Thursday, 9 February 2012

Raydale Dower - (….....)

Cryptic Nights@CCA, Glasgow
Thursday February 2nd 2012
The title of Raydale Dower's new 'spatial sound composition' speaks 
volumes about the former Uncle John & Whitelock bassist and current Tut 
Vu Vu clarinettist and sonic architect's methodology. Hard on the heels 
of his film installation, Piano Drop, which did exactly what it says on 
the tin, this commission for twenty-first century music-theatre company 
Cryptic's series of experimental one-night-stands, Cryptic Nights, 
plays with sound and space in a far more formal arrangement, as the 
fixed rows of seats surrounded by speakers and amplifiers great and 
small suggests.

It begins in darkness, before a light is discreetly beamed onto a lone 
speaker, from which emanates snatches of double bass, cello and bass 
clarinet as played by Dower with Catherine Robb and David Munn and 
overlaid with low-key electronics and found sound. With the instruments 
criss-crossing both each other and whichever speaker they're channelled 
through, and with lights raised and lowered by degrees, playful little 
cacophonies are pulsed along like a robot baroque heartbeat.

Where one might normally expect such an affair to be relayed in an 
empty room, allowing spectators to drift between speakers or else 
choose their favoured vantage point while sprawled in repose flat out 
on the floor, the seating arrangements and in-the-round presentation 
suggests something requiring more discipline. This is Stockhausen meets 
Samuel Beckett, possibly uptown, for a fifty minute narrative that 
comes on like an extended remix of Beckett's wordless life and death 
miniature, Breath, by way of Stockhausen's Kontakte, which has been 
'performed' in a similar fashion, both by the grand-daddy of electronic 
music, and his followers.

Dower is no stranger to either artist. Beckett was all over On Memory & 
Chance, his 2011 show at the Changing Room gallery in Stirling, while 
his pop-up speakeasy for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 
in 2010 was an artistic and social hub for left-field sonic exploring 
without any of that particular oeuvre’s more usually po-faced 
trappings. With a published record of Le Drapeau Noir forthcoming, it's 
legacy can already be found in the permanent venue on its site it 
inspired. With Dower as much social engineer as sonic architect, then, 
(….....) would fit in well there. 

The List, February 2012


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