I’m just back from a wonderful trip to Modulus Festival in Vancouver. Hosted by the Music On Main and put together by David Pay, it was a festival full of exciting new music.
Also wonderful was Laura Bowler and Nicole Lizée’s performance on Saturday. I had heard Lizée’s works before, but nothing prepared me for the humorous, adorned White Label Experiment, performed with Driftwood Percussion. With Rube Goldberg staging and a sound that brought me back to mid-00s tweecore, it’s a charming, delightful work. It was particularly wonderful to watch amidst an audience of spell-bound children and teenagers, and reinforced my desire to write a piece for omnichord: more anon…
Laura Bowler’s FFF lived up to everything I had heard of it. I’m not sure anything I say will be a better description than Simon Cumming’s, so read that. With that said, I had a slightly different interpretation of the screened visuals, in that much of the footage is of important and effective protest that was facilitated by the online slacktivism the piece criticises. I read that as an acknowledgement of the tensions in criticisms of social media, rather than a depiction of futility. It speaks of the interest of the work that it can provoke these discussions.
I was also struck by Eve Egoyan’s performance of Linda Catlin Smith’s Thought and Desire. I’m very taken with Catlin Smith’s work, its simplicity could almost trick me into thinking it conservative, but its gentle luminosity and tenderness always win me over. In Thought and Desire, the pianist begins to sing softly to herself about halfway through. This tiny, understated private gesture to me was enormously touching.
At the other end of the spectrum (loud, outgoing, almost brash) was the documentary on Milford Graves, Full Mantis. I had come across his eccentric free-improv drumming but had no idea about his work with heart monitors, his self-created martial art or his obsession with gardening. The man is pretty mad, but his unselfconscious determination to discover everything on his own terms is inspiring.
Vancouver is a brilliant city, with an astonishing natural setting, great food and extraordinary cultural diversity. Modulus Festival and Music On Main add well-considered programming of wonderful contemporary music to that mix.
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