[20060087] (((Strange Sights & Sonic Delights For Synaesthetes)))

(((Strange Sights & Sonic Delights For Synaesthetes)))

InterZone eXpress @ FAD Gallery

11:59pm, Fri 17 Mar 2006

The Fringe Guide’s description for this piece certainly paints an evocative description:

Inspired by cut-up methods & stroboscopic flicker experiments of Burroughs/Gysin, InterZone eXpress present a performance series involving live multi-channel ultra-sonics & omnipotent visual accompaniment. Aiming to unlock the hidden power of rhythm, frequency, & light to isolate & hypnotise senses, induce temporal states, & create atmospheres both amniotic & monolithic.

With a description like that, I expected soundscapes, integrated visuals, and a bohemian crowd. Upon arrival, the crowd appeared to be friends-only and they were all pissed. And/or stoned. But certainly not out of the bounds of expectation. We all squeeze upstairs into the extremely cramped Gallery, where there are a few chairs, a lot of cushions, and a shitload of people lying on the floor. A third of the floorspace at the Waymouth Street end of the Gallery was covered with musical gear a-plenty – guitars, drums, electronics. A screen hung from the roof; random discordant images were projected onto it from the control desk, which was also laden with three PCs.

After about an hour of setting up, the two chaps on-“stage” encourage us to apply our provided blindfolds and launch into their first piece of three for the morning (another piece was planned, but technical difficulties cut the performance short). Each piece is structurally the same – starting simply, the two use fed-back loops of whatever they’re playing to build up repetitive and increasingly complex soundscapes (thus fulfilling my expectations). One piece was completely guitar driven (reminding me of a 46-guitar symphony I once heard), the final piece was a gloriously driven drum crescendo, and I’m buggered if I can remember the other one.

Now, I’m no synaesthesia guru, and I have to admit that I was a little confused as to why we were presented with blindfolds and visual inputs – surely there’s some contradiction there? But, with the benefit of hindsight, this was a good move; if indeed this was a synaesthetic experiment, it offers a number of avenues of exploration for the punters. The visuals did nothing for me, but may have been a positive for others.

And I’d be lying if I said this was utterly enjoyable – it’s simply not that kind of music that’s immediately accessible. And, truth be told, I’d much rather have been at home in bed (after three long weeks of FF2006). But, in persevering though this presentation, I found an unexpected pleasure in just leaning back, closing my eyes, and drifting with the incessant rhythm of the pieces. Monotonous, sure – but there’s a simple lulling comfort to be had there.

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