CALE SEXTON - "SUSTAIN" 12"
On Sustain, Sexton applies his magic touch to Melbourne’s outdoor musical instrument - the Federation Bells, reimagining the iconic sound sculpture as the centre of a totally new sonic universe. Sexton has expanded his hardware-led approach to integrate with the computer-controlled Bells sequencing interface, producing a remarkably congruent synthesis of musical technologies. Sustain is concerned with the evolution of sounds, and Sexton’s soaring instrumentation is presented with a fetishistic level of tonal focus. Ideas are explored and manipulated in a tastefully uncluttered musical environment. The bell elements are so elegantly integrated into the composition that it’s easy to forget that this giant outdoor instrument is the backbone of the work. This is no mean feat when one considers that this public percussion robot has sometimes been described as atonal or harmonically difficult. Rather than attempt to circumvent these limitations, Sexton leans into the weirdness of the bell tonalities, coaxing a complementary sound palette from his highly malleable electronic instrumentation.
The result is a fascinating form of hybrid interdimensional exotica. Slow-burn stereoscopic swells creep between purring synths and plangent percussion, while sizzling widescreen pads ebb and flow like a lingering smoke haze - occasionally clearing to reveal glimpses of strange psychotropic gremlins and portals to adjacent planes of existence. Anyone who was lucky enough to attend the live premiere at Birrarung Marr will have experienced the warm psychedelic vibes that this work emanates. The most inspiring art engages both the brain and the heart to contemplate fresh realms of experience. Sustain succeeds in provoking the imagination and exuding positive feeling in equal measure. This is a record that rewards deep immersive listening, so relax, engage your reality-expanding paraphernalia and dive on in.
- Miles Brown
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