Two of Liverpool’s finest sound architects venture into the deep at the World Museum.
It’s hardly pointing out anything new by saying a.P.A.t.T. don’t dabble in the norm.
But their recent explorations in sound, the four-part Musical Settings concerts, are adventures which even by their standards are extraordinary to say the least.
Following on from their On the Earth showcase at Sefton Park bandstand in May (an orchestral piece in which hundreds of ECHO newspapers were ripped and shredded to create noise composed by an Argentinian dude… Obviously.), the group teamed up with contemporaries Ex-Easter Island Head at Liverpool’s World Museum.
The second instalment, broken into three separate showings, under the banner Into the Deep explored concepts of distance, vastness and isolation.
Ex-Easter Island Head began proceedings in the vast atrium basking in the shadow of a real Easter Island Head – the Moai Hava statue. And a giant skeletal pterodactyl overhead.
Ex-Easter Island Head‘s Ben Duvall and George Maund
The a.P.A.t.T orchestra circled the trio – Ben Duvall, George Maund and Jacob Chabeaux – and through a series of clattering wooden percussive sequences, rung bells, bashed cymbals and the characteristic mallet guitars they reached a stunning climax as the dozens of musicians joined together with a huge swell of choral vocals. The effect was stunning, with the treated, e-bowed guitars combining spectacularly with the quite spiritual tide of voices which closed the piece.
Ex-Easter Island Head‘s Jacob Chabeaux
Ex-Easter Island Head‘s George Maund
Making our way to the Aquarium we wander in among the daytrippers and the deep purpley glow emitted by the fishtanks, as the a.P.A.t.T orchestra set up behind a central closed off area.
Slowly a whisper of violin strings and clarinet creep out of the shadows and everyone stops for a number of minutes waiting. There’s a sense of wonderment and curiosity. For a moment even the starfish perk up. It’s subtle and enticing, however, unlike the earlier display, without the visual element there’s a distinct lack of engagement and it’s finale seems to fizzle into the deep rather than swallow us whole Moby Dick-style.
a.P.A.t.T orchestra’s Jon Davies pre-Planetarium show.
The final piece took place in the museum’s Planetarium is an interpretation of Philip Glass‘ Music in Similar Motion.
Anyone familiar with Glass’ work would have had an insight into his vast, ambient walls of minimalism – what they wouldn’t have been prepared for was the atmospherics the setting lent to the finale.
With the orchestra seated in the centre of the circular darkness, we’re sat behind watching both the images of planets, satellites, US space shuttles above and the musicians red glow from their head torches.
a.P.A.t.T orchestra’s Jon Hering in the Planetarium.
What follows is a marathon of sound. The same marathon of sound. Violin, cello, guitar, keyboards, clarinet, percussion, flute, blow organs, you name it weave a modulated repetitive, almost Giorgio Moroder-like motif for 20 minutes or more. And the senses are distorted.
What starts off as invigorating turns to hypnotic and we’re happy; head bobbing. But 15 minutes in the imagery wears off and there’s a distinct feeling of restlessness which ebbs into isolation and finally a fission of uncomfortable claustrophobia.
When the lights finally go up there’s an exhaustion seemingly from both listeners and players. We’ve ventured deep into the abyss. Powerful and beyond our control. I’m not sure whether I’d want to return.
Ex-Easter Island Head and the a.P.A.t.T orchestra performing in Liverpool’s World Museum.
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