New Music, New Zealand – Themendossier

The “New Music, New Zealand” Themendossier (thematic dossier) on experimental and electronic music in Aotearoa-NZ, which I edited, is online. The Themendossier provides context around Hanno Leichtmann‘s Goethe Institute artist residency, and features contributions from Sam Longmore, Daniel Beban, Amy Jean Barnett, Erica Sklenars, Martyn William Pepperell and Miles Buckingham. Podcasts by Rob Thorne (on tango pūoro) and myself (on electronic music in NZ), are to be added soon.

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A Single Hurt Colour

A new piece for guitar and electronics, commissioned and premiered by Matthew Marshall in November 2017 (Marama Hall, Dunedin). A Single Hurt Colour borrows its title from a Gertrude Stein poem but is really about the idea, the sound-image, of a single hurt colour – the refractions of the simple minor motif that opens the piece.

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This Storm Is Called Progress

This Storm Is Called Progress (2016), a dual-screen audio-visual installation created in collaboration with filmmaker Grayson Cooke, was recently shortlisted for the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize. The work was highly commended by the judging panel and will be exhibited at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, 10 June – 31 July 2016.

The project articulates the temporal and spatial disjunctions that underpin the Anthropocene, through juxtaposition of the “deep time” of ancient geological formations (the Naracoorte Caves in South Australia) with the technologically translated time of the anthropogenic present (Landsat images of Antarctic ice shelves).

The role of sound and music in the installation is to affectively charge and temporally vectorise its non-human, non-sentient subjects. This renders the non-human in humanly accessible form, affording the installation’s audience immediate access to ecological phenomena – hyperobjects – that otherwise exceed and elude human ken. This is a vital social-ecological contribution that art can make in response to the multiple environmental crises that define our contemporary era.

Anthroposcenes (1, 2)

Anthroposcenes (1, 2), for voice and electronics, was commissioned by IEM and premiered by the wonderful counter-tenor Kai Wessel in IEM’s Signale series back in March. The concert featured works by Trevor Wishart and Karlheinz Essl – fabulous to be in such outstanding company! The piece itself is an ongoing exploration of the body-environment metaphors, in multiple languages, which underpinned Let x =, created while composer-in-residence at IEM in 2014-15.

Lost Oscillations

Lost Oscillations, a collaboration between myself, Jim Murphy, and Mo H. Zareei, is a sound installation that requires the human touch – literally – of its audience in reactivating and feeling through the layered sonic archeology of Christchurch, the city’s contemporary and historic soundscapes and ever-shifting spatial character.

In Lost Oscillations the immediacy of listening and touch embed the participant in a field of phantom sound that their touch draws forth from the city, sonically and emotionally colouring the cityscape surrounding the installation.

The installation was commissioned by the 2015 Audacious Festival of Sonic Art. Jim and I were interviewed about the project by Eva Radich on Radio NZ Concert’s Upbeat show. You can listen to the interview here.

Let x = [Binaural version] (IEM#9)

I’ve just uploaded a binaural version of Let x = (on Soundcloud) for icosahedral loudspeaker (ICO) and 24-channel loudspeaker hemisphere, composed while I was 2014 composer-in-residence at IEM (Graz, Austria). The binaural version combines recordings of the ICO, made using a Schoeps KFM 6 mic, with mix-downs from the 24-channel ambisonic audio. The result isn’t the same as hearing the piece in-situ – the verticality of the piece is lost and the degree of immersion is reduced – but it gives some sense of its spatiality and I hope also conveys the ICO’s spatialisation capabilities, which I described in an earlier post.

IEM Cube
IEM Cube

Just so you know what you’re listening to, the piece is:

In 5 sections, which alternate and combine use of the ICO and hemisphere: 1. ICO > hemisphere; 2. ICO, 3. Hemisphere; 4. ICO, 5. hemisphere, ICO/hemisphere > hemisphere. A wide range of tools were used in composing the work, but the most significant were certainly Matthias Kronlachner’s ambix and mcfx plug-in suites, which made the task of mixing and spatialising for both the ICO and the hemisphere wonderfully straightforward.

The first section of a larger work-in-progress based on the transformation of speech into sounding objects with carnal, cultural and environmental resonances. The texts are metaphors, in multiple languages, coupling the human body and the natural environment, aiming to dissolve “the barrier between ‘over here’ and ‘over there,’… the illusory boundary between ‘inside and outside’” (Timothy Morton). There’s more to read about my compositional intentions and materials, and my creative process, in an earlier posts.

Here’s the programme note (nice and concise):

Let x = (2014-)

Kaki Langit – Foot of the Sky

 “Flesh = Earth, Bone = Stone, Blood = Water, Eyes = Sun, Mind = Moon, Brain = Cloud, Head = Heaven, Breath = Wind” (Adams & Mallory, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture).

Another way of saying this kind of thing comes from Levi Bryant:

[E]cology must be rescued from green ecology, or that perspective that approaches it as a restricted domain of investigation, pertaining only to rain forests and coral reefs. Ecology is a name of being tout court. It signifies not nature, but relation. To think ecologically is to think beings in relation; regardless of whether that being be the puffer fish, economy, or a literary text. Everything is ecological. Above all, we must think culture and society as ecologies embedded in a broader ecology.