Sam Gillies featured on NFSA's Lateral Listening Program

I was fortunate enough to recently be approached by Tessa Elieff at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) of Australia to put together a collection of my work for episode 8 of their soundcloud series Lateral Listening. The episode includes laptop, studio, and ensemble works, and hopefully gives an impression of the range of my work thusfar.

Each episode of Lateral Listening focuses on a different Australian artist, with the primary focus being genres associated with sound art and experimental musics. Past episodes include artists such as Cat Hope, Gail Priest, Daniel Blinkhorn, Kate Carr, Lawrence English and many more.

You can stream my episode and many others at the NFSA's soundcloud.


Studies for Laptop (2011-2014) Released on bandcamp

Back in January I finally found the time to get around to putting together an album of my work for solo laptop, titled Studies For Laptop (2011-2014). It is available as a free download from my bandcamp.

For three years I was involved with the Noizemaschin!! concert series, a monthly event of noise making that pulled eight artists on stage to create and experiment in front of an audience without the pressure and expectation of a more conventional 'club' gig. It was during this time that I started developing my own approach to laptop performance, often relying on improvisation to navigate my way through different processing structures, allowing the electronics themselves to help inform the music.

While my approach to more 'composed' music is often highly controlled, laptop performance has been an outlet for me to concentrate on creating in the moment. The pressures of live performance are completely different to that of the studio, and so during my time with Noizemaschin!! I was interested in exploring how my improvised laptop performances would develop in this live setting. Many of these experiments, by myself and others, have been documented thoroughly through three years of audio recordings over at the Noizemaschin!! bandcamp page and are available for free download now.

Studies for Laptop (2011-2014) is an edited collection of works realised during this time, musical studies for live laptop performance that were created in the moment as a reaction to the electronic environment. These are, in every sense of the word, studies. But they are also pieces that I feel comfortable sharing as a representation of what performing live is to my music, and as a document of how I have arrived to my practice today.


Snowden (Eyes In The Sky) to be performed at the Dark Music Days Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland

My first international performance of 2015 is courtesy of Lindsay Vickery who will be performing Snowden (Eyes In The Sky) in Reykjavik, Iceland as part of his concert Silent Revolution at the Dark Music Days Festival on  January 30.

Described by The Times as “ever-diversifying… a hot ticket in a cultural hotspot,” Dark Music Days provides Iceland’s foremost platform for showcasing innovative and progressive contemporary music in Iceland. Established by the Society of Icelandic Composers in 1980, the festival places emphasis on premiering new and often experimental pieces that reflect the ever-growing diversity and creativity of contemporary music. The festival is today one of the most important festivals of contemporary music in Iceland, where the music of Icelandic composers blends with current events and renowned international music.


The program also features Cat Hope's Signals Directorate and four pieces by Vickery: Silent Revolution, Sacrificial Zones, Semantics of Redaction and ...with the fishes...

More information on Silent Revolution and the Dark Music Days Festival available here.


Cycle~ 440: The Topography of Ascending Frameworks

After a couple of years of live albums and one-off projects, Cycle~ 440 are very excited to see the release of our third studio album, and the final chapter in the constructions trilogy, 'The Topography of Ascending Frameworks'!

Featuring 'So we beat on, boats against the current', winner of the 2013 WAM Experimental Song of the Year Award, 'The Topography of Ascending Frameworks' has been released by excellent Sydney label Hospital Hill. If you're into contemporary electro-acoustic music be sure to check out the rest of their catalog!

The Topography of Ascending Frameworks marks the final instalment of the Constructions trilogy. A long form conceptual work that started with 2011's The Geography of Collapsing Structures and continued with 2012's The Cartography of Shifting Planes

Across eight immersive tracks, the duo of Sam Gillies and Kevin Penkin continue to hone their blend of spacious piano motifs, semi-improvised electronica and sporadic, deftly-treated found sounds. Walking a delicate line between ambient minimalism, cinematic soundscapes, glitch and modern jazz; Cycle~ 440 are less an amalgam of genres and more a singular exploration of colour. 

The Topography of Ascending Frameworks boasts a strikingly scientific title, but it is by no means a cold or clinical listen. It ticks forward with quiet, sanguine momentum, bubbles under its still surface, surges with warped strands of noise pitted against contemplative chords and seethes with ominous drones and unsettling oscillations. Every moment exudes a unique blend of granular detail and expansive landscapes.

Grab a copy from the Hospital Hill website here


Dinner For One Premiere

Louise Devenish will premiere a new work of mine for solo percussion Dinner For One at her DMA Recital on the 5th of December at the UWA School of Music. The concert includes a collection of pieces from other Australian artists including Graeme Leak, Anthony Pateras, Lachlan Skipworth, and Nigel Westlake.

Usually around about the time I reach a third draft of a work I have to throw it away and start completely fresh. Some might consider this to be disheartening but for me it’s usually a byproduct of some breakthrough which means that the piece finally has some direction and purpose. Dinner For One started with a simple exchange of ideas. Louise would take a draft and provide feedback to me as to what she thought did and didn’t work, while provided ideas of her own - a process made difficult through the filter of skype conversations and email. These multiple influences sat uneasily for a few drafts until I finally realised that I needed to get out of the piece’s way, and create a musical space for Louise to respond to the work in the performance itself.

There are two kinds of material in Dinner For One, notated material and instructional improvisation. In these later sections the performer must respond to the material they have just played in different ways. As the piece progresses the amount of time devoted to notated material diminishes inversely to the amount of the time the performer spends responding. The notated material becomes a focus point for the performers interpretation, a piece of history fixed at a moment in time amongst an otherwise permeable performance inevitably rooted in the now. A ghost at a table with one chair. 

For information available here.
Be sure to check out Louise's website to stay up to date on her work!