Words By: Laurent Shervington
Paper Mountain was the place to be on Friday night, a particularly enticing line-up of experimental and exploratory artists compiled by Perth based label Tone List, showing their work in the intimately lit Common Room. Blankets and pillows completed the laidback but eager vibe the venue emanated.
The first piece of the night was a radio composition (played over speakers) by Alessandro Bosetti called ‘Campanas’. Starting with the sounds of church bells, bird calls and muffled footsteps, “Campanas” aurally explored the sprawling landscapes of the island of Gomera, in the Canary archipelago. Chopped up and modulated field recordings gave the piece its truly unique and engrossing presence (close your eyes and you’re scaling a rock face), Bossetti seamlessly piecing everything together in an incredibly musical fashion; distant whistles of “El Silbo”, bleating of sheep, crashing waves, Bosetti’s own monologues – they’re all major players. Wanderer inside the Sea of Fog is the name of the game.
Find out more about this piece and have a listen here.
Following Bosseti’s piece was the highly conceptual composition ‘ein ton. eher kurz. sehr leise’ by Antoine Beuger, performed by local experimental artists Sage Pbbbt and Josten Myburgh. The duo’s interpretation of the piece, from a purely observational standpoint was: two performers seated in chairs next to each other, singing notes intermittently. In a conceptual sense, the piece deals with the idea of “communication based on separation”, a metaphor that reflects separation in a love relationship. The time between sung notes is crucial here, as composer Beuger explained in an interview with James Saunders: “the decision not to play the sound during the section implies not playing it anymore for the rest of the performance: it means leaving the player alone.”
Performer of the piece Josten Myburgh described the piece through this concept of separation detailing: “if you are in love with someone, you can never ‘be them’. You’re always different, and your love is defined by your infinite differences to each other”. Seeing the piece performed in-person was an intriguing, confounding and at times challenging experience, but the openness of the audience allowed the piece to be fully appreciated in it’s conceptual glory.
Thematically the opening pieces were linked not only through their lack of melody, but also in their depiction of human relationships, over long distances (the extreme distances that the “El Silbo” whistling could cover) to the intimate, yet fragile communications taking place in the same room. These concepts primed the audience well for the final piece of the night, a reading of the poem Passaport by Antoine Cassar, aided by fellow creative Nathan Thompson. Before the piece Cassar gave a brief talk about the piece and the context surrounding it, before encouraging audience members to hang their identification cards/passports to the makeshift windowsill washing line, a point of reference for the performance.
Passaport is essentially a protest poem that calls out the criminally unfair nature of immigration control and was inspired by a real life event the poet faced in his home country of Malta. Cassar and Thompson read their lines hooked up to Thompson’s Voice-controlled Writing Machine, which picked up the visceral delivery of each of the performers, expressing it in the jitters and sways of a pen writing on a conveyor belt of paper (simply a multi-component complex machine, revelling in its inexplicability!).
Repetition was truly the glue of the piece, the “no one to …” sections carried Cassar’s condemnation of xenophobic immigration policy, criticising the use of terms such as “alien”, “extracommunautaire” and “illegal immigrant” as well as the “glares at you according to the gross domestic product per capita of the nation you’ve left behind”. Impassioned lines were traded between Cassar and Thompson throughout the performance, giving the piece space and the performers time to really nail their delivery. The final segment of the performance involved Cassar fully denouncing the idea of passport identification, seeing more use in allowing the document to flitter away out of his hands into the sky, onto the floor, to the feet of the engrossed audience.
This event was organised by awesome Perth-based label Tone List, check them out on these links: