Belmont Cinema bar, Aberdeen
Male voice,”I gave all that up”.
The conference ended. People went off to get their flights. As an aside, a screening of the HERNoise film was announced. Few of the conference people made it down to the Belmont cinema.
playback > > Gentle exploratory sax improvisations.
Young men who were assisting in the conference, as technicians, welcoming participants etc are hanging out and chatting. A duo plays, reverbed out guitars with analog synth textures; a ten minute improvisation.
Male voice,” I wrote a song last week. From start to finish”.
playback > > Atonal punk guitars.
Male voice, “…Transylvania conquerors…”
“…live…” (Scottish accent).
This is not sound art. An independent cinema bar room. I go outside to smoke and chat to a fireman. Some talk about a collaboration with a member of the Canadian collective ‘Godspeed, You Black Emperor’.
Before coming here to the Belmont, I has an extended conversation with Jonty Harrison, which meant I missed the film screening. He feels ostracised by music, in the academic sense, and as if acousmatic music is being misappropriated by new media, pushing it into places he does not want it to go.
Male voice,”Do you know Angels of Light?”
After talking to Harrison, a short conversation with Dugal McKinnon who gave the presentation on vinyl. He does not own any, nor has he ever listened to music on vinyl. He comes from a background in ‘ants on a page’ composition.
Here, now, a single bearded, intense young man, on his knees, upon the floor, is creating a low distorted drone, somehow with a harmonica. The same model of Behringer desks that were present in the ‘academy’ during the conference are being used her, but attached to a string of guitar pedals. Delay, reverb, distortion. No granular synthesis here. A beautiful listening experience, a long way from the completed objects of Stollery, Harrison et al. Yet…
With a mouth harp, the tones pulse and build.
I think of tall trees, or a view over water. Breath as source, non-linguistics modulated by circuitry. The audience sits close – to performer, to each other. Active, eyes open. A small JVC camera records the action. There are framed pictures on the wall. A mono line of kazoo maintains spaced out beauty.
Neither high art or low.
But in-between. Less a blurring, more a contingent demarcation of personal experience.
Buzzzzz. Ice machine turns itself on.
The performer riffs against this. He is active in his spatial listening.
The magic has been broken.
I consider the body as the site of both oppression and agency. I feel totally alone in this town, yet sound has continued to connect me to a rich experiential sequence of intersecting aesthetic moments, punctuated by long periods of utter banality.
The acoustic, unamplified voice of the performer, a few moments ago an awkward disruption of the circuit-based abstracted beauty, now takes on its own meaning.
The entire audience is male.
“Walking through the sights” (sung)
In fact there are two women, both with partners.
“Walking through the skies on my bike”. (sung)
“Sigh”. From behind me.
The people here are active listeners. Well lit. Serious. Joking. Present. Young and old.
This is not academic music, is it? Is this then low? Fuck you.
Active state, undissipated. For this instant.
I feel no pain. For this instant.
Beating tones eternal. Electricity. Shifting slabs and delicate colours. I sense 600 years of change from summer to autumn, winter to spring.
In its way, this performance modifies what might be possible to hear, and see, in such a place as this. It sounds like part of here. It does not sound like apart from here. It does not sound like apart from hear.
The manager is counting coins from behind the bar.
Low grade Celestion speakers with appropriate sound streaming through them in situ.
Still the bar manager, oblivious, continues to count the silver.
Electricity from the performer, studied engagement. My view of him is blocked by a pillar, which in some ways, I am grateful for.
Just sound, no gesture, no source, no human, just sound.