The location of this event on the South Bank with bridges and buildings and the expanse of the river in front, gave Bow Gamelan extensive possibilities for echoes and responses across the river and back, colliding and reverberating. They exploited all this potential by bolting 20ft steel megaphones to various instruments such as the huge metal boilers acting as resonating cavities for giant m’biras or spring gongs, so that the river itself seemed to rumble back with Waterloo and Westminster Bridges acting as supplementary amplification. 12ft long thunder sheets added complexity to the resound and specially commissioned le Maitre pyrotechnic whistles produced different pitches with their chemical stroboscopic interactions.
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… 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.
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 left exhilarated.
High pressure steam in collaboration with Tom Leadlay.
Pyrotechnics in collaboration with Wilf Scott.