Vanessa Tomlinson – The Space Inside

Vanessa Tomlinson - The Space Inside, artist with headphones playing cymbals.

For over two decades, Vanessa Tomlinson has been exploring a number of percussive forms; the percussionist is one of Australia’s leading lights in this area. As both a solo artist and as one half of Clocked Out, Tomlinson’s music taps into a raw, undiluted energy that not many musicians are able to find, let alone release.

Tomlinson seeks out a ‘sense of intense presence’, which is only accessible and available through live performances, and that’s one of the reasons why her solo output is something of a rarity – she prioritises the music and the place where its true power can be nurtured, developed, and unleashed, shining brightly with a realisation of its full potential, and, for one reason or another, a record can lose some of that raw energy. This record focuses on singular objects: the concert bass drum and the tam tam.

The Space Inside specifically addresses this issue, having been meticulously designed and developed for the recorded format, a method in which deep exploration is encouraged and new opportunities are unearthed while still harnessing a primary and primal source of energy. Described as being ‘vertical music’ which ascends and descends along a single point, Tomlinson’s music is well-controlled and dynamically-even, quaking below the surface of things. Sometimes, it feels as though she’s trying to hold the music back, trying to contain and control a wild beast.

Her music emanates from the pre-dawn of history; as she plays, the very vibrations of the Universe ripple outwards, manifesting the true spirit of sound through her communion and communication. Live performing is so crucial to the ‘success’ of the work, of being in the moment and witnessing such grandeur. Saying that, Tomlinson has succeeded in all areas of the transition. The sound shimmers in the midnight colours of darkness, gradually opening up as the volume slowly increases, revealing more and more of its power.

Through dark timbres and unfolding sheets of sound, unfathomable amounts of space open up, yawning either in benevolence or in preparation to devour. The distances are immeasurable. A levelling-up is taking place – a transcendence between body and instrument – through a set of ongoing and extremely powerful shudders, a soundquake, causing equal amounts of distress and pleasure to the human architecture, surrounding a house of bones and blood entirely in its vacuum of prehistoric sound.


Vanessa Tomlinson

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