Live Review from Underground 56:
This duo – with an occasional third bell ringer – are sort of performance art mixed with electronic music and a bunch of traditional Asian instruments thrown in to the equation. A very patriotic Canadian crowd muttered appraisals of ‘interesting’ and ‘something different’ as some unusual, very eclectic sounds emanated from two Mac Books, a set of keyboards, a mixer, a woman with a deep monotone voice holding a Blackberry and the occasional bing, bong, bang and blow of woodwind, strings, gongs and bells.
Erudite rather than sexy, I thought this performance might have gone better with marijuana than beer, a circus of weird pre-recorded electronica and as many Asian instruments as you could shake a stick at – or hit with a stick – pull a stick across or… Heidi’s vocals were sometimes sung, other times more like spoken poetry with lyrics containing both oblique references as well as evident truisms, such as’ What have you got left if you have no choice?’
We learnt that much of this music was written for a dance group, which explained why it felt a bit like background music – perhaps there should have been a visual element to the performance, like a video/ TV screen installation or a dancer to take away from the slightly 2-D effect of it all (…or perhaps Chris B doing an irreverent interpretation of modern dance called ‘Spastic Crab Expressing Nihilistic Thoughts By Moshing in Metalcore Pit. ’ *snerk snerk giggle*.)
In my view, this performance wasn’t avant-garde enough and the music wasn’t interesting enough to stand alone. It fell short a little so I felt it was more pretentious than eye-opening and mind-expanding. And the long list of exotic instruments trundled out for a few seconds for each song weren’t played with any real skill or acumen. They were just used as some kind of multicultural show-and-tell which the musicians obviously felt was justification enough. Well, it wasn’t. A few gongs, bells and wooden flutes thrown in amongst the pre-recorded laptop sounds didn’t fill me with urge to run out and buy their CD or rush to see their next gig.
I admit it was challenging in an academic and pushing-the-envelope way and there were some interesting moments but it wasn’t a coherent event. I can’t help feeling the Fusilli Project is what happens when you let geeks into university music departments and then even worse, you let them out again. It’s far better they stay there, do a PhD and then work for all perpetuity in academia, never being allowed out onto the streets. (I used to work at a conservatorium of music for a time before they sussed I was not one of them so I have some idea of the horror within.)
Being the superficial pinhead I am and the philistine lover of alternative rock guitar bands, when confronted by such high-brow stuff I turn to my undeviating spiritual and moral compass. It is found in the Madness/ The Selector 1978 tour motto, which has been appropriated many times over the years, and sagely goes: FUCK ART, LET’S DANCE! Nothing says it better.
Isobel S. Saunders