Posts Tagged ‘exhibition’

Christopher Nosnibor

13x is less of musical project and more of an experience. As such, the katt13x website, the platform of the proudly transgender antiscene artist is a brain-melting labyrinth of sound and image that has a William Gibson-esque retro-futurist vibe that screams cyberpunk while searing your retinas with wildly oversaturated images that often render what’s being presented barely distinguishable.

The EPK video is, without doubt, a perfect summary of everything, as raw, bleeding primary tones melt and glow radioactively through a selection of appropriated snippets and other spliced scenes that takes Burroughs’ cut-up technique to the height of early noughties simplism to create something disorientating, disturbing.

Remember when the Internet was considered scary, because it contained the worst and more terrifying shit, from images from murder scenes and people being hit by trains (the original traingirl video was a blur, but a sickening one)? Pages like gruesome.com seemed extreme, and the porn explosion that was so concerning to many consisted of just so-many thumbnails and low-res .JPEGS of barely 50K because dialling up on 14K modems at a penny a minute, that kind of prurience was actually a fucking luxury. 13x takes us back to a time before YouTube, when eBay and Amazon were in their nascency, and we had Yahoo! Auctions and most people accessed the Internet and email having installed AOL with a free 3.5” floppy disc passed on to them by a friend who’d bought a magazine from WHS.

I’m reminded of Stewart Home’s original Spacebunny-designed website, which was a primitive-looking affair, neon-green text on a black background, and every word was an internal hyperlink. Not because 13x looks like it, but because it’s a reminder of when the Internet was inventive, was crazy, because there were no riles and there was no corporate involvement. No-one really policed the Internet, but then, kids were safe because the fact was, no-one even had Internet. But it was then future, and those who were present were pulsating to race headlong into cyberspace, whatever that was. And this takes us back to the time when we were on the cusp, and is accompanied with a period soundtrack, of sorts.

That soundtrack is an array of glitching, overdriven technoindustrial noise propelled by harsh, smashing snare crashes and squelching, wet fabric thwacking deadened bass beats define the abrasive, disorientating sound. Abrasive soundclashes, with squalls of noise and shards of feedback flare and blare over woozy undulating basslines and retro blippy 16-bit game mzk.

The sound and visuals in combination are an extreme and intense experience, where everything goes off in your face all at once, and it’s magnificent: dizzying, overwhelming, uncompromising, and one that doesn’t just touch, but assaults the sense from all sides at once.

Mamka Records – 3rd December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Just when things threaten to be getting a bit safe and predictable, with many musical artists having found ways of working around Covid restrictions to record remotely, release digitally and promote by means of performing on line or otherwise streaming shows, the ever-restless Maja Osojnik manages to do something truly different and innovative.

The third release on her recently-established Mamka Records is far, far more than just another digital single, and it’s not just about the music, either: it’s about both art and artefact, and forms the very fabric – literally – of an exhibition as well.

With Matija Schellander, Osojnik is Rdeča Raketa, and for this project, they’ve teamed up with author Natascha Gangl and evolved a genre unto themselves, in the form of the ‘sound comic’ (or beautifully evocative ‘Klangcomic’ in German). The concept – whereby, as with comics, ‘where words and images merge into one another, here it is the spoken word and sound which blend together.’ As such, this is a graphic novel in audio form, a juxtaposition of word and sound that conjures an alternative space in between, a cut-up collage of sorts.

But first, the artefact: as the liner notes explain, ‘Each individual record is its own uniquely woven and hand-printed specimen. Woven from the randomly selected strips of paper, cutting remnants from the other works’. Consciously or otherwise, this links the project into the lineage of cut-up forms that feeds through from Tristan Tzara to Kenji Siratori, although perhaps most obviously via William Burroughs. The assimilation and recycling of pre-exiting material taps into the subconscious on a level that’s difficult to explain, conjuring a strange sense of deja-vu, whereby the ghosts of those remnants and scraps of other works forge a subliminal nexus of intertextual references, reminding us of the things we know, but don’t know that we know (to paraphrase Burroughs).

‘Superandome’ very much exists within this territory of the simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, a murky electronic collage – not really a tune or a song but a shifting soundscape – but an immersive experience. Woozy, tremorous synthy wibbles oscillate and ripple and churn, while a mutter of voices gradually rises in volume and pitch until it reaches a helium-filled cacophony or babble. As with any collage, interpretation is as much about rezeptionsästhetik – essentially what the individual brings to the work as its specific meaning as bestowed upon a work by its creator. And as such, I find myself increasingly on edge, the swelling conglomeration of chatter evoking the anxiety of overcrowding and agoraphobia.

