Review #2 – Automatronic

Automatronic
New Music for Organ and Electronics

Part of the Canterbury Festival, held in the Anselm Chapel at Canterbury Christ Church University on Monday 22nd October 2018.

Lauren Redhead (Organ) & Alistair Zaldua (Violins and Electronics)

I must admit my bias before I move on. I have experienced a few Automatronic concerts in the last few years. There are not many times that I can say that a concert moves, touches, and inspires me, and sparks my imagination; an Automatronics concert is one that I can say this is true. I do not attend one of these concerts to observe, but to experience what I can only describe as intense hallucinations. I can not tell you why this is the case, however I can tell you that for me, and because of (I believe) my being on the Autistic Spectrum (Asperger’s Syndrome), my abstract imagination is not always on par with a Neuro-Typical person, therefore I treasure any moment where the opposite is true.
Thus, I do not present to you a review of the technicalities, the performance, or the compositional process. Instead I offer you a narrative of my experience of this particular concert.

Sophie Stone – Amalgamations (2016)

As I entered the chapel I was bathed in sound. Long, slow, deep sounds surrounded me. As I took a seat I took a glance at the programme and immediately noticed Stone’s invitation for the audience to ‘move around during the performance’. I took the opportunity and meandered around the space, becoming slowly entangled in the paths taken by the organist.

Lauren Redhead – Phosphorescent (2018)

My journey had taken me to the shore, where I, along with fellow audience members, dove underwater. Out of the murkiness I could see a landscape awash with colour and splendour, illuminated, stark against the darkness beyond. A violin pulsated amongst the ocean of organ and electronics.

The sound kept on growing, with the violin becoming more and more intermingled and less its own entity.

Michael Bonaventure – Love Transformed (2017) Premiere

When we reached our destination we were greeted by an alien choir. They adorned us with a fusion of traditional (organ) and other-worldly melody (electronics). As each new moment dawned, they were left yearning for completion, longing to find their companion, until the final moment when the organ joins the voices in harmony.

Huw Morgan – Fault (2018)

All the way through this concert we had been travelling through a place of beauty, and the opening to this next piece was no exception. Birds and insects flittered around, filling the scene with their morning song. The landscape rolled out in front of us. Suddenly something mechanical grates through the once peaceful scene. As soon as it appeared, it was gone, leaving all but the sounds of birds and insects, yet somehow leaving a hole. Gradually, unnatural noises built up all around, overpowering and perverting the scenery. Eventually the happy chirping became determined to outshine the dissonance. But to no avail. What was once a a wonderful open world of harmony, ended with nothing except clanging metallic sounds and static.

Jesse Ronneau – Hagiography (2016) Premiere

From the silence after the final clang of metal into the heart of the land, came a piercing screech. From this screech came melodious overlaying vocals. The piece frantically tried to express its need to present itself as a grand and virtuous masterwork, but something wasn’t quite right. In the chaos, elegance was found. This moment lasted till the end when a train rushed past, which for me symbolised the passing of beauty in our everyday routines.

Overall, this concert invigorated feelings in me, that few performances have. There are many other concerts I have attended in the past that I have enjoyed. This word can never encompass what it is like to attend an Automantronic concert. I have one of their CDs, but it still doesn’t give me that sense of fulfilment that I receive at the end of each moment in time I am removed from the mundane, and transported into other realms.

– Jason Hodgson (1st November 2018)

Photo Credit: Sophie Stone

You can find out more about Automatronic by visiting their website: http://automatronic.co.uk/

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