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Mršić / Vitamin S Collaborations

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First performance at the Audio Foundation organised by Ivan Mršić for !0 May, with Phil Dadson, Maurice Reviol and Darren Hannah. Photo: Ivan Mršić First performance at the Audio Foundation organised by Ivan Mršić for 10 May, with Phil Dadson, Maurice Reviol and Darren Hannah. Photo: Ivan Mršić First performance at the Audio Foundation organised by Ivan Mršić for 10 May, with Phil Dadson, Maurice Reviol and Darren Hannah. Photo: Ivan Mršić Second performance at the Audio Foundation organised by Ivan Mršić for 10 May, with Chris O'Connor, John Radford, and Kevin Kim. Photo: Ivan Mršić Second performance at the Audio Foundation organised by Ivan Mršić for 10 May, with Chris O'Connor, John Radford, and Kevin Kim. Photo: Ivan Mršić Second performance at the Audio Foundation organised by Ivan Mršić for 10 May, with Chris O'Connor, John Radford, and Kevin Kim. Photo: Ivan Mršić Projected painting for a backdrop for the second performance. Photo: Ivan Mršić

These abstract rhythmical works on paper, Mršić sees as doubling as musical scores that can also inspire or generate improv concerts, even though they are not normally forms of sonic notation. They don't obviously correlate with instrumental sounds, although (as the show's title says) musicians are always free to try. There are overlaps in visual and sonic textures and perhaps swelling or decreasing of shape / volume / pitch.

Auckland

 

Ivan Mršić and Vitamin S
Read Me as You Wish


18 April 2023 -13 May 2023 (performances on opening and closing nights, and on Wed evenings: 7-8 pm)

This review looks at the two improv performances at the Audio Foundation on the evening of 10 May, the last of a series of concerts using trios picked by Ivan Mršić out of the larger musical group of Vitamin S. Mršić, a well known local musician and artist, had a short residency at the Audio Foundation.

In the Audio Foundation’s narrow gallery out the back is a set of Mršić’s handmade percussive instruments and a selection of about eight works on paper: pencil and acrylic wash drawings and delicate collages featuring entwined cotton and scattered fine bristles.

These abstract rhythmical works on paper, Mršić sees as doubling as musical scores that can also inspire or generate improv concerts, even though they are not normally forms of sonic notation. They don’t obviously correlate with instrumental sounds, although (as the show’s title says) musicians are always free to try. There are overlaps in visual and sonic textures and perhaps swelling or decreasing of shape / volume / pitch.

Each performance was about 25-30 minutes long, the first being with Phil Dadson (Shruti-box [portable harmonium], percussion, foot-bells, throat singing, whistles and birdcalls), Maurice Reviol (bass clarinet) and Darren Hannah (double bass); the second being with Chris O’Connor (drum, cymbal and a triangular cluster of drink cans), John Radford (satellite dish, percussion and aural textures), and Kevin Kim (assorted Baroque recorders).

The first had a slide of a pale orange collage with twisting thread and tossed filaments as a backdrop, the second a pencil and wash drawing of hovering eyelash-like forms.

In the first, with Dadson’s wheezing harmonium creating a base drone with a sequence of gradually descending chords, the music had a slow meditative quality, echoed by the sonorously bowed double bass and plaintively ‘crying’ bass clarinet.

Occasionally this growling squawking continuum was interrupted by Dadson’s foot-bells, Mongolian singing, melodica reeds and bird whistles, and Hannah’s percussive string plucking or squeaky rubbing on the fingerboard. The orange painting with scattered dry-brushed black wipes seemed it might evoke a more irregular mood with troughs and crests, but that never happened.

However, the second performance seemed more sympathetic to the background projection in that more gaps and mounting player synchronicity were embraced. The spikey eyelash forms at times seemed mimicked, like isolated thorny islands.

O’Connor’s tapped or stroked hollow tins, and occasionally thunderous drum or reverbing cymbal, with Kim’s mike-rubbing flexible recorder, and Radford’s satellite-dish edge scraped with metal measuring tape—or his shaking of a jar of rice (or sliding grains of rock salt)—synthesised well, performed in sequence. Yet it was Kim’s use of tooting brittle high tones from two conventional recorders played simultaneously, and later a deeper but pure, single bass recorder, that partial melodic progressions started to be hinted at. Or the opposite, delirious clattered mayhem with Kim’s unexpected irregular bouncing of an aluminium tube on the polished concrete floor.

In both cases, instead of analytically looking at a communal backdrop for a preplanned structure, the musicians seemed to concentrate on careful listening and watching each other (not the painting)—as experienced improv musicians are prone to do—and leaving aural gaps for their creative colleagues to jump in.

John Hurrell

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