Celestial sweet spots

Steve Paraskos, Haco, Ourobonic Plague, Barn Owl

Haco, THNMF2013 Opener

Haco, THNMF2013 Opener

Haco, THNMF2013 Opener

If you couldn’t tell from the sound of the crowd, the tables and chairs in front of the stage were a very good indication there was to be no horseplay at The Bakery on this drizzly Friday night. These individuals had other needs to attend to as they slowly filled out the venue in Perth best suited to the opening of Tura New Music’s eleventh Totally Huge New Music Festival.

From the first muffled sub pulses under swathes of low pass filter sweeps and fuzzy feedback fluttering we were altered by sonic morphine. Ourobonic Plague launched long form trips of heavy textures modulated to the sweet spot of distortion on what used to be syncopated high-hats, coupled with an insistent, subsuming sub-kick. The set organically pieced itself together with chromatic synths like pneumatic drills in sheet metal, tight snares, stutters and bass warbles. This was an expertly-prepared set with a few tactful ancillary interventions by the performer.

In a distinct break from the previous set, Haco greets the crowd with reverberating vibraphone tones that ring out and sit with you. Reverse-delayed synth strings shift and fall backwards as Haco hypnotises us with serene incantations that repeatedly fade away. She is like glass, creaking glass, crackling bright particles of glass over sustained sinusoidal feedback. Ringing bells and singing bowls ping, ting and ding as the bass inconspicuously yawns. Haco lulls us with these ebb tides for some time before building to a climax, finally bridging the sonic spectrum with crushed kicks and slap-back snares. This is the future the nineties promised.

Barn Owl, THNMF2013 Opener

Barn Owl, THNMF2013 Opener

Barn Owl, THNMF2013 Opener

Then came the modular-synthesiser styling of Barn Owl. Celestial sub-drones imperceptibly grow with wave after wave of tidal white noise as doppler-like static accompanies throbbing feedback. Heavy on the one, they pluck air raid sirens and jungle marimbas from the ether and let the set ride to the end of the night. Barn Owl’s set epitomised the professionalism that this festival showcases. Astonishingly, there was no instrument devised and forged by Hephaestus that would account for their holy sonorous object and this fact only adds to the mystery of Barn Owl’s set.

The sound technician and The Bakery’s sound system deserve special mention. Facing the stage you are totally engrossed in and enveloped by sound, but turn to a friend for commentary and all is audible. This phenomenon still confounds me.

The artists at this Festival Opener have raised the expectations for the next eight days. One cannot help but be excited by what remains to come.

11 August 2013