Herman Kolgen Monument-Nationale, Montreal QC, May 30
Published May 31, 2013The lone and imposing figure of Canadian audio-visual artist Herman Kolgen appeared at the side of the stage, sending out an electronic signal of sub-bass pulses while behind him could be seen a backdrop of an enticing array of percussion instruments including gongs, timpani, xylophones, cymbals and giant chimes. After a few moments, Kolgen moved to the mixing desk to trigger the visual part of the show as the University of Montreal's Sixtrum percussion ensemble began to play. Train Fragments, an audio-visual piece based on Steve Reich's famous string and sound piece "Different Trains" began with visuals appropriate to the subject matter: photos, presumably of victims of the holocaust, with an animation of snow falling. The slow-moving monochrome of the visuals were exhilarating when contrasted with the fast movements of the six percussionists onstage, and included visually arresting images of train travel, animated dust motes, debris, beautifully tilt-shifted scenes of countryside, urban decay and regrowth. Conceptually, the scenes of train travel were a perhaps a little too jarringly literal for the piece but what made it work were the astoundingly high production values of the footage, synchronised impeccably with the superb playing of the musicians.