Reviewer: Matt Forrest
It would be fair to say that Mira Calix has had a career that most could only dream of. She is an award winning composer, musician and live performer. This über talented artist has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Boards of Canada, and in addition Calix has commissions from the London Sinfoniette, The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Manchester International Festival under her belt.
For her latest project Calix presents an hour-long composition inspired by the notion of colour. For this performance she uses video images inspired by artist Joseph Albers paper cut Interaction of Colour. It would appear that colour has always been a massive influence on the work of Calix and the composer hopes to show this in her unique and exciting piece.
There was somewhat of a buzz of excitement around the Aldridge Studio tonight, the staging consisted of a table, chair, laptop, mixing desk and at the back of this was a giant screen. As Calix entered the theatre, the anticipation was palpable. What followed was a musical smorgasbord of sounds, styles and textures: haunting melodies, pounding electronic, classical arrangements, and soothing vocals. The music shifted from restrained melancholy to unsettlingly psychological horror quite effortlessly and never seemed in any way contrived.
The most striking aspect of the performance was just how loud the composition was: at times it could be both soothing and unsettling in equal measure. At one point Calix halted proceedings, asking “Could we hear in stereo?” Believe you me, there wasn’t an audience member that was complaining of the poor sound quality! The fusing of classical and electronic instruments to create these haunting yet magical pieces is unique in both and style and execution and further highlighted what a talent Calix is.
The visuals are in stark contrast to the musical arrangement: matted coloured geometric shapes were projected into the theatre, a heavy mix of tessellated patterns and a 1970’s style animation used in educational videos. It was almost like a trick: you wanted to close your eyes and let the music wash over you but were afraid that by doing so you would miss something spectacular in the visuals that the music indicated it was building up to, but they never did, they were serene throughout.
Overall this was a unique and interesting piece that allows its audience members to escape wherever their imagination will take them. Sometimes it’s said that the best film scores are the ones you don’t notice. This may not have been a film score but it was certainly a piece of music that you will take notice of: one minute it’s giving you a warm embrace, the next a slap across the face!
Reviewed on January 12, 2018 | Image: Contributed