Arts Review – Vancouver New Music Festival Oct 17h


On Oct 17th, Jade Su attended the second night of Vancouver New Music Festival, their 40th Anniversary Retrospective. This night focused on Electronic, Electroacoustic, and New Media Works featuring performances by Jackson 2bears – Iron  Tomahawks (Victoria), Magali Babin – The walk of the nebulophone and noisificator (Montreal), Tim Hecker – excerpts from Virgins (Montreal), Robert Normandeau – Hamlet-Machine with Actors (Montreal), and Hildegard Westerkamp – Für Dich – For You (Vancouver). Jade reviews Magali Babin who started the show and closing artist, Tim Hecker, who she interviewed after the show. Hecker was reticent about interviewing with anyone until he heard we were from CiTR where he used to host a show!


It was my first sonic experience at the Orpheum Annex and with the high-quality surround sound provided a great experience for a night of experimental electro music and new media work. One thing I learned is that make sure you get there early for this kind of a show, seated high on the balcony that I couldn’t fully enjoy the signal movement of the speakers. [Eds note: if you  haven’t heard any 6 channel composition you are missing out on a while dimension of sound experience. Pun intended.]

I enjoyed Magali Babin’s flowing synthetic work. As guitarist for the female Montreal “punk-noise” group Nitroglycerines in 1980s, she started developing new music experiments from the collaboration with Mexican choreographer Rocio Bercceril in 1996, where sonic gesture interactions and amplification became her primary musical practice. Using this human-sound interaction, she explores environmental sounds and applies her research with use of electronic implement and contact microphones.

Unlike Hecker’s obsession with intensely layered surrounded volume, her performance was quiet and extremely dedicated; it was so detailed that it was s impossible to miss event slight shifts of the elements through the peaceful even sacrifice-sounding presentation. She improvised and amplified the combination of field recordings including bird sounds, bee buzzing, raining with the sparkly, sound of sliding of rocks over rocks and this humble metallic sound coming from her finger moving on the contact microphone that looks like a wooden box. At the end, she walked into the darkness with a metal bowl in her hand, spinning a microphone inside the bowl and leaving the rest to the audience.

Speaking of Hecker, he overshadowed the other performances with a more contemporary artistic aesthetic. I heard his first album about four years ago and his new album Virgins blew my mind. The set was simply called Virgins and it was all about this album. His set up was simply a synth, guitar pedals, laptop and mixer feeding back on each other.  Sounds in Virgins were mostly live recordings of pianos, synths, and woodwinds in Reykjavik, Montreal, and Seattle. Hecker reshaped everything and layered them in this crazy way, it almost seemed as if the notes are driving themselves: where do they come from and where are they going to?

[field name=iframe]

I find an intensive connection between Hecker’s music and the Daoism practice. As it says in Dao De Jing, “The Dao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things. And The Dao in its regular course does nothing (for the sake of doing it), and so there is nothing which it does not do. ” Virgins has this sense of wind blowing across infinite that has it’s own path. There is a part of the review from residenceadvisor  that I really like: “Hecker’s constructions never collapse into simple harmonies or traditional crescendos for the sake of emotional impact. Instead, they build awkwardly towards strange and jagged peaks before crumbling into patches of desolation that are both beautiful and painful.”