Reviews & Articles
Sonic Anchor #23 – Vinyl Collage / 聲音下寨 #23 – 黑膠拼貼
at 2:59pm on 23rd September 2015
1. & 2. Betty Apple's performance, Sonic Anchor #23
3. Artist's discussion with Samson Young (Contemporary Musicking), Ingrid Lee, Cheng Yi-ping (Betty Apple)
(中文版請往下看 Please scroll down to read the Chinese version.)
I try to keep up with the latest music. I listen to Stuart Maconie’s ‘Freak Zone’ on BBC6 radio on the Internet and surf around radio stations in the USA. When Gidon Kremer, the violinist and great supporter of new music, was recently here for a concert, I went (and particularly loved an avant-garde solo encore written by Igor Loboda in tribute to an under-siege Ukraine). I play Arvo Pärt while I write and recently took out John Cage’s complete works for piano, a surprise find, from the Aberdeen Public Library. I see bands at Hidden Agenda and continue buying CDs at White Noise Records. None of this is particularly energetic, but, I suppose, it is better than only looking forward to Clockenflap.
However, it is word-of-mouth that elicits most interest for me. Like in the “good old days” when a listening night of new records would be organized for friends to listen to, followed by recorded cassettes made and shared. Suze, a PolyU design student, had introduced me to the music of British singer/song writer FKA Twigs. (But, first a redundant aside: Suze named herself after Bob Dylan’s girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, who is famously seen walking arm-in-arm with Dylan on the cover of his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan; coincidently the first Dylan album I bought). Anyway, Suze messaged me about Sonic Anchor’s latest show.
Focused on “vinyl-manipulation and creative sampling”, Sonic Anchor #23 invited Ingrid Lee and Betty Apple (Cheng Yi-ping) to perform. They had contrasting personal approaches: Ingrid was serious, considered and unhurried; Betty, as her stage name implies, gave a theatrical, frantic and athletic performance.
Ingrid Lee, Hong Kong/USA educated, but currently a Netherlands-based composer and performer, led a group of five performers whose first piece was to each silently mouth a 3-minute sequence of writings. Trying to understand the actual words, like a mime reader, was impossible as the five performers were too busy, each quickly mouthing their own script. But, the audience quickly settled to watch – a visual performance, with the form of the language mouthed; at points they seemingly crossed and ‘spoke’ in unison.
The second piece of the night saw Ingrid and another performer reciting two separate technical/scientific texts. It was perfectly understandable, but the meaning of the text was so technically obscure that it was meaningless. The two performers had similar modulation and pace, this made it difficult for the audience to simply concentrate on one performer and follow their spoken text. It was, again, at points of convergence and brief moments of the performance moving in unison that held the audience. It affirmed that even random action has an uncanny ability to create form.
Ingrid’s final performance saw her playing two separate records on separate record players. She moved, at intervals, between the record players to change records. One recording, Only Edison Could Speak to the Dead, was packaged in a custom-made sandpaper (grade 400; so, quite rough) record cover. Each time the record was taken out of its cover, it was deliberately scratched. Ingrid ritually moved between these two points to calmly change her records against a scratchy 19thcentury-like background of sound, until she stood surrounded by a cacophony of syncopated noise playing out into silence.
Betty Apple from Taiwan has a background in theatre, artist performance, DJ-ing and composing. Her work often challenges sexual stereotypes and tackles gender issues. Her performance at Sonic Anchor ostensibly tackled citizenship and nationalism. She played a record of different national anthems from International Anthems and Songs, a 1960s recording. Wearing a slinky dress under an overcoat, her performance was a sweaty, sexually charged and violent attack of sampled sound and objects thrown at the revolving record and turntable. Her performance, despite its simplicity of intention, grew in manic tension and physical attack. The audience was riveted.
It was a perfect, stimulating evening. I briefly saw Suze after the performance, and in a “twist of fate” (as Dylan said!), she was currently interning for the designers who have recently revamped Sonic Anchor (Contemporary Musiking)’s branding and website.
