It all begins to fall away. As the audience settle down, speaking becomes whispers, then murmurs and then still. Beds are collected loosely under a marquee of white fabric, pointed up towards a large rectangle of taut sheet where a simple star field is projected. The lights fade down, and Rose Alea takes an unassuming seat at her piano and begins to play.
As Rose’s music shifts and scatters, the video shows images of matter forming in space, jumping ahead to Earth’s formation and life, before being wiped out by an asteroid in one of the mass extinction events. Later, we crossfade to the moon, a dead body riddled with the patterns of innumerable impacts.
Later again, and we’re watching footage of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean. Some of the shockwaves have been rotated on their side, so the destructive clouds mimic those beginning shots of early stars and galaxies.
For a piece that purports to be, “…a break from the madness of the world outside,” it certainly has a funny way of going about it – presenting those in attendance with an existential meditation on the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction. Or at least, that was my interpretation, which ultimately is the point.
It’s a communal yet individual experience: I lay down expecting a soothing lullaby, but experienced something oppressive; my partner wept at the beauty of the music; and then there was the man next to her who spent most of the time on his phone.
What isn’t open to interpretation, however, is the wonderful quality of Rose’s playing. Whether mournful or more frenetic and tumbling, Rose Alea – Night Song provided a sonic experience that called to mind films by Scorsese or Kubrick. Indeed, lying there, it made for an experience that could be enjoyed eyes wide open or eyes wide shut.
Rose Alea – Night Song
Emerald City – Meat Market, 3 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 23 September 2017 – 8.00pm
Image: courtesy of Rose Alea
Review: David Collins