Loré Lixenberg and Denis Dufour
(Cafe Oto, 15 January 2023. Review and drawings by Geoff Winston)
Free-thinking mezzo soprano Loré Lixenberg, champion of contemporary opera and experimental music, was the prime mover behind two Anglo-French concerts by experimental electronics composers at Cafe Oto, under the umbrella, FR/UK U!, of which this was the first.
Primarily an acousmatic(*) and electronics concert utilising 8 speakers in the room, this featured two extended works, the first by Lixenberg, and the second by the significant electronics composer, Denis Dufour, who was also present. And to open the second half there were precisely three minutes and twenty-four seconds of live performance by Lixenberg, performing Dufour’s ‘Accordéon’, a fabulous car-crash of extreme vocals and electronics, constructed by Dufour to highly precise but fluid parameters.
The first half presented Lixenberg’s fifty-four minute, award-winning, pre-programmed opera, ‘theVoicePartyOperaBotFarm[myMuseIsMyFury]’ from 2021 combining Lixenberg’s voice, bots and electronics. This was recorded at ORF Hörspiel (radio play) studio in Vienna, which she says, ‘… was a revelation. The possibilities I found there were mind-blowing …’, and links to her political campaign as leader of the Voice Party (‘The only party you cannot join. It joins you) with her vocal and composing career.
The opera, which won a Phonurgia Nova soundart prize in 2021, is an excoriating, satirical diatribe honing in, and I quote from her in-depth interview with The Enormity of Now (link below) on ‘the traumas of Brexit … [with] the UK’s sociopathic liar for a prime minister at the helm … the stinking winds of populism. … a culturally numb population … (who) vote against their own self-interests … (and) never went through a period of self-examination …’ with the outcome that the UK ‘… is a surprising addition to a litany of failed states internationally.’ She focuses, not without humour, on fake news and its connections with the ubiquitous bot farms and their exploitation for malign political and commercial ends.
In Lixenberg’s panoramic journey which starts out with sirens and Dalek-like voices, ‘I troll lying cheating politicians with opera …’. On the PM’s meeting concerning full market access for US products in to the National Health Service is the statement that ‘every single line of this document was redacted.’ There are snatches of ‘Lily the Pink’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘The Archers’ theme, and Blake via Parry’s ‘Jerusalem’ to reinforce cultural fantasies, a love letter from Putin to Boris, steamily articulated, ‘Mr Dyson’s Perfect Brexit’ with Westminster’s chiming bells on that fateful day in 2016, an absorbing meditation on ‘We are so f——d’, and the 2019 Hackney election result where the Voice Party attracted 79 votes – and much, much more! Footsteps clattered unnervingly from one side of the room to the other as the additional traumas of travel to Vienna during Covid were confronted. This provocative tour de force is broken down to constituent parts (or self-styled ‘bots’) on Soundcloud).
Following Lixenberg’s riveting, live interpretation of ’Accordéon’ with its instructions, ‘very angry … until despair’, ‘like a scream of surprise and exasperation’, Dufour’s ‘Missa Pro Pueris’ (recording here) took the audience through a fourteen part acousmatic sound collage where, in Lixenberg’s captured vocals, the words jumped out from Thomas Brando’s adaptation of texts from the Mass, written as ‘a hymn to creation and love.’ The contrasting sounds of heavy industry and flowing water were pooled together with stuttering rhythms, and evocations of infinite space. To have Defour present to introduce his works to a new audience gave a special ring to the evening.
(*) ‘Acousmatic music (from Greek ἄκουσμα akousma, ‘a thing heard’) is a form of electroacoustic music that is specifically composed for presentation using speakers, as opposed to a live performance.’ (Wiki)
FR/UK U! was generously supported by Diaphonique (diaphonique.org)
LINKS: The Voice Party website
The Voice Party at Deutschlandfunk
Loré Lixenberg defines her art (interview for Enormity of Now website)
Categories: Live review, Reviews
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