p.a., subwoofers, laptops, saxophone, speakers, water

– hellosQuare @ Smith’s Books, Canberra, July 2013
– NOW now series @ Hibernian House, Sydney, July 2013

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Interrogations #1 – Té reviewed by Austin Buckett

When notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Juicy’ came through Kynan Tans’ computer I didn’t know if it was an accident or a purposeful interjection. Was it culturally referential or was it just an unintentional click in itunes? I didn’t really care – regardless of his motivations it was incredible. Although happening early on in the performance, it was a moment that exemplified the conceptual yet seemingly open and accidental world that Té’s work formed.

As Andrew Brooks completed the final stages of his on-stage herbal tea preparation, the performance began with intent towards silence and intermissions of very quiet sounds coming from laptop speakers. Visually I was also kind of cheating; watching the all too familiar small squares of the itunes fader systematically fluctuating, up and down.

The structural clarity of the first two ‘sections’ were what worked best for me- a soft beginning of hyper-minimal laptop dueling into a sudden engulfment of a constant low frequency burst at high volume through the PA. The extremities complemented each other in contrast- like stepping from a heated room into a wintery cold, or falling from the sky into the waves, like Goose and Maverick in Top Gun.

Andrew Brooks’ instrumentation, although similar to Kynan, included an alto saxaphone. With the dramatic beginning of the second section came screaming high saxophone wails like a scratched and skipping CD copy of James Chance and the Contortions. The wavering high pitched squacking was almost completely covered by the PA volume, allowing one to enjoy the blissful moment of hearing things that may or may not be there. The act of guessing or the point at which the mind begins to trick itself when confronted with a mass of information.

The lower frequencies through the PA immersed all possible activity in most other areas of the spectrum, while one of the speakers dropped in and out due to a faulty lead or input (this was later industriously fixed by Brooks in the midst of alto-screeching). I also thought I smelled burning speakers which enhanced these brutal metal-esque elements of the section. I think the PA system was actually fine in the end- proving to be a testament to Té’s power of perceptive trickery- did their sounds cause me to smell burning speakers? Slayer’s guitarist Jeff Hanneman had recently died and I was thinking about his ghost in the corner with oakley’s and long blonde hair wanting to be a part of it all.

The work then had a sudden descent into an outro-esque postlude, that i felt could have worked amazingly as a piece on its own. Afterward I wished I heard it unattached to the anatomic strength of the 2 sections that had happened before. This appendage to the piece was certainly manifesting as a kind of purposeful antagonisation (i already felt fulfilled, i had skulled down a longneck, was intensely busting and unable to move). What ensued was an extremely slow and repetitive itunes trade . It made me think of a slowed down social situation with a friend, democratically offering one tune each. They were mostly R+B or hip hop tunes, sometimes fairly humorous. Maybe too humorous? All I know is it was an excellent piece in itself and something i would love to see presented on its own.

I walked out at the end of Te’s performance feeling thoroughly refreshed by its prowess of deadpan execution, structural simplicity and conceptual rigor. I often feel like experimental concerts create their own kind of dogmatic feeling where these kind of very serious and almost obligatory timbral explorations take over from the idea of placing a gesture (whatever that may be) in time, space and in a particular environment. Overall, this was a refreshing slap in the face.

– Austin Buckett