Fringe World Perth 2015

Through The Looping Glass, Fringe World Perth, 2015

0 Comments 29 January 2015

by Pieces of Helen
The Ellington Jazz Club

28th of January
Review by Alex Tate

Seeking refuge from the heat of the afternoon pavement, I journeyed inwards to the air-conditioned dusk of the Ellington Jazz Club, where the traffic outside became little more than a silent mural painted on a narrow strip of window, as the unassuming Helen Bower invites the audience to take a moment to leave the day behind – and to step Through the Looping Glass.

Though eager to explore the use of the loop pedal in her performances to paint with layers of sound, she quickly became frustrated with the limitations of the technique. Listening to the same thing over and over – it gets a little boring. But where others might give up, she pressed on, enlisting the help of contemporary composers from across Australia as well as the UK to explore the true potential of this unique approach to violin performance. And I sure am glad she did.

It’s just one woman, a single violin; if you eyes were closed, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought somehow she was cheating.

The work borders on the surreal when you see and hear each piece unfold on stage, with Bower’s clockwork timing and effortless manipulation of her instrument a joy to witness, lending the sublime human element of imperfection to a performance that is anything but.

Four compositions that transport you from the violent serenity of a coastal thunderstorm to the eerie percussion of reunified Berliners slowly chipping away at the Wall, Bower’s technical finesse is more than obvious as she plucks, taps, fiddles, sings – coaxing from her instrument any and all sounds she can to build her sonic papier-mâché.

Through The Looping Glass is worth seeing for the second composition alone, Sydney-born Grace Huie Robbins’ Landscapes I and II, a hauntingly palpable soundscape that sits you down on the shore of the ocean as the storm rolls overhead, before leading you back to the forest where the birds have begun to sing. Echoes of phase-music pioneer Steve Reich and contemporary musicians in the vein of Nils Frahm and Max Richter throughout, it’s a memorable experience to say the least.

And all with a single violin.

Through The Looping Glass has one final show at 6pm Thursday the 29th of January.

Check it out in the Fringe Program here.

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