Aarhus Jazz Festival has always housed experimental and fusion art. However, these art forms have usually been located on the outskirts of town. Now, the fringes move to the center.
In 2021, Aarhus Jazz Festival has given Alex Mørch a task that will require his skills and great experience as both an installation artist and electronic musicians/composer. In his workshop on Sydhavnsgade, he has created a visual and auditory construction, which will adorn the insides and outsides of the venue Atlas in Vester Allé as an active part of a program titled Bright Jazz Festival.
Alex Mørch’s work will be the centerpiece for 19 concerts that appeal to all age groups and which explore the expansive world of jazz. The workshop in in Sydhavnsgade is full of metal sheets, profiles, electronic gadgets, and a unique collection of loose speaker drivers in all sizes. Not exactly a prototype sound studio, although the presence of a cello and a few violins beg to differ. Alex Mørch’s pieces rely on diegetic sound, LED lights, engines, and various metals with various properties, which can be used in an artistic exploration of space and machines coexisting with humans.
– When we saw the space, we agreed that it would be a good idea to also play a show that used the decoration in an installation concert. That is something that I have dabbled a lot in, says Alex Mørch, who finished his education as a soloist at the electronic musician specialization at DIEM in Aarhus.
– What I like about jazz is that it is imperfect, as I strive for my work to be mechanical, organic, and musical. Practically speaking, it is impossible to mount anything at Atlas, which is why one must aim for extremely light designs made of, e.g., aluminum, which is a material with some fun acoustic and visual properties.
The piece is titled Sprængrod, and Alex Mørch has invited three musicians into his world: singer Karmen Rõivassepp, double bass player Frederik Sakham, and Anna Jalving on viola and violin.
– There will be a mix of rhythmic sections and melodies. I will lay out some ground rules. They will be following the movements of the installation and improvise over certain sequences. The choice of string instruments was deliberate:
– The wooden sound of the instruments relates to the title, which stems from an old saga about the magic of nature. In a way, science has the answers to everything yet it never discovers the deeper truths. These are thoughts that inspire my work though they are not the end-all. The audience will have to make up their own opinion on the work. For the concert on July 15, he will be managing the installation and its interactions with the musicians:
– It’s great to work with these skilled musicians because they can both deliver noise and melodies, which will stand in contrast to the sounds from the materials of the installation.
Alex Mørch likes to explore the acoustic properties of the materials and prefers traditional instruments over synthesizers. He takes out an aluminum strip from the corner of his workshop, balances it on his finger, and snaps. A crisp sound saturated with overtones emerges from the gray metal.
– One may think of aluminum as a soft and boring material, yet it houses a lot of interesting sounds.
Apart from the concert on July 15, Sprængrod will first and foremost be a visual installation.