|Simon James Phillips, Exit Ceremonies|
photo Jamie Williams
Exit Ceremonies, presented by the Australian Art Orchestra and Ensemble Offspring as part of the 2016 Sydney Festival, harnesses the ritualistic power of the organ in premieres by Australian composers Austin Buckett and Simon James Phillips. Buckett’s Aisles is built of episodes, diverse periods of repetitious textures that develop from the formidable beating of the opening figure. The introductory section is brought to a close by Sonya Holowell’s clear soprano. The explosions abruptly cease, replaced by her chant “On a soun-ding bo-dy,” one syllable per beat on a single note.
She’s cut off by a powerful, seething wall of noise. As the shock subsides and the ear adjusts, repeating patterns become audible in the writhing. Rumbling percussion and trumpet ornaments settle the music (in the listener’s ear) into a short repeating cell, which evolves periodically at a signal from Claire Edwardes, who leads from the bass drum. Episodes of disorienting loudness alternate with quieter reprieves. White noise bursts out of speakers, the experience akin to sensory deprivation, and subsonic throbbing shudders through the audience. An unsettling organ cadenza bends and stutters, the notes drooping like the abandoned drone of a bagpipe. Buckett’s complex deluge of noise and extreme volume is confronting but also fascinating, an immersive experiential adventure.
|Peter Knight, Sonya Holowell, Exit Ceremonies|
photo Jamie Williams courtesy Sydney Festival, 2016
Exit Ceremonies was a hypnotic exploration of sound, time and perception. The changing patterns of Buckett’s Aisles drew the audience into a spellbinding maelstrom of sonic discovery. Although the turntable seemed superfluous at times, Phillips’ meditative Flaw traced a compelling rise and fall, blurring the passage of time.
Exit Ceremonies will be performed on 6 February in Melbourne Town Hall with a newly commissioned work, Swings, by leading American composer Alvin Lucier.
Sydney Festival, Exit Ceremonies, The Australian Art Orchestra and Ensemble Offspring, Verbrugghen Hall, 23 Jan
RealTime issue #131 Feb-March 2016 pg. web
© Angus McPherson; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org