NOW in its 15th year, the SoundOut festival of experimental and improvised music is seen by its founder, Canberra sax and clarinet player, Richard Johnson, as a “gateway, exploratory music-art event”, designed to “move sound mountains, to uplift your ears and replenish the mind”.
Johnson, who won a 2015 ART Music Award for the festival, is not just interested in musical endeavours, but aims to provide an avenue for beyond-the ordinary art, too, in what is otherwise a summit of sometimes notated and sometimes improvised music showcasing 26 artists from Australia, France, Germany and China in around 17 hours of music over 22 sets.
In the line-up, just five artists are from Canberra – guitarist Jamie Lambert, violin/electronics artist Hannah de Feyter, multi-media live drawing artist Nicci Haynes and saxophonists Rhys Butler and Johnson.
A significant coup for the festival is getting electric and acoustic guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage, from France, who has expanded a field largely dominated by rock guitarists to focus on avant-garde guitar-playing centring on improvisation.
For 2024, the performances will be supplemented with workshops conducted by French vocalist Guylaine Cosseron and electronics wizkid Diemo Schwarz, along with a “drawing-sound workshop” featuring Sydney’s Locust Jones and Maria Moles on drums.
Cosseron is a striking vocalist whose voice explores space and its possibilities through triphonic sounds, glissandi, rattles, trills, voice breaks, voice bearing, held and swollen notes, interjections, clicks, crackles, inspires , exhales, cries, rumblings and melodies.
A serious researcher in the field of voice experimentation in jazz, contemporary and improvised music, she has performed with Les Grandes Gueules, Les Babouches Noires, Xavier Charles and others.
Schwarz, also from France, is an improvising musician and composer for installations, dance and video, a researcher at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music in Paris and a developer in digital arts who plays with electronic materials, exploring bodies of sounds using gesture controllers.
He’s a member of the Orchestra of New Creations, Experimentation and Musical Improvisation, but also plays with Fréderic Blondy, Gaël Mevel, Pascal Marzan, Fred Marty, and “Ensemble Icosikehainagone”.
In one of the highlights of SoundOut 2024, visual artist and performer Locust Jones, who has held more than 25 solo exhibitions in Australia and internationally, will produce a large-scale graphite work in response to the 24-hour news cycle that will be on display until the end of the festival.
During his two 40-minute performances, Jones will be accompanied by Melbourne drummer Maria Moles, who will create rhythms for his drawing.
Moles drew on ideas from the Kulintang music of the Philippines and contemporary electronic production, collaborating on everything from free improvisation and jazz to experimental pop.
SoundOut festival, ANU campus, February 2-4.
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