‘Super Random Me’- which is exactly the same 4:28 duration as ‘Superandome’ – is a yet more extreme collage as fragments of voices are overlaid and cut in / out over ominous rumbles, eerie drones, and random tweets. Again, it’s disorientating, bewildering – and yet equally, an encapsulation of the experience of life as lives, a clamour of voices and random sounds all at once.

Both tracks are reworked and edited from a previous work, and so such, are recycled cut-ups that in turn form a self-referential intertext which also challenge the concept of a work of art ever being ‘finished’ or a fixed definite article.

As for the art, in lieu of a conventional single launch, the record was set to be presented as a picture (built out of 110 of the 160 singles) and a video on 17th of December as an Exhibition in the Gallery Kluckyland in Vienna, and the exhibition is scheduled to run until the 3rd of January 2021 – and while at present it can only be viewed from outside, ‘Superandome / Super Random Me’ stands as a remarkable accomplishment that shows once again that it’s the artists of the avant-garde who innovate the hardest. In the year of the lockdown, we need art even more than ever.

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24th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

For the Benefit of All represents the coming together of two artists whom the descriptor ‘visionary’ isn’t really hyperbole: having led Her Name is Calla through a decade-long career of turbulence which produced a catalogue of truly definitive, landmark releases in the field of post-rock which pushed the boundaries of the genre in myriad directions, as well as forging a solo career as a minor-key acoustic troubadour T.E. Morris’ cult status is based on his creative singularity. Meanwhile, Jo Quail has very much created her own niche, bringing the cello to a whole new audience with her tempestuous compositions that are far more rock than classical, turning her instrument of choice from an orchestral element to a full band and more courtesy of her innovative playing techniques and judicious use of effects (admittedly a bloody huge bank of effects).

As the press release outlines, For the Benefit of All was inspired by, and was originally intended to be performed within, Kelly Richardson’s Mariner 9 panoramic exhibition at the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester, but was cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

As such For the Benefit of All is essentially a soundtrack work, but also a narrative work, which plots the trajectory of a mission to Mars. It’s a sci-fi hybrid that tells of a future based on true events past and present, and more than this, it’s a reflection on time and space. With the original project plans put paid by the COVID-19 pandemic, they elected to continue work remotely and release the music as a standalone work, and it succeeds – although it does work best with an understanding of the context, because an abstract ambient work without context is simply one more abstract ambient work. In context, it’s very much a departure for both artists, devoid of climaxes and crescendos, instead focusing on the recreation of the emptiness of space, where movement is slow, and the immediate surroundings are filled with vast expanses of nothing.

In many mays, it also stands as a metaphor for the circumstances of its creation: we’re all together apart, distant, separate, isolated however adept we are at calling, Zooming, or meeting in the street. We are all floating in space, just out of reach, and sometimes two metres may be two thousand miles. And we’re not built for this.

The chapters contained within the booklet which accompany the compositions provide a textual narrative which adds to the substance of the work. The track titles, meanwhile, signify dates on the journey, from the significant 1972 ‘(A map from Mariner 9)’ which was the first vehicle to orbit another planet and successfully returned over 7,000 images from the enigmatic red planet, to the futuristic dates projected for colonisation. Going further back, 1610 relates to Galileo, the polymath from Pisa, the first person to use a telescope for astronomical purposes, and his viewing the red planet through the newly-invented ‘spyglass’.

The majority of the music is quiet, spacious, minimal, and while the plot includes raging global and galactic wars, the soundtrack is more given to creating the sense of distance, of isolation, of… space. The emptiness. The void. The tranquillity. The absence of atmosphere.

A hushed rapidfire beat flickers like a palpating heartbeat beneath the barely-there ripplings of the penultimate piece, ‘2212 (We Had it in Our Hands the Whole Time)’ and while it’s still subtle, it’s dramatic in its effect, and the rising tension is palpable.

The final section, ‘2452’ leaves us with both a cliffhanger and a sad sense of emptiness at the end of an expansive and exquisitely delicate album that often belies the violence, turbulence, and often bleak reflection on humankind that it soundtracks.

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