Marko Ciciliani

Estonian Music Days 2018 (Part 2)

Posted on by 5:4 in Concerts, Premières | Leave a comment

One of the defining features of the Estonian Music Days is its openness to including decidedly unconventional concert situations. Last year’s Obscure Avenues, a two-hour experience during which we were blindfolded and led around to various performance spaces, remains among the most radical and memorable musical encounters i’ve ever experienced, and while the 2018 festival perhaps wisely didn’t attempt to top that, it had its fare share of surprises.

The opening night of the festival saw Flame Sounds, a short open-air performance from composer Liisa Hirsch with Australian fire artist Chris Blaze McCarthy. Surrounded by four microphones, Blaze acrobatically wielded a succession of implements – a mixture of bars and chains – that almost looked as if they’d been borrowed from Tallinn’s museum of mediaeval torture instruments, each one burning in a unique way. These were the basis for Blaze’s physical choreography, with Hirsch in turn capturing and processing the sounds into a network of billowing noise formations, projected out via four speakers surrounding where we were standing. Considering this was part of a music festival, it was a shame that the emphasis was almost entirely on Blaze’s actions rather than on Hirsch’s sonic results – Blaze abruptly moved on throughout, despite Hirsch’s music continuing – making for a frustrating, though visually exciting, performance. But what we experienced nonetheless made an interesting connection with the festival theme of ‘sacred’, elusive sounds emerging from the merest contact of fire and air. Read more

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The Rest Isn’t Noise

Posted on by 5:4 in Academia | 4 Comments

“We like to give you the maximum, from which you can subtract.” Aaron Einbond’s closing words before the first concert at the Noise In And As Music conference, organised by Einbond and Aaron Cassidy, which took place at Huddersfield University’s Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM) last weekend. Einbond’s amusing reference to volume (and the audience’s option for ear-plugs) crystallised the essence of the conference’s focus and the host of assumptions one tends to make about it. What, after all, is noise? Does it—should it—connote material that is extremely loud? extremely dense? extremely extreme? The conference’s three days of papers, discussions, installations and concerts went no small way to addressing these fundamental questions.

The range of opinions, methodologies and implementations of what may or may not be ‘noise’ was almost bewilderingly broad and multi-faceted. In keeping with each and every conceit of genre, noise too has its share of charlatans, wannabes and hangers-on, and the weekend occasionally dipped its toe into examples of thought and sound that seemed either to miss the point or just sap all the interest out of it. But such moments were happily rare; not only were the majority of contributions fascinating and very thought-provoking, the best were stunning examples of what noise can be and can do, examples that changed, expanded and even redefined one’s understanding not only of what we were hearing, but of hearing itself; repeatedly and equally, both sound and sensation found themselves under the microscope. Read more

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