The Official Sound Symposium XVII Blog is live! Throughout the festival, we’ll be posting reviews and musings about some key events, written by our guest bloggers Lori Clarke, Kevin Hehir, and Michelle Bush. Stay tuned!

Concert: Davida Monk & Bill Horist; Paul Bowdring; Vertical Squirrels // LSPU Hall

by Michelle Bush, July 7th, 2014

Mack Furlong and his Monday night intros at the LSPU Hall were fun and I think I’ll have to steal the term “limited boatage” that he used regarding the exceptional Harbour Symphony from earlier that day.

Davida Monk and Bill Horist entered the stage in the dark with only a pathway made of a paper-like material glowing slightly of ice and emptiness. Shadow cracks played on the grey whiteness. Sounds from Bill’s uniquely foil-covered, bow, finger and metal-slat played prepared guitar varied exquisitely from crinkles, cracking, spastic, anxiety ridden quick jumps and skips to resonating whale songs and thunderous crashes.  [pullquote cite=”Michelle Bush” type=”right”]Sounds from Bill’s uniquely foil-covered, bow, finger and metal-slat played prepared guitar varied exquisitely from crinkles, cracking, spastic, anxiety ridden quick jumps and skips to resonating whale songs and thunderous crashes.[/pullquote] In the midst at times robotic ticks and clicks would entangle Davida in anxiety-ridden quick and abrupt movements of all her articulations. She seemed anxious, jittery, never at ease. Soundless screams – What did she scream with no voice? Jittery movements turned into animals in my mind; moose, caribou, whales swimming, taking up large amounts of space, volume. Her looks of concern, of uncertainty would end in moments of rest on the ground.

She explored the paper, creating her own sound of ice cracking slowly, wrapping itself around her until the paper, blue on the underside wrapped itself into an iceberg around her, clothed her with cold and she emanated a frozen strength with the music crescendo of ice shaking and crashing and ground being crushed.

My attention wavered from one to the other and at times the performance came as a whole; the artists, the set, the lights, the sound. It was an interesting feeling as audience member seeing these moments of separateness compared to togetherness. As Lori mentioned the moment in silence was such a contrast to the movement taken in with the soundscape being created that the strength and simplicity of that section of dance stayed with me. I was fascinated, completely submerged in her moves.

The shadow play she generated behind Bill was equally mesmerizing at times.  She, a larger-than-life creature coming from the shadows above him, so small focused on his instruments, his creations and each individual sound, creak… two-handed bowing like a violin until his deafening crashes and dark noise crashed in on her.

A little history and language lesson ensued with the entrance of Paul Bowdring on stage. Even after 10 years I had not heard the term cuffer….

The dog hecklers; Michael Chaisson and Frank Holden were very entertaining. And here’s to all the empathetic dogs!

Quick intermission switch over and there appeared an extremely intriguing piano player (Ajay Heble) and Vertical Squirrel friends (Daniel Fischlin, Lewis Melville). Back on to the audience, right shoulder higher than the left, slack jacket and rare sightings of the hands bounding on the keyboard… he captured my attention and though I would be drawn to the other three, in particular hand percussion and water cage playing of Jesse Stewart.

There was a mystery to this piano player, with squeaky hall chairs adding to the sounds generated, I was glued to what came next on the keyboard.

At times Pink Floyd-esque, with lights on in the audience (a challenge or command to stay participatory after the initial commands of the ring leader to clap and snap louder and louder until dimming was requested), there were moments of fluidity and obvious great friendship between musicians.

On to Night Music, a MUSICNL hosted by Roz MacPhail evening with a charming and personal improv about moving north, worries and solutions between Mark and Alison Corbett, Eric and Craig playing small sounds on the trumpet and alto sax that filled the space – so large. John Kameel Farah was an electronic Twin Peaks (and this is a good thing), laptop, keyboard, star of the night with his ambient and not-so-ambient playing.  As I was leaving a dynamic group got up playing a nord electric, omnichord, flute and guitar (so Alison told me – cause I am not a musician – so you all know and pardon any errors…) hints at what can be heard later by the IICSI Participants (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.

Went home late – for me, full and looking forward to Tuesday’s adventures in sound!



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