7:00pm Thursday 22 December
State Library of Western Australia Lecture Theatre
Screening: No Encore – A film by Kenta McGrath featuring Decibel
Free screening | Documentary | Run time: 72 minutes.
‘No Encore’ is a road movie and music documentary: a contemplation of the validity of forms of self expression; what’s meaningful, meaningless and what’s in between; and what happens when art is displaced from its comfortable natural habitat.
West Australian art music ensemble Decibel embark on a tour of regional Australia, taking their strange, confronting music to small towns and baffled locals who never saw it coming. Over a week, through a series of modest concerts and workshops, Decibel share their art and artmaking with the small communities they visit. Some locals show enthusiasm, curiosity and open-mindedness, while others are confused, irritated or try not to fall asleep.
A Fellini-esque improvisation workshop held by the group treads a fine line between art and absurdity. A concert is effectively overrun by children let off their leashes by their bemused parents, steering the performance toward an unexpected path. During the tour some of the locals make no secret in ridiculing Decibel’s art, and Decibel, in turn, make no secret in ridiculing theirs.
Featuring performances of pieces by Laurie Anderson, William Burroughs, Brian Eno, Percy Grainger, Alvin Lucier, The Velvet Underground and others.
Preview the trailer here: www.vimeo.com/110119685
In early 2011, Cat Hope invited me to film Decibel’s tour of southwest Australia. I tagged along, curious to see what may or may not happen and eager to escape Australia Day celebrations in the city. And when you’re offered a chance to breathe some clean air and see the stars, you take it.
The potential for comedy was also hard to resist. Decibel’s music sounds to many ears as pretentious, impenetrable, unlistenable shit. Their music aside, the theatrical aspects of expose them to ridicule (Cat grating knivesin Kuklinski’ s Dream; Stuart lying on a floor and opening and closing a door in Laurie Anderson’s Duet for Violin and Doorjamb), and they look so serious in their dark attire. And of course, they are serious. These are musicians and composers who think about music and sound more seriously than many of us think about anything.
Music, or any art this foreign and challenging, raises all sorts of interesting questions. Especially, as is the case here, when it’s displaced from its comfortable natural habitat: of the city, of concert halls, auditoriums and academia, of audiences who nod and understand, or nod and pretend to understand. What happens when music like this arrives in a place such as Northcliffe, population 850? It may be tiring (though never unimportant) to ask, ‘what is art?’ or ‘what is music?’ Here, a more appropriate question might be, ‘where does (this or any other) music belong?’ How does this beautiful part of the world look and sound with Decibel’s music, and how does Decibel’s music resonate in this beautiful part of the world?
I hope the film offers glimpses into Decibel’s art and artistry, but I didn’t necessarily set out to make a music documentary. In this countryside, we were free to move slowly, take a wrong turn, stop the car and piss behind a tree, or stare at some cows staring back at us. And so we sometimes did. Then it was back to the city.
Kenta McGrath | January 2015
Based in Western Australia, Decibel are world leaders in the integration of acoustic instruments and electronics, the interpretation of graphic notations and pioneering digital score formats for composition and performance.
The ensemble has collaborated with composers such as Werner Dafeldecker, Agostino Di Scipio, Alvin Curran, David Toop, Marina Rosenfeld, Lionel Marchetti, Andreas Weixler and Johannes S. Sistermanns, and worked with iconic Australian composers Jon Rose, Alan Lamb, Ross Bolleter, Warren Burt, Eric Griswold and Anthony Pateras. Decibel have performed the Australian premieres of works by Fausto Romitelli, Tristan Murail, Alvin Lucier, Peter Ablinger and Mauricio Kagel, and have toured and recorded monograph concerts dedicated to Alvin Lucier, John Cage and Giacinto Scelsi.