City Frequencies performances & installations

City Frequencies were never a regularly gigging band. We were more of a conceptual art project and wanted to create sound installations. But we liked playing live so we moved back and forth between live performances and installations. Sometimes this worked well, sometimes it was an unsatisfactory compromise.

Melbourne Town Hall: 23rd, 24th & 25th of May
The first City Frequencies performance was at the Lower Melbourne Town Hall in 2000, as part of the Next Wave Festival.

Over six months leading up to this event, Matt and I spent days and nights wandering around the Melbourne CBD recording all kinds of sounds with portable DAT recorders and minidisc recorders. At the time we were living in Curtin House in Swanston St (prior to its present gentrification) so we were well placed to pop out at any time to capture an elusive sound. We began with buskers but soon broadened our approach to record all kinds of noises, including tram sounds, fountains, pots and pans banging in restaurant kitchens, garbage being collected, etc. We even found that we had captured bits of conversation as people in the street happened to wander by while recording. From this grew the ambitious idea to completely capture the sounds of 24 hours in the CBD.

Narelle Wilson and Jeremy Dillon joined the team to produce a visual component for the peformance by similarly documenting the city in photos. Jane Adair joined to help out with photos and Dianne Janes filmed video footage, such as lengthy shots of the Flinders St Station steps.

This all turned into a surround live performance. The projections were made onto different screens in the space, and our music was produced in quadraphonic surround-sound format, with one speaker in each corner of the room.

We performed the set live with an overall structure and compositions somewhat planned out around the “24 hours of the city” concept, but our performance style left room for improvisation. The quadraphonic aspect was handled by using the sub outputs on a Mackie 16-channel mixer, so that I could select different stereo pair groupings on the fly for different channels on the desk and utilise the pan knobs to move things between whichever two speakers I had selected.

Matt’s sounds were generated from a Yamaha A3000 sampler. I had managed to secure some equipment from Electric Factory as sponsorship so they lent me the latest version of Logic (I think this was version 4 at the time) and an E-Mu E6400 Ultra sampler, both of which I used for the show, as well as some hardware effects.

Alia Bar: 30th of September, 2001
This was our first City Frequencies performance at a regular venue. We played a set at Alia Bar for Clan Analogue’s monthly night Ether. To translate our music into a format appropriate for this venue, we loaded up our various recorded city sounds into our samplers and did a live remix version using elements from the original Next Wave Festival show. Despite our efforts, the set must have still come across as too experimental for the venue, as Alia cancelled the Clan Analogue residency straight afterwards!

City Frequencies
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City Frequencies Discography
City Frequencies Performances

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