This article was originally published in Hong Kong Arts Centre's Artlink, October 2015.
Links for further information:
Ingrid Lee's performance at Sonic Anchor #23
Ingrid Lee website
Betty Apple (Cheng Yi-ping)
聲音下寨 #23 – 黑膠拼貼
為了貼近音樂的潮流，我選擇在網上BCC6收聽 Stuart Maconie 的節目 ’Freak Zone’，耳猶未盡的話我就在網上四處瀏覽，收聽其他的美國電台。日前，吉頓克萊默 (Gidon Kremer) 這位大力推動新音樂的小提琴家來港表演，我亦有捧場，(當中我特別喜愛一曲由 lgor Loboda 所譜寫，向窘境中烏克蘭致哀的前衛獨奏)。平日我寫作，會播放阿沃帕特 (Avo Pärt) 的作品。而最近我更在香港仔公共圖書館意外發現了約翰·凱奇 (John Cage) 的鋼琴全集。我當然不會放過在 Hidden Agenda 演出的樂隊，也一直在 White Noise Records 購買唱碟，雖然以上的都算不上新音樂的勢頭，但是我想，總好比只期待 Clockenflap 更好。
音樂的口碑反而更能引起我的興趣，就如 ’Good old days’ 裡面，友人小聚於一個分享音樂的晚上，各人把預先灌錄的新錄音帶，與席上朋友分享。Suze 是理大設計專業的學生，在她的推介下，我開始接觸英國女歌手及作曲家 Twigs 的音樂。(題外話：Suze 這個名字取自鮑勃·迪倫 Bob Dylan 的女友Suze Rotolo，Bob Dylan 和女友兩人挽臂的畫面就正是為人所熟知的 The Freewhellin’ 唱片封面，事有湊巧，這張是我第一張擁有的 Bob Dylan 唱片。) 亦是在 Suze 推薦下，我與聲音下寨結緣。
聲音下寨第二十三期邀請了李筠Ingrid Lee 和鄭宜蘋Betty Apple演出，以黑膠唱片操作和聲音素材取樣為中心。他們個人特色大相逕庭，Ingrid的路線嚴肅、熟慮和從容，相反Betty Apple，一如其名，帶來了一場戲劇性的、歇斯底里和動態十足的表演。
Ingrid 最後分別擺放了兩張黑膠唱片在兩部不同的唱盤中輪轉，她每隔一段時間就來回換走唱盤中的黑膠唱片，她錄製的黑膠片作品‘唯愛迪生能與逝者對話’，以度身定造的沙紙包裝。黑膠唱片封面粗糙的質地，令每次唱片由封套取出時都刻意地發出的噝噝沙沙的磨擦聲。Ingrid 淡定自若地在唱盤間來回，猶如儀式般替換黑膠唱片，不繼調變乍聽似十九世紀式的黑膠片背景雜訊。她佇立於一片粗糙嘶啞、頻譜不一的黑膠噪響中，直到唱盤聲音戛然而止。
來自台灣的Betty Apple 有豐富的劇場演出經驗，亦涉獵DJ、作曲。她的作品向性別定型以及兩性議題提出挑戰，今次聲音下寨的表演則向公民身份與國族主義提出拷問，Betty Apple播放一系列「世界國歌」，全來自一張名為「自由世界國歌」的六十年代黑膠唱片。她以一襲絲質緊身長衫亮相，以取樣的聲音轟炸劇場，又將各式各樣物件猛烈地向輪轉不息的唱盤搗擲，動作冶豔，看得觀眾手心冒汗。她的表演儘管意圖簡單，觀眾卻無不被其緊湊張狂的表演張力震攝。
兩位藝術家帶來一場刺激和幾近完美的演出。散場後，我與Suze 淺談，更奇妙的是，(用Bob Dylan 一曲 ‘Twist of Fate’ 最適合不過) , Suze正在一家設計公司實習，裡面的設計師正為主辦單位現在音樂重塑品牌形象。