Contemporary music from everywhere

Naviar Haiku Fest – Live at the Old Church

naviar haikuArtists have long sought to break down the barriers between themselves and those who enjoy their music. While some view that separation as fundamental to their method (or simply their ego), for others the desire to bridge that gap is always there.

This summer, the team at Naviar Records presented an event dedicated to “exploring the relationship between poetry and experimental electronic music, breaking the barrier between audience and artists, encouraging collaboration online and offline.”

The a.m. featured a haiku workshop. The poems written during the morning session were then handed off to the label’s composer friends online around the world. They were given a six-hour time limit to produce a piece based on the poetry.

The p.m. featured a DJ set made up of the online contributions, along with live performances by Audio Obscura, Ikjoyce and sōzuproject. All nine works are featured on this extraordinary digital album.

Daniel Diaz’s “The Church of the Long Sleep” is a touching highlight. An Argentinean by birth, Diaz now works as a composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist in Paris. His contribution opens the recorded section with gently struck bells and gongs over a base of ambient synth. The focus of the piece is an electric piano performance that infuses its ambient elements with real emotion. It is entirely addictive.

We also hear works from Ed Mundio in Australia, Jesús Lastra in Spain, Detritus Tabu in the U.S., Night Note in the Czech Republic and Yum Haruki in Japan.

Night Note’s “Incumbent Night” mixes electronics with shortwave radio sounds – not a new technique but it’s executed beautifully. Haruki’s “winter lullaby” is another highlight. Her austere, penetrating electronic work is set against a sombre organ performance.

The live set features longer, more minimalist works (none of which are titled). Audio Obscura’s 36 ½-minute piece employs electronics and downtempo percussion. Ikjoyce presents a quiet 30-minute ambient work that incorporates spoken word, natural sounds and more.

sōzuproject wraps up the live set with a 50 ½-minute epic performance packed with intensity – some of it loud, some of it silent.

Conceptually, the event clearly succeeded. The energy of the live performances along with the quickly produced contributions from around the world make a strong argument for a second annual Haiku Fest. That the work produced is so strong, and in many cases so emotional, is a testament to this impressive list of accomplished contributors.

Kevin Press                

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