I was uninspired by this show. Imogen is charming and personable and seemed sincerely happy to be finishing her tour in Los Angeles. But the majority of the music fell flat for me. I'll go way out on a limb here and say that it feels like she's been distracted by non-musical pursuits for too long (having a baby, the mi.mu gloves), realized she actually wants to perform, and is making up for lost time by borrowing from musical archtypes. Everything felt too... normal.
The drum parts are pretty boring. Gus, her long-time collaborator played single-finger synth parts most of the night. Zoe Keating was on cello, but even she didn't shine. Everything just felt uninspired.
Everything other than Hide and Seek. Imogen remade the piece to utilize her "mi.mu" musical gloves, and this was my favorite use of them in the show. The gloves allow her to use gestures to cues a bass part, or vary the delay and reverb on her voice. She explained that the purpose was to allow her to get out from behind the machines and she's spent years developing the technology. I feel bad saying this, but I'm unconvinced it's worth it. If she enjoys the physicality of it as a performer, then more power to her... It's most successful when it's just her performing and easy to follow what each gesture is doing. But there is an awkwardness to the concept that I think is hard to overcome. While a sweeping gesture can now trigger a sweeping sound, the opposite is also true. When she doesn't want a sweeping sound -- most of the time -- she is forced to hold her hands out in front of her like she's about to hug an invisible bear. The gloves feel limiting. And the "glove-tar" (strumming produces a power chord) and drumming motions look silly in their exaggeration; the real thing provides so much greater control and dexterity.
Her affinity for technology in general compounded my dissatisfaction. At moments during the show she talked about blockchain technology and Twitter and her work on a project called "Creative Passport" to allow artists to better share and collaborate with digital, trusted identities. Ever heard of copyleft?! The techno-utopia speak raised my skepticism.
Part of my frustration is probably that I'm afraid of making similar mistakes. I'm in a phase where I'm looking outword. I want to broaden my sound pallete beyond taiko, but I risk diluting my niche. I want to study western music theory, but have to be careful not to lose focus developing my own rules and taste. I'm working on a 5-year goal to create my own high-quality concert. I need to be careful to only make and use things I truly love, and not to borrow "filler" from musical canon. I want Hide and Seek, not the other stuff.