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Cafe Oto, London and other venues around Europe, London/European cities
16 October - 31 December 2008
Reviewed by: Viviane Blanchard »
An electric cello enters the stage. Behind it, a petite, intense-looking woman sits down and sets up her little orchestra of pedals, wires and amplifiers. When the first wining sound of the cello comes out, I'm already hooked. The bow strikes, the fingers scratch, the feet beat the floor. Pedals get spanked and switches get tweaked off and on until a rhythmic cacophony surrounds us. Darker harmonies find a way in and I begin to get excited as my body resonates to the bass lines. This is good. I almost want to close my eyes and let myself be transported away onto a techno flying carpet, but Bela Emerson's performance is too captivating and I don't want to lose sight of her.
She stops and starts new phrases with the same passionate, swan-like ease of execution. Her range of music and sound making repertoire is large, from dark soundscapes to classical heights and rock and folk-infused noise creations. The sounds she spontaneously creates are looped and her pieces have an attractive rhythmic quality dear to my ears. She has the gift to infuse them with jittering scratches and beats that enrich her sonic exploration. Her mesmerising improvised sound making ability is obviously based on top-notched training on the cello and overall performing talent. This is a long way from your standard, somehow unsatisfying, electronic noise-making artist where one has to fish out the good bits from an ocean of atonal sonic mess.
Viviane Blanchard is an art historian and writer, with a particular interest in sound art and the gender perspective.
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