Austin Buckett, piano player in Pollen Trio and composer and producer of last year’s ‘Stuttershine’ (reviewed here), has a busy couple of months ahead; in addition to a site specific installation at the ANU in Canberra in November, he is also performing and curating a concert for ABC Classic FM radio in December featuring selected noise works by his past mentor Peter Ablinger and other new pieces. Buckett also composed the following multi-percussion duo piece, RESET, which was premiered in August in Canberra, featuring field recordings made at Los Angeles International Airport and performed by Yvonne Lam and William Jackson.
Austin described RESET as follows –
“RESET is like all of my work in the sense that it is just the result of assembling things. These things might be notated performance materials, field recordings, speakers in a room, people…
I think of my piano playing in Pollen Trio in this way and also in the way I post-produce records on a computer. I keep going back to recording things (whether it be a rehearsal or a field recording), cutting it up and assembling it, then if it is an acoustic work – often re-transcribing it for instrumentalists to play. To me, the only ‘language’ element is to do with texture. The material itself is just a secondary thing as long as it possesses the right density or sparsity. I just enjoy assembling these different masses of sound as opposed to the idea of a single line or this antiquated idea of the composer existing as this enlightened ‘inventor’. Even if it was a single line itself I wouldn’t want the focus to be that line. I would rather focus on how it is framed. What is holding it there. My first thought behind RESET was of it functioning as blocks of sound. Sound boxes, I guess. Within each sound box things would be slightly displaced or different in some way, and each section these surrounding sound worlds offset the one-dimensional dialogue that two performers in a concert setting seem to automatically set up.
In RESET I wanted to throw off expectations of this dialogue with contradictory things like recordings of other environments or the use of costumes. The musical material (although it functions on its own) in some ways I wanted to act as a pre-occupation in the middle of the room. The additional recordings and surrounding speakers then were these interruptions possibly causing some kind of reflection on perception. For instance this Sydney double bass player called Sam Pettigrew has that with his solo shows. I just walked in late once and he was just staring at the audience with no shirt on and sunglasses. The suits mean nothing in RESET, nor does the use of a recorded airport have any literal message. It’s just the conflict of these things that engage with peoples false need for meaning in anything abstract and I love the result.
After the concert someone came up to me and said “I love your reference to a post apocalyptic world” someone else said it reminded them of “jumping on a trampoline with strangers”. Hopefully it affected some people without them having any image just a feeling or experience of the placement of sound moving within a room. It uses the main areas of a room with a circular audience surrounded by speakers and with a ‘performance’ happening in the middle. I guess my main interest in making these ‘chamber’ type works is to set up some kind of situation that engages with the perception of sound, the perception of environment and through this somehow allowing a wide enough plane for the listener to become a co-creator in some way. Although it was just one element of the work, the best result for me was realizing that everyone else’s individual interpretations were better than anything I could put into words.
The ABC concert will be simulcast on December 15, and can be streamed here.