Sublime Sounds in Hallowed Halls
In Europe, where centuries’ worth of abandoned churches are scattered across every city, having those acoustically and aesthetically marvelous spaces occupied for more … alternative congregations is a common occurrence. In the United States, not so much, and certainly not with the pedigree of artists performing at this year’s Moogfest.
The First Presbyterian Church of Durham opened its doors to festival crowds for a series of stellar performances on Friday and Saturday. Many of the acts focused on subverting and amplifying traditional instrumentation such as violinist Sudan Archives, Mary Lattimore filtering her grand harp, or French multi-instrumentalist, Colleen, creating loops by plucking a viola.
Colleen’s performance was particularly of note – it was her last for the foreseeable future with the instrumentation she’s become known for. Her next record, which she demoed an unnamed song from, is exclusively electronic, so she won’t be touring with her viola and drum. Perhaps for the best, at least in some climes. Durham’s heat didn’t sit well with the viola’s gut strings which led to frequent tuning between tracks. It didn’t, however, impede the quality of her work as she deftly built the tracks from her record Captain of None from scratch, layering string loops and whispery vocals into a lovely mesh of sound – a fitting pairing with the afternoon light beaming in through the stained glass.
She was followed by the debut of the all-new Syrinx. Original member John Mills-Cockell was joined by a drummer, saxophonist, and Durham’s Mallarmé Chamber Players for a triumphant revisiting of classics which hadn’t been performed in decades.