REVIEWS & ARTICLES
At Tura New Music Scale Variable Concert Series, Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre, Perth Cultural Centre, 27 August 2016.
Performed by Hullick solo, amplified prepared piano, synthesizer, electronics, voice, video.
"Hullick’s “Scatterman” presented a non-linear narrative tied by his solo performance as a delusional artist going through a personal and family crisis. The audience followed Hullick as he talked to himself, gesticulating and staggering around a couch or playing a prepared piano while opening one beer can after another. Before launching into a drunken rendition of Arlen’s “Over The Rainbow”, he addressed the audience to talk about the dead of his mother: “here in Brisbane, at Subiaco beach where she was taken by a crocodile”. The uncouth antics are contrasted by candid images of his family and an undertone of failure pervades the character’s indulgences. According to the composer, “Scatterman is not a show or a composition”, it is concerned with the self-defeating idea of seeking the perfect life: being the perfect husband, mother, child, society or artist.
As distancing as his performance might seem, Hullick’s kept the engagement with a well-timed use of sounds, visuals and a strangely heartfelt portrayal of a lost man. It brought to mind the attitude of Fluxus artists who consciously avoided an entertaining or edifying component to their works, rather they sought to bring a stimulus in the audience. The piece certainly invites for reflection on topics such as gender, self-awareness, the composer – audience relationship and artists battling the cultural cringe."
Cool Perth Nights, 8 September 2016
ROTATION POST SAPIEN (2015)
At Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music 2015, 6 September 2015, Old Fire Station. Performed by Hullick solo, amplified prepared piano, electronics, voice, video.
"Both prepared piano, electronic synths and samples are concepts that were once new but have now become commonplace, almost historical. Hullick places them in what feels like a post-apocalyptic landscape along with his raw vocals. Stripped of shock value, prepared piano and electronics–as well as sound art–gain the capacity to become more emotive, completing their rotation from something alien to overwhelmingly human. With ‘Rotation Post-Sapien’, Hullick combines and re-invents musical relics from different periods in a ritualistic exploration of human emotion."
Jaslyn Robertson, Partial Durations, in partnership with Realtime Magazine, 15 September 2015.
SELECT NATURALIS (2015)
At Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music 2015, 5 September 2015, Bendigo Bank Theatre. Created/performed by The Amplified Elephants with James Hullick on RESONANCE - a new interactive musical instrument by CiART, RMIT.
This debut of their latest work, Select Naturalis, showcases a remarkable new piece of technology developed by Jonathan Duckworth in the CiART program at RMIT. The room’s central piece of equipment is in fact a large digital touchscreen tablet: images appearing on its surface are captured by the camera lodged above, and displayed in real time on the room’s two monitors. In developing the performance, the Elephants programmed a range of acoustic and digital sounds into the tablet’s software. They trigger these sounds in performance through tactile engagement with the interface...
This symbolic system suggests that while genealogical science might be undeniable, we should not let it limit the infinite ways we can practice art. Perhaps more importantly, it suggests that our continued evolution, including our ability to adapt to conditions like climate change, depends on acknowledging biological capacities we may already have developed, but ignored. It’s a perspective which links this performance text closely to the raison d’etre of the group performing it. If the Elephants, as bearers of intellectual disability, are the ‘elephants in the room,’ their amplification of that position represents their way forward, which is actually a way in. As the voiceover says, ‘meta-listening,’ a biological feature perhaps developed by our distant ancestors, involves just such a process of shining awareness on the functional, and the willingly unseen or unheard. Select Naturalis seeks to metaphorise that awareness and, it seems, achieve real social affect: community, inclusion, technological progress and ever-better names for things."
Simon Eales, Realtime 128 (Aug-Sep), 2015.
THESE COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOURS (2014)
10 works for large ensembles, Melbourne Festival 15, 23, 24 October 2014. Iwaki Auditorium and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
"BOLT Orchestra's Splendid Contemporary Act Shreds Songbook
Among the serious music events in the Melbourne Festival program, you find precious little contemporary music apart from these concerts comprising works by James Hullick and involving a cross-section of ensembles ready to take up his searching challenges.
For the first of four programs, Timothy Phillips conducted his Arcko group and the BOLT musicians in a quartet of pieces, each individualistic in construction and emotional power; all successful in bringing the composer's vivid soundscapes to life.
Two hours before the performance, Hullick started writing giveth and taketh away, a few of us watching him at work in the last hour before the octet of BOLT performers and Phillips came on stage, received their scores and performed a piece that seemed hefty in improvisation but followed a concerted path.
At the end, players, conductor and composer fed their sheets into a shredder, which could be interpreted as the last word in self-criticism. The Arckos joined in Sky-Flung Herds, a splendid aggregation of acoustically fascinating patterns, seemingly repetitious but packed with alterations and additions to the core fabric.
For The Ballad of the Ever-Young Miss Rose, pianist Michael Kieran Harvey outlined a swashbuckling solo, powering through his responsibilities on the keys and inside the instrument, the work itself partly dependent on deft amplification and some supporting taped background sounds. Kimberley elder Pansy Nulgit headed the final Wrought Glacial with some traditional Ngarinyin songs, accompanied by tape and an evocative, bush-suggestive commentary from the orchestra; a graceful if melancholy conclusion to a remarkable concert."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, October 2014.
A chamber opera/song cycle for performed by Guillermo Anzorena (baritone voice); Judith Hamann (cello) and Michael Kieran Harvey (piano). Performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013.
In the programme notes, the translation for the word Bruchlandung is “crash landing”. This is as good a description as any for the audience’s initial experience of this experimental and challenging work. The plot centres on the unnamed protagonist’s existence in some ill-defined post-apocalyptic land. There is one decision that the protagonist, voiced so committedly by Guillermo Anzorena, must make. But really, any plot or narrative through-line is secondary to the performances of the piece’s three musicians."
Ryan O'Connor for Broadway Baby, August 2014
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ALTHOUGH I SEE THE DARKNESS (2012)
For string orchestra. Performed by Arcko Symphonic Project, 24 November 2012.
"James Hullick's recently compiled Although I See the Darkness is a rich, sometimes searing study in overlapping chords, more fascinating for its novel sound manipulations than the composer's humane underpinning rationale." Clive O'Connell, The Age, November 2012.
DARK LUMINANCE (2008)
At Gallery Sakiko and the Pratt Institute in New York – 5 Australian artists including Hullick. Presented by JOLT Arts
“Sometimes I encounter an exhibition that is so overwhelming, covers so much territory and breaks such new ground that it’s difficult to write about it….This Australian group show combines cutting edge digital technology, including the use of Second Life, but is rooted in something ancient. The core of Dark Luminance is the Australian Gothic…[Hullick] has an intriguing sound sculpture installation that’s basically about disembodiment and opposing forces. Black (almost witch-like) wigs were hung, each containing hidden speakers. High, whistling sounds emanated from them. Below were upturned speakers holding ping pong balls, like eggs in a nest, which the sound caused to vibrate, creating chattering percussion; representing birth as much as the wigs mirrored death, Hullick achieves the essence of the life-cycle.” Joe Bendik, Chelsea Clinton Press, 2008.