Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks

The SUBSTATION Xiu XiuThe main space at the Substation seems made for this, its long red curtains like the Red Room from the Black Lodge. Standing room only, people are littered at first, but soon pulled inexorably towards the stage.

Against a backdrop of old home movies, opening act, Alessandro Cortini, builds a soundscape that moves between brooding and belligerent. However, Alessandro isn’t performing alongside the images. His eyes are cast up at the screen – holiday footage, domestic life, and play – which dictates how the sound surges and slows. Each vignette ends with a collection of dialogue – voices and memories – before a final scene of fireworks and the music stops.

The screen soon changes again, a staircase fading into the gentle rustle of trees fading into a turning ceiling fan fading into a staircase fading onward for the next hour. The first sound is a persistent thud, the kind of percussion you might hear from the lumber mill of a fictional town. From this, Laura Palmer’s Theme rises and it’s strong and beautiful. The artists are not what they seem.

Into the Night was aural seduction, a soundtrack for delirium and dark hallways, anchored by vocals that were more like spellcasting rather than performance. Audrey’s Dance worked its way up through the noise like a blade of grass cracking through pavement, musicians playing like they were possessed by Bob.

Packard’s Vibration was a sonic Newton’s cradle – Shayna Dunkelman’s percussion leading to Jamie Stewart’s guitar leading to Angela Seo’s piano in a wonderful rendition. Nightsea Wind saw our heroes in the corner of the stage, moulding and curating an enormous mass of sound before stripping it all back to a vulnerable piano.

Blue Frank / Pink Room was compelling bang and bash, a track taut between cacophony and polyphony. Sycamore Tree was possession again, music contorting in a ballad that had frenzy and restraint in equal measure. Harold’s Theme settled things down, not as brooding as Alessandro, but certainly contemplative.

Dance of the Dream Man had the piano weave in and out of the sound of guitar and cymbals like someone you weren’t sure was swimming or drowning. Falling had a thick and earnest sound, David Lynch’s lyrics not above but folded into the mix, turned almost unrecognisable.

Love Theme Farewell was a masterful end, leading into the manic postscript of Laura Palmer’s diary being read out in, Josie’s Farewell. The last act of Xiu Xiu is to complete the circle with the industrial beat from the beginning of their set sounding again, and they leave the stage.

Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks
The SUBSTATION, 1 Market Street, Newport
Performance: Thursday 22 June 2017 – 8.00pm
A second show will be presented tonight (Friday 23 June 2017 – 8.00pm)
Information and Bookings: www.thesubstation.org.au

Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks will also be presented at the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art on Saturday 24 June 2017.

Image: Xiu Xiu (supplied)

Review: David Collins