SONIC SYSTEMS LABORATORY //
- 1. Two Vibraphones (31:48)
Sonic Systems Laboratory - splitrecCD18
Dale Gorfinkel and Robbie Avenaim with radical approaches to the vibraphone.
Instead of the standard polite use of mallets, they utilise the motorized drive shaft usually responsible for tone control as a way of agitating objects placed between the bars of the instrument.
"Whatever preconceptions you may have about what a vibrophone should sound like, cast them aside now...a beautifully crafted 32 minute improvisation." Brian Marley the Wire.
In 2005, Robbie Avenaim and Dale Gorfinkel parked their vibraphones to face each other, tuned one microtonally and the other to equal temperament, and set out to discover the sonorities and textures that so-called 'speciality techniques' could unleash. Several live performances, including one for ABC-TV in 2006, were the results. The work begins with a varying texture made with electrically powered rotating disks rubbing the ends of bars to produce the ultra-high sustained frequencies. Then follows a foray into complex, mechanically produced polyrhythms. The vibraphone's tremolo motor is the driving force, causing carefully positioned mallets to strike the bars, frame and metal resonators under the keys. In addition, sticks driven by attached off-centre motors play the bars and even strike small, loose microphones at times. Both players manipulate the devices and play occasional mallet rhythms as well. In the third section, the music's frequency bands and harmonic content are shifted upwards with vibrators playing high-speed rhythms on the bars. Some motorized drumsticks are sparingly used as well. There are also instances where a hard mallet is made to bounce on a bar being struck with a soft one to produce high harmonics. Close miked soft mallets on the bass bars, including some customized oversize bars, produce the shifting subtones and difference tones of the final section. The rotating disks from the first part make a fleeting re-appearance at the very end. These methods of production are the results of determined experimentation and research, followed by considered judgement and application in order to make a musical work. Ernie Althof 2007.
Shannon O'Neill writing in Real Time said of their Now Now Festival performance in 2006 - "Robbie Avenaim and Dale Gorfinkel, are a vibraphone duo with a difference. Their instruments are microtonally prepared and activated by machines instead of the usual mallets, resulting in a variety of unusual textures. Their music was like waking up to an alarm clock, only in reverse; the hypnotic quality of the sound pulling the listener into a dream world. Alarm bells gave way to scenes of old children's toys, followed by distant propellers and, finally, cats purring. By the end, Avenaim and Gorfinkle were literally shaking the sound from their instruments."