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Samson Young: Real Music

Talbot Rice Gallery until October 5
Four stars

Listen hard to this first UK show by Hong Kong-based composer and polymath Samson Young, and you might just hear something you’ve never heard before. This is possibly because it doesn’t exist, just as the giant monumental His Master’s Voice style horn that dominates the Georgian Gallery seems to have been washed up like some retro-futurist steampunk dinosaur.

The siren’s call that intermittently emanates from the circle of state-of-art speakers beneath mood-enhancing lights that reflect the wordless fanfares form the remainder of Possible Music #2 (2019), a fusion of sound and vision that offers up worlds of possibilities.

Co-created with the University of Edinburgh’s Next Generation Sound Synthesis (NESS) research group, this is as much a leap into the void as Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018). Samson’s forty-five-minute film fills the entire wall of the White Gallery with images of an orchestra in full flight. With their instruments silenced, this leaves only the creaks, squeaks, grunts and gasps that signify the sheer physical graft of such exertions.

It’s a routine free-jazzers and noise artists such as local heroes Usurper have been playing with for years by way of ‘disabled’ instruments. Hearing such a pure gut-level release on a grand scale like this, however, strips away the orchestra’s formalism. With fancifully titled visual scores lining the corridors upstairs, another film, The world falls apart into facts (2019) sees the show out with a bang. 

The List, August 2019


ends

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