bio

Kevan Atkins (1992, Melbourne, Australia) is a composer, sound artist and audio engineer who works in a variety of media. His creative practice has developed from a life long fascination with sound and a passion for expression between mediums. This has led through a number of projects, including original scoring and immersive sound spaces for live theatre as well as a couple of short films. His current interests are new instrumental and electronic music as well as improvisation.

works

Lab Rat

Lullabies

Intracranial Pressure

Earthquakes Behind Closed Doors

Inharmonicity Study 1

Surrender Trilogy

Legionnaire

Iterations

The Gate

Edmund

Down Dangerous Passes Road

The Fence In Its Thousandth Year

Bed Fort

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Composer/Sound Designer | La Trobe Student Theatre

2012 production directed by Jessica Zoch.

Bed Fort

Composer/Sound Designer | Michael Liparota

Written and Directed by Michael Liparota.

After one too many sleepless nights, an insomniac man discovers a portal to his own imagination. But, his reliance on using the Bed Fort begins to negatively affect his day to day life.

Cast Zac Lombardo Hilary Cole

The Fence In Its Thousandth Year

Composer/Sound Designer | La Trobe Student Theatre

Written by Howard Barker

Directed by Bob Pavlich

As part of the Northcote Town Hall 2012 season

The Fence is a violent, comic, sexually provocative epic about scandal in a ruling monarchy and its subsequent fall from power.

Set in a world of rising frontiers and illegal immigration, the fence of the title is both a physical barrier between peoples and also a metaphor for the forbidden with all its transgressive attraction.

Written by one of England’s most provocative dramatists, The Fence makes a thought-provoking contribution to the debates surrounding one of the great social crises of our times.

Down Dangerous Passes Road

Composer/Sound Designer | Grounded Astronaut Theatre

Written by Michel Marc Bouchard

Directed by Sean Scanlon

Assistant Director: Libbee King

Three estranged brothers are brought together by tragedy. What happened to their father fifteen years ago, and why does it plague the siblings still? A look at the cruelness, brutality and tenderness that we’re capable of.

Edmund

Composer/Sound Designer | Glynn Cathcart

Writer/Director: Glynn Cathcart

Stars: Damian Hill, Seán Scanlon, Madeline Ferme

A delicate look at a young man with a body complex and his inability to change.

IMDB

The Gate

Music Consultant/Sound Designer | Monash University Performing Arts

Bachelor of Performing Arts: Second Year Production @ Drama Centre, Monash University

Directed by Anne Browning

Written by Peter Houghton

A city teeters on the verge of anarchy. Inside, authorities attempt to tighten their control against the threat of foreign invasion. Outside, a motley group of criminals and dissidents wait for a trial that never comes – but of what are they guilty? If these outcasts can infiltrate the city walls, they can destroy the record of their crimes and perhaps, begin again. A comedy about legacy, guilt and honour in a world on the edge of darkness, The Gate reunites an award-winning writer-director team for the premiere of a new Australian play.

Anne Browning has directed several shows for MTC, Malthouse Theatre and Red Stitch, including the 2012 tour of Melissa Bubnic‘s Stop. Rewind. In 2013, she will direct Dorothy Hewett’s Man from Mukinupinfor La Trobe University and A Guide to Unhappiness by Sunny Leunig and Jono Burns for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Iterations

Composer

The piece explores the idea of recursion by taking a recording of a sound, performing with it, recording that performance in the space and then performing with that recording. At the centre of the piece is a MaxMSP patch which takes the sound, chops it into smaller slices that can be played back individually and treats them with formant filters. Those slices can in-turn be chopped and manipulated as well. All of these actions are performed according to directions given by the performance score.

This concept has itself gone through many iterations, although the patch has not changed that much. Inspired by Alvin Lucier’s work, I’m Sitting in a Room (1969), this piece expands on the idea of using recursive processes to transform a sound by obscuring the original sound more aggressively and quickly with alterations to rhythm, duration, pitch and the use of the filters. The duration of the piece can be anywhere between a minute and however long the performer desires. As each iteration of the piece comes around, the sound is completely transformed as the new sound being manipulated is extracted from the performance of the previous sound.

Premiered by Daniel Zea of Ensemble Vortex on the 12th of September 2014.

