65daysofstatic @ CCA, Glasgow, 22 Nov
Tonight is sadly a bit of a mixed bag from 65daysofstatic, whose Decomposition Theory project overall fails to hit the right notes
Trying to explain what 65daysofstatic aim to show with their Decomposition Theory project – a series of unique AV shows – to the uninitiated is difficult, and much better explained in their own words: "Each show will be a unique, live collaborative performance with generative music algorithms we made," the tour announcement on their website stated. "When we started this project, it was a way to try and imagine better futures from the mire of the outmoded music industry... Automation as emancipation, not alienation!
"Didn’t turn out that way though. We don’t trust the thoughts we’ve coded into our machines. They don’t trust us either."
Supported by Johanna Bramli, the CCA night kicks off with an interesting start. We’ve been binge-watching Doctor Who and the dark ominous electronic music, chorus chanting, and audio samples understandably put us on edge. We check the stamps on our hands for alien chemicals or instructions but they remain just ink. Then we see it. The mesh ceiling above. Bramli has lured us into the trash compactor from A New Hope. With our inevitable demise at least identified, we turn our attention back to the music. The ceiling rattles as the pitch rises, the bass rumbles up through our legs giving the performance a dark and morbid undertone. Even through the piercing notes that make our eyes twitch, we stand rooted and mesmerised. Like all good art, Bramli’s music leaves the interpretation up to the listener and does a fantastic job with its suggestions.
Waiting turns out to be its own unique experience, as 65daysofstatic go through a very different line check to what we’re used to. With the screen above the stage displaying a custom 65daysofstatic loading screen (95% Relevant…) we’re treated to a constantly shifting selection of music that jumps. It’s uncomfortable to sit in and lends the room a feeling of unease, a running theme for the night it seems.
65daysofstatic have an eclectic selection to choose from, and while some tracks are slow-burning build-ups that burst out into a body-shaking crescendo of musical aggression, others are just, well, bland. And while their albums are great as background music, their low stimulation tracks don’t hold up too well in a live environment. The initial 'generative output' displays are somewhat interesting to watch as pictures stream by to the music, jumping like an avant-garde music video, but as the show goes on the visual portion just resembles code compiling.
Streams of key ouput pour down the screen, jumping like the hacking section in a Hollywood film and it's headache-inducing. Beyond a late appearance of the words "you want to drown", which perfectly sums up our desires, the performance overall fails to hit the right notes. A sleepmask would have provided better imagery and perhaps have done a better job at fulfilling their idea of "un-songing our songs and un-performing on stage."