Killing Music (Topology)
Metro Arts, New Benner Theatre
Brisbane’s Restrung Festival offer of three days of exhilarating music performances, visual art, workshops and conversations offers a valuable opportunity to showcase the city’s celebrated and emerging talents in bespoke events, unique collaborations and bold new works. It only seems fit, therefore, that its program includes a show from Topology, one of the country’s finest contemporary ensembles whose original, innovative theatrical performances have been showcasing their work since 1997.
“Killing Music” serves dual purpose; it both offers a collective post-2020 release and prompts a renewed, optimistic energy, and this is reflected in its setlist. After a moving Welcome to Country by Aunty Delmae Barton and William Barton, things kick off with the excitement of the show’s electronica-esque title track. In what then follows, the group’s distinct sounds feature in an evocative mix of piano, strings and sax, made all the more appealing by the intimacy of its New Benner Theatre staging, which allows us to experience that talents of Principal Artists John Babbage (composer/saxophone), Robert Davidson (composer/bass) Christa Powell (violin), Bernard Hoey (composer/viola) and also Liam Viney on keyboard, up close.
Iconic previous works from the indie classical quintet’s extensive repertoire also features throughout, however, it is an eclectic mix of numbers and surprising combinations of genres that ensures a nice balance between considerations for the heart and mind as we are in-turn challenged, uplifted, entertained and reassured by its landscapes. In the necessary interests of light and shade there’s a strings-heavy version of the Saints’ punk anthem of alienation, ‘(I’m) Stranded’ and also laid-back instrumental and easily-recognisable sounds of a ‘tortured remix’ tribute to Cold Chisel’s ‘Cheap Wine’, entitled ‘Whinging Tweet’, double definition style. Meanwhile, the glorious angry energy of Julia Gillard’s impassioned misogyny speech set to classical music, as featured in “Unrepresentative Swill”, is nicely balanced by the essential wistful sadness of John Babbage’s ‘Lost at Sea’, bedded on a slew of slow meditative piano and string sounds. And it is always lovely to revisit previous Topology experiences such as ‘Static’ from the group’s 2014 ‘70s instrumental opera ‘Share House’.
The specially-curated collection of Topology tunes that is “Killing Music” is likely to be the group’s final show in Brisbane this year, and, as always, it certainly leaves audience members awaiting what the innovative collective will turn their creative attention to next. In the meantime, however, Killing Music is now available for streaming or as physical CD through the group’s website.