Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Various Artists — Music of the Piano Mill 2017 - Michael Hannan & Colin Noble
(Harrigans Lane Collective, 2017/2020, DL)
Various Artists — Music of the Piano Mill 2018 - Lynette Lancini, Louise Denson, & Vanessa Tomlinson
(Harrigans Lane Collective, 2018/2020, DL)
Various Artists — Music of the Piano Mill 2019 - Steve Newcomb & Alistair Noble
(Harrigans Lane Collective, 2019/2020, DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-03-27
Harrigans Lane Collective in Willsons Downfall, Australia, is the home of the Piano Mill, a center for explorative interdisciplinary projects in rural Australia with a focus on architecture, music, arts, design, and environment. It is a little space in the otherwise commercial world for such creative and experimental pursuits, curated by artistic directors Bruce and Jocelyn Wolfe. The Piano Mill itself is a steampunk tower in the forest of NSW purposely built to house 16 vintage upright pianos; the structure is a building and fantastical musical instrument all in one. The infrastructure of HLC is completely off grid, using photovoltaic cells and a wind turbine feeding battery storage to generate electricity; water collection and storage is maintained through rain water collection and from a small dam to the highest point of the property. At hand are three albums of experimental music that were created and recorded at the Piano Mill from 2017 through 2019, one for each year by various composers who work at the facility. In fact we have previously covered composer Erik Griswold’s 2019 full-length release Hollows out of Time which was recorded at the Piano Mill. The 2017 release at hand features two extended pieces by composers Michael Hannan and Colin Noble. Hannan’s piece, “Landscape / Soundscape II,” is a particularly interesting journey of ever-changing wild and exotic piano textures utilizing a variety of extended techniques: sixteen players plucking, strumming, striking, rubbing, and scraping the pianos with a collection of devices including beer bottles, percussion mallets, and golf balls over the course of its haunting twelve-plus minutes. The 2018 release features thee pieces by composers Lynette Lancini, Louise Denson, and Vanessa Tomlinson. Lancini’s piece “MegaMammal” seems to have been recorded live, starting with a fractured quote from “God Save the Queen” and ending with a quote from “Waltzing Matilda,” while the nine minutes between is a chaotic maelstrom of multiple prepared pianos, voices, and odd percussive sounds. Denson’s composition, “Mill Life,” begins with an array of percussive sounds marching in mechanical order like the sounds of a factory, as more sounds (prepared piano and otherwise) join the ongoing parade over its near ten-minute duration. The 2019 set features two extended compositions by Steve Newcomb and Alistair Noble, both in the eleven to twelve minute range, of special note being Noble’s “Tiangong,” which coaxes a variety of extended piano sounds – sixteen players in all, plus cello, crafting haunting atmospheres that are out of this world. These three excellent releases are available only as downloads or via streaming at the HLC Bandcamp site, no physical media yet, but the good news is that they are all available at ‘name your price,’ so anyone interested in experimental composition should give these a listen.
Related artist(s): Various Artists
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