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The improvising organism

Gail Priest


Jim Denley, Stevie Wishart, Amanda Stewart, Rik Rue Jim Denley, Stevie Wishart, Amanda Stewart, Rik Rue
Ting! (starts small)/minor vocal explosions/gurgling sax/digital grumbles. Who’s doing what? Everything makes a sound different from the one it should. Sax is percussion/breath is text/text is texture.
Gong! IIIEEEEAH! Something peaks, becomes part of the whole. Knowles, the mixer-in-the-middle, plays the pings and squeaks, the electro buzz/insecticidal hum.

Delay is everything.

Denley on woodwind, mike strapped to his larynx plays his own breath/breath like water/breath like buzz. The machine is breath.

Voice, text, breath, flesh—disparate elements merge, split again.
(A few walk out.)

Wishart & Stewart vocal play, tones and aspirances intertwine melding in cavernous effects. (Young art school couples kiss.)

Stewart all plosives and fricatives performs epic tracts. Receiving fragments and texture: words rise to the surface—”object”, “absurd”, “consciousness”, “98% junk”, “black hole”. Sense is sensing.

Wishart & Denley—duet for flute and frequency tweaking. Voicing and playing, he has a conversation with himself. He gutters/sputters, all spittle and bubble. She tunes him. He holds a note for an eternity.
They play the negative space.

Rue’s manipulations break free. Deft grabs of found sound sliced and woven. It’s loud, chaotic, subsonic, yet even the digital snatches are earthed, embodied. Stewart plays with scraps of Rue’s melodies sampling the samples. The machine is flesh.

Then silence, silence, silence...They are playing the silence…

Wishart winds up again. Plucks, struts the hurdy gurdy, all creaks and tuned static, reverberating scratches, and drones and buzzes/Denley bubbles/Stewart utters/Rue rumbles...then again, silence

The machine creates spaces, each moment unknown yet deliberate. The machine well aware of its parts senses itself shifting, morphing, evolving—balancing on the delicate edge of ego. The machine is greater than the sum of its parts. The machine is organism.


Machine for Making Sense, The 20th Century Never Happened, Jim Denley, Julian Knowles, Rik Rue, Amanda Stewart, Stevie Wishart, The Studio, Sydney Opera House, March 15

RealTime issue #48 April-May 2002 pg. 38

© Gail Priest; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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