Duo, and then trio, between David Grundy, Mark Anthony Whiteford and Itta Howie. Guide Hut (Jack Brimble Hall), St Werburghs, Bristol, 16th July 2011.
DG: laptop, voice, percussion, drawing
M.A.W.: voice, kitchen ware, tapes, alto saxophone and chain with padlock
I.H: dance, voice, drawing
beginning as a duo for the first half hour, before we were joined by our third collaborator, itta (mostly silent here, moving rather than speaking, drawing, sometimes singing too). involving step-ladders, broken water jugs, dictaphones, voices and samples as personal memory and as social memory. memory of what? partly – previous sessions, nearly a year ago, over a year ago, years ago, the beginnings of this project, the first sine duos. 'i remember we were rocking'. we were rocking in a place which has now been emptied of art, cleared for business – slash any possibility of creative expression and education, we don't need it, get rid of the photography studios and the animation studios and that space where we used to make improvised music as if it meant something. and another phrase, not heard here, but it could have been; maybe it's the unheard phrase behind everything that's said or done or played in this session: 'smash it all down'. brighton, december 2010. another set of sine waves, another release of voice, another lament or record of the passing of time and loss and change. act of love. 'smash it all down.' and today we broke glass. we didn't mean to, but glass was smashed. we were using a glass jug as a percussion object and it cracked. if you break a window they send you to jail. The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics. There is something that Governments care for far more than human life, and that is the security of property, and so it is through property that we shall strike the enemy.
the voice is alien. it is manipulated, spun down, round wound, slowed down, sped up, turned into something other than itself. these voices, human and mechanical, electronic and acoustic, digital and analogue, real and imagined, in a dance, a tarantella, or a disintegrating death rattle. now i listen back there is sometimes a sense of desperation to the music, voices straining to be heard over electronic wail (which is itself a kind of mutant non-human voice). perhaps this has something to do with the mugginess of the mini-disc recording, which can't always cope with the volume and depth of sound. because i remember that when we played there were bits of conversation, talking over the music, those things we wouldn't do in public, at a 'gig'. making tea, people coming in and out, debating the merits of john cage. i have been reading greil marcus writing on what bob dylan could do in the basement recordings that he couldn't do in that summer of confrontation with a hostile audience of folkies. the importance of this sort of private space for the conjuring up/ exploration of a different kind of community, unburdened by the usual social pressures - a place of no obligation. digging into history and memory, masks and personas and suddenly the real face beneath. dylan's gone electric. the whole world's gone electric. what is this obsession with step ladders. singing a charles mingus tune as if you were in the bath. wailing, again. open your throat and the voice comes out, unadorned. singing a tea cup. singing into a tea cup. the tea cup has a banksy picture reproduced on it. in the streets nearby there are dozens of original bankskies on the walls, all worth a few damn thousand pounds or more. the art world recuperates, recovers, swallows up all that threatens it. graffiti is now just another accessory, resistance and subversion commodified as art product. i look at the graffiti on the underpass on the way to the guide hut and i think that it has more to say or do than work in a gallery because it has nothing to do with money. someone put it there because it has to be there. soon it will be washed away. 27 minutes in (if you get that far!) the mini-disc recording must have cut off. the recording equipment inserts its own silence into the flow of the music. it seems to fit.
(hey, you don’t need to listen to the last 10 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever it is. it’s just talking. it’s still recording. thank you, and good night.)