Monday, January 26, 2004

The weekend has been an intense two days of joy.
I shall get straight to the point and review my own performance at the mini-festival "Moonshake 4" which I had the pleasure of participating in last night.
I was the opening act in a theatre which was circular with a balcony forming a mezzanine floor above a stage and enough room for the 120 people who attended.
I began with a sample recorded by myself in Diskit Gompa in Ladakh in 1996 it was a Yama Durga Puja which went for three days of chanting in the 900 years old monastery. Last night it set a mood of psychedelic attunement and I followed this feeling with an ambient beginning to my didgeridoo playing. Following the breath stops of the hundred chanting monks provided me with a early guide to warm up with (although I had played acoustically 30 minutes earlier when the power failed and I provided some spectacle while the technically minded traced the blown fuse - too many light being used). The slow sweep of the first piece led into the second sample/track performed...the famous record from the 1970's Songs of the Humpback Whale provided me with a beautiful piece of two Humpback whales communicating in the waters off Trinidad. A series of high pitched short calls in steady rhythm and (I suspect later added in the original mix) the sound of ocean waves and running water allowed for increased tempo and some clap stick playing as I began my approach to the jump off into frenzy traced playing which appeared later in the set. The whale sample was actually cut short as it was twelve minutes long and after about six minutes it felt like there should be something new added to the arrangement. The third piece I rode along was begun with a sample from Marcel Duchamp in a 1957 talk he gave about The Creative Act:
"The creative act is not performed by the artist alone. The spectator brings the work into contact with the external world by deciphering and determining its inner qualifications."
"The relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed"
"All the decisions in the artistic execution of the work rest with pure intuition and cannot be translated into a self-analysis spoken of or written or even thought out."
These three quotes from a master of dialogic reality were dispersed by the short burst deep bass rumble of a blue whale.
It was at this point I used the wah wah peddle for the first time and it fitted together perfectly (thanks to Jon). The intensity began building seriously here and toward the end my face was numb and the back of my neck tingling.
The bass build of the Duchamp piece was shattered by the horns, cymbals and bells of the venerable monks of Tikseh Gompa in a looped sequence recoded at a lion dance performed in Leh Ladakh at the Ladakh festival in 1996. It was short but it signified the break between the build up and flight.
Following this was a return to the Diskit Gompa with a long series of chanting what I played I can't remember much of except by this stage I was using the Tibetan bell rather violently, the wah wah peddle, and the clap sticks. The drone of the monks with reverb attached in the mix came as a hum in the round theatre. Projected over me were images of surrealist art as I attempted to consciously follow the harmonic drones of the monks. By this stage the room was beginning to spin.
The bell of the Abbot of Diskit Gompa changed the rhythm of the chant to slow steady swing back and forth between two tones. This I droned and popped between, wrapping the didge sound around the tones with the aid of the modulation from the wah wah peddle. A final bell from the Abbot and it was the final piece. I thanked Dave Whitely from The Cozmic Shop for the loan of the fine wall hangings which lined the walls of the theatre (depicting Buddha, Shiva, mandalas and Celtic designs) and advised people to buy the chai tea from Erika (my wife) which she was selling in the corner.
The final piece was a fast loop from the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco of drums and horns (perhaps Jilala). I played the smallest and fastest didge I own in order to keep up with the driving trance rhythm but by the end of it (7:30 Mins) I was totally finished having blown the breath from my body.
The audience clapped and cheered. I thanked and left the stage a very happy little camper.
The acts that followed me where all excellent I and I shall continue my review of them tomorrow (The magic lantern, Protest Killern, Black Forest Black Sea and The Spacious Mind)..........................................

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