What Is Music? Festival 2009

After a thunderous return in 2008, the What Is Music? Festival is back again attempting even more ridiculous and sublime experimental music programming. After 15 years the reputation of the Festival precedes it, and 2009 will see even more incredible performances and events unleashed upon Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

American laptop terrorist John Wiese will perform his first solo shows ever on these shores, having played the festival as a member of Sunn O))) in 2005, as well as premiering visual scores for large-scale ensemble. Expect the extremest of frequencies, and some of the best improv you've ever heard.

Joining us from Poland will be Musica Genera Festival curators Robert Piotrowicz and Anna Zaradny. Robert is a master sculptor of dense, layered synth beauty, though his infamous grindcore roots lend a sense of the brutal/beautiful/brutiful. Anna brings a much needed and appreciated sense of feminine grace and patience with her complex, slow-shifting laptop work, not to mention an impressive pedigree including collaborations with Burkhard Stangl, Zbigniew Karkowski, Tony Buck and Cor Fuhler.

From Japan: hercel. Shayne Bowden/Ayako Mori, man/woman, painful/ecstatic, creation/destruction, foreign/familiar and lots more tasty dichotomy action, all wrapped in a crunchy shell of power electronics. Essential viewing for both the modern intellectual neanderthal and primitive reactionist ├╝bermensch alike.

Of course all your favourite locals (and expatriates) will be there too, including Oren Ambarchi, Jon Rose, Clayton Thomas, Clare Cooper, Green Beret, Aux Assembly, Dead Boomers, Matt "Skitz" Sanders and many more (un)usual suspects presenting new works, new sounds, new experiences.

Perhaps the most exciting event will be the Festival's closing: 50/50. 50 artists in 50 minutes. Ranging in style from rock to pop, hip hop to electronic, spoken word to noise, 50/50 is the perfect distillation of What Is Music?'s aim - to present as wide an array of musical possibilities as possible. This giant undertaking is being performed live at the ABC's Iwaki Auditorium and recorded for broadcast on ABC Classic FM. Not to be missed.

Here's the rundown of the Melbourne events next week:

  • Sunday - John Wiese Ensemble (two sets) plus a screening of the Korean film Suicidal Variation at the East Brunswick Club - 7.30pm start, $15/10 entry
  • Monday - Sabbatical presents Shayne Bowden & Rob Mayson, Green Beret, Dead Boomers with Lloyd Honeybrook and Aux Assembly at the Old Bar - 7.30pm start, $10 entry
  • Wednesday - Stutter presents hercel (Japan), Anna Zaradny (Poland), LVSXY (Clare Cooper and Clayton Thomas) and Jon Rose - 8.00pm start, $15/10 entry
  • Thursday - John Wiese solo, Robert Piotrowicz (Poland), Oren Ambachi & Matt "Skitz" Sanders, and a tag-team set between Lucas Abela, Marco Fusinato and Lloyd Honeybrook - 8.00pm, $15/10 entry
  • Saturday - Festival closing night - 50/50 - 50 artists in 50 minutes (have a gander and link for a complete line-up) - 7.30pm start, $20/15 - this will be broadcast on ABC Classic FM's New Music Show

For the full rundown on this year's Festival, including bios, venue details and ticketing go to www.whatismusic.com.