Collision course to creativity
Written by Michael Dwyer
December 5, 2011
Collision course to creativity – see the original article here.
Taking an individual approach while participating on a team effort works well for Collider, writes Michael Dwyer.
MUSIC is a lot like life. You can talk about it until you’re as old as Socrates, insist on structure and meaning and higher purpose, or you can just plug in and wing it until it feels good.
Classical tends towards the former, rock the latter. Jazz lays a heavy bet each way.
Collider is a big-talking band. Horn players Adam Simmons and Kynan Robinson have lived musical lives of spontaneity and liberation, but with classical string players Andrea Keeble and Jason Bunn they’re more apt to obsess over ”getting it right” to teensy degrees of tuning, timing and timbre.
”I guess there’s a sense of collision between the different worlds,” tenor sax player Simmons says of the band he named in 2006.
”For me it’s also about the [Large Hadron] Collider: speeding up particles and exploding them to get to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. I’m kind of into physics. There’s something akin to that theoretical search for meaning in physical things that I reckon is part of the musical journey, too.” After high school, Simmons made his career choice between music and astrophysics. ”I look back now and realise both are esoteric in terms of their seeming lack of real-life application.
”They’re both about exploring fringes that can actually yield huge results.”
After 15 years of colliding in countless bands, Robinson knows what his friend means, even if his search has led him to a different library corner.
The novels of Cormac McCarthy, including Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses and The Road, have been a seminal influence on the music he has composed for Collider’s next performance. ”[McCarthy] has this incredible sparseness to his work, while at the same time every single sentence is packed to the utmost with incredible amounts of detail,” the trombonist explains.
”He deals with the big issues of life and death; the meaninglessness of life and the absolute essence of it, all within the one sentence.
”I’m not trying to directly parallel what he’s doing,” he says, ”but these are huge concepts to deal with and I never felt I was ready to deal with them as a composer before. Now I feel like I am.”
Sparsity and weight are keys to the music of Collider: an uncluttered, deliberate sound completed by the rhythm section of Ronny Ferella and Anita Hustas. But it’s not all as bleak and ominous as The Road.
For his half of the new repertoire, Simmons has drawn on the literary genius of Dr Seuss, specifically his masterpiece of 1960, Green Eggs and Ham.
There’s a slight thematic connection, he says. ”I do like the message of ‘Come on, just bloody try the thing’, because that’s how I feel about the music we play and how mainstream society really tends to go with what they know.”
But there’s a more profound structural influence in that Seuss’ 62-page text makes do with 50 words. ”Something about working within those limitations can create a lot of variety,” Simmons says. ”That’s something I’ve been trying to do in my writing and improvising. By limiting my material, I find that allows me to explore it in much greater detail.”
Each member has composed music for Collider over their five years together, says Robinson, and each ”has taken that concept on; written works which are about scaling everything down and getting into the smallness of it all”.
And despite the large vocabularies they have all developed elsewhere, they know when the Collider conversation rolls around, there’s no room for loose talk. ”When I was younger I really got into the free [jazz] thing, which tries to democratise the whole thing,” says Robinson. ”The older I get, maybe I’m getting more right-wing, but I find myself moving back to the idea of composer as dictator.”
Collider play FortyfiveDownstairs on Monday, December 12.
– The Age