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Tom Hall: Vacation Vinyl on Friday, September 2nd, 2011

This was certainly another hard-to-describe music, but isn’t it the thing about music? It is always impossible to speak or write about it, but I am trying every day nevertheless. Tom Hall, an Australian expatriate, who is now living in LA, builds this thick electronic ambiance alternating between quiet appeasing melodies and organic noisy symphonies, with the only use of his synth.

Wearing a ‘Heavy Metal’ t-shirt, he was playing an in-store at Vacation Vinyl on Friday night, and Janeva Zentz was providing some visual accompaniment with her Macbook and some strange software, which seemed to mix colors and images, creating a universe as fuzzy as the sound, but there definitively was a parallel between the way she was manipulating these images and the way he was applying his layers of sound.

He played only two tracks during his performance, but they were the kind to move very slowly, stretching for the longest time, with an ascending, louder and louder sound, repetitive and hypnotic, going into an intense vibrating mode, or calming down. Contrary to a lot of electronica, there were no rhythmic beats, and at times, there was something almost symphonic in his compositions, like some classical music of the future, culminating into an extreme static vibration, as if we were in a space rocket at the time of its take off…. a little like the astronaut going through a black hole at the end of '2001 Space Odyssey'.

The intensity was going up during his set and I sometimes was under the impression that anything could happen, but there were only sparse piano notes after the thunderstorm. Experimental? Sure, with a sort of detachment, as the music was not reflecting a particular sadness or happiness, but rather a complicated moody soundscape.

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