The Bird Lantern Lab (FringeTIX)
Bird Lantern @ The Jade Monkey
5:30pm, Sat 8 Mar 2008
Bird Lantern – local lads Al Thumm and Greig Thomson – perform live electronic soundscapes and explorations. Using a variety of samplers, computers, guitars & percussion bits, they produced a one-hour journey that covered a metric truckload of musical ground. The beat is a bit too much to the fore for it to be considered “ambient” – but experimental is a pretty good description. “Bloody polished” is also appropriate; a lot of the stuff they were producing live onstage would sound perfect coming from your CD player.
Emerging out of a whale-song of an opening comes a rhythmically complex piece that is, at once, both beautiful and unsettling. And out of that, via some drones and a lot of knob-twiddling before the beat kicks in, comes what sounds like some classical samples. Everything is treated – when the singer sings, his voice is accompanied by the tweets of a hundred chirpy birds, guitars sound like they’re underwater and being played in a large mammal’s gut… nothing sounds as it should (except the bass drum and cymbals which only get occasional attention).
But that’s fine. It’s all about the co-existence of noise, that which we deem music. And these chaps have an ear for a beat and the ability to layer rhythms a-plenty over the top; simple tracks these are not. From the gentlest pieces to the caustic and over-driven segments, it’s all good. Transitions between songs are often glorious – it’d be a masterful act of DJ-ing, if it were indeed DJ-ed. But it’s not, it’s being produced live – and it’s fucking great.
I’d like to say that the “live visuals synchronized with the music” were decent but, alas, they were not. In fact, they looked like they were being generated by WinAmp on a 10-year-old PC – jerky and unappealing. And they might have been synchronised with some music, but it wasn’t the stuff I was hearing. Boo.
(This is the first blog entry I’ve ever written during the actual performance. It’s bloody brilliant writing like that! :)