globe. The international personnel
included digital-glitch, laptop music specialists from the Austrian techno
label, Mego. Christian Fennesz and Skot, some of the Mego stars, were a
revelation, producing beautiful music out of the most irritating and
sickening of sound sources. Like fingernails down a blackboard their digital
glitching violated the body and shook the earth. A world apart from the
computer mayhem of the Mego performers was the rarefied European
improvisation of Lines. Lines, an international collaboration stationed in
Amsterdam thrilled audiences with an amazing performance of subtle and
visceral free improvisation. Yet as disparate as these forms may seem on the
surface, their effects were confoundingly similar, both in terms of
aesthetic results and sonic satisfaction. It also showed that musicians of
this high standard can transcend barriers of genre and sonority by the pure
will of the creative act.
Previous festivals have introduced Australian audiences to such influential
new music movements as Japanese noise and the ecstatic jazz of New York. As
an introduction to new forms, this year's festival was no different. The
principal focus of What is Music? 2000 was on the juxtaposition of the
contemporary electronic arts - turntablism, computer music, and other
techno-culture aberrations - with the superannuated, though no less
conventional art of instrumental improvisation. This bizarre combination
provided audiences with some of the many highlights. Most notably the Deck
Collectors and Techno Met Storingen. Comprised of legendary New York power
drummer, Tony Lewis, and two of Australia's most innovative and talented
turntablists, DJ champion-of-the-world Dexter and sonic guerrilla Ben Green,
the Deck Collectors produced the fattest, most searing hip hop improvisation
anyone will hear in a long time. In contrast, John Rose's conceptual game
piece, Techno Met Storingen, worked on the principle of tension between the
two realms, yet produced a startlingly coherent performance which ultimately
revealed the compatibility of the digital high-tech and the romantic
virtuoso. Needless to say, all of the performances of the festival were as
intellectually challenging, and musically satisfying as these highlights.
The What is Music? festival forced those punters not already aware into the
realisation that the world of music is truly an amazing place.
- So Sean after it's over give us a report of what went down.
On -1 xxx -1, Sean Baxter wrote:
> From: Sean Baxter <s.baxter@...>
> this post is for australian subscribers. as many of you would know, the what
> is music festival? is on again. it starts in melb on wed at revolver in
> prahran. along with the usual local sonic terrorists and reprobates, this
> years festival includes great performers of electroglitch stuff from the
> austrian label, mego, and some euroimprov including the legendary lines. i
> saw fennesz on sunday (he plays powerbook in the farmers manual style, but
> much more intense). you should see him at least. for more info, check
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> The "Avant-Garde"