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Decibel New Music Ensemble: Twin Peaks Was 30

Decibel New Music Ensemble: Twin Peaks Was 30

PICA and Tura Present
Twin Peaks Was 30 by Decibel New Music Ensemble
9–11 May 2024

Artistic Director Statement: Cat Hope

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a film directed by David Lynch and released in 1992, with the soundtrack composed by Angelo Badalamenti and Lynch himself and features performances by Julee Cruise. 

The film was designed as a prequel to the TV series Twin Peaks, which began in 1990 and revolves around the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks and the last seven days of the life of Laura Palmer – a popular high school student in a fictional US town called Twin Peaks. Whilst unpopular with many of the TV series fans, the film has been considered one of Lynch’s directorial masterpieces that functions as a key to the entire Twin Peaks universe. Twin Peaks Was 30 draws from the soundtrack of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and the broader Twin Peaks universe of sound. Alongside four Badalamenti and Lynch arrangements, the show also features four new works taking inspiration from the Twin Peaks world more broadly, three of which are world premieres. 

The film’s soundtrack was released in the same year and includes a blend of tracks from the series and the movie, featuring artists such as Julee Cruise and tracks from Thought Gang – Lynch, and Badalamenti’s band. Both Cruise and Badalamenti passed away in 2022 when Twin Peaks was 30.

The concert presentation is inspired by the film – surreal and unexpected. Just as live musicians appear throughout the film, elements of the film appear here, albeit in abstract and reworked ways. The performance travels through disorientating zones of radically different styles, perspectives and pace. The way the audience engages with the musicians is radically different than in a conventionally staged concert.

Compositions

Fire Walk with Me – Badalamenti  (arr. Susnjar/Decibel)

The Tulpas Meet – Matt Warren (world premiere) (TAS)

Questions in a World of Blue – Badalamenti/ Lynch (with Julee Cruise) (arr. Susnjar/Decibel)

Espalier – James Rushford (VIC)

Glacé Cocoon – Rebecca Erin (world premiere) (WA)

The Pink Room – Lynch (arr. Susnjar/Decibel)

Since I was 12 – Rachael Dease (world premiere) (WA)

Falling and Laura’s Theme –Badalamenti/Lynch (arr. Susnjar/Decibel)

The Tulpas Meet by Tasmanian sound artist Matt Warren finds inspiration in the concept of tulpas – the meeting of real and unreal selves. The piece explores the clash between light and dark elements within a sonic world, where tones drift in and out of harmony. Divided into five parts, the composition draws influence from the collaboration between David Lynch’s imagery and Angelo Badalamenti’s scores. Additionally, the use of a tremolo guitar and a jazzy percussive shuffle serves as a clear nod to Badalamenti’s work.

Espalier, a musical composition by Victorian composer James Rushford, can be interpreted as a representation of vertical harmonic structures on a horizontal, spatialised platform. The piece features specific pitch intervals that are re-spelt on increasingly smaller scales (e.g., halved, quartered, etc.) to create the effect of a unified sound source. However, the performers and electronics are always dispersed and discrete, which means that the impression of sounds getting closer together is never quite achieved. Instead, the effect is that of tracing individual movements of sound, without being able to perceive the overall map or structure. The piece was commissioned by Decibel in 2012 and was inspired by Twin Peaks then, when it was specifically designed for the PICA
 balcony.

The world premiere of Since I was 12 by WA composer and performer Rachael Dease was commissioned for Twin Peaks Was 30 and references the fictional Twin Peaks character of BOB, an interdimensional entity who feeds on pain and sorrow. Fire Walk With Me chronicles the final week of Laura Palmer’s life and unveils the truth behind her abuser. We learn that BOB feeds on something called ‘garmonbozia’, or the transfer of pain and sorrow from one person to another, seen through the cycle of abuse inflicted upon her father Leland Palmer, which he then inflicted upon Laura.

The fan turns slowly as Laura goes up the stairs.
Leland hits the fan switch.
Laura freezes when she hears the fan. She closes her eyes.
The room is dark. Laura is pressed up against the headboard of her bed staring at the window.
The fan ominously whirls in the hall.
BOB appears in her window and enters the room.

The ceiling fan in the Palmer household features prominently throughout the series and film. A pedestrian sound becomes ominous and unnerving as it becomes the prologue, disguise and escape from the abuse Laura Palmer endures. This piece also pays homage to Lynch’s and Badalamenti’s unapologetic musical leaning into extreme sweetness and beauty. The juxtaposition of the divine and the dark.

Glacé Cocoon by WA composer Rebecca Erin is a hybrid performance work created in collaboration with Decibel through the development of a three-dimensional graphical score presented as a conical assemblage of manipulated textiles, plastics, and found objects. To explore the hybrid possibilities presented in the assemblage, the performers first develop, in collaboration with the composer, sound worlds associated with the colours, forms and textures present in the score and together decide on a navigational pathway through the work. The eventual performance is created by the performers as much as by the composer as the performers need to draw on their own experiences and resources to navigate through the three-dimensional landscape of the score. Through this process, a new kind of agentic, hybrid performer/composer is developed who emerges as a visual artist/composer, collaborator/interpreter, and pathfinder/storyteller.

