Harnessing the power of the Tesla coil, flaring light signals through a Faraday cage, Robbie Thomson has all the ingredients to culminate a remarkable Fringe show, which if nothing else, gets tongues moving, if not gaping. Staged in the pop-up refurbished venue, Leith Volcano, the St James Church, the industrialised aspect of this experience is amplified, as the 19th century invention is accompanied by laptop and synthesiser, frenetic and pulsing in the sounds that they produce (certainly far from any organ or Gregorian chants).
Not for the faint hearted, there is much discord and industrial noise that fills this illustrious space for the hour or however long it lasts (as it does detach you from reality with this immersive experience), often with questions that follow. The grid of the Faraday cage displays ever-changing geometries, as light seems to fuse with the sound to make synaesthetic patterns, in a unique sensory phenomenon, which transfixes your senses for the time this installation lasts.
Robbie Thomson, Glasgow based artist who is now an associate artist with Cryptic, has also worked with Bassline Circus as an AV designer and also has a background in creating visual nightclub installations. Interested in kinetics it’s hardly surprising that he wished to explore using a Tesla Coil to turn electricity into sound, making music. What is surprising is the noise is conjures up, as there are mere moments where I am reminded of some band like The Prodigy or the noise of Trent Reznor.
Using this space and the synthesiser to create these sounds, the Tesla Coil is given a whole new and more modern purpose, almost reinventing this device. The noise emerges with a fusion of industrial metallic rumbling and staccato synths, interspersed with the sounds of the coil sparking, almost setting the scene for some Sci-Fi film and then we look at our surroundings. We are in a church. Jarring and multi-sensory, this spectacle is arresting and yet, futile, at points.
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