Live Review: “Sound + Vision” Feat. Empress Of + Banoffee & Oscar Key Sung + Charles Murdoch – Sydney Opera House (31.01.16)

“Samsung: Sound + Vision” was a debut collaborative music and visual arts project by Vice and Sydney Opera House principal partners Samsung Electronics Australia, taking over the iconic Concert Hall to showcase the marriage of music and technology, as well as the local and international artists involved. Perhaps the strongest element to this project was that it really was as much about the visual artists behind the stage shows as it was about the musicians themselves, and it brought in talented creatives who wouldn’t normally be seen in the Concert Hall; for that, each act clearly delivered their all, bolstered by the spectacular twists and turns of Samsung’s tech and each visual artists’ tailored touch.

To introduce us to this start-early-end-early free event, Future Classic champion Charles Murdoch showcased his album, with his productions lifted by projections from Melbourne’s Tin & Ed, who used a sound analysis program to complement Murdoch’s soulful beats with equally soulful, natural projections, like a searing red sunset bopping up and down on a loop, a rose blossoming and withering to the rhythm, and a jellyfish pulsating with life.

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Murdoch’s recently released, exceedingly excellent Point connected well with those in attendance, especially with Oscar Key Sung stepping out for the tender “Privacy”, which forced much of the audience onto their feet as the short set came to a close.

Oscar Key Sung returned with Banoffee by his side, giving us a seamless, necessary partnership that played to the strengths of both artists with interlocking vocals that soared over skittering, frantic drum patterns and sparse hand claps. The sound was very much on-trend and resonated beautifully, illustrated with motion-controlled visuals by Prue Stent, throwing up colourful still photographs which sat on the more simple side and focused on texture, blending with the densely layered productions which made this partnership so exciting, both musically and visually.

Building on the initial visions from Murdoch’s set, this second act introduced more lights which would slink across the crowd and contrast with the pure white balloon bouquet which sat on the front of the production desk, mirroring both OKS and Bannoffee as they danced on stage behind a multitude of production equipment, basically working with the purpose-built sensory system tech to improvise a light show.

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Innovative New York singer-songwriter and the event’s headliner, Empress Of, ended the night with a grand, and at times blinding, display of powerful vocals tied to swathes of white light which would flood the Concert Hall and strobe in time with the energetic live drummer, connected by a custom-built grid visualiser. Her debut album Me got a work out with a small live band which helped heave Empress Of’s stunning voice around the room, presenting an intense barrage of light and sound until the U.S singer politely grounded her set with an endearing expression of gratitude before waving goodbye and leaving us to remind ourselves that this was actually all for free.

Sound + Vision was bright, loud, and impressive, furthering the function of actually having a live show and the tech necessary to augment your performance, and build it into something immediately arresting and forceful. I only hope that these collaborative nights continue to take place in the iconic space, offering us something other than the traditional concert and giving artists – both music and visual arts – the platform they deserve.

Images from Vice, credited to Voena.

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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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