Monday, November 22, 2010

Junee train becomes a sound lab


MUSIC: Rolling Stock. Various sound artists and composer-performers. Wired Lab. In and around Junee, NSW, November 19. 
 
IT was noon on Saturday. Just over 200 people, a motley crew of local families and sound art aficionados from the city, were gathered at the Junee railway station. This was the third event that the irrepressible Sarah Last and her Wired Lab team have organised with the people of Junee: the one-day public art event featured 15 artists on a train, the culmination of a series of creative residencies in regional NSW.

Trains and everything associated with them are a religion at Junee, a wheatbelt town of about 4000 people, 444km southwest of Sydney. Its temple is the Junee Roundhouse, a transport museum with 42 tracks and dozens of old trains and carriages.

At the epicentre of the museum, a 33m turntable cranked into life as Dave Noyze and Garry Bradbury captured its industrial clangour with 15 microphones. Young men from the Australian Parkour Association leapt around the roofs of carriages. Outside, Joel Stern and Andrew McClennan created a gamelan sound tapestry from the rusting detritus of trains.

Then we boarded the train, its eleven carriages containing various sound events and theatre. Experimental films played in the sleeper compartments. One darkened carriage was festooned with LED glowsticks, creating a flicker-homage to Brion Gysin.

It was a happy mix of sound artist chic and local jollity that carried the train to its destination in Cootamundra, three hours away. There was a 40-minute pit stop at Cootamundra Station, where a Kenny Rogers imposter conducted a cheesy quiz on the platform. Then it was back to the train for the return journey, and the most accomplished sounds of the day. British sound-gatherer Chris Watson, noted as sound recordist for David Attenborough's television documentaries, has recreated a train journey through northern Mexico, its running commentary and sound tapestry blending perfectly with the clatter of our own train.

A bus trip (sacrilege!) took us to the celebrated Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory where a rockabilly band, the Pat Capocci Combo, played into the night. "Much more fun than the RSL," a local woman says. "I'll be back for more of this, anytime."

1 comment:

Dreamachine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Post a Comment