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Boundary-breaking force in chamber music returns with concerts and a new album


Posed photo of Decibel New Music Ensemble at Melbourne Recital Centre
Stuart James, Lindsay Vickery, Tristen Parr, Cat Hope, Aaron Wyatt & Louise Devenish at Melbourne Recital Centre

Like many other ensembles and arts organisations, Decibel New Music Ensemble had most of its activity over the past years delayed or cancelled, but after pivoting online with the part cinema, part experimental ‘2 Minutes From Home’ series, the six-piece whose members are split between Perth and Melbourne, make a return with two concert programs and a new release on Swiss label, Hat Hut. Beginning with Revolution on June 28 at Melbourne Recital Centre, Decibel’s performance in Primrose Potter Salon fuses vinyl records, turntables, and chamber music in an experimental music performance. Premiering in Perth in 2018, Decibel’s Artistic Director Cat Hope says this program presents a range of historic and recent works including pieces by Milan Knížák, John Cage, Cat Hope, Lindsay Vickey, Annika Moses, Chris De Groot and The Velvet Underground. “Since the invention of the gramophone in the late nineteenth century, composers have experimented with using the player and records in their music as instruments, scores and sound materials,” Hope says. “In this concert we’ll explores the turntable in music across a range of approaches, from the deliberate use of breakage, the integration of purpose cut and prepared records, to the integration of the skilled turntable performer. “Revolution’s the first to feature the turntable and vinyl record in every work of an entire program, providing a detailed overview of the possibilities for records and record players in new music.” And then on July 11 at Revelation Film Festival in Perth and on July 26 at Melbourne Recital Centre, Decibel will present Two Minutes From Home live for the very first time, featuring the 20 x two-minute audio visual music commissions that were released online in 2020. Described as “beautiful, eye-catching miniatures” by Limelight’s Angus McPherson and “art that demands your full attention for two minutes of full sensory immersion, where sounds, visuals and ideas are intricately woven together” by The Saturday Paper’s Harriet Cunningham, Decibel will perform these new works live with the score videos as film. Expect a wide range of musical styles, performance approaches, and snippets of interviews from the artist between tracks. World leading interpreters of graphic notations and pioneer digital score formats for composition and performance, including the ongoing development of their successful ScorePlayer App for iPad, Hope says that audiences will be able to follow along in real time with stunning projections of the animated musical scores, as they transform colours, shapes, lines and objects into music. “There’s Aaron Wyatt’s Glisten that turns jewellery box treasures into an equally shimmering soundscape; Thembi Soddell’s Let Go of Control which sounds and looks like a gritty adventure into the unknown; Marina Rosenfeld’s self-referential and resolutely non-conformist A martial exercise in togetherness; J.G. Thirwell’s Angel of Retribution in which a minefield of colourful shapes and symbols explodes across the senses; and so much more,” Hope says. In addition to the concerts, Decibel have also released an album of compositions on improvisation and new music Swiss label, ezz-thetics by Hat Hut, which is available digitally and on CD on Bandcamp. All the pieces were created using the Decibel ScorePlayer, which Hope uses to present her animated graphic notations. “In the track ‘Chunk’, it sends coordinates the from one page of the score to a Disklavier and the other to the live pianist on a second piano,” she explains. “In ‘Wanderlust’ different audio recordings can be inserted to the score; in ‘Shadow of Mill’ the sub tone is played from the score itself, and ‘Majority of One’ includes a notated part for room feedback. “Some tracks on this album were recorded in real time over the Internet between Perth and Melbourne facilitated by software developed by Decibel member Aaron Wyatt.” DECIBEL BY CAT HOPE IS OUT NOW VIA BANDCAMP ON EZZ-THETICS BY HAT HUT.

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UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

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REVOLUTION Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre & Decibel New Music Ensemble Date: Tuesday 28 June 2022, 6pm Venue: Primrose Potter Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre Tickets: $20 to $25 +BF

TWO MINUTES FROM HOME Performed by Decibel New Music Ensemble / Presented by Tura and Revelation Film Festival Perth Date: Monday 11 July 2022, 7pm Venue: Luna Cinemas, Leederville WA Tickets: $16.50 to $22.50 +BF

TWO MINUTES FROM HOME Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre & Decibel New Music Ensemble Date: Tuesday 26 July 2022, 6pm Venue: Primrose Potter Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre Tickets: $29 to $40 +BF