Legionnaire

Composer

For solo contrabass. ‘Légionnaires, vous êtes faits pour mourir, je vous envoie là où on meurt’, which translates to: ‘Legionnaires, you are made for dying, I will send you where you can die’; the infamous words of French Foreign Legion general, Oscar de Négrier as he addressed his troops in 1894. The character of the legionnaire has become synonymous with extreme resilience in the face the most unforgiving and cruel circumstances. Among the ranks, De Négrier’s words are not considered fatalistic but are issued as a challenge to the legionnaire. The piece explores both the character of the legionnaire and the cruel conditions of war by drawing parallels with not only through the sound of the instrument but also the performer themselves.

Legionnaire is a glimpse into the gruesome demise of a soldier as he loses his limbs one by one in battle, which is portrayed through the loss of strings on the instrument as the performer detunes each string completely throughout the piece until ultimately one remains for the final section. But in true legion spirit, both the solider and the performer must fight on, no matter how hard it becomes, right to the end. A number of techniques are employed to evoke the front. Some are more direct, such as the use of snap pizzicato for gunshots and bow overpressure for the roar of fighter jets overhead. While some are more metaphorical, such as the quiet molto sul. ponticello tremolo and the use of temporal silence to evoke the stillness between the episodes of unrelenting brutality.

Surrender Trilogy

Composer

Instrumentation

  • Solo violoncello
  • Analogue dictaphone
  • Loop recording and playback system

Program notes

Duration: Four minutes

Performed by

  • Keaghan Kennedy (cello)
  • David Weaver (electronics)

In the most intimate recesses of the mind, desires, impulses and fears stir and unsettle. They can collectively propel us forward with ambition or they pull us inward to find comfort. At their extremes, they can be positively transformative but they can also be devastatingly destructive. Part 1 of the trilogy, Body Turned Traitor explores this latter extreme through the eyes of a young woman battling severe depression.

Desperate for help, she is prescribed stronger medication, but it only makes it worse. In the sound world of this work, the strings groan and fluctuate rapidly between pitches and timbres, often unintentionally, as her body revolts. The image is distorted further as she struggles to hold onto the last thread of reality, sounds come and go, superimpose on one another and become alien as they are stretched and compressed. The others become disembodied. Even the most re-assuring voices become static emanating from a plastic box. The work reflects the internal dissonance as the cello is pitted against the live looping and the Dictaphone.

Every sound aside from the voices recorded on the Dictaphone is produced either live or as a manipulation of live material that has been recorded earlier in the performance. Beyond playback speed and volume, no other parameters are manipulated.

Inharmonicity Study 1

Composer

Duration: 4’29”

Source Code

It began as an ongoing study into physical objects and their imperfections when they produce sound. However, naturally as a part of the process of exploration, I did not entirely adhere to that brief and the piece has expanded into exploring frontier between synthetic sounding sounds and natural sounding sounds as well as indeterminate processes.

This particular version is was built in Supercollider, which allowed me to create procedure-based, dynamic signal flows using standard programming control structures. This granted me a great deal of flexibility when it came to exploring the emergent complexities that arise from physical sound sources, which are the result of many events happening at once inside an object.

This study was initially based on the sound of gongs from the Gamelan tradition, both struck and bowed. The first version was all one texture and was actually written to help put my two year old niece to sleep. The piece is never the same in terms of its micro structures, yet the character of gesture is very clearly defined by specific parameters that determine durational ranges, frequency ranges, levels of inharmonicity between partials, spatialisation, volume and envelope.

Earthquakes Behind Closed Doors

Composer/Performer

Duration: 12’00”

An improvisation for piano and live electronics. This track is entirely live. The only editing is the courtesy top and tail.

Intracranial Pressure

Composer

I had a blocked nose and it felt like my brain was trying to escape. So I tried to push it back in with sound. Then it kind of grew in to a work.

There’s not much to this one. Most of the sound comes from the resonant filters ran through various forms of granular processing. I also played with a bit of ambisonic binaural encoding to make it feel like some of the sounds were flying past the head. I use two sound sources to excite the filters and that’s pretty much all there is to it.

Original sources:

  • Playing around with a contact mic by itself.
  • Some low register noodling on the Rhodes Mk I.

