observatori festival – valencia

Last weekend I took part in the annual Observatori Festival in Valencia, Spain. The excellent program of experimental music, “About: Blank” was curated by Ruben Garcia. As I arrived rather late on Friday evening I missed most of the opening program. The Saturday evening program included Dave Phillips from Switzerland and PITA (Peter Rheberg) from Austria. The venue was wisely chosen for the performances (most agreed). The space, Sala La Gallera, was a former cock fighting ring from the 19th century that was now converted into an exhibition space. The sound system was enough for a venue 5 times the size making it all too easy to approach mind numbing sound levels (which Pita and Dave both reached). Nonetheless the quality allowed the performers unlimited dynamic range. Dave Phillips opened with an intense set based on the sounds of insects (many recorded in Thailand) and ended with a quiet note printed on a flier reminding us of how limited the lifespan of humanity would be without insects (despite our attempts to eradicate them). His second set had a certain level of fear factor about it (or was it that I thought the building would collapse?). A video projected on the ceiling accompanied a vocal noise performance where images of animal cruelty were interlaced with sharp quotes ( I’ll always remember: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities- Voltaire). PITA followed with powernoise set spewed afourth from his trusty laptop. The final two performances on Sunday night were myself followed by John Duncan. As John’s sound work inspired me long ago it was a pleasure to perform on the same night. I made a variation on my “Sound Locations: Transpositions” piece where I take a human approach to spatialization by walking throughout the audience with speakers attached to my body. Judging by the response it seemed people enjoyed it thoroughly. John Duncan followed with a solid piece played back through a quadraphonic arrangement of the sound system. Rather than ending up like a spatialized piece I say the quad setup allowed varying levels of submersion into the layers of banded noise streams. Yes, and in between the noise I had a quick look around Valencia, which looks to be an appealing place to live if you don’t mind the heat (it was already getting over 30C in mid-May).

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