Commissions and collaborations

Gillian has created sound and music content for contemporary dance, live theatre and comedy festival shows. Selected works include:

 

2019--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Containing the infinite

Containing the infinite is a collaboration between Lisa Rae Bartolomei, David Coen, Donald Gray, Gillian Lever and Joshua Peters. It is a 4 channel sound work made from sonic material recorded at Testing Grounds in Melbourne, each artist collecting and processing field recordings before arranging the composition collaboratively.

Containing the infinite was first performed at Tilde Music Festival, January 2019. It has also been selected as a finalist work in the 2019 Nillumbik Prize.

composite_3.jpg
 

2017---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WATSON - Liam Ryan, Adam McKenzie and Tegan Higginbotham

WATSON - Liam Ryan, Adam McKenzie and Tegan Higginbotham

Go to Hell

Melbourne International Comedy Festival show surround soundscape

For the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Gillian created a fully immersive surround sound- and music-scape for WATSON’s Moosehead-award winning show Go to Hell at the Malthouse Theatre. Go to Hell prompted Cameron Woodhead to write in his review for The Age;

Synergy between performance and design (especially the creepy original sound composition) achieves a rare level of theatrical brilliance.
****1/2
— Cameron Woodhead, The Age

Praise for Go to Hell:

...there’s no shortage of creepy atmosphere and unsettling imagery thanks to outstanding audio, costume and set design. ****
— Patrick Horan, Herald Sun
They certainly make fun use of everything available to them in the high-tech Cooper’s Malthouse, with impressive 3D sound design, moody lighting and atmospheric staging.”
“Very much in the vein of Ghost Stories – the psychological stage comedy-horror from League Of Gentlemen writer Jeremy Dyson and Derren Brown collaborator Andy Nyman – Go To Hell! is an ambitious idea, skilfully played out in every aspect.
— Steve Bennett, Chortle
A special mention must be given to Gillian Lever, who created the scary soundtrack for the show. A mixture of blood-curdling shrieks, eerie unidentifiable noises and dramatic musical tones, the sounds successfully build an uneasy atmosphere as they resonate throughout the theatre. Combined with long silences and shadowy lighting, the soundtrack perfectly constructs a horror theme.
— Sofia Monciewicz, Artshub
... the production values were stunning. Applause was rightly given by an enthusiastic audience to the design, lighting, and sound teams, who were able to effectively establish moods that were both terrifying and hilarious; people were actually shaking and huddling up to each other, whilst also in stitches when laughing.
— Aidan Johnson, Popculture
The surround sound soundscape is visceral and the original music spine tingling.
— Lisa Clark, Squirrel Comedy

Music inspired by Go to Hell is available as an audio album to stream or purchase at Bandcamp.

 

Distraction Society

soundtrack for contemporary dance work choreographed by Anna Seymour

The soundtrack for Distraction Society was created for a 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival performance at Bluestone Church, Footscray, Melbourne. The piece was reworked in 2017 for the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival in San Francisco, California.

 

Photography by Pippa Samaya

 

Praise for Distraction Society:

The sensation of the vibrations of the soundscape that accompanied the work, felt through our seats, bodies, faces and eardrums made for an immersive experience. At times it felt as if the audience was breathing as one with the dancers, the emotive journey was made all the more powerful for it. This graceful, emotive and captivating work serves as a timeless remind that if we are not absolutely present, we are truly missing the most exceptional moment of our lives.
— The Plus Ones
Taking place in the beautiful Footscray Bluestone Church, both Anna and her dance partner Amanda Lever show exquisite timing together in this short, dense piece. With a hypnotic soundtrack by Gillian Lever (aka The Vainglories), the two dancers breathe fervently while intertwining themselves.
— The AU Review
 
Photography by Kate Disher-Quill

Photography by Kate Disher-Quill

Description of Distraction Society soundtrack:

The piece starts with recordings of phone vibrating on various surfaces, panned to various places so that it seems these may be from people in the audience's phones. Then, a very quiet bass pulse starts up in the same rhythm. This fades away after 15 seconds or so as a low drone builds - the drone is actually the vibration sound from the phone, slowed right down so that it becomes long and drawn out, and has almost a voice-like quality. The feel is a little foreboding / tense. The bass pulse rejoins at the end, but much more blurred now, it's more of a slow vibration.
The next section is underpinned by a quiet low drone, and then overlayed are two different layers of the same sound, treated differently, and this sound repeats at irregular intervals throughout the section. The sound is derived from a recording of a triangle, struck once. I've added reverb and then reversed the sound - the result is that is fades up and then into a sudden sharp ending - to try to echo the idea of magnets when they attract - you can bring them right up close and then they'll suddenly attach when the magnetic field is strong enough (or repel depending on the polarity). The two different layers take turns in being the dominant one for each of the instances. One layer is as described, so sounds fairly metallic still, and it's possible to tell its origin, but the other has been treated with an effect which reduces the amount of the samples read by the computer in the sound, and this makes it sound like it was created for an old computer game - so it's sort of an alternation between a more real and a more 'fake' sound. The overall idea in this section is the contrast between 'on' and 'off', and the stickiness of the transition between the two states.
This is a romantic-sounding synthy/string-like piece which has a cyclical, repetitous feel. The beat is a simple heartbeat throughout, with a sudden stop to the sound in the middle of the piece before it restarts. After this is a series of bass swells through the subwoofers, which work to ground the movement and lend a rhythmic, drawn out vibration which can be felt through the floor. The ending is silence, with the sounds of the dancers’ breathing and bodies against floor the only things audible.

 

2015--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Hypnagogia

soundtrack for contemporary dance work choreographed by Amanda Lever

To sleep, perchance to awaken suddenly, held frozen in freefall terror, with malevolent voice whisper-shouting in your ear and immaterial hands grasping at your limbs.

Developed for choreographer Amanda Lever's work Hypnagogia in 2014, with a further development in 2015, this sound work is a wandering through the borderlands between semiconscious awakening and fitful sleep.

Photography by Jeff Busby / Gillian Lever

Hypnagogia is available as an audio album to stream or purchase at Bandcamp.

 

2013--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Photography by Jeff Busby

Dasein

soundtrack for contemporary dance work by choreographer Amanda Lever

 

Written for Amanda Lever's Masters in Choreography final performance, this piece explores the experience of being a sole identity in a world of unknown.

An entity awakes in an otherworldly place. Through interaction with its surroundings, as well as curious introspection, it discovers the strange balance that exists between the singular and the universal.

The sound work hums with an ominous intensity, and taps the listener on the shoulder with inexplicable pops, bellsound and unidentified sonic shadows. A seemingly steady rhythmic foundation is unsettled by a  swarm of cold voices, and sunlit strings build into a molten golden stormfront, which slowly dissipates like ink into water.

The Visitor is left alone with this new space, one that it is now an unending part of.

The soundtrack for Dasein was developed into an album, The Visitor, which is available to stream or purchase at Bandcamp.

 

Once Were Planets

live soundtrack for Melbourne International Comedy Festival show

WATSON(Tegan Higginbotham, Adam McKenzie and Liam Ryan)'s show for the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival won the Jhonsey award that year, and was an incredible show full of laser sound effects and synth-filled fun.

 
This is a silly, joyous sci-fi romp that is told via great, imaginative use of sound, lightning, puppetry and props. Also via gags. So many gags. On a technical level the show is wonderful (the use of puppetry for zero-G effects stand out in particular), but the stagecraft exists to carry Adam and Tegan’s effortlessly ridiculous jokes and the wonderfully nonsensical story. Littered with asides, meta-textual jokes and chances for the audience to get in on the act, Once Were Planets is energetic and hilarious from start to finish. Don’t miss it.
— Matt Smith, Crikey