ALME #1: review

So last night I headed off to Format Collective for their first Anti Laptop Music Event. The idea was a night of electronica with nairy a Laptop in sight.

Now Format is sort of a place for the bright young things to go and play which meant that I would be the oldest there by maybe twenty years. But:

a) I’ve been making and listening to this sort of stuff since I was about 16 meaning that some of the kids in the crowd were just a bubble in Dad’s beer when I was making musique concrete with cassette recorders and shortwave radios.

b) Where else are you going to hear this sort of thing for $5.00?

So feeling a bit like one of those creepy old guys that go to schoolies week I headed off and got a seat.

First up were Little Scale and Reanimated Ocean who “played circuit boards”. Now I have no idea exactly what that means. I’m guessing some custom made circuits, maybe modular with perhaps a bit of live circuit bending. Or something like that.

Anyway, the sounds are the important thing, not how they get made and these sounds were excellent. Deep, rich sounds that were clearly electronic, warm and a long way away from some atmospheric pad that you find tucked in amongst the presets. A fine droning, noisy set.

Next up was Areyfu with some classic harsh noise. Virtuoso noise even… lots of crunchy squawls and pings that combined with some distinctive… well, not dancing, but expressive body distortion made the whole thing an engrossing experience.

It did seem a bit underpowered though. With a bigger P.A. it would have been the overpowering kick in the guts that it needed to be. As it was it slapped you around the head and shoulders and then left you still standing.

Tristan Louth-Robins played next – a subtle, droning piece that built a level of intensity before fading away to silence – and a last squeal of feedback. Perhaps an introduction might have been an idea. Louth-Robins started playing while the crowd chatted and they kept on chatting through most of the set. They were mainly listening in the end, but it took a while. Nice work.

Finally came Dot.AY with his Gameboys. Another underpowered start (all the way from Melbourne and didn’t check the batteries!) but once things got underway it was crowd pleasing, danceable beat laden music that was part Super Mario chiptunes on performance enhancing drugs and part poppy improvised toe tapper with an overlay of glitchy noisy fun.

And fun it was. After the fairly serious stuff earlier in the evening this was a great contrast. At times Dot.AY had a silly grin on his face and seemed just as surprised and delighted by the sounds he was producing as the audience were. Enjoyable and exciting and engaging.

Apparently there’s a recording of the show here and it’s be well worth your while to have a listen.


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