REVIEW: Arts House Presents FLUVIAL

Hypnotic, evocative and engrossing performance

By Myron My

It begins with a single chime that resonates through the room. It lingers in the space, bringing a calming, meditative state over the audience, and just as it ends another one begins and another and another.


I can only begin to wonder how composer and performer Matthias Schack-Arnott even began to visualise his installation for Fluvial. It consists of two rows about five metres long, of various metal rods, aluminum tubing and glass bottles running parallel to each other. A number of bottles and chimes hang from above with fishing wire, seemingly floating in the air. The pools of water along the rows and the name of the show itself, make this “river of percussion” a sight to behold.

Planted between the two rows is Schack-Arnott, our sole percussionist. As he slowly travels his way down, he creates a variety of sounds, some harmonious and some chaotic but even these latter create a sense of stillness in your mind. He is completely in the moment and the focus and concentration on his face is evident. You get the impression that every single drop of water splashed out of the pool and every clinking glass have been meticulously planned by Schack-Arnott.

The lighting design by Travis Hodgson works very well with the environment that is being set up. There is only a low light following Schack-Arnott, with everything else remaining in darkness. The only exception to is the sharp flashes of light that are formed by the materials on display. The feeling that the past and the future are not worth thinking about and our focus needs to be on the present is prevalent in the piece.

It’s no surprise that Fluvial won Schack-Arnott the 2014 Green Room Award for Outstanding Work by an Emerging Artist. It’s an enchanting piece of work that allows you to slow down and not only truly appreciate what you are watching and hearing, but also reflect on the effect it is having on you.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 17 May | Thur-Sun 6:30pm, Fri 8.45pm, Sat 3.30pm, Sun 4pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Arts House