Oct 29, 2010

visible city #5 : Radio Cegeste on O’Tomorrow, Triple R 102.7FM, Melbourne



the airwaves were utilised as a form of public space and a venue for live art making during my involvement in the Visible City residency. On a late night radio show on the Melbourne station Triple R, I introduced a project made in collaboration with Lara Thoms entitled Songs for Cleaners, in addition to being interviewed more generally about the works being made for the Visible City residency in the studio. 


Oct 28, 2010

fredstock, the frederick street sound and light exploration society's annual festival, 2010


radio cegeste was invited to perform at Fredstock 2010, a festival of experimental music and sound, hosted by the Frederick Street Sound and Light Exploration Society, a venue space in central Wellington, run on the smell of an oily rag by Daniel Beban, Nell Thomas and friends, and part of a long tradition of free-jazz and improvisationally-oriented underground performance spaces in the city, stretching back over a decade.

essentially a celebration of the diverse musical community which oscillates around the venue, fostered by regular Sunday night 'variety shows' and non-hierarchical in structure, the lineup for the 2010 incarnation of the festival, with approximately 62 performers, can be read about in detail here




Oct 22, 2010

radio cegeste at records records, dunedin





The bugler sent a call of high romance—
“Lights out! Lights out!” to the deserted square.
On the thin brazen notes he threw a prayer
- Robert Graves, 'The Last Post'

Records Records is an iconic second hand record store in Dunedin, New Zealand. An institution in the city, it was started in the 1970s by Roi Colbert, in a little space located in Stuart St, just off the central Octagon, where in the crucial decades of the 80s and 90s it filtered the ebbs and flows of the financial realities vs. the listening and collecting habits of various illustrious locals, while acting as an information and networking hub for Dunedin's sound culture. Recently, Roi sold up and the shop shifted to new premises over on Princes Street. Current owner Pat Faigan has continued the legacy and hosted many live gigs in the store, but, in an era when running independent record stores is a difficult proposition at best, Pat will be retiring from the record selling business at the end of October.

apart from a long history buying records from the shop, I spent a lot of time in the neighbourhood last summer, working right next to the current RR store at second hand bookstore Raven Books.

so, on Friday 22nd October, radio cegeste opportunistically crashed the end of someone else's gig upon finding out it was the 2nd to last one the store would host, and with half a day's notice, transmitted a site-specific soundscape at 8:30pm as a performative radio programme for RR, using the things I had at hand - namely, mini FM transmitter, 13 small radios, some of my 'bowed airwaves' violin tracks and field recordings transmitted via the above, alongside manipulation of room-sensitive radiophonic noise interference.

I also used a portable battery powered record player with material sourced from the shop that very afternoon (incl. an incredible spoken word 1-off private pressing of a british family recording an audio christmas greeting 'letter' to Grandma - the latter presumably located in NZ, which Pat sold me for a dollar), and some 78s found by a friend at the Dunedin dump (incl. a broken, skipping, cracked HMV 78rpm recording of the band of H.M. Coldstream Guards' rendition of ceremonial military standards Evening Hymn and The Last Post).

There were also some musical birdsong cards from the Otago Museum i'd bought that day, coupled with Radio NZ birdsong recordings on 45rpm which i'd picked up from the Blue Oyster Gallery after their inclusion in the Media Povera show. The lack of working overhead lights in the shop added to the huddled and intimate nature of the resulting peripheral, floor-based, no-mains-power performance for receivers and transmitter alike.

my post-Melbourne nomadisms have included, as is usual at some point in such Dunedin interludes, a temporary docking-point at None studios, and renewed engagement with the deep-listening silences and ghost-terrain of Dunedin has been balanced with a grateful nod toward the ongoing industrious activities and artistic vitality of the city's ever-shifting living communities.

Tonight's gig saw long term None residents Motoko (violin, voice) and Justin (percussion, voice) playing together as a duo they call The Surgical Department for this Records Records (second to) last post, as well. Also on the bill were local groups Communist Rainbow Relationship and QTPI.

as if this wasn't enough I cancelled my plan to see Robert Scott play at Chicks Hotel in favour of continuing the evening's energetic bust of engagement in event-based audio exploration by going back to None immediately after the gig to record a duo set with percussionist Lee Noyes.

This was more minimal, based on radiophonic feedback, and involved manipulating 'radios talking to each other' in theremin-like accompaniment to Lee's spacious and subtle acoustic manipulations of a drum, a wire, and various strings. Lee has since tidied this up and is treating it as a potential release, pending acceptance.

