The first performer is setting up a complex piece of kit as I arrive. Ross seems to keep adjusting it throughout the performance, because he doesn’t really play this, the gear plays itself, but he moves and adjusts and mixes to allow and then manipulate the sounds. There’s a loose spinning string forming sine-like curves when it doesn’t hit an object in its path. Ross has placed various objects in its path and these seem to have pickups which transfer to a few little mixers and at least one foot pedal. The objects are a zither and various home-built timber panels with nail-like protrusions, and later a set of cow bells. It’s a complex sound of percussion and drone, changing pitches with zither movements, various rings and springs and the like. Visually it’s strange and aurally, too, but mesmeric. Home-made instruments making intriguing sounds.
Canberra Jazz Blog. soundout 2014.
Ross Manning, Deforming a Virtual Ribbon. cs. More Mars, 2016.
Previously music by Ross Manning has been released by labels such as Vitrine, Greedy Ventilator
and Room40, but somehow, I think, never made to these pages. He is from Brisbane, Australia
and he works ‘with optics, projection, light and sound’, as More Mars tells us. Manning creates
his own instruments since a very early age and on this cassette we find four of his pieces using
these DIY electronics and “shelf-made string pannel” [sic]. The pieces are slightly chaotic in
approach, with many sounds overlapping each other, thus creating nervous patterns. On ‘Gold
Spray In The Kinetic Upheaval’ it sounded like he has recorded three gamelan orchestras at the
same time, but it works rather well, I think. The longer you listen, the more patterns can be
discovered. Also rhythmical is the first piece, ‘Polaris’ but here it is a little less chaotic, and maybe
it is because this seems to me a very direct, improvised recording. ‘Deep Learning’ is a drone piece
of sustaining electric distortion and what seems to be street sounds, whereas ‘Drnk Poets’ is
something completely different; here Manning uses radio sounds in a collage form, which may
or may not sound like a bunch of drunken poets. All of these pieces served for me as a fine
introduction into the sound world of Manning.
Ross Manning, Natural Causes cs. Vitrine #27.
Vitrine is thrilled to welcome Brisbane-based installation and sound artist Ross Manning to its roster. Laminal, scrapping and what could be the cry of a child. Home-made instruments and location-hewn ambience develop a nuanced sculptural sound. Psychic whimsy and the sensuality of the object exonerate household ticking and churning. The everyday as ecstatic as it always has been. Natural Causes follows a recent banner run of releases by Manning, including 2015’s Interlacing LP, the Delicate Shades of Hell cs on sterling tape imprint Greedy Ventilator and LED, an outstanding 10” of new works self-released by the artist earlier this year. Chimes cut to dour electronic warble. A standard bearer of contrast and sonorous multitude. Clang, clatter and debris swarm in plumes of activity. Adam Bohman’s object improv or Joe Jone’s solar music are signposts along the way to a unique hemisphere of absurd inevitability. Bells vibrate above whipping crescents of machinery. Persistent creaking stumbles in a textured cluster. Irregular romance. Excerpts from Le Couperet, arriving thirty years too late. Natural Causes is the latest entry in what is fast becoming one of the most singular bodies of work in contemporary sound.
This Vitrine tape is what turned me on to Ross Manning. The tape starts off with a Bang with Catalogue From A Young Man, a very dense piece with lots of dense percussion and an occasional young voice. The title track follows and has sort of the Gamelan feel of parts of Delicate Shade Of Hell (another of Ross’ tapes I’m carrying), but much busier and more energetic. Due Date finishes off the first side with fluttering bell sounds and drones. The B side consists of the side-long Song For Eugene, which starts off with a thousand seagulls whirling around your head. Things descend into a mirrored fun house of bells, drones, and percussion, all extremely well organized for maximum disorientation. Crazy, and yet lucid at first, the piece later enters into a very dense forest of conflicting desires. Ross is certainly someone to keep an eye and ear on.
LED 10″. Self-released.2016
LED is a document of a private live performance, recorded in 2015. Here Ross is using swinging LED lights and some sort of photo cells hooked into something to produce the music. The sound is both electronic and organic. The continuously oscillating electronic sound brings to mind wild violins or crazy hurdy-gurdys, as well as non-mannered synths. LED keeps its claustrophobic qualities throughout, but is also strangely beautiful.
Ross Manning : Harmonious Angles LP (self-published)
Ross Manning “Harmonious Angles” LP Manning’s first solo LP is a joyous yet understatedly-intricate sonic outing created in real time via live playback of various recorders (HD, tape and MD) overlaid with live sound events, including field recordings and an assortment of Manning’s own (often customised/handmade) instruments. Evocative of a less-manic Volvox in its strangeness, the soundworlds created here are intriguing and immensely satisfying.
Shame File Music.