[2013145] Unsound Adelaide – Solaris

[2013145] Unsound Adelaide – Solaris

Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra @ Adelaide Town Hall

7:30pm, Fri 15 Mar 2013

I loved the idea of Unsound Adelaide when it was announced; were it outside Festival season, I’d be going to as many of the Unsound performances as possible. But there’s too many other things to see and experience to limit oneself to one genre; hence, this production of Solaris was the only item on the Unsound programme that I managed to attend… and I chose it because of the promise of more ASO goodness, in conjunction with visual accompaniment by Brian Eno (and Nick Robertson).

Composed by Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Stanisław Lem‘s novel, Solaris owes more to ambient electronica than traditional orchestral compositions… and that’s a good thing. Beginning with soft, persistent notes, the piece gradually builds up (and up and up) to yield moments of absolutely breathtaking power before simmering down again, only to build to another crescendo.

Besides the ASO’s usual goodness, Frost applied de-tuned guitar texture to the performance, with Bjarnason metronomically hitting sparse notes on a treated piano; unfortunately, the much vaunted “film manipulations” by Eno and Robertson felt a little self-indulgent and wanky, and were of no attraction whatsoever to me – a shame, really, because I love a good visualisation.

I found Solaris to be a richly rewarding piece to listen to: each movement gave the listener a little bit of a mountain to climb to overcome the held notes, but the view after the ascension was well worth it. But what I could not understand was the fact that people (not just one or two people, mind you, more like thirty or forty) were still taking their seats fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time of the (one hour long) performance. Who the hell does that?

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