Lullabies

Composer/Producer

Duration: 2h49’53”

Lullabies is a series fixed media works that I am releasing as an album. The project started from a generative ambient works which I put together to help myself get to sleep. This series of works explores my insomnia through different lenses. Initially the music served as a treatment, but then it grew into a reflection on the experience of insomnia and the kinds of things that would keep me awake.

To be released May 2016.

Program notes

Geneva

I was going through my various field recordings that I’d collected over the past two years and I found a bunch from my trip to Geneva which brought back a lot of memories. So I thought I’d do a piece reflecting that time. Not all the samples are from that trip, in fact mostly not. This is more a reflection rather than a documentation of the trip through sound. I felt very welcome there and I was lucky enough to be put up in a composer friend’s apartment for the weekend. Amongst the knick knacks in the apartment were many scores and instruments. In the mornings I spent a lot of time on the harpsichord that he had in there to start the day, I’d roam around, go to concerts, meet people and end the day with a night out at Cave 12.

Source samples:

  • A fire pit
  • Harpischord plucked behind the bridge.
  • Birds
  • Various outdoor atmos.
  • A siren going off in the Paris Métro

FFT Grain Meditation

A looping granular texture generated from a small sample from a recorded improvisation. As the piece progresses the pitch is modulated very slowly with an increasing amplitude using a FFT-based pitch shift. Although the pitch material is the same relatively, the shifts across a four octave range effectively emphasize different pitches in the loop depending non-linearities in sound reproduction and perception.

Source sample:

  • A single, struck singing bowl note

Awake in the Other Room

A nod to Brian Eno’s work in the late 70s, early 80s. The piece is a 25% speed version version of one of my piano improvisations, which has been stretched, compressed, pitch-shifted and resampled multiple times. I originally had it stretched out to over 4 hours. Finally I compressed it back to 30 minutes and used spectral treatments and distortion to shape it into a piece.


Band-Pass Love Poem

Band-pass Love Poem is a sound work that traces the evolution of the subject’s awareness amongst the chaos of an unforgiving and indifferent universe. As the conscious subjects evolve they fall in love with their surroundings. They find the hidden songs embedded in the what is fundamentally cosmic noise.

Over its two hour duration, the dense, chaotic texture of the wave-shaping and distortion treatments on a set of low sine tones is gradually transformed as though the narrow of a band-pass filter to isolate the high-order overtones of the sound, revealing the hidden melodies that are otherwise masked psycho-acoustically.


Track Listing

  1. Geneva (7’02”)
  2. FFT Grain Meditation (13’46”)
  3. Awake in the Other Room (29’04”)
  4. Band-Pass Love Poem (2h)

Personnel

Composition, production, piano, singing bowl : Kevan Atkins

Mastering: Nick Di Lorenzo @ Panorama Mastering

Lab Rat

Composer/Producer

I was in the hospital recently for 3 days while taking a part in medical research. Every corner of the place was filled with the cold white fluorescent light and all the features were stark and plain. I remember everything in my visual field demanding an equal amount of attention or apathy. I remember it putting my into this heightened state of unrelenting awareness, sometimes bordering on edginess while simultaneously feeling incredibly tired.

When I came in, it seemed to be just the right combination tiredness and nervousness to make me hyper productive. I would pass the time do lots of live coding and processing on my laptop while I was being tested. I remember manipulating the sounds of the hospital and laughing as I twisted the voice of the nurse telling me I need to lie flat to take my vitals and blood. I pulled it all together in one big session and in about 4 hours, I had this all chopped up, mixed and mastered.

events

October

Performance with Monash Art Ensemble

with works by Marc Hannaford, Rob Burke, Joe O’Connor and Eugene Ball.

14th, 8pm - Sir Zelman Cowan School of Music - Auditorium

January

Tilde New Music and Sound Art

The Tilde New Music Festival is an annual celebration of new and experimental music covering notated and improvised music, sound art, and the intersections with other art forms. Held in Melbourne each January, the festival offers a grass-roots atmosphere with food, drink, installations, performances, visual art, discussion, and much more.

Calls for projects and performances at the festival are now open.

The 2017 festival will be held on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd January in Melbourne. Venue: TBC

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