Glacé Cocoon is inspired by thematic biological forms within the Twin Peaks universe and explores their physical and figurative manipulation, putrefaction and destruction; bodies wrapped in plastic, glossy tonsils, and cherry pie. 

Artist Team Biographies

Matt Warren is an electronic media artist, musician, radio show producer, curator and writer, based in nipaluna/Hobart, lutruwita/Tasmania. His art practice encompasses immersive electronic installation, single channel video and sound works. The work investigates memory, transcendence, liminal spaces and suspension of disbelief. Warren considers his art and installation practice as part of a greater context aligned to psychedelia, digital abstraction and hauntology. His music and sound practice has a basis in both composition and improvisation. Matt has exhibited, produced sound works and had screenings in Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, USA and throughout Australia. He has held residencies with Jean-Yves Thériault in Montreal, Canada, with Damo Suzuki in Köln, Germany, at The Unconformity, Queenstown, lutruwita/Tasmania, Burnie High School, lutruwita/Tasmania and multiple residencies at CESTA (Tábor, Czech Republic).

James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer, whose work draws from concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist musical languages, staking out an idiosyncratic stylistic space that has been described as ‘electro-acoustic experimentation with a beating heart’ (Boomkat) and ‘haunted Jacobean ASMR’ (The Wire). James has created original work for ensembles such as the BBC Scottish Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Ensemble Neon (Oslo), GRM Présences Électroniques (Paris), Speak Percussion (Melbourne)and  Ensemble Vortex (Geneva) and has been involved in projects with Klaus Lang, Annea Lockwood, David Behrman, Tashi Wada, Haroon Mirza and Dennis Cooper. He works regularly with Golden Fur (his trio with Sam Dunscombe & Judith Hamann), Joe Talia, Ora Clementi (with crys cole), Oren Ambarchi, François Bonnet, Will Guthrie, Graham Lambkin and Francis Plagne.

Rachael Dease’s artistic practice encompasses art music, dance and theatre scoring, installation and songwriting. While her own music projects have garnered critical acclaim and multiple awards, Dease is a quintessential and in-demand collaborator – creating large and small-scale works across many genres. Dease was Prelude Composer in Residence at Gallop House, Western Australia, where she wrote her first solo album HYMNS FOR THE END OF TIMES which was performed with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra for the 2021 Perth Festival. In 2022 Rachael collaborated with Maxine Doyle and Es Devlin on HERE NOT HERE for Gothenburg Opera Dance Company and continued this collaboration into 2023 with Salamander for Brisbane Festival.

Rebecca Erin is an award-winning Australian composer and interdisciplinary artist specialising in collaborative media and concert works. She works primarily with acoustic ensembles and the human voice, utilising traditional notation alongside multimedia textile graphic scores. A Fulbright Scholar and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music New York, their works have been performed throughout Australia and internationally in the USA, Canada, Germany, Greece, Japan and Singapore. An active proponent of gender parity and interdisciplinary cross-pollination, Rebecca Erin. creates works that surprise and delight, visually, aurally, conceptually and tangibly.

Founded in Western Australia in 2009, Decibel is a six-piece new music ensemble focusing on the integration of acoustic and electronic instruments into chamber music performance. Whilst rooted in Western art music tradition, Decibel aims to remove stylistic boundaries in their commissioning and performance approaches, which focus on the combination of acoustic and electronic sounds. Since its foundation in 2009, Decibel has commissioned over 100 new works, with many of these being from Western Australian composers. The ensemble is renowned internationally, with several international releases and tours to Europe, Japan, Malaysia, the UK and soon, the USA. Decibel received the APRA|AMC Award for Excellence in Experimental Music in 2011 and 2014.

Operating since 1987, Tura has been a producer and supporter of new music for 35 years, collaborating with many of Australia’s cultural institutions, festivals and artists. Widely recognised for its excellence and deep engagement, Tura is a leading organisation for presenting, producing, commissioning, exhibiting, publishing, advocating and supporting Australian cultural development. Tura creates cultural experiences that connect us all in meaningful and surprising ways. Through the art of sound – in its many forms and crossovers within a universe of old and new practice – we explore Australian identity and push the boundaries of expression.

Tura’s annual programs are supported by the Government of Western Australia through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in association with Lotterywest and the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body.

Decibel
Artistic Director, flutes, voice: Cat Hope
Reeds, voice, electronics: Lindsay Vickery
Synthesiser, percussion, sound design: Stuart James
Violoncello: Tristen Parr
Percussion: Louise Devenish

Special guests
Viola: Aaron Dungey
Double bass: Philip Waldron
Voice: Rachael Dease
Guitar and arrangements: Candice Susnjar

Light and design: Jenny Hector
Producer Tura and Decibel: Tristen Parr

Acknowledgements

Supported by the A&M Fini Foundation and PICA’s Art Commissioners.

Tura’s Annual Program is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, in association with Lotterywest and the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body. 

Images: Decibel New Music Ensemble, Twin Peaks Was 30, 2024, photo: Edify Media