Breaking The Mirror

Live: Breaking The Mirror Of Silence: Yiorgis Sakellariou + Robbie Judkins + Howie Lee @ Angus-Hughes Gallery in London, 30/11/2013

Yiorgis Sakellariou’s piece drops onto my ears in the pitch black; a faint noise curling out of the speakers like a thin smoke, loaded with the explosive potential of the composer’s pre-performance assertion that the piece will be virtually inaudible at some points and potentially intolerably loud at others. In the absence of all other sensory input – including the visual forewarnings of Sakellariou’s own movements, given that he’s operating the sounds from a mixing desk behind me – I cling to each sound and trace its unfolding, from the molecular ripples of undulating refrigerator motor to the gigantic fractures of metal and plastic. Quiet becomes a beckoning of noise – a pre-emptive gateway luring tangible sonic event into the open plain of temporary stasis, poised like a compressed spring set to burst open. Even as the composition lulls into translucent, half-present wisps of bird song and wind noise, its progression is volatile enough to permit even the explosion of burst pipes and the hyper-charged clack of factory machinery.

“Let’s get the pork chops out”. Robbie Judkins’ piece starts with the muffled recordings of butcher chatter, paired up with a selection of wind up toys sent scuttling over contact microphones (which, when looped over and over, ends up sounding like a thousand cockroaches crawling over eachother). The drones of downtuned kettle song veer in and out; a dissociative assembly of sound becomes its own bastard machine of reactive mechanism and laboured sonic byproducts, dragging feedback and tonal debris around like loo paper caught on a shoe, skipping gracefully up and down with each onward heave, rattling like screws coming loose under an escalating hydraulic pressure. There’s something secretive or primitive about its capture – the sense of microphones stuffed into jackets and capturing natural occurrences from behind the cotton, forgoing clarity for the sake of organic, untampered sound events.

In contrast, the sounds of Howie Lee are spotless: precise typewriter rhythms, strange glacial fallout and micro-loops with hidden melody embedded inside all housed within the frame of dance music, complete with club-baiting rhythmic lulls and the relief of the beat’s euphoric re-entry. Meanwhile, strange shapes rotate and cycle across a projector screen, quivering in direct response to certain pulses and frequency protrusions, forming a sort of synaesthesic midpoint between direct sonic/visual translation and the vibrant free reign of the imagination: globes exploding to stumbling hip hop, computer generated lips juddering in sync with cut up vocal samples, tunnels that lead me onward and nowhere.