A highlight:


WERE/Oblivion (2017)

The world premiere of James Hullick’s Were/Oblivion was similarly ritualistic in its performance, the composer – his face painted in garish colours and head dusted with glitter – wringing thunderous sound from his electric guitar, channelling David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. An exploration of the tensions between artistic practice and family life, Were/Oblivion set Hullick’s own text – a letter addressed to his daughters, sung by the composer in guttural, sometimes screaming tones in a powerful, heartfelt performance of fractured sound and fury.

Limelight, 17 Oct 2017


Other reviews:




Presented in collaboration with Melbourne Recital Centre, Salon, 23 May, 6PM.

James Hullick is a lauded figure in the sonic experimental world, and his work The Fission-Fusion Whale, a “futuristic song-cycle” presented by the BOLT Ensemble, gave an insight into his unmistakably creative and warped mind. The synopsis is peculiar: a modern fairy-tale where three “god-like interstellar explorers” find one of their members engulfed by a “galactic whale”. The stage set-up in the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre was visually excessive, bloated with a synthesiser, an open grand piano, a large percussion setup, speakers, an amplified aquarium filled with water and shells, and two mounted television screens.

Part concert, part music theatre, part song cycle, the work opened with a young girl, played by Astrid Bolcskey-Hullick (James Hullick’s daughter) walking up to the amplified aquarium. She caressed the shells with her hands as the audience heard manipulated whale sounds through the speakers. In a pure voice, she then sang short syllables across a wide tessitura into a microphone. Justine Anderson (The Captain) entered with gusto, wearing an extravagant shell-crown while swiping two bells held in her hand with a metal stick. Her voice was operatic and unbridled, embellishing the simplicity of the young girl’s voice with her elaborate vocalisations…

Classical Melbourne, 31 May 2018







“Presented by JOLT Arts and Melbourne Music Week, Meat Market, 17-18 November 2017.

The gods of auditory creation have landed.

This first line in the program incited alarm and curiosity as I sat down in my seat for the night’s performances – what is this all about? I don’t believe in any gods; I’m atheist.

Well, well, well; I’m excited to announce that I am a devoted disciple of the BOLT Ensemble and JOLT Arts. The two productions, Disruptive Critters and CITY-TOPIAS proved to be an ingenious puzzle-box that left me with a lot of music for thought.

The next production, CITY-TOPIAS, broke to a new dimension of sonic complexity with the surround-sound chamber orchestra and guitar band crossover. With an electric double-bass, a shakuhachi, and an automated violin playing machine to top it off, I was excited to hear what eclectic soundscapes were going to be explored.

Focusing on society’s affixion of types of ‘topias’ – that is, ideals of what the world should be – BOLT Ensemble performed a collection of six works that critiqued these ideals and their effects on a utopic 21st Century civilisation, whether it be good or bad. Reading the program for this production, I just knew that I was going to be transported to another world – and I’d better buckle up for it.”

CutCommon, 27 November 2017




At Tura New Music Scale Variable Concert Series, Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre, Perth Cultural Centre, 27 August 2016.
Performed/composed by Hullick; solo show for amplified prepared piano, synthesizer, electronics, voice, video.

“Hullick’s “Scatterman” presented a non-linear narrative tied by his solo performance as a delusional artist going through a personal and family crisis. The audience followed Hullick as he talked to himself, gesticulating and staggering around a couch or playing a prepared piano while opening one beer can after another. Before launching into a drunken rendition of Arlen’s “Over The Rainbow”, he addressed the audience to talk about the dead of his mother: “here in Brisbane, at Subiaco beach where she was taken by a crocodile”. The uncouth antics are contrasted by candid images of his family and an undertone of failure pervades the character’s indulgences.  According to the composer, “Scatterman is not a show or a composition”, it is concerned with the self-defeating idea of seeking the perfect life: being the perfect husband, mother, child, society or artist.

As distancing as his performance might seem, Hullick’s kept the engagement with a well-timed use of sounds, visuals and a strangely heartfelt portrayal of a lost man. It brought to mind the attitude of Fluxus artists who consciously avoided an entertaining or edifying component to their works, rather they sought to bring a stimulus in the audience. The piece certainly invites for reflection on topics such as gender, self-awareness, the composer – audience relationship and artists battling the cultural cringe.”

Cool Perth Nights, 8 September 2016


SONIC FLOCK (2013-16)


Presented by JOLT as part of THE BOOK OF DAUGHTERS multi artist event, The Meat Market, North Melbourne, 10-12 November 2016.

