Open Frame: Room 40
June 28-29, 2018
2018 saw the third place Carriageworks bringing back the biannual Room 40: Open Frame Festival, centred around curated offerings rooted in experimental, avant-garde and electronic boundary pushing music and, more interestingly, noise.
Two evenings brought established senior artists alongside young, emerging talents to the fore, with a dedicated focus on transcendence, intense sounds and purposefully aimed at expanding the minds of the audience:
A premiere came in the form of French electronic music composer Eliane Radigue, performing her 24th composition, Occam XXIV, which was commissioned by Carriageworks and performed by Australian composer and musician Cat Hope: Unfolding at a glacial pace, Éliane Radigue’s astral sound that is usually generated from synthesizers has been transformed into a collection of solo pieces with no scores and only verbal instructions. An intimate relationship and a foundation of trust between Radigue and the performing artist is a prerequisite to achieve what Radigue has ever so eloquently declared to be the virtuosity of absolute control.
Most prominently known for his four-volume album The Disintegration Loops, Avant-garde composer William Basinski premiered a piece specifically for the mini-Festival channelling his sound artistry with tape loops.
A Schmuckstueck in many aspects was the incarnation of plush toy enthusiast and iconoclast Charlemagne Palestine, who has been active since the 1960s, and who indulged in his usual manner in the maximal minimalism he has become known for. His intuitive and highly personal approach along with him interacting with his instrument instead of imposing structure on them, underlined his idiosyncratic, non-analytical, involving and boundless approach.
I have always had a weak spot for the emissions of Coil and it was fantastic to experience the last living member of the gang, i.e. Drew McDowall, perform. McDowall created a tapestry of music from the album Time Machines: Fantastic, deep mood-altering, spine-tingling soundscapes resting on a foundation that rest on both psychotropic and esoteric pillars, referencing occult tradition and imagery.
Chinese-born, Berlin-based Pan Daijing showcased after an overly indulgent introduction on the Friday night her industrial music which is heavily influenced by the 1980s, Chinese minority and Tibetan music, field recordings in temples and ritual practice. I guess one could interpret her theatrical approach as a composer and performer as “raw” and “cathartic” and I quite enjoy her focus on sound and expression rather than music and the fact that she manages to infuse noise with a sense of calm, however, the extensive self-indulgent monologue at the beginning proved to be a bit of threshold to get over.
Sydney-based artist Gail Priest delivered a well nuanced, introspective and cerebral performance using atmospheres of quietness, sculpted sound wave and field recordings, along with her processed voice and noise drones to diminish the distance between what seems diametrically opposite.
Another fantastic festival of experimental music in a venue that could not be better fitted.
Photo by T