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online e-dition june 26: aurora 2012


electric anxieties

keith gallasch: george lentz, ingwe, aurora festival


Zane Banks, Ingwe, Campbelltown Arts Centre Zane Banks, Ingwe, Campbelltown Arts Centre
photo John Humphreys
TO HEAR GEORGE LENTZ'S INGWE WE WALK INTO THICK FOG AND MYSTERY. THE TITLE TRANSLATES AS "DARKNESS," APT FOR THIS HOUR-LONG REVERIE, OR DELIRIUM EVEN, AN EPIC COURSING THROUGH THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL FOR SOLO ELECTRIC GUITAR WITH THE DOUBT, PASSION AND WIT OF A METAPHYSICAL POET CUT ADRIFT FROM HIS GOD.

Guitarist Zane Banks appears before us shrouded in mist, armed with guitar, foot pedals and music stands ready to explore the Mysterium (2003-09), a larger work of which Ingwe is part. A series of movements ensues, each oscillating internally, between cool, liquid reflection and starbursts of awe and anger.

I'd seen Lentz praised in print for his eschewal of rock guitar cliches. However, this should not obscure the fact that the composer and his virtuoso instrumentalist deploy an array of recognisable electric guitar tropes that lend the work a wider resonance than the category 'contemporary classical' might suggest. Sudden note flurries, feedback, reverberation, heavy chording, thrashing, and rapid ascents and descents are vertiginously juxtaposed with quiet jazz-inflected near-melodies, soft brushing of strings and recurrent, transcendent harmonics, chiming and sparkling against a pervasive darkness. Almost ironic, power driven anthemic phrasings, marches and hymning pulse angrily through Ingwe while delicately fingered passages bring temporary reprieve. But a gentle brushing across the strings can turn abrasive, chugging, fast, destructive. The darkness that is Ingwe is alive and volatile.

Zane Banks, Ingwe, Campbelltown Arts Centre Zane Banks, Ingwe, Campbelltown Arts Centre
photo John Humphreys
Banks, a practising rock guitarist, is at one with his instrument, swaying back as he sends notes soaring, leaning deep into the attack when he cracks the cosmos with a quaking roar. Ingwe constantly conjures vast earthly and heavenly spaces with an astonishing depth and breadth of field. Yet, its agonised declamations never made literal, Ingwe is felt as a deeply interior work that makes viscerally palpable the vastness of inner anxieties. Composition and performance are also wonderfully at one, yielding a unique and memorable experience, not one that hums through you like a tune, but jangles, buzzes and thunders like a place, familiar but not, recalled from a dream.


You can hear Zane Banks play Ingwe on Naxos CD 8.572483.

Aurora Festival of Living Music: George Lentz, Ingwe, from Mysterium (Caeli enarrant...VII), for solo electric guitar, guitar Zane Banks, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, May 12; www.auroranewmusic.com.au/

RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. web

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

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