The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone, but it's interesting to see how some of the Welsh music scene is starting to adapt to not being able to perform live-in the same space as the audience (co-located). Yesterday I took part in Oscilloscope, normally it's an event hosted in Penmaenmawr, with people performing their 'experimental' work 'live' to an audience, it's also usually streamed - with Ed Wright doing a great job of comparing. Last night was slightly different, the event was run through Zoom (a video conferencing service), anyone with the link could join the Zoom group, it was also streamed onto Facebook so that people could watch if they didn't want to use Zoom.
The line up was: David Hopewell, Alan Chamberlain, Rob Spaull, Phil Morton, Mark Albrow, Benjamin Buck (some people had dropped out as they wanted to perform live, or had a slow Internet connection - a genuine issue in rural Wales). The event ranged from contemporary experimental classical, to explorations of the 'Crackle Box', a talk/reflection on listening, audio augmented 3D printing with granular synthesis and much more. Below is my piece that was played and discussed.
The event went really well (thanks to Charles Spendlove's wrangling of the technology) and felt as though it offered something a little more intimate and democratic than the usual 'performer and audience' set up that we're so used to. On the positive side of things people were able to get involved globally, people could use pre-recorded work/videos and it was really easy to ask questions and discuss the work that was performed and presented.
A few weeks before I'd been invited to perform at SCRATCH an event regularly held at Storiel in Bangor and curated by Ash Cooke (Chow Mwng). Storiel is a great venue for this sort of experimental event, a gallery space with great acoustics. You literally perform amongst the art. The venue was full and I'd invited Ash to improvise over my set, which was a new experience for me, but building collaborations, developing friendships and exploring techniques is what these events and this scene is all about. I was also able to use some work that I'd been working on with Maria Kallionpää for an opera, along with found sounds and AI-based compositions (in the set), which I'm currently working on. Below is a video that was taken of the performance. You might need to turn up the volume if you're using a laptop.
It's really encouraging to see events being run by people who are enthusiastic and want to hear, share and promote the music of Wales, even if it is 'Off Grid' or online. Running events online offers different opportunities and challenges, but it looks like people are rising to the challenge and keeping the experimental Welsh music scene alive!
Alan Chamberlain was supported by the following EPSRC projects - EP/T51729X/1 & EP/R511730/1.