19 April 2016

JAUNA MUZIKA 2016 - Vidmantas Bartulis Dekonstrukcija I

Last night saw the beginning of the JAUNA MUZIKA festival 2016. The JAUNA MUZIKA festival is Lithuania's leading electronic music festival. This year, the composers of focus are Johannes Kreidler and David Behrmann whose concerts are towards the end of the week. The opening concerts are dedicated to Lithuanian composers. The very first concert was the showing of Vidmantas Bartulis's audio-visual work, Dekonstrukcija I. I was curious to see this work as I had not had an opportunity to hear any of Bartulis's electronic works. Dekonstrukcija I was composed in cooperation with the visual artist Dziugas Katinas. 

And so there we were, slowly we walked into the dark cinema, an odd calm and eagerness awaited the crowd. We all took our seats on the sofas and a hush came across the audience. From the silence, came a resonating drone, and from the darkness, a single cell. Suddenly it was destroyed. 

From this destruction came a new birth, accompanied by a new image, the cell still in the centre. The music and imagery produced an hypnotic sensation, but never letting you rest into a comfortable flow. From this came pulsing percussive sounds giving a constant sense of energy but the drones never leading us anywhere. 

As the work progresses, the drones shift around on a vaguely motivic shaping, but the growing destruction subverted any 'progress' in the work. The imagery on the screen, evoked a solemnity akin to Turner, the still, hazy natural landscape, full of a calm and beautiful sadness. Kudos to Dziugas Katinas. 

The destructive gestures continue evolving, narrowing avoiding predictability. The combination of the musical gestures, situational mood, created a sensation similar to any play by Samuel Beckett; with the static moments of real beauty but buzzing with microscopic energy. 

The whole work was an intriguing exploration and contemplation of self. The visual elements allowed the music just to sit in place. The space was in a calm abiding, struck by the mood and hypnotic quality of the work. The work, managed to narrowly avoid cliches, and the sensation of destruction was never predictable. I am still unsure how I feel about the work as a whole. I was left pondering it for hours long after the concert. And this morning the simple realisation came to me. If a work leaves you thinking, that is all you can ask of it. Whether I am sold on it, doesn't really matter; it has left me constantly considering the concert. 

This is one of the more brilliant qualities of Vidmantas Bartulis, a quiet modesty which simply leaves you pondering. There are very few artists in this world who calmly and solemnly show their piece, not demanding lots from you, but somehow you find yourself periodically thinking about the work you saw. The work is growing on me in an odd manner, but this being said, the work is a true piece of art. 

Another concert on Wednesday, until then here is a wonderful piece by Bartulis for you to enjoy. 

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