|Josh Spears and Timothy Cape in |
Timothy Cape's Wildflower
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 10 2017
From the bizarre to the wonderful, another one of Bastard Assignments evenings of cross-arts performance
The composers collective Bastard Assignments has been presenting a season of cross-arts performances across London under the intriguing title New Teeth. On Friday 10 February 2017 I caught up the final event, New Teeth 4, in the theatre at Hackney Showroom. The group's regular line-up of composers Timothy Cape, Edward Henderson, Caitlin Rowley and Josh Spear (who performed their own work as well as performing that of others), were joined by guests Ludwig Abraham, Andy Ingamells and Sharon Gal, cellist Sarah James and Impermanence Dance Theatre (Eleanor Perry, Danny Hay Gordon, Patricia Langa and Ale Marzotto Levi).
There were eight pieces, Ludwig Abraham's Tykes, Timothy Cape's Wildflower, Caitlin Rowley's Paper, Josh Spear's Extended Play, a set by Sharon Gal, Andy Ingamells and Maya Verlaak's Tape Piece and Andy Ingamells' Solo and He that plays the English Gentleman shall be welcome, with the evening concluding with a set by Impermanence Dance Theatre. Apart from the dance at the end, all the pieces involved an element of performance and many evinced a fascination with using non-traditional objects as sound sources.
|Edward Henderson & Andy Ingamells |
in Andy Ingamells & Maya Verlaak's Tape Piece
Timothy Cape's Wildflower (performed by Timothy Cape, Caitlin Rowley and Josh Spear) continued his fascination with orchestrating sounds of natural objects, which we have experienced to memorable effect in previous Bastard Assignments events. Wildflower started with two film sequences, first a random selection of object (glass and plastic bottles, empty containers etc) which were made to resonate by a steady stream of water from a hose-pipe, this was followed by a wind-chime arranged from random objects at the sea side with the clinking sounds backed by the rush of the sea. The final sequence was Timothy Cape, Caitlin Rowley and Josh Spear re-creating the sounds from the final sequence (thankfully we did not have the danger of getting wet in a recreation of the first film sequence), so there were clinking bottles, cans and others backed by white noise from the radio hiss. The results were surprisingly evocative, subtle and complex, with a remarkable range of timbres.
This fascination with the timbre of natural objects continued with Caitlin Rowley's piece Paper, but with a difference. In the past I have heard Rowley working live with paper and card to produce a range of subtle complex sounds. For Paper we saw her working with paper, card and a variety of objects, but the sounds were all produced by cellist Sarah James, combining pitched and unpitched sounds, and a variety of extended techniques. There were some magical moments, but some unsupportable ones too, particularly the unbearable sound levels when the film showed paper being cut.
|Josh Spear in his Extended Play|
After the interval Sharon Gal did a set, she combined vocalism with electronic music backing and had a light which projected her shadow onto the wall. Gal's vocalism was all extended techniques, though there were times when she evoked someone choking or snoring. The results were technically impressive but rather disturbing too.
Next came Andy Ingamells and Maya Verlaak's Tape Piece performed by Edward Henderson and Andy Ingamells. When described Tape Piece sounds rather idiotic, the two men wrestled with each other and wrapped themselves in Sellotape, and then ripped it off each other again. But the sounds thus created were striking and rather wonderful.
Ingamells then performed his Solo in which he sat on the floor with a Swanee whistle and above him was projected a (silent) film also of Ingamells. I associate Swanee whistles mainly with the children's TV series The Clangers, and Ingamells did something similar with his Swanee whistle replacing the soundtrack of the film. Intriguing at first and then something a bit more as we realised that the Andy Ingamells on film (seen only from the waist up) was masturbating and the Swanee whistle producing a sound-track to that. A neat idea, but one which went on a bit too long.
|Sarah James in Caitlin Rowley's Paper|
Finally we had a set from Impermanence Dance Theatre. The first two items featured an extended solos for Danny Hay Gordon and Ale Marzotto Levi, both disco numbers where the work did not follow a conventional trajectory and soloists rather went to pieces. These two pieces were followed by a rather intense piece for the two women, something rather abstract and not a little sexual.
The theatre at Hackney Showrooms is a large flexible space, and most of the performances took place on the stage area (played half-way along the long wall) with the audience clustered casually round sitting on chairs. At previous Bastard Assignments events there has been no formal seating, people simply stood, squatted or sat on the floor with the events taking place around them. This somehow made the performances immediate, By using the stage so much and having chairs, the evening seemed tamer than before.
But there was certainly no shortage of intriguing ideas. The event was the last of Bastard Assignments current series, let us hope they are able to give us a further series.
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Composition is a full on meeting with his Christianity:: I talk to composer Patrick Hawes about his new album Revelation - interview
- Taking them seriously: Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera - opera review
- Energy and commmittment: Rebecca Miller and the Salomon Orchestra in Kodaly and Bartok - concert review
- O Sing Unto the Lord: Andrew Gant's engaging history of English church music - Book review
- Sui Generis: Karmana from Simon Thacker - CD review
- Stunning technique: Debut recital disc from Aida Garifullina - CD review
- Contemporary wind music from Estonia: Rhapsody for Winds - CD review
- Birthday celebrations: I chat to Nicola Lefanu about forthcoming premieres - interview
- Winter magic: Rimsky-Korsakov's The Snow Maiden in a rare outing courtesy of Opera North - Opera review
- Disturbing video games: Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel from Opera North - opera review
- Vivid theatricality: Suzi Digby and Ora - concert review
- Strong stuff: Chamber music by Kodaly and Dohnanyi - cd review
- Seminal Bulgarian composers: Wind from the East from pianist Victoria Terekiev - CD review