The Null Device


This afternoon I went to Synæsthesia to catch the in-store performance by laptop electronica guru Keith Whitman (better known as his alter ego, Hrvatski). He was seated behind the counter, holding an electric guitar (a Yamaha Strat-clone, from the look of it); in front of him was a Titanium PowerBook with a USB audio box hooked up to it.

He played a set which went for half an hour or so, in which he alternated between plucking notes on the guitar and changing settings on the laptop with a mouse. The software on the laptop (which was a MAX patch) took the sound of the guitar and put it through various delays, ring modulators and other things, making out of it textures of various types of noise. Parts of it were the usual sort of abstract experimental-electronic sound-art, slowly evolving between different tectures; though towards the end he played a rather nice melodic bit on the guitar.


Fringe Festival: This evening, I went down to a grimy, industrial, as yet ungentrified part of North Melbourne to see the most recent Theatre In Decay performance, All Dressed Up And No-One To Blow. It started off with what sounded like a Marilyn Manson cover of Tears For Fears' Shout (or perhaps it was the original, given its ominous edge by the ambience of the subterranean concrete vault the play was held in), which faded out to what sounded like circus music played on a drum machine and wavetable synth by someone who listened to a lot of Sisters Of Mercy. The play itself was not bad (it had gangs of psychotic clowns running around Luna Park, indulging in a spot of the old ultra-violence, with a bit of a Clockwork Orange influence evident), except that the violent, scatological nihilism seemed a bit on the adolescent side (one can imagine some 18-year-old goth kid coming along to this, seeing it and thinking "wow! clowns sodomising each other and setting people on fire! that's sooo dark and fucked up! kick arse!"). Then again, given that it was set in St Kilda (which is now a yuppie playground, and not the seedy underbelly it was some years ago) suggests that it may have been written some years ago.