Reviews from the Sound Crucible Festival

The 3rd Annual Sound Crucible Festival took place on April 4 2009 within a church in the tiny town of Bangalow on the NSW North Coast. What seemed like an unlikely location for a gathering of local sound artists and musicians, proved to attract a large and diverse crowd of curious townsfolk,who braved the rain and settled in for a night of new sounds. Here is a selection of reviews from the event.

Hudson, DJ 99.9 Bay fm, program Postmodern Backlash

This was, for me, a very memorable concert. Never have I seen such an immediate, visceral, negative response from an audience. Approximately 80% of the audience (which started as a considerable number) spontaneously vacated the premises within one minute of the start of the second performance.
The evening started off with Cye Wood, a trio of viola, piano and laptop that provided a pleasant minimalist sound wash.
The second act, Heil Spirits is where things got serious. This was when the above mentioned stampede for the door occurred. Heil Spirits and the act that followed, Dracopede could best be described as industrial noise. Relying heavily on loops these acts broke no new ground and went on far too long. Cuts in power during the two performances were misinterpreted as blessed conclusions by the remaining die hards in the audience.
Mike Cooper brought just an acoustic guitar and a mobile phone to the stage but still secured his avant garde credentials by his performance. I didn’t stay to see the kids – Crab Smasher at the end.

Kerry Norman, Musician

The evening seemed to have a violin theme 3 out of the 8 acts had a violin. CYE WOOD 3 performers – laptop doing simple beats and treatments of the violin and piano. Half an hour continuous but with different sections delineated by change of beats. Very enjoyable, reminded me of “Mckenzie Theory” an Australian band from the 70’s that had a violin player.
HEIL SPIRITS Amplified spring and resonant box, looped and very static. Far too loud, 2/3 of the audience left because of the volume level, which was unfortunate as they missed some good performances after this act. He should be charged with assault and OH&S offences. Punk electronics?? The music was very boring and had little development. Only the first minute was interesting as we heard sounds from his hand made instrument, this was then looped and nothing much else happened.
DRACOPEDE Guitar, homemade analog electronics, analog delay and looper. I enjoyed it but the piece could have had more development/variation. One continuous piece.
MUTTBOY Laptop, prepared guitar and tone generator. Subtle, controlled, with development and variation, little rhythms drop in and out. Very enjoyable. Interval
CO-POLYMER Laptop, voice, violin and video. 4 or 5 pieces enjoyable. Reminded me of early Laurie Anderson.
PROFESSOR BLIX (AND HIS BOX OF TRIX) Violin, looper and video. Slowly built up loops and improvisations with himself, very enjoyable. At one stage he unplugged the violin and played the plug with his thumb creating pure electronic music, great! Continuous with variation and development.
MIKE COOPER Dobro (metal bodied acoustic guitar), voice, mobile phone and mini disc. Blues music but coming from an avant garde ideaology. The old dog showing the puppies his experience ideas rather than gear.
CRAB SMASHER Didn’t see.

Vaughn Pinxit, Visual Artist

The Sound Crucible experimental sound event was recently held on the 4th April at the Catholic Church Hall in Bangalow. This was the third annual show highlighting the talents of local Byron, Ballina, Lismore and international sound art performers. The first Sound Crucible 07 was held in Ballina and the second Sound Crucible 08 was held in Lismore.
Cye Wood was the first act on stage and welcomed the audience into an ethereal atmosphere of haunting beauty. With the violin crying like an angel, a replying piano then subtle laptop programming bubbling underneath, the ambience that was created had everyone mesmerised. Heil Spirits achieved what was planned: to send the audience running. The performance by Eli Partridge touched on defining a new form, Death Bash. For the die hard explorers of new form this was a treat of sonic abstraction. By the way the majority of audience that did leave were young, pretty and carried children.
Dracopede followed with sample grabs referencing the overload of contemporary communications. Muttboy eased into delivering a mix of old and new tracks of glitch, static and noise compositions. Muttboy takes and uses what a sound engineer tries to remove from recordings, the result is an obsessive drive for perfection from imperfection. Muttboy ran visuals from On. The visuals created by On utilised mobile phone video grabs looped and layered to give a textured effect. After a short interval co.polymer presented a sound and visual set with vocals influenced in style by Laurie Anderson. In stark contrast to the visuals of Muttboys’ set, co.polymers visuals were highly refined in 3D rendering.
Professor Blix (and his box of tyricks) kept the audience riveted with the constant build up of violin loops and creative animation. Mike Cooper was next, the Uk visitor and special guest performer. Who would of thought that a slide guitar could become a synthesiser? Mike Cooper supporting his trademark Hawaiian shirt, opened up his virtuoso talent allowing the audience to feel right at home on some sort of heavenly level.
Crab Smasher closed the evening with a twin drum power build performance. The instruments and sound become a vehicle for raw energy. All power to the young and free! Rex Hardjadibrata AKA Muttboy, the event organiser, successfully achieved the intentions of Sound Crucible by presenting a showcase of sound art to a wide public audience. The sound art genre is gaining momentum in cities everywhere. The Northern Rivers area is very fortunate to have access to the annual Sound Crucible concert.

Sound Crucible 2009

The third instalment of Sound Crucible is upon us! After our ears have stopped bleeding, and as we shake the dust off from the sonic onslaught that was Marcus Schmickler at last years Sound Crucible, this years event brings together an eclectic group of local artists: Heil Spirits, Dracopede, Cye Wood, Professor Blix (and his box of tricks), co.polymer, Samagaha + and Muttboy and On, alongside special guests, Mike Cooper from the UK via Rome and Crab Smasher from Newcastle via Grafton. With a line up like this Sound Crucible 2009 promises to be every bit as exploratory as previous years.

For the uninitiated Sound Crucible showcases local and international experimental music and is lovingly constructed by a bunch of inspired locals. This year the theme is ‘small-time concrete’ so expect the jackhammers and concrete mixers (metaphorically speaking that is). There will also be visual oddities to add to the sonic brew, all presented within the warm acoustic glow of the Bangalow Catholic Church Hall.

Don’t miss frequent visitor to Australia, Mike Cooper. Mike Cooper, for the past 40 years has been an international musical explorer, performing and recording solo and in a number of inspired groupings and a variety of genres. Initially a folk-blues guitarist and singer songwriter his work has diversified to include improvised and electronic music, live music for silent films, radio art and sound installations. He is also a music journalist writing features for magazines, particularly on Pacific music and musicians, a visual artist, film and video maker, collector of Hawaiian shirts and appears on more than 60 records to date including recently with Chris Abrahams (Necks) on Oceanic Feeling – Like (room40).

Saturday 4 April
Catholic Church Hall Bangalow
7:30PM $10 Entry