Echofluxx returned to Tracfačka Arena for the 2013 and 2014 festivals. This is a large space with an impossibly high ceiling. Its sonic personality is quite strong, a force to be reckoned with. And interestingly enough, the first music for Echofluxx 13 was a set of two pieces by Michael Schumacher that had been performed in a similar space in Berlin. So it reckoned with the room quite beautifully, with large sounds that made the room come alive and sustained sounds that kept it vibrating in its own special way and even small, repeated sounds that did not activate the room, not so obviously anyway, so one had a nice set of possibilities for this very responsive space.
But what about the music? Well, Michael Schumacher is a fine composer. No doubt about that, and both Filters and Filtered and Beet 5 (after the piano concerto, not the symphony) are really rich and gorgeous pieces. I did not think that at first, however. Filters and Filtered is such a strong and extroverted piece, that Beet 5′s quieter and more subtle beauties failed to impress me as much in the concert. Only coming back to it in preparation for this review did I find that I had pretty thoroughly missed its beauties the first time through. As good a reason for recordings, even of improvisation, as any. Anyway, I hope the two excerpts offered here are enough to give you an idea of how good these pieces are. If sales and/or youtube hits suddenly spike, I’ll know they were.
Filters and filtered
One might think—I did at the time—that everything else would be a bit of a let down after such a strong opening. And Echofluxx is indeed a festival of widely varying styles and of widely varying success in working the room, the actual, physical room. I think that that is Echofluxx’s greatest strength, actually. It’s a festival that takes enormous risks and hence features some spectacular failures. And that’s a good thing, to my way of thinking. I’ve been to festivals that carefully vet each and every piece, making sure the quality is uniformly high. Unfortunately, none of those festivals are nearly as edgy or exciting or, ultimately, as fulfilling as festivals like Echofluxx that take risks. New music is new and risk is built into the situation. Or should be.
But I digress. Everything else was quite definitely not a let down. There was a splendid set by Australian composer and clarinetist Brigid Burke, with some pieces from a work-in-progress involving video (also by Brigid) and electronics and Ms. Burke playing the clarinet. I’m not a big fan of video and music together, which is one reason I like the Echofluxx festival so much, because I get a big helping of something I am growing to like more and more. Of course. Anyway, here’s a few clips of Burke’s work, a work that is now finished. I think that the clips are long enough to show some of the really intricate and subtle relations between image and sound, between live and recorded, that Burke explores in these pieces. A fair taste, anyway.
The rest of that evening was taken up with a couple of collaborations, a music and video installation type piece by Michal Cáb and Peter Gonda and an improv set by Martin Janiček and Bethany Lacktorin. As various an evening as one could wish for.
The next evening featured Joanna Adamczewska’s book pieces. Endlessly fascinating, both visually and sonically. Different kinds of paper, different ways of performing the paper—crumpling, fumbling, ripping, tearing, tossing, leafing through the books. I was completely entranced. Amazing the range of sounds one can get from just mucking about with paper. And the fire, too. There was fire.
And, what’s more, Dan Senn had his own set a couple of days later, which also explored the sounds of tearing and crumpling paper. If you have already guessed that that set was in every way different from Adamczewska’s, you would be correct. It was.
Amazing the range of sounds one can get from just mucking about with paper.
After Adamczewska’s performance was a set by OEM. I would not have wanted to follow Adamczewska. But OEM just sailed in and knocked our collective socks off. Splendid music.
At the end of the festival was something that has turned into a kind of tradition for Echofluxx, a group improvisation, featuring several of the musicians able to stay through to the last day. New music and tradition. Amazing how well that combo works.