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Escape Velocity


(custom CD from Activated Space - Garth Paine; 30 Moodie St. Carnegie, Vic. 3163 Australia

Garth Paine has been composer with the interactive dance and technology troupe Company in Space for several years, and has produced a number of pieces of music and interactive environments for them. "Escape Velocity" is the music he produced for their 1998 show of the same name. In that show, the dancers' movements frequently triggered off sounds, or seemed to, and the music was a mix of technological sounds (modems, telemetry, etc.) and breath / body sounds, as well as electronic sounds, in keeping with the science-fiction / romanticization-of-new- technology theme of the work. I thought the music worked wonderfully with the show, and was curious as to how the music component would stand up on its own, without visual support. My questions are now answered. The music works very well as a CD listening experience. It's theatrical music, full of dramatic gestures, mesmeric in its combining of many simultaneous layers of samples. It reminded me of very sophisticated radio art, in fact, because the referential nature of many of the sounds seemed to constantly be suggesting fragments of some hidden narrative. Although the piece originated in a dance production, regular rhythms are mostly avoided, appearing only in the 5th and 11th tracks to any great extent. Some of the juxtapositions are quite poignant, such as a long section of just close- miked breathing followed by an episode of machine sounds. In another context, this might be obvious, but in this context, it works quite well. Whether you've seen Company in Space's work or not, you'll be most impressed by Garth's work on this CD.

(this review was first published in Chroma)

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