RIP, Records Records. thanks to Arron Clark who shot and edited the following video montage of the RR in-store proceedings...

Oct 16, 2010

'shouting over the music' icecast to radio futura 2010


two days after arriving back in New Zealand, a live re-mix of the site-specific transmission work shouting over the music : a dawn chorus for walter and olivier, recently staged as part of visible city within Melbourne's Cathedral Arcade, was netcast over the airwaves of radio zero, as part of the Radio Futura programme (12 - 16 October), official radio station for the FuturePlaces media art festival, Porto, Portugal. The festival's byline was "five days of exhibitions and events addressing the potential and the impact of digital media on local cultures" and its radio station utilised the potential of radio to link particular and distinct localities via global networks, with a programme of various artist projects and live streams converging in radio space. My slot was from 2-3am (2-3pm NZ time), Saturday 16th October, 2010. This performance without an immediate audience took place in the distinctly localised, deco-era domestic, quietly end-of-the-world setting of Kerry Ann Lee's living room, in Mornington, Dunedin, New Zealand

a regular listener from another NZ city emailed me with the following feedback after the show (thanks CW) :

"Among the buried beauty through so much of the piece, there seems a strong theme of an almost science fiction (in a dystopian modernist vein) element around the relationship of changing birdsong... the way the manipulated ontological qualities of radio itself are bending the very birdsongs into the warped, corrupted forms they will need to find to go beyond the beautifully preserved sanctuaries of 1920s arcades and all they stand for - Also represented by the comparatively elegant weave of Messiaen, against the sounds of the birdsong melting into violin into wheel squeak into a shortwave solo(!) and back and around... with the burned twitch of the characteristic R/C mini fm collapse to hiss as a regular reminder of some kind of perverse and anxious and impatient logic or intelligence surrounding it all, again corrupted... A piece veering from a rather bewitching miasma into the terrifying at surprising intervals."

Oct 14, 2010

visible city #4 : shouting over the music : a dawn chorus for walter and olivier



A 2009 study conducted by researchers from the department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne into the impact of traffic noise on animal communication ascertained that urban birds are changing their songs to different pitches in response to living in the city.

As the department's Mr Yanh Hu concluded : “Urban noise makes it hard for animals to hear each other’s calls and songs, and this is especially true for those who communicate using low-pitched sounds... birds that can’t be heard above the noise of the city may have trouble attracting a mate, maintaining a territory, raising their family, and warning other birds of danger from approaching predators.”





shouting over the music : a dawn chorus for walter and olivier was a Mini FM radio programme created for central Melbourne, which transmitted the sounds of Australian native birds in the early hours of the morning to the historic inner city site of Cathedral Arcade, a pre-Mall built in 1925, one of the city's Art Deco heritage sites, and a historic and contemporary site for artists' studios, writers groups, and other localised artist-driven cultural activity.




Through the audible (and visible) presence of many small ('bird-sized') radios distributed around the foyer's artificial plants and nested within selected shops in the arcade, as well as utilising the localised territory of transmission via Mini-FM, the physicality of radio itself becomes analogous to the presence of birds in shopping malls and other urban environments, and an audible / visible trace of the continued existence of - and need for - natural and cultural presences and spaces within the city which sit in uneasy co-existence with consumer spectacle, the 9 to 5 working week, and the territorial hegemony of mainstream communications media. Sometimes, strategic silences can work wonders - and the ability to refuse shouting over the music can be seen as tactical - it can be the silent gestures, the small sounds, that create a sense of close-listening, and a kind of intimacy, which people really notice, if they are tuned in.

transmitted audio was sourced from the archives of the Australian twitcher (bird watching) group 'urban birder', who are interested in the life of birds in association with the human built environment, as well as field recordings of spaces around melbourne, and sonic reference to Réveil des Oiseaux (Dawn Chorus), the first of 20th Century composer Oliver Messaien's sequence of works dedicated almost entirely to the sonic notation of birdsong.




shouting over the music : a dawn chorus for walter and olivier was commissioned by the Melbourne Fringe festival as part of the visible city multi-artist project in October 2010, and is part of the ongoing Radio d' Oiseaux series of live mini FM rtransmission works by radio cegeste. It was transmitted into Cathedral Arcade on the week of the 70th anniversary of the death of Walter Benjamin.