Dialects of music & image

Keith Gallasch on Argot

In a festival high point, a young, curious audience packed the VCA Dance Studio 1, to hear Speak Percussion, 4 about-to-graduate VCA musicians with an impressive program, Argot: A Transient Vernacular. It boldly combined the percussive purity of Takemitu’s Raintree (serene perspectives on rain drops) and Robert Lloyd’s Boobam Music (a fast, loose-limbed, virtuosic rendition by 2 percussionists on 8 bongos) with new works layered with samples and dance and classical music from young Australian composers Brett Anthony Jones (Pauah Fayliah Bacchanaliah, alternating riff-driven passages and demanding unravellings) and Peter Head (You are here: Rubik’s Cube, an intriguing use of staccato CD cut-ups against minimalist rows ). Alan Lee’s Artikule, an etude, the third Australian premiere, is built from mouth sounds made into microphones—clicks, trills, pops, various breathings. A corresponding dance trio explored the pleasures of the tea-cup. This was a generous concert, the works augmented by dance (a little old-fashioned) and thematic projections (strange morphings of a tea cup into a foetal scan into a cell). Finally the musicians and composer-electronic artist Harry Arvanitis (all dressed like laboratory scientists in white plastic coveralls) created an epic drum’n’bass & ambient improvisation. We could have danced to it, but locked in our seats we had to wait a long time before the work (a little too heavily earthed by 2 drum kits) took off…and it did. It’s interesting to note in the Jones, Head and impro works an inclination to orchestral volume and intensity (thanks to the layering in of recorded sound)…a new romanticism? Speak Percussion are surely makers of the next wave. As they write in their program notes: “Argot is a hybrid arts event…where elements of the concert hall will evolve into those of the Rave.”

Argot: A Transient Vernacular, Speak Percussion (Justin Marshall, Eugene Ughetti, Minako Okamoto, Rory McDougall with Harry Arvanitis), sound engineer Tony Mite, choreographer/installation artist Glenn Birchall; Dance Studio 1, Victorian College of the Arts, May 24.

RealTime-NextWave is part of the 2002 Next Wave Festival.

RealTime issue #49 June-July 2002 pg. 5

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2002