Tuesday 10 April 2018, 7.30pm
James Rushford & Joe Talia are two distinctive and exploratory voices in the contemporary Australian underground. They first caught our ear with their wonderful ‘Manhunter’ release on Graham Lambkin’s KYE label. Drawing upon strategies from contemporary composition, music concrete and improvisation, it weaves together greyscale electronics, dehumanized drum machines, amorphous vocal fragments, domestic detritus and sundry devices into a clouded, submerged narrative fabric. Although the duo’s working methods and sound sources have changed radically between releases (and even performances), all of their work breathes the same peculiar air of lingering obsession and decayed virtuosity.
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer, whose work draws from concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist musical languages, staking out an idiosyncratic stylistic space that has been described as ‘electro-acoustic experimentation with a beating heart’ (Boomkat) and ‘haunted Jacobean ASMR’ (The Wire). Investigating the creases, cracks, and folds in traditions ranging from early music to new age, Rushford’s work subtly exaggerates seemingly liminal aspects such as atmosphere and the bodily presence of the performer until these take on a weight equal to musical elements such as pitch, rhythm and timbre.
In recent years, Rushford’s solo work has been guided by his theorisation of sonic images, particularly the shadow, which has inspired pieces as diverse as an hour-long companion to Federico Mompou’s Música Callada (See the Welter, for solo piano, 2016) and a sumptuous translation of the play of light across flat surfaces into synthetic sound (The Lake from the Louvers, 2020). Rushford has longstanding performance practices on piano, synthesizers and electroacoustic devices, and portative organ, bringing to all of these a delicacy of touch and a harmonic sensibility in which unorthodox tunings coexist with influences from fin de siècle Impressionism, the 20th century avant-garde, and many strains of popular music.
James has created original work for BBC Scottish Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Ensemble Neon (Oslo), Speak Percussion (Melbourne), Ensemble Vortex (Geneva), MONA FOMA, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Ultima Festival (Norway), Unsound Festival (New York), Tectonics Festival (Tel Aviv), Send and Receive Festival (Winnipeg), Adelaide Festival and Liquid Architecture (Melbourne). As well as previous projects with Klaus Lang, Annea Lockwood, David Behrman, Tashi Wada, Haroon Mirza and Dennis Cooper, he works regularly with Golden Fur (his trio with Sam Dunscombe & Judith Hamann), Joe Talia, Ora Clementi (with crys cole), Oren Ambarchi, Kassel Jaeger, Anthony Pateras, Will Guthrie, Graham Lambkin and Francis Plagne.
His music has been published by a variety of international labels including Unseen Worlds (US), Pogus (US), Penultimate Press (UK), Another Timbre (UK), Holidays (IT), Black Truffle (AUS), KYE (US) and Shelter Press (Fr).
In 2017, James completed a Doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Joe Talia is an improviser and composer who works with percussion, tape and electronics. Focusing on the use of Revox tape machine and analogue synthesizers in combination with instruments and field recordings, Talia’s electronic works patiently build up sparkling, detail-rich sound worlds of gliding tones, skittering percussion and burbling location atmospherics. In live situations, Talia often uses tape and effects to process and warp his own and others’ playing into uncanny chains of echoes and spectral smears of sound.
A virtuoso drummer, as a percussionist Talia emerges from the traditions of jazz and free improvisation and has developed a unique personal language of shifting accents, subtle virtuosity and discreet extended technique that he welds equally ably in jazz, rock, new music and improvisational contexts. Like his electronic works, his drumming often demonstrates a keen attention to long-form structures, dynamic development and group interactions.
An important member of Tokyo’s vibrant improvised music scene and internationally active as a performer, Talia performs and records regularly with Oren Ambarchi, Eiko Ishibashi, Jim O’Rourke, James Rushford and Tatsuhisa Yamamoto. In addition to these regular collaborations, he has also been involved in projects with Keiji Haino, Chris Abrahams, Tetuzi Akiyama, Akira Sakata, John Duncan, Richard Pinhas and many others. His work has been published by international labels such as Black Truffle, Bocian, Kye and Touch.
As a sound artist and performer Lia Mazzari’s practice is often collaborative, engaging new audiences through encounters with art in non-conventional spaces, physical and virtual. She likes to explore the divisions of site and non-site, private and public through live performance, sound installation and urban intervention. Lia creates recorded and live events that embrace the broader sense of sound in space. This fluid relationship with her environment and towards sonic activism as well as developing an extended technique with cello and whips form the crux of her practice.