Review: Musical leap into the unknown

music
The Griffyn Ensemble
“The Lost Mapmaker”
National Library of Australia – Friday 21 February 2014
Reviewed by Ian McLean

DISCERNING audiences are used to being teased from their comfort zones by the Griffyn Ensemble. “The Lost Mapmaker” was more a case of taking a large leap into the unknown and unexpected!

From the moment a world map was sketched on to butcher’s paper to the accompaniment of a chant that evolved into a sort of rap, this cross-art collaboration concert delivered sounds and images of diverse variety.

Some of the 13 songs/tunes/soundscapes were not always easy on the ear and demanded concentrated listening while others were lyrical, calming and relaxing.

My highlight was “Terra Incognita” (I think; the printed program was difficult to follow), which began with a sailing ship being drawn and projected by visual artist Annika Romeyn. Initially double bass and gourd worked with this living picture then other instruments and voices reacted musically as the screen image grew. It was as though the visual artist was in fact conducting the group and controlling the creation of atmosphere, be it tension or release.

Because the music was not known, I personally would have preferred some aural explanation of the works, but I do understand that, by utilising just music and drawing, audience members were able, in fact encouraged, to conjure up images limited only by individual imagination.

This was the first concert featuring two new Griffyns. Holly Downes sang and played percussion and keyboards plus added a new edge with her outstanding and inventive bass playing , while the violin of Chris Stone brought a folky touch, not at all out of place in the world music presented by the “outside-the-square” Griffyn Ensemble.

 

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