Friday, August 27, 2010

Pianos, pedals, lasers, laptops and much more - Everybody Talks About the Weather II, Corner Hotel, 26/08/10

About this time last year, four of Melbourne's most respected musicians from the experimental/avant-garde scene joined forces to hold a cheap and fun evening at Richmond's illustrious Corner Hotel, dubbing the night "Everybody Talks About the Weather". Oren Ambarchi, Robin Fox, Anthony Pateras and Marco Fusinato were the four musicians in question, and they brought their unique approach to sound and music to the usual small but very appreciative and devoted bunch of regulars who turned out to watch them. Evidently, the night was deemed a success, so the team decided to have another in the same vein this year. The lineup was almost identical - save for one addition - and this ensured that those who enjoyed the event last year made their way back for another serve.

Up first was glitchy guitar guru Marco Fusinato. To be perfectly honest, his set didn't really do a lot for me; I'm not all that into the random click-pop-pedal-noise guitar playing style and I don't think I ever will be. That's not to say I don't appreciate what he does, just that it isn't really my thing, and it gets a bit boring especially when it's dragged out for a half-hour set. But as the set progressed it did get steadily more interesting - sharp bursts of static and harsh noise, rapidly panning from left to right, all the while building up through some clever layering and pedal trickery, until Fusinato decided that the set had come to its end. So what did he do? Fade out gradually? Nope - he reached over and yanked a lead out of one of his pedals, and that was it, the sound just died. And the room applauded.

Up next was the aforementioned slight alteration to the lineup for this year - Anthony Pateras was joined onstaged by Agents of Abhorrence drummer Max Kohane, to perform as PIVIXKI. I really had no idea what this set would involve as Pateras is known as a bit of a multi-talented performer, plus I didn't really see how a grindcore drummer would fit into the evening's proceedings. However, it soon became clear that this would be certainly be one of the stand-out performances of the evening - pretty much a bizarre mixture of classical shred piano (Pateras on keyboard) and err, grindcore drumming (Kohane). The two styles mixed together effortlessly, and it was a nice change of pace for the evening to see two musicians playing their instruments a bit more conventionally, and being AMAZING at it! Pateras' fingers danced effortlessly across the keys, an absolute genius at his instrument, while the rapid-fire blasts from Kohane were precise and well-executed, although you'd expect nothing less from the Agents of Abhorrence drummer. A few songs into the set (yes, it's worth mentioning that this was the only act that played "songs"), I heard someone behind me remark "This is quite extraordinary", which really summed up the mood. It was almost comical at some points too, such as when Anthony's glasses fell off during a particular intense passage. I was really impressed by these guys, and I'd definitely see them again.

Up next was something a lot more slower and chilled, but no less sonically intense - Oren Ambarchi. His performances are always something to watch, and tonight was no exception. He sat down as usual with his guitar in hand and a table crammed with pedals and processors and proceeded to deliver his usual 30 minute, slow-building effect-driven drone. He used his pedals to drop in glitchy bursts and other effects to his performance, as it slowly built and peaked over the duration of his set. Typically, towards the end things started to get extremely loud and heavy, until finally he slowly brought things down, before the final drones faded out and again, the crowd burst into applause. Always a winner, this bloke.

Almost as soon as he left the stage, the smoke machine on the Corner stage hissed into life, which of course meant that soon, Robin Fox would be taking to the stage. For those who have never seen him perform before, I can only offer my HIGHEST recommendation that you do so immediately. After a few minutes, Fox wandered onto the stage, sat down at his computer and of course, a bright green laser fired out across the room. For the next 30 or so minutes, the audience stood transfixed as Fox played around with glitchy pops, clicks and beats, which were accompanied in perfect synchronicity by his dazzling laser. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but the movement of the laser is connected to the music, so it mirrors the sounds that Fox makes. Nobody wanted the set to end, and even when Fox went silent, nobody dared applaud until after a few seconds, when the laser was switched off. You could tell everyone was a little disappointed! As the small but very satisfied crowd left the venue, it became apparent it was raining. Oh, looks like I finished this by talking about the weather...