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Sound And Music

In which we are annoyed by an apparent mime


A busy weekend for us: we had visitors. Well, one visitor, Stu, who came down to explore and discover the city for himself.

Stu’s into electro, somewhat, so we found something on Saturday night that we thought he’d like. “We Live Here”, at the Arnolfini, a live art weekend featuring a gig on the Saturday night. Thinking it might be interesting, we packed into the gallery’s rather crowded bar to see what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed by the first act – in fact, by the first act’s first act, if you see what I mean. Magnús Scheving Magnus Spectrum,* a chap in an orange jumpsuit who bounced energetically around to laptop and keyboard-generated electrical noise, waving a Nintendo Wii controller as he did so, throwing himself about the performance space and almost into the audience. He shook his wrist, and the sound tremolo’d itself.

Now, if you search the net for Magnus Spectrum – which I did, to try to find out if he’s got a website** – you’ll find people saying that he uses the Wii controller as a synth, or as a midi controller, and so on. The Arnolfini’s own website says:

Magnus Spectrum makes physical noise music via Nintendo Wii controller and much leaping about

His Facebook page says: “he performs on synthesiser, using consumer goods as wireless controllers”.

So we stood watching him: me, K, and Stu, who is a big console-gaming fan. And Stu, being the expert, noticed something. According to him, at least, Magnus Spectrum’s Wii controller, with which he was apparently playing his synth, wasn’t actually switched on.***

I’d been a tad suspicious, just because, at some points, the chap appeared to be following the music, not quite on the beat; dancing on the beat is quite hard with arrhythmic music, after all. Stu, though, was adamant. Spectrum had performed once and stopped,**** and nobody else looked likely to be coming onstage any time soon; so we gave up and went for a drink at The Apple instead. Apologies to Freeze Puppy and Chew Magna, whose acts we missed, especially as Chew Magna do seem to be quite good.

Talking it over afterwards: there’s nothing wrong with playing electrical noise and bouncing around energetically to it like a loon. Magnus Spectrum’s dance style wasn’t too unlike my own empty-room crazed bouncing; and I’ve been known to wear orange jumpsuits in my time, too. There’s not even anything wrong with miming, in itself. We left because: there is something wrong with saying “I’m playing this live” when you’re not. Magnus Spectrum did, occasionally, nip over to his keyboard and press a chord. Stu might be wrong, and Magnus might have been using a slightly broken or modded Wii controller; or it might have been a cock-up of some sort. Overall, though, we ended up thinking that he was probably miming, at least as far as the Wii part went; so we decided there were better places to be.

* That isn’t some children’s-entertainment-based insult, by the way. I genuinely am having difficulty with the name “Magnus Spectrum”, because every time I try to think it, Scheving pops into my head instead.

** He’s got a Myspace page under his real name and a Facebook page as Magnus, if nothing else.

*** Stu knows enough about Wiis to know where the controller on-lamp is; he also knows enough to tell us that it was, apparently, an early model of Wii controller. Not that that matters, really.

**** After apparently accidentally shutting himself out of the building – the side door was set to let people out but not in again.

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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4 comments on “Sound And Music”

  1. Hello, Magnus here :)

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy the act- just to let you know, the wii’s lights are controlled by the software it’s communicating with (programme called glovepie http://carl.kenner.googlepages.com/glovepie) I just didn’t have the patch used displaying any lights (I can in future if you like). As it’s pretty tricky to control, with the setup I’ve got and it’s quite unpredictable (which I like) I do react to the sounds that are produced. There is also a lag between the motion of the controller and the time the synth sounds.

    I advise checking out Freeze Puppy too (his act is totally different to mine)

    Hope that clears up a few things

    Rich

  2. Forest Pines says:

    Thank you for the information! I’ll pass it on to Stu – myself, I have no clue about Wiis, or where the lights are supposed to be on them. I can imagine it would be rather difficult to play, although probably less environment-influenced than something simpler like a theremin.

    I also thought the gig would probably have worked better if you’d had a bit more room to move about – the bar was very cramped.

  3. No problem- it would have worked better if there was a bit more space for the audience to move around (I don’t usually play gigs where lots of people turn up), I was actually feeling a bit ‘stuck’ for physical space.

    I’m surprised it wasn’t apparent that the wii had stopped working when it went out of range and the synth stayed on the same sound after I was stuck outside

  4. Forest Pines says:

    I remember the sound going fairly constant, but it wasn’t completely clear that that was the cause. You might have been planning to change the sound by pressing something on the keyboard.

    (we guessed you’d got yourself stuck outside because we’d tried to get in that door when we got there; and we’d noticed people going for fag breaks doing the same thing, going out that way and finding it was a one-way trip)

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