How to cover eight brand new pieces of music in one review? A happy dilemma.
CONCERT REVIEW The West Australian Newspaper
July 8th 2013
Eight West Australian composers, six musicians, one room, and one mandate: the music must include electronics. The result was a fascinating concert that featured jazz composers, WAAPA graduates and seasoned electronics composers, revealing the breadth of creativity in the local new music scene.

Brad Serls

Decibel was ensemble in residence for two weeks at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art which allowed composers to attend rehearsals and incorporate the distinctive reverb of the performance space into the music.

Henry Anderson’s Resident Frequencies ‘introduced’ the performance space with a composition that responded to a recording of the ‘sound’ of the room. The resonant frequencies were layered to create an electronic hum while the ensemble of flute, bass clarinet, violin cello and percussion picked out pitches to mimic the recording.

The distinct rhythmic groove in Johannes Luebbers work The past is never far behind contrasted with a section of free improvisation. Luebbers utilised computer software to create electronic ‘responses’ to the live sounds, resulting in a fairly dense electro-acoustic ensemble sound.

Stuart James’ N-dimension was more free-form and the performers used ear pieces to maintain independent tempos. Snippets of instrumental sounds were refracted between the surround-sound speakers creating the effect of chaotic multi-layering.

The political overtones in Lindsay Vickery’s Silent Revolution and Rachael Dease’s The Perils of Obedience came from images projected on the wall. Footage of waste dumps and psychology experiments literally shaped the scores and musical responses of the respective pieces, creating macabre, decaying soundworlds.

In Chris Tonkin’s Rapid Same Question the crackles and beeps of computer sounds dialogued with the instruments with orchestral precision. The seamless integration continued to the end where the hum of a wine glass blended with the gentle whine of electronic overtones.

Cat Hope’s The Lowest Drawer continued her exploration of the bottom end of the sound spectrum with a ponderous decline in pitch from bass flute, bass clarinet and bass drum contrasting with the ringing almost irritating brightness of a sine wave pitch.

Sam Gillies’ The Aura Implicit was a stimulating contrast. Electronic static was joined by lively instrumental sounds which ricocheted between the speakers and to create a busy soundscape. 

The two well-attended concerts on the weekend demonstrated what many of us already know: Decibel has become a vital institution in the generation and performance of new music in WA.


This review copyright The West Australian newspaper 2013