Performed by JOLT Artists, directed and designed by Hullick.

“Sonic Flock, described as “an experiential aural exhibit”, took place nightly in the foyer, where seven two-person-sized cloth tepees had been set up in close proximity to one another. Each tent contained a musician (who would later take part in a performance on the main stages) with their instruments/accouterments, and audience members were encouraged to wander through the space and step into any tent for a few minutes to experience an intimate, one-on-one sonic performance. This functioned as a liminal space preparing audience members for the visual and aural immersion to follow, but also, beautifully and simultaneously, all the sounds from the various tepees in the foyer melded into an accidental acoustic cacophony.”

Lisa MacKinney, Limelight Magazine, 21 November 2016.





Presented by JOLT as part of THE BOOK OF DAUGHTERS multi artist event, The Meat Market, North Melbourne, 12 November 2016.

Performed by berni.m.janssen and the BOLT Ensemble octet, composed by Hullick.
“Slow Riven Whirl …weav(es) around a piece of text written by James Hullick for his two young daughters, Astrid and Scarlet. This work contemplated four remarkable women asphyxiated by their communities – Rosa Parks, Karen Silkwood, Sylvia Plath and Sappho, and epitomised the overriding conceptual framework of and impetus for the entire Book of Daughters project, which was “to transform a dialogue about daughters into an inclusive expression of sonic art in the 21st century.””

Lisa MacKinney, Limelight Magazine, 21 November 2016.





Presented by JOLT as part of THE BOOK OF DAUGHTERS multi artist event, The Meat Market, North Melbourne, 10 November 2016.

Performed/created by Noriko Tadana and the Duckorth Hullick Duo.
“Noriko Tadano performed a mesmerising combination of vocal and instrumental pieces on the shamisen, a three-stringed long-necked Japanese instrument. She was accompanied in the last of these by James Hullick playing Dr Jonathan Duckworth’s Resonance Table, an interactive audio and visual surface designed to aid movement rehabilitation for individuals with a brain injury.”

Lisa MacKinney, Limelight Magazine, 21 November 2016.





Presented by JOLT as part of THE BOOK OF DAUGHTERS multi artist event, The Meat Market, North Melbourne, 11 November 2016.

Performed/composed by Noise Scavengers, Sarah Smith, Dave Brown, and Hullick.
“This found further expression in two other extraordinary ensemble performances. Noise Scavengers is a group of young men in their early/mid-20s from North Geelong who have been working together as a sound art project in conjunction with James Hullick and stalwart experimental guitarist/noise-maker Dave Brown. They in turn teamed up with Sarah Smith, a young postgraduate psychology student from Lara who delivered an extremely affecting self-penned feminist monologue that drew on her own experiences and those of friends. Raw and brutal, it detailed a horrendous Australian narrative of gendered oppression, delivered over a backdrop of guitar noise and guttural vocalising (Noise Scavengers), an effective metaphor for the silencing of women’s voices.”

Lisa MacKinney, Limelight Magazine, 21 November 2016.






At Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music 2015, 6 September 2015, Old Fire Station. Performed/composed by Hullick: solo show for amplified prepared piano, electronics, voice, video.


“Both prepared piano, electronic synths and samples are concepts that were once new but have now become commonplace, almost historical. Hullick places them in what feels like a post-apocalyptic landscape along with his raw vocals. Stripped of shock value, prepared piano and electronics–as well as sound art–gain the capacity to become more emotive, completing their rotation from something alien to overwhelmingly human. With ‘Rotation Post-Sapien’, Hullick combines and re-invents musical relics from different periods in a ritualistic exploration of human emotion.”

Jaslyn Robertson, Partial Durations, in partnership with Realtime Magazine, 15 September 2015.




At Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music 2015, 5 September 2015, Bendigo Bank Theatre. Created/performed by The Amplified Elephants with James Hullick on RESONANCE – a new interactive musical instrument by CiART, RMIT.


This debut of their latest work, Select Naturalis, showcases a remarkable new piece of technology developed by Jonathan Duckworth in the CiART program at RMIT. The room’s central piece of equipment is in fact a large digital touchscreen tablet: images appearing on its surface are captured by the camera lodged above, and displayed in real time on the room’s two monitors. In developing the performance, the Elephants programmed a range of acoustic and digital sounds into the tablet’s software. They trigger these sounds in performance through tactile engagement with the interface…

This symbolic system suggests that while genealogical science might be undeniable, we should not let it limit the infinite ways we can practice art. Perhaps more importantly, it suggests that our continued evolution, including our ability to adapt to conditions like climate change, depends on acknowledging biological capacities we may already have developed, but ignored. It’s a perspective which links this performance text closely to the raison d’etre of the group performing it. If the Elephants, as bearers of intellectual disability, are the ‘elephants in the room,’ their amplification of that position represents their way forward, which is actually a way in. As the voiceover says, ‘meta-listening,’ a biological feature perhaps developed by our distant ancestors, involves just such a process of shining awareness on the functional, and the willingly unseen or unheard.  Select Naturalis seeks to metaphorise that awareness and, it seems, achieve real social affect: community, inclusion, technological progress and ever-better names for things.”

Simon Eales, Realtime 128 (Aug-Sep), 2015.





10 works for large ensembles, Melbourne Festival 15, 23, 24 October 2014. Iwaki Auditorium and Footscray Community Arts Centre.

BOLT Orchestra’s Splendid Contemporary Act Shreds Songbook

Among the serious music events in the Melbourne Festival program, you find precious little contemporary music apart from these concerts comprising works by James Hullick and involving a cross-section of ensembles ready to take up his searching challenges.

For the first of four programs, Timothy Phillips conducted his Arcko group and  the BOLT musicians in a quartet of pieces, each individualistic in construction and emotional power; all successful in bringing the composer’s vivid soundscapes to life.

Two hours before the performance, Hullick started writing giveth and taketh away, a few of us watching him at work in the last hour before the octet of BOLT performers and Phillips came on stage, received their scores and performed a piece that seemed hefty in improvisation but followed a concerted path.

At the end, players, conductor and composer fed their sheets into a shredder, which could be interpreted as the last word in self-criticism. The Arckos joined in Sky-Flung Herds, a splendid aggregation of acoustically fascinating patterns, seemingly repetitious but packed with alterations and additions to the core fabric.

For The Ballad of the Ever-Young Miss Rose, pianist Michael Kieran Harvey outlined a swashbuckling solo, powering through his responsibilities on the keys and inside the instrument, the work itself partly dependent on deft amplification and some supporting taped background sounds. Kimberley elder Pansy Nulgit headed the final Wrought Glacial with some traditional Ngarinyin songs, accompanied by tape and an evocative, bush-suggestive commentary from the orchestra; a graceful if melancholy conclusion to a remarkable concert.”

Clive O’Connell, The Age, October 2014.



A chamber opera/song cycle for performed by Guillermo Anzorena (baritone voice); Judith Hamann (cello) and Michael Kieran Harvey (piano). Performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013.


In the programme notes, the translation for the word Bruchlandung is “crash landing”. This is as good a description as any for the audience’s initial experience of this experimental and challenging work. The plot centres on the unnamed protagonist’s existence in some ill-defined post-apocalyptic land. There is one decision that the protagonist, voiced so committedly by Guillermo Anzorena, must make. But really, any plot or narrative through-line is secondary to the performances of the piece’s three musicians.”

Ryan O’Connor for Broadway Baby, August 2014





For string orchestra. Performed by Arcko Symphonic Project, 24 November 2012.

“James Hullick’s recently compiled Although I See the Darkness is a rich, sometimes searing study in overlapping chords, more fascinating for its novel sound manipulations than the composer’s humane underpinning rationale.”  Clive O’Connell, The Age, November 2012.





At Gallery Sakiko and the Pratt Institute in New York – 5 Australian artists including Hullick. Presented by JOLT Arts


“Sometimes I encounter an exhibition that is so overwhelming, covers so much territory and breaks such new ground that it’s difficult to write about it….This Australian group show combines cutting edge digital technology, including the use of Second Life, but is rooted in something ancient. The core of Dark Luminance is the Australian Gothic…[Hullick] has an intriguing sound sculpture installation that’s basically about disembodiment and opposing forces. Black (almost witch-like) wigs were hung, each containing hidden speakers. High, whistling sounds emanated from them. Below were upturned speakers holding ping pong balls, like eggs in a nest, which the sound caused to vibrate, creating chattering percussion; representing birth as much as the wigs mirrored death, Hullick achieves the essence of the life-cycle.”

Joe Bendik, Chelsea Clinton Press, 2008.