[MUSIC/Experimental/Multimedia ~ SA]
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Fri 29 Nov.
Kiah Gossner, composer and bass guitar for Contact, has pulled together a diverse group of talented people of various specialities to present a complex and rich piece of music. As per the credits, the start of this composition was in the back of a tour bus, somewhere in Europe with the concept being to start healing conversations on domestic violence. But, in development, it has become a multimedia presentation with graphic design (reminiscent of Picasso crossed with George Orwell), video (with hints of various internet searches amongst the images and landscapes) and the addition of poetry (in the flyer) has filled out this presentation.
Entering the Space Theatre, there are large graphics raised above the stage (at the back), several screens at ground level in front of where the band is set-up. The stark angularity of the scene complements this performance wonderfully. As for the band, take comfort that we are blessed with some fabulous local musicians! The line-up is Kiah, front and centre, an unusual place for bass guitar, to the left Django Rowe on electric guitar and then far left Kyrie Anderson on percussion (these three are well known to each other from various line-ups in and around Adelaide). Adam Page (saxophones and flute) to the front right, and far right, but wound around to the rear is the Julian Ferraretto String Quartet, then Dave McAvoy (electric piano) rear right, and Mat Morison on Synths centre rear (I think the only interstate based musician on stage). The musicians are relatively young for the most part, but versatile and clearly accomplished.
As for the composition, the poetry is set-out in seven movements, to reflect Kiah’s developments, along classical patterns. I could detect a few clear musical influences, particularly reflections of Vivaldi’s chamber music, Philip Glass’ minimalism to loud, raucous and raunchy rock reminiscent of Robert Fripp, with the string ensemble providing significant colour. On top of this, unusual intervals, melodically and rhythmically, alongside Escher like patterns and repeats weave a labyrinth of life, cycles and the difficulties or breaking out of bad habits. Kiah has done a great job of colouring domestic scenes or relative peace with times of growing discomfort (and atonality), where the music breaks out in scenes of DV. There were times the audience visibly jumped or pulled back at the explosion of noise.
Kiah is looking to initiate conversations, not present trite or simplistic answers. For mine, while there is poetry presented in the flyer, I would have liked to see alternative representations of the drama, perhaps in narrative, either spoken or sung, or even more starkly in some elements of contemporary dance through some of the scenes – which I think could provide significant clarity and focus to the excellent musical developments.
The audience was buzzing through this performance and this didn’t stop at the conclusion. Contact provides an experience of musicality complemented by stage and multimedia. It was a joy to behold and Kiah Gossner has developed a piece that is accessible while being challenging. Clearly he has an interest in developing this and other musical ideas further, providing a ‘Patreon’ crowdfunding link for supporters to consider.
Do yourself a favour – make the opportunity to go and see it!
Image courtesy of Tom McCammon