Stadium

Neo-Tokyo Terrasound Cosmophopny

M-Pavilion, Melbourne © 2017 - photo by Timothy Burgess

Background

Stadium started as a live music performance for solo drums and showgirl dancers. The concept of the piece is to present a quasi-orgiastic celebration of rhythm staged theatrically within the mock pyrotechnica of 'the rock gig'. An almost cartoon-like staging unfolds, with Philip bare-chested and adorned with long flowing black metal-dude hair, flailing away at the drums, flanked by two exuberant explosive dancers. No words. No guitars. No other visible instruments. Just a set of skins sandwiched by skin.

Various performances developed the Stadium project into a full set of tracks, one of which was used for the 3-screen HD video installation Infinite Cry To Iron (2012). Following a commission for the 2017 M-Pavilion designed by Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA, a special piece has been composed to reflect the 'stadium' circular seating design of the latest M-Pavilion. The piece is titled Neo-Tokyo Terrasound Cosmophopny - a reinterpretation of Yamashigumi's Kaneda theme from Otomo Katsuhiro's Akira (1988).

Credits

Drums & synthesizers - Philip Brophy
Engineering, production & mixing - Philip Brophy
Technical assistance - Byron Scullin
Lighting programming - Angelica (Bluebottle)
Tech site implementation - Andrew Livingston (Bluebottle)
Special thanks - Jessie French (M-Pavilion deputy creative director) Sam Redston (M-Pavilion executive director) & Ben Cobham (Bluebottle director)

2018

Collection purchase - Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne
Nightly playback - M-Pavilion, Melbourne (January to March)

2017

Nightly playback - M-Pavilion, Melbourne (October to December)

M-Pavilion, Melbourne © 2017 - photo by Timothy Burgess

Overview

Each iteration of the annual M-Pavilion features a 'twilight ritual' to allow visitors to the site to take in the architectural design in the context of the Queen Victoria Gardens, adjacent to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. For the 2017 site designed by OMA / Rem Koolhaas & David Gianotten. Philip was commissioned to create a multi-channel sound piece to be played back 3 times each evening. The piece was to utilize the special LED lighting grid for the pavilion by designers Bluebottle.

In response to the 'stadium-cum-arena' bleacher seating of OMA's design, Philip produced a surround-sound interpretation of one of the key musical themes from the soundtrack to Otomo Katsuhiro’s 1988 anime film Akira. Otomo’s film is based on his 1982 ‘cyberpunk’ manga, a story which takes place in Neo-Tokyo after a devastating nuclear war. The anime opens in the year 2019, on the eve of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Key events of the manga and film occur in the partially demolished Tokyo Olympic stadium. Amazingly, reality has followed Katsuhiro’s visionary fiction thirty years later: the original stadium was demolished in 2015 to make way for a new stadium for the 2020 Olympics. Under the guise of the long-running and ever-evolving Stadium project, Philip’s drum kit and synth banks imagine the M-Pavilion stadium as a microcosm of shifting tectonic plates, post-nuclear atmospherics, and complete urban decimation.

Neo-Tokyo stadium - Akira © 1987 Katsuhiro Otomo

Technical

OMA’s stadium-style design, with its central agora space and surrounding raised seating of concentric arcs, offers a wonderful site for the Stadium project. The performance — live drums and a backing track of synthesizers with no guitars — is a quasi-orgiastic celebration of rhythm staged theatrically within the mock pyrotechnica of ‘the rock gig’. An almost cartoon-like staging unfolds with me bare-chested and adorned with long flowing black metal-dude hair, flailing away at the drums, flanked by two exuberant and explosive dancers. To the extant original compositions in Stadium’s set list, a cover version of a theme from the sci-fi anime Akira.

The evening ritual is a recording of a performance of the Akira theme, utilising drums and synthesizers in line with the Stadium set-up. As Philip states in an interview for M-Pavilion promotion: "Whenever I see a grand architectural design, I immediately imagine its destruction. This is not a negative view, but rather a simple reflection on how anything that is designed and built proceeds from the destruction and erasure of what was in place before. My cover version of the theme—titled Neo-Tokyo Terrasound Cosmophony—imagines the Pavilion stadium as a microcosm of shifting tectonic plates, post-nuclear atmospherics, and complete urban decimation."

Neo-Tokyo Terrasound Cosmophopny was recorded at Gelatin Studios. The synth line were multi-tracked first, then a live multi-mic recording was done of the drums. The completed track-lay was mixed into 6-channels for playback at the 180 degree arc of speakers installed around the curved bleacher seating in the M-Pavilion. A suitable subwoofer was appended to this speaker array.

Neo-Tokyo stadium - Akira © 1987 Katsuhiro Otomo