SOUNDkitchen, SONICpicnic @ VIVID, 29th July 2011

BiLE

SOUNDkitchen’s conceptual poly-sonic sound-scapes and audio-visual conceptual expressionism found a worthy setting for their all-dayer ‘SONICpicnic’ at Digbeth’s VIVID installation location. It was an inclusive, utterly un-pretentious, non-arty event/happening, celebrating eclectic fusions of electronica experimentation drawing on found-sounds, lap-top wizardry and samples with the serendipitous ambient addition of passing traffic, boisterous pub-goers and almost literally the kitchen sink (Yes, BiLE, your Mums will want a word about that later!).

This review can only be a snap-shot, or should that be a plucked embrace of the ephemeral discourse given momentary substance within the limits of linear text? SOUNDkitchen’s encouraging subversion of conventions can be very infectious. Which might explain the aberrations of cApsP-lOck abuse. Better still, check-out their website to get a fuller appreciation of the incredible efforts that went into the day’s events and, additionally, to salivate at their utterly delicious SOUNDkitchen tuning-fork logo.

Thee Moths

A number of concurrent installations were on offer (including the savoury seductive whiles of ‘ChangeKitchen’s’ food concoctions). There was the delightfully inviting bean-bagged ‘Immersive Listening Room’ running a continuous loop of guest artists’ eclectic electro/coustic modulations and ambient drones delivered from, amongst a womb of surrounding sonic appliances, the ‘mini-speaker-tree’ installation.

The cosy cinematic recluse ran archive footage of pioneer French electronic music composer, Eliane Radique, together with Polish animator, Piotr Kamler’s, cryptic SF montage ‘Chronopolis’ (1982) that JG Ballard probably watched for light relief and novella inspiration. Its intriguing subliminal tonal cyphers suggesting parallels with Louis and Bebe Barron’s groundbreaking electro soundscore for ‘The Forbidden Planet’ (Dir. Wilcox, F.M. 1956) but shame there wasn’t space to celebrate Delia Derbyshire’s BBC Radiophonic Workshop musique concrete genius.

The evening’s events began with a screening of Marin Clarke’s ‘Voyager’(2006) an audio-visual montage of shifting perspectives weaving images and found sounds from pastoral locations super-imposed with fluidic abstractions.

Presentation

The collaborative composition of ‘Entre Terre et Ciel’ (Between Earth & Sky) from lap-top duo Annie Mahtini and Julien Guillamat opened the live performances set against back-screen visualisations from Chromatouch, Leon Trimble. An abstract palette of asymmetric ambience lent additional subtle cadence by the noise leakage of passing traffic, busy kitchen clatter and beer-bottle clinks. All, no doubt, part of their pre-planned schematic.

Panos Amelides’ untitled solo lap-top set celebrated a three part pastoral journey embracing a collage of sounds natural, choral and processed instrumentation from homeland Greece. Its improvised vibrancy and lyrical animism explored, according to Panos, the transitory cultural, political and geographic borders between/across which we interpret themes of Love, Death and immigration. The folk song samples echoed the cross-ethnic similarities of, amongst others, La Voix Bulgare: Mystic Chants.

Speaker Tree

BiLE (Birmingham Laptop Ensemble) really do cock an alt.counter-culture snook at any notion of musical orthodoxies. In terms of conceptual originality and visualisation (Antonio Roberts) their performance, in three movements, was pushing the envelope into event horizons. Part One saw iphones and console hand-sets used in a sonic pin-pong contest where back-screen fractaled thumbnail images (Francis Bacon’s passport photo nightmare?) and digital x,y coordinates kept tally of the combatants’ victories. All very strange and exactly what should happen when youth, technology and inspiration have too much time on their hands. Part 2 was essentially a discourse into chrome kitchen utensil sampling with accompanying cow-bell extemporisation. Witty and concise but why no food-processor? Adhering to the purity of their analogue sources material perhaps? Part 3 was decidedly minimalist with a scratchy bowed cello and gnawing, insistent modulations that evoked disturbing imaginings of a heavy-breathing Peeping-Tom gobbling stale crisps. Still, there’s no light without shade.

Annie and Julien

As stated earlier, this could only be a pin-hole peek into a panoramic day’s events that sadly can only name-check later performances by Three Moths, Rodrigo Constanzo, Simon Whetham & Nicholas Bullen with Ben Ramsay DJaying into the early hours. SOUNDkitchen certainly cook-up a phantasmagoria of limitless, kaleidosonic imaginings to feed hungry ears.

Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Annie Mahtani

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