The solstice experiment
Projected organic imagery generated in response to dark-groove cinematic bass beats combine in a unique audio-visual encounter under the Dome next week. The winter solstice experiment is a collaboration between Hamilton illustrator and street artist Pauly B and Subset BC, the Gisborne five-piece made up of three bass guitarists, keyboard player and drummer.
A largely instrumental and improvised affair, Subset BC draws from musical influences that include funk, breaks, desert-sludge, post-rock, shoe-gaze, house and drum and bass. The band is made up of Lincoln Wright (Missing Link), Ryan Raggett (The Broken Stone), Paulus McKinnon (Bantam), Matt Tong (The Residents), and Charles Barrie who has previously described the band’s sound as “dark-groove cinematic bass”.
Pauly B has performed his live illustration work with The Mamaku Project and regularly with improvisational band Dr Mesmer’s Private Army — so the concept is a perfect match for bass guitar-driven Subset BC’s moody yet danceable soundscapes. The screened artwork is a spontaneous, fluid response to the music.
“I have two things I do side-by-side,” says Pauly B.
“Street art and this live performance work. The common thread is it is drawing based.
“I do these live shows where I create the whole thing from scratch. I’ve invented a set-up with a lightbox with a camera set up above it. Under the camera I create textures and backgrounds with oils, inks, fabrics and paper and manipulate the imagery through recording and looping them.”
“I’ve brought up the background with the other stuff and draw everything live. I build up layers with a recording pedal as I go, as with a guitar loop but with visuals. With performance, for me, this is very much another instrument.”
After some early collaborative experimentation Pauly B’s breakthrough came with working with The Mamaku Project.
“They played live instruments with electronics where you could put in midi signals. The music triggered different imagery in my stuff. It was really integrated.”
As seen in videos of his work with Dr Mesmer’s Private Army, Pauly B’s imagery is aqueous, airy, fluid and a bit mysterious.
“There are all sorts of imagery — there’s enough in it to connect with people but enough for them to ask questions as well.
“In my ideal world we would integrate art and music to have a creatively inspired life making it or enjoying it as a beautiful way to live.”
The idea for a Subset BC-Pauly B collaboration came about when the street artist visited his bass player mate from their Wellington days, Charles Barrie, in Gisborne.
“I brought my stuff with me knowing Subset was going to have a practice. The guys were into what I was doing.”
Previous Subset BC gigs have included 21st century psychedelic digital imagery from open source sites by Raggett. That has always been a feature of the band’s performances, says Wright but both Subset BC’s musicians and the street artist saw the makings of a collaboration during their jam at Wright’s Sweet Leith Studio.
“A jazz band once played live to a scratchy Len Lye film but this is done live then projected on the big screen,” says Wright.
Pauly B meets Subset BC, with Carrier and DJ support from King Dynamite, Subsekretary and Missing Link. The Dome, Saturday, June 22, 8.30pm. Tickets $10 on the door.