They serve up adventures in music, sculpture and performance that dazzle the eyes, astonish the ears and stimulate the imagination of viewers with an unorthodox magic.
The Bow Gamelan Ensemble… is the most stunning cross media project of the decade. Gloriously inventive, riotously funny and completely accessible.
The sheer scale of the thing is a delight to behold… the smoke and light constantly changing create a strange beauty where you would never have expected to find it
Brilliant…Brilliant…. A faster vocabulary of sound than the rock noisists can conceive of…. Brilliant
Both visually and aurally stunning
A harangue, a polemic, an education: noise lights smells fire and flood
Their tumult of noise, flames and smoke was entertaining, provocative and insidiously hellish
Veering from beauty to horror, the spectacle is utterly and literally stunning
Finishing with a coda that would have done Raymond Roussel proud
Finishing with a coda that would have done Raymond Roussel proud
Through a masterful alternation of mood and scale, Bow Gamelan creates a changing landscape of great beauty, surprise and sophistication
I left exhilarated
For sheer inventiveness this show would be hard to beat
Sonically the performance seemed to bring to fruition the wildest dreams of Luigi Russolo and other futurist musicians…. Full of ingenious ideas
Some of the most enchanting ethnic music on the planet. Haunting, enthralling stuff
It is a cross-media project bringing together sight and sound in a context that is dramatically appealing. And yet they are so obviously flying in the face of popular culture simply because there are no concessions made to familiarity, to tradition
A rustic ethnic music of the modern day west. Unmissable...
The tribal Rituals of a culture in terminal decline where machines have become detached from their original functions and turned into accessories of some mysterious cult...
The trio explore sounds and actions which are both a celebration and an assault... Harsh aural poetry
The bridge between improvised/avant garde music and performance art had never looked quite so convincing
Deeply serious and deeply silly in their attempt to undermine---indeed detonate ---- traditional notions of ‘music,’ the Ensemble make Neubauten look like a vicar’s tea party.
The packed banks of the river Thames have never been treated to tubes of smoke filled plastic erupting from a barge, miniature helicopters buzzing round like demented owls—you needed only to look away for a moment to miss firecrackers, giant mobiles of cymbals as high pressure fired water onto them, fire filled rusting jaws of baths opening and closing in crocodile like motion, or fleeting glimpses of a colourful hot air balloon, seemingly suspended amidst the traffic of Richmond Bridge.
I was agog at the spectacle of impersonality here, a spectacle in which the girders and their adjacent surfaces were the stars, in which the Bow people submitted themselves as specks on their own landscape
The extraordinary range of at once haunting, comic, evocative, aggressive, delightful and strange sounds and visual effects which Bow Gamelan produce …. There seems no limit to the potential of this group
I’ve never seen the ICA stage so crowded….truly the art of noise/noise of art.
There’s a flying car that thinks it’s Ornette Coleman’s drummer….. enjoying an uneasy relationship with its post-industrial backdrop, veering from beauty to horror, the spectacle is utterly, and at one point literally, stunning.
They have succeeded in firing the public imagination with an unorthodox combination of elements, which transcends categories and catches the flavour of our times
If you are planning an evening stroll along the Thames anywhere between Richmond and Bow this month, beware! First of all, you’ll hear thee noise:…explosions, metal groaning against metal, shrieking whistles, ear- splitting sirens, and gentler sounds like the eerie cries of disturbed ghosts. And then you’ll see it: a huge, rusting barge, laden with scaffold-mounted junk of all sizes and descriptions, complete with cranes winching equipment in and out of the water, and above it, hot air balloons spitting fire.
If you’ve never experienced the extremes of fear and fascination in the same five seconds, you’ve never had the pleasure of a ringside seat for the Bow Gamelan Ensemble. Put simply it is the most stunning cross media project of the decade—sonic choreography meets visual drama. Shattering glass, a free fall of rhythms, klaxon horns, the drone of what sounds like a bagpipe but looks like an octopus revolving from the ceiling, the rattle and roll of tin plates in tumble dryers: the instruments are oddments of industrial and domestic waste, some are nicked from skips, some fished out of the bottom of Bow Creek recycled with an eye for sculpture and an ear for sound. John Cage, the Dadaists, ‘80’s noise groups like Test Department, they are all kindred souls of a kind: as for straight forward comparisons, there are few if any at all. Their ICA season is specially commissioned…. Me, I can’t wait
The most spectacular piece in the London International Festival of Theatre is non-verbal… The Bow Gamelan Ensemble … are joined in Offshore Rig by American artist and percussionist z’ev. The work is presented on an offshore island in the Thames… using a derelict dry dock with three enormous sheds they stage their spectacle. Exploring experimental areas in sound, performance, light and sculpture, Bow gamelan create a work of great elegance and originality that is accessible without being compromised. A stream of semi-rehearsed, semi improvised ‘music’ created from fireworks and industrial junk (chimes, steam whistles, long swinging ropes of firecrackers) is interwoven with a variety of lighting effects (spotlights, flares, searchlights, coloured lights and gases) Subtle changes, or sometimes bold and sudden ones, create changing vistas and aural perspectives and rich sculptural silhouettes.
Bow Gamelan Ensemble was the highlight of Lift’s first week…. What they do successfully evades categorisation and amusingly blurs the highbrow-lowbrow distinction which dogs most performances. The sheer scale of the thing is a delight to behold, the unexpected explosions a regular cause of spontaneous laughter. The smoke and light constantly create a strange beauty where you would never have expected to find it. Offshore rig… is literally wonderful
Ever imagined what rusty lengths of piping sound like when played with gas jets? What about amassed choral of hoovers? Or a percussion orchestra ranging from bell trees made out of hubcaps, to metal plates thrown around in an industrial dryer, even a car with its doors and boot slamming in polyrhythmical fury? The Bow Gamelan Ensemble turn all of these and more into an awe-inspiring cross-media extravaganza. The worlds of Improv., sound sculpture and performance art combine at the South Bank.
Their performances boast a rare magic; scary, hilarious, alarming and also quite beautiful….. huge horn gramophones play four-foot records, littered with crushed glass. Squadrons of hoovers patrol the ceiling, plastic tubes writhing and manipulated into sound by the performers. Devices fixed to walls around the space activate, click, whirr, flash. Trees of electric kettles fixed with sax reeds, boil and start soling. Huge pinwheels describe blinding coronas that fill the stage. Handfuls of tiny toy explosives are hurled against walls to crackle and sparkle. Weird constructions attack each other and themselves. Snow falls.
Brilliant! The dingy ICA theatre has been transformed with the pickings from a hundred East London skips--- the wreckage comes alive…. That car starts to float across the stage, headlights and doors flashing and slamming, starts to dance. Brilliant. You can’t believe your eyes. And then, then the stage turns out to be all trapdoors, trapdoors which open and gape luridly, then slam in deafening symphony. How do they DO that? There’s underwater percussion, music from welding, prepared and invented instruments, prepared and invented instruments, automatic music, a symphony of fire alarms…..Tonight was a wealth of stunts and japes aural and visual,…Bliss… Brilliant.
Helium filled balloons soar with piercing sibilance towards the darkening canopy of the sky. As night falls, caped performers stalk up and down tensely, like besieged city dwellers, the fires below the eerily whistling boilers casting a flickering glow.