Technology and innovation has always had a big part in shaping music. When Steinway added a middle pedal to its grand piano in 1902 for example, it presented possibilities in composition that were only imaginable before. Yet, despite leaps in technology over the past hundred years, the instruments we play have barely changed, and the new ones look a lot like the old ones.
Cut to Supersonic Festival 2018 artists Mark Korven (The Witch), and Graham Dunning & Sam Underwood and Kathy Hinde. These acts have created their own contraptions as a means of creating sounds that make up for unusual, erratic and purely unique compositions.
Supersonic is honoured to be hosting the UK premier of Korven’s ‘Apprehension Engine’, and equally thrilled to have Connected Devices debut their contraption. Read more below, and see them both live at this year’s festival!
Find out what drove Sam and Graham to collaborate on this piece at Centrala on the Friday, where Sam will be hosting a special event that will provide a peek behind the scenes of a number of projects appearing as part of this year’s festival. Artists have been invited to come and show their work and discuss their thinking behind it, with audience members gaining a unique insight into a number of beautiful and bizarre contraptions, works and approaches.
Sam Underwood & Graham Dunning
Premiering at Supersonic Festival, Connected Devices is a mechanical, modular music contraption created by Sam Underwood and Graham Dunning. Designed as a two-player, semi-autonomous musical instrument, it plays unusual, sometimes erratic compositions drawing on drone music, minimalist repetition and barrel-organ-monkey techniques. Visually, the machine resembles a sprawling, partially robotic drum-kit, or pared-down, clunky fairground organ. Throughout the performance, Dunning and Underwood will act as conductors, engineers, organ grinders and musicians, working with and against the machine to complete the assemblage, inspired by the pair’s research of instrument design from the musical instrument collection of the Horniman Museum, London.
Sam Underwood is a musician, sound artist and musical instrument designer. His work in musical instrument design focuses on the development of new musical instruments; predominantly acoustic and in the bass/sub-bass register. Sam has an almost unhealthy fascination with sound and finding new ways of creating interfaces with instruments and technology.
Graham Dunning’s live work explores sound as texture, timbre and something tactile, drawing
on bedroom production, tinkering and recycling found objects. He also creates visual work, video and installations drawing on these themes. Much of the work evolves through experimentation with different processes: considering the methods by which sounds become music; process as a continuum encompassing both improvisational and procedural methods; and testing analogous processes across different media.
THE APPREHENSION ENGINE
Mark Korven is a Toronto based composer for film and television. He is best known for his work on the 2016 period Horror film THE WITCH, for which his composition has received great acclaim along with huge box office success.
His award winning scores are spine- chilling and atonal, employing obscure instrumentation from hurdy gurdys, nyckelharps and creaking fiddles. His creation of discordant, ghostly qualities send tremors through the heart, utilising feverish cues and pauses with intelligence and to a remarkable effect. Now Korven and Tony Duggan-Smith have teamed up to create a musical instrument specialising in horrifying sounds: The Apprehension Engine. It is this haunting device which Mark brings to his first UK performance, chilling Supersonic audiences this summer.
Supersonic and Supernormal join forces to present Kathy Hinde’s Piano Migrations. The inside of an old piano becomes a site for live performance. Recycled into a kinetic sound sculpture, Kathy Hinde mixes video projections of birds to create different musical patterns from their movements, providing an ever changing musical score where nature controls machines to create delicate music. She is joined by Matthew Olden, who performs with his own live
sampling software ”i am the mighty jungulator” whilst videos of birds are projected. Together they create a captivating performance where image becomes sound and sound becomes image through a series of transformations realised through acoustic sound, live sampling, automata and projections.