This is the trailer for DJ Spooky/Paul D. Miller’s large scale multimedia performance work: an acoustic portrait of a rapidly changing continent.
The Antarctic Suite transforms Miller’s first person encounter with the harsh, dynamic landscape into multimedia portraits with music composed from the different geographies that make up the land mass. Miller’s field recordings from a portable studio, set up to capture the acoustic qualities of Antarctic ice forms, reflect a changing and even vanishing environment under duress.
Coupled with visual material from Getty Images’ vast collection, The Antarctic Suite is a seventy minute multimedia performance.
The first review I’ve seen of this ambitious DJ work comes from SkyNoise:
Though the publicity heavily emphasised the piece was “conceived, composed and performed by Paul D Miller, aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid”, the bulk of performance involves the trio of AlterEgo relentlessly and admirably ploughing through a minimal and repetitive composition. Closing my eyes, all I can think of is how much it reminds me of Philip Glass, and how little it seems to conjure up any antarctic atmosphere. 15-20 minutes into the piece, I start wondering what Spooky is actually doing on stage.
He seems perpetually to be cueing up tracks, adjusting his headphones, adjusting knobs, but nothing can be heard as a result of this, only the ongoing violin, piano and cello riffs, all generously soaked in reverb or delay.
There are a few nice musical moments, a few nice transitions, but it’s only close to the end that I can actually hear some sounds other than the instruments, short loops dropped into the mix by Spooky, that replicate the fast repetitive instrument playing. I suppose they are ‘the sounds of ice’, albeit cropped and toned with some cookie cutter template to suit the composition. Where were the sounds of creaking icebergs? Of ice and water? Of wind and vast landscape? So much for sounds of the ice continent. Or engaging with the musicians on stage. Or for interplay with the video.
I thought “Philip Glass” immediately, on seeing the promo video, too.
If you’ve had a chance to see this performed, let me know what you think of it.