Ros Bandt is a Melbourne-based environmental sound artist, composer, performer, sound sculptor, sound recordist, designer, and improvising musician. He has released a new album called Medusa Dreaming which is out now via Hearing Places. Check the full streaming below and read the full story.
“The space is the thing. It’s the key player. Medusa Dreaming is a site-specific water symphony in honor of one of the most beautiful water tanks in the world: heraldic, grand, mythic, epic, scintillating. Each of the eleven movements show an aspect of its personality and history.” Thus Ros Bandt describes the 2010 event that took place in the renowned Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) beneath Istanbul, Turkey. It forms part of her lifelong journey of sounding spaces and unearthing sonic archaeologies; conjuring musical works that activate the resonance of sacred locations around the world.
Medusa Dreaming celebrates the effort ancient cultures have invested in continuing water care. The ever-watchful Medusa (whose upside-down statue supports one of the columns in the cistern) – together with the 60,000-year-old Australian Aboriginal concept of dreaming as place-based care – serve as a reminder of how important it is to treasure our most precious life-giving resource, water. This is now a global issue, emphasized throughout the piece by the presence of multi-lingual words for “water”.
More than a concert of underground music, the composition is a ceremony that merges spatialized electroacoustic sounds, musical notations, and sound design instructions for a skilled improvising ensemble. Some of the pre-recorded sounds include glass tears from the “flagong” glass sound sculpture, Aeolian harps recorded in Lake Mungo (the site of the earliest continuing culture on earth), an ultrasound recording of a Rimu tree growing in New Zealand, and a live hydrophone audiostream of the carp feeding in the waters below the audience during the performance.
The improvising Medusa Ensemble created for the event filled the space with sonic gestures, embracing the composed leitmotif themes and formal arrangements through their exquisite sounds of harp (Natalia Mann), tarhu (a contemporary Australian spike fiddle), flutes and air whistles (Ros Bandt), electric guitarviol and live processing (Erdem Helvacıoğlu), and percussion (İzzet Kızıl).
Harpist Natalia Mann sums it up: “This is the perfect ambient music for a visit to the cistern. It’s about the space and how it integrates the sound… we have created a kind of vibrating, suspended ornament.”