Sunday, 7 August 2011

BRISTOL DUO & TRIO, 16/07/2011

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.)


  1. [response from mark anthony whiteford, part 1]

    hiya david. thanks for the writing up/of. i'm sitting with a candle lit and i'm listening to 'people in sorrow' by the art ensemble of chicago. music from another time i guess? i want to be quiet and soft and safe. the electronic hum glow low screech of the computer is a slight pull away from where i want to be. i have a bank of trees in front of me out of the window to the flat where i'm cat/flat sitting. the ginger cat sits and watches the letters like they're very tempting creatures [spiders/mice"] crossing the screen. i have come in from the streets full of pride. a neccesary pride. a pride that walks down the streets hand in hand protected to some extent where before what they were doing is illegal. and i wanted to get in and out of there. to feel safe quiet and soft. because everything that happens out there these daze seems to be accompanied by noise and booze and a constant marching about. and i didn't like it out there. i bought my cheap veg and came home. lit a candle and put on people in sorrow, so as to enter a slower quieter softer place which feels to me a more human space. the people outside taking part in the brighton pride seemed to be metallic or machine like. with a soft mushy inside squished and mashed by alcohol. the music is disco machine music and samba drums [the obligatory sound track to 'fun' in the uk these daze. but anyway i dont want to talk about society anymore. i want to talk about my feelings and spirituality and our music. but for now i will listen properly to the art ensemble of chicago, drink coffee and eat big fresh figs in candlelight. till later then .

  2. [response from mark anthony whiteford, part 2]

    ok. i'm back. where were we? it's sunday the trees outside the flat are gleaming. the flat i'm looking after has a stand of large trees outside of the window thanks to a rare rare piece of wasteland between the houses here with budlea and other scrub plants on it. thank goodness even here some scraps of land un'developed' by the 21st century moneymoneymoneymakers.

    ok i'm back. monday evening darkness outside in the trees. white glare of screen.

    yes about the sine solo. this one. saint werburgh guide hut. girl guides. yes voices drowned by the density of the sine wave closeness to mic and the poor quality mic not being able to cope. so voices are lost. drowned. no matter. soundwaves and drowns out the people. i dunno. were things lost? i'm not so sure? yes i love these sine wave songs we do. yes. some sadness in this one. forlornity. [is that a word?] forlornness is a word according to the apple spell check. this music came in the midst of some very hard times. i experience a massive amount of fear dread and anxiety these daze. and during this week up in bristol i found myself in some stark spaces staring my fear in the face even though it's faceless. sitting with the fear in my stomach and accepting it won't go away right now and there it is and here i am in it with it. nothing i can do about it. i stop staring at the world and criticising it and i find myself looking in at me which is no pretty site. but i accept here i am, no escape. and i was very much hoping for [needing if i could be so bold as to need something that's essentially out of my control] a good improv session to restore in me some sense of worthwhileness. i sang from this space at times. or spoke from this space at times. maybe even played my alto from this space, but i think the alto was a more abstract unemotional expression. momentary. fleeting. not pressing, not insisting or pushing. just floating in and out of corners. maybe there were some words. 'what i wouldn't give.' i remember saying. forlornly wishing for something, i cant remember what. or moments. yes and when i read the passage from carson mCcullers with it's heartbreak in it. the story being of a little girl trapped in a brutal world of brutish people ruining her dreams of beauty of splendour and decorum. so she runs out to the place where she can listen to a radio in someone else's house, there being no such thing in her own house [poverty.] and she listens to beethoven and gets it, hears something from another place. like when i saw the hare krishna people in broadmead shopping centre and got to believe it might be worth staying alive after all because it seemed maybe there was some other place to be than the brutish reality i was growing up in.

    and i find this place sometimes in the improvisations; another place to be. somewhere outside of hope and hopelessness. a sound place. where other chimes chime. we go there don't we. so thankyou for that. you're saving my life and keeping it alive.

    smashing glass, erecting stepladders. stepping to another place. for an hour or 2 or three. i know you're there or going there or know of there; some other place.

    yes the sound. the sound of voices electronic. panting live and then recorded slowed down. itta sighing sounding too, moving through spaces unknown unknowing, