A Synthesised Universe by Anthonie Tonnon
At the Festival Main Stage, October 24
Reviewed by Charles Anderson
Anthonie Tonnon and his team have created an achingly beautiful project that treads an exhilarating line between being mysterious and cool while totally self-aware and fun.
Tonnon’s songs have been augmented with myriad animations of space scenes on several screens surrounding him.
Alongside custom animations by Andrew Charlton and mixed reality projections by Erica Sklenars, Tonnon performs on a storied 1968 electric guitar and a new Wellington-designed synthesizer-sampler which also controls the lights, making this a multi-sensory experience.
He blends tales of his own life with ponderings about the nature of physics and chemistry. He is placing himself in a world that is in awe of wonder of the universe while also not taking himself too seriously.
Tonnon is a skilled performer and songwriter that seems so comfortable in his own skin. He is a beautiful vocalist, effortlessly sliding into falsetto and exciting melodic resolution while also being an entirely charming front man. His music and style reminds one of the best parts of 1980s melancholic pop but given a 21st century awareness and perspective.
He could easily have carried the show without the projections, but in combination with the synthesiser and his hauntingly melodic voice, the experience becomes almost meditative. The songs wash over you, drifting from one to another with hopeful expectation of what is to come next.
Despite a couple of glitches in the projection which left the technical team scrambling to reignite the animations, the show was a success. If it comes to a town or city near you, A Synthesised Universe should be experienced.