Every year MESS commissions extraordinary Australian artists to create new works for an octaphonic electro-acoustic format. The artists work with the incredible MESS collection of instruments to explore new sonic worlds and push their work in new ways. This year we are thrilled to be working with Fia Fiell and Erkki Veltheim. Two outstanding artists whose distinctive sonic fingerprints are all over Australian musical landscape in an myriad of forms. Come down, pull up a beanbag and take a deep sonic dive into the minds of these wonderful artists.
For this MESS commission, synth artist Fia Fiell (Carolyn Schofield) will be premiering a new, long-form synthesiser performance in quadraphonic sound, using an array of vintage and contemporary synths from the collection to create an intimate yet expansive full-volume experience. Known for her arresting live performances, Schofield will play and process multiple keyboard synthesisers in situ to create an evocative, delicate and yet densely textural work, built on amorphous melodic cycles and complex drones. Simultaneously macroscopic, nebulous, meditative and immersive, the performance will explore what it means to hold and then let go: of tension and rigidity, of conscious control, of emotional tumult and of unbridled energy. Using an elastic, improvisational approach to time, space and rhythm, Schofield will create music that flows, expands and contracts all around the listener, enfolding and cocooning audiences into a form of collective therapy.
‘Effigy’ is a new work for acoustic violin and electronics composed on MESS’s analogue synthesizers. The synthesizers stretch and splinter the violin, reimagining it as a sacrificial object that is gradually immolated during the performance. This follows my line of interest in previous works combining the violin, as both a sonic and cultural object, with different forms of electronic prostheses: whether enacting an exorcism or a hallucinatory trance, they aim for some kind of ritual that challenges our perception in terms of the source, location and meaning of the sounds that we hear. I like the idea of harnessing the unpredictable, intractable qualities of analogue synthesizers in this work: In the attempt of utilising them to analyse and extend the violin’s sonic qualities, they will resist and retaliate, and in the process reconfigure it and consume it as a caricature of their own making.
Photo of Erkki Veltheim by Aaron Chua, photo of Fia Fiell (Carolyn Schofield) by Izzie Austin.
MESS Commissions are supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.