Festival Preview: Faster Than Sound 2007

Faster Than Sound: RAF Bentwaters

Faster Than Sound: RAF Bentwaters

As befits an offshoot of the Aldeburgh Festival, which since 1948 has provided a showcase for new musical ideas and has commissioned many sterling pieces to debut there, Faster Than Sound aims to break new ground.

With a mandate to explore the boundaries between experimental music and digital art, the event will be taking place at Bentwaters Airbase in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, close to the main Aldeburgh Festival venue, the Snape Maltings Concert Hall. Undoubtedly a disused airbase offers some interesting acoustic and installation options, not to mention that creepy cold war architectural vibe disused military establishments all seem to share.

Given the open-mindedness of those cheerfully willing to essay the idea of music lacking such out-dated structures as melody, harmonics or rhythm, it seems entirely appropriate that the venue for Faster Than Sound is in an area where some of the UK’s most notorious UFO sightings took place. Since the airbase is rarely open to the public, there may be a few Forteans and UFOnauts mingling with the rather serious music lovers.

The event was first held there last year, and laid down a template for intermingling musicians people from electronic and contemporary orchestral backgrounds with various interactive artists. The result, it is hoped, will be a series of performances thematically interlinked with adjacent immersive installations (that’s stuff you wander round in to you and me) such as a wireless walk in the woods with accompanying soundtrack.

There will be several different strands running simultaneously in the Dome, Star Wars area and Ambisonics stage where works by the likes of Iannis Xenakis, Luc Ferrari and Luigi Nono will be performed by the Icelandic cellist Hildur Gudnadotir. Most of the installations run throughout the event, but some, such as Jem Finer‘s Watch Tower and PNM Everywhere will be happening at the end of the night. Local Mira Calix will also be on hand to add her unique dose of ambience and experamentalism to the proceedings.

Modified Toy Orchestra who make music, as their name implies, using only children’s toys played live, DAT Politics, the French musique concrete group, British electronic auteur Muziq (who mixes an experimental impulse with some more recognisable musical forms) and Murcof the Mexican electronica composer.

Just to confound, Throbbing Gristle, probably the best known name on the lineup, will be creating an installation. But what the hell, this is going to be an immersive experience, after all. It’s not about knowing who played with who or being able to hum the tune, it’s about feeling the sounds, forms and images around you.

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