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Sunday, June 4, 2017

An Audacious Decade Festival - Live 1 & 2 The Auricle - Christchurch June 1-2 2017

Now something a lot different. Some may remember, earlier in the year I traveled down to Dunedin for a festival of sonic art "music" call Lines of Flight. Four events of soundscapes, drones, free jazz, experimental sounds and other unclassifiable noise and even music. It was something very new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. After doing some reading of a book about the local sonic arts scene in New Zealand, I discovered that there is an organization in Christchurch called The Cantabrian Society of Sonic Artists, incorporating the Borderline Ballroom managing committee, and they have a small venue in part of the same building as The Darkroom, where I see lots of gigs, and hold sonic events there. The society is a little past it's apparent peak at present, losing their last venue after funding cuts from the city council and events being a little less frequent than they had been, but I had found their Facebook page and so was able to discover that they were to be holding the Audacious Decade Festival to celebrate ten years since the formation of the society. Looking at the performers list I saw a couple of names from The lines of Fight festival and one artist of whom I have a vinyl record that I really like, as well as the legendary Roy Montgomery.
  Unfortunately the first night the two live events of the festival occurred on the same night that another band I really like was playing with a couple of others across the road and I already had tickets (see last post). The fortunate side of all this was that the Audacious Decade event started a couple of hours earlier that the other event so I got to see the first three acts, including the one I most wanted to see that night.
  So first night starts with Adam Willetts. The Auricle is a pretty small room and on the first night there was very little seating and not much room for an audience with all the electronic equipment spread round the room waiting for each performer and so performers and listeners milled about around the door and hung out in the foyer as Adam stood near the center of the end of the room and proceeded to blow gently on some sort of flute. This was pretty esoteric and minimal and really didn't get my attention all that much and I was quite relieved when he finished. My memory, with so much on in two nights, is already getting vague as to what I saw in what order, but I think next was Motoko Kikkawa and Joanna Osborne, on violin and Cello respectively. I had seen them at Lines of Flight and so knew what to expect and I think I enjoyed their performance even more this time although  I believe it was a bit shorter. Joanna provides the backing drone and other plucking over which Motoko played her violin in a semi classical avant garde style and intones some Japanese speaking quietly into a mic. Nice set.
 Already Alzheimer's must be setting in as I don't seem to remember much about what I saw next, but I think it was Moths +. I do remember someone bashing away on a drum kit semi randomly and a couple of others on electronics and was there some Brass? Why can't I remember, sorry to the artists, I do remember enjoying somewhat what I heard so It can't have been bad, but I may have been thinking about my other gig across the road and weather I was gonna get to see Bruce Russell do his thing as that was the highlight of the night for me. Between sets, I checked in across the road to see what time the first band was to play and figured I'd be OK as the sets at the Auricle were pretty short this night and so headed back over in time to catch Bruce's set. I also had seen Bruce Russel(leader of the legendary Dead C) at the lines of flight and I definitely enjoyed this performance better. Bruce is a very busy performer as he is constantly pushing buttons and plugging in cables and moving his guitar to and throw towards his amp to effect the feedback of the drone he set up. I noticed more sonic variations to the drone this time and he did some interesting things like rolling a small steed tube along his guitar strings and tapping the neck end of his guitar in the floor among other things. Great sounds and a nice way to finish my evening there before heading over the road for the other gig.
  The next night and they had my attention for the whole evening. I arrived at the 7:30 start time and found a lot more seating had been installed for this evenings festivities. The first presentation was to be at 8:00PM. On this night, I had not seen any of the artists before but I knew of two of them. Kraus has a couple of records on vinyl one of which resides in my collection and I really like it's fried version of krautrock and Roy Montgomery was known to me but not all that well.
   First up for the night was Poltroon, Drums and sax, at Lines for flight there was a similar set up called Sewage who played a great set of free jazz, this wasn't as wild as that and I didn't think this performance had a jazz feel to it but it was entertaining, especially watching the drummer when he was banging his cymbals upside down gently on his drums while his mate was wondering amongst the audience with some sort of ghoul mask over the end of his sax.
  Kraus up next and for this set he just played a very accomplished guitar piece with interesting tones and sounds and without all the electronic accompaniment he has on his record. Very talented young bloke and I had a nice chat with him after. Looking forward to his next record he said he was working on. He has a lot of recording out but most are only on cassette.
  Roy Montgomery holds a very important place in NZ music history as one of the members of  The Pin Group, the very first band to release the very first single on the now famous Flying Nun Records. The Pin Group was fairly short lived but Roy has gone on to a long career as an underground musical legend in New Zealand. I don't yet own any of his music but that must soon change. Roy, sitting on a low stool in the middle of the room, his guitar almost facing directly my chair where I'm sitting against the wall, gives a short introduction about how he usually creates his music at home with his guitar plugged direct into an 8 track consul and using headphones to hear the sounds he creates. He says he doesn't usually use an amplifier and the piece he is about to play is a work in progress. He also points out that Pat(Kraus) is a much better player than himself and modestly states he is a fucking useless guitarist. From my perspective this proves to be false as he sets up one of the most wonderful guitar drones I have heard and throughout the piece embellished it with wonderfully subtle variations that kept me enthralled throughout. Just like Bruce Russell the previous evening, a master at his art.
 Omit was next with quite a large table of electronics feed into the multiple small wall speakers dotted evenly around the room, he proceeded to present a most interesting and enjoyable collage of electronic sounds quite often accompanied with a regular pulse or beat or other regular electronic sound. I really enjoyed his presentation.
 Regressor was the last act of the night, a younger fella, who apparently is active in the management of the venue or something, he gave a small speech with a lot of aggressive swearing as he introduced his girlfriend who did a short sound piece before his own set in which he produced some interesting and somewhat aggressive electronic sounds while throwing pieces of furniture and things then stripping down to his waist before finishing his set but tipping up the table with his gear on it and ending with an exclamation of "Fuck It". The sounds he made were fine but I'm way too old now to be impressed with the rest of the shit. The applause for his set was somewhat muted compared to earlier in the night.
  Overall I had a most enjoyable couple of nights and heard some really interesting sound art and was pretty impressed with the number of people there, especially on the second night.

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