Percussion gets off the beaten track

IF you think a percussion festival is a bunch of people hitting drums and, God forbid, chanting, think again: offBEAT merges electronica with live beats over three days of wild sounds that stretch musical boundaries.

“[It’s] about taking the age old music genre of percussion and creating three shows that push it in entirely different directions,” Fremantle Arts Centre director Jim Cathcart says.

Josh Hogan twirls dials, and picks out melodic sounds from something bearing no resemblance to a piano keyboard, nor guitar strings, but can replicate either or both simultaneously as he demonstrates the blurring of technology and music.

“Music these days heads into what we call sound design,” he explains to this befuddled journalist.

“We use tools like these now to do all the arsenal of sounds,” he says as I nod, hoping I appear like I understand what he’s saying.

The classically trained drummer is happier talking about the influence of world music on his composing than his days as a music student at UWA.

• Josh Hogan’s latest drumkit—he’s blurring technology and music. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• Josh Hogan’s latest drumkit—he’s blurring technology and music. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

The self-described “maker of musical noises” is in demand internationally, having worked in collaboration with world-renowned Swiss improviser Fritz Hauser and co-writing for the Ravello Chamber Music Festival in Italy, and a swag of other projects.

He’s part of the Saturday show that will see WA’s leading electronic and hip-hop performers take their beats to new heights, with the backing of live four-piece percussion ensemble The Wheel Turns.

McMathas will headline, with support from Rokwell and Groom, the folktronic sounds of Joni in the Moon and DJ sets by Catlips.

Written/conceived by Hogan Saturday’s show is a new take on beat-driven works, enhanced by the live visuals of Stephen Aaron Hughes.

Things kick off on  Friday March 20, with WA Academy of Performing Arts’ award winning percussion ensemble Defying Gravity, led by director Tim White.

The muso will spread throughout FAC’s leafy courtyard performing Inuksuit, a mass percussion soundscape about wilderness and nature by US composer John Luther Adams.

Drummer and percussionist Daniel Susnjar rounds off the three days with a free performance with his Afro-Peruvian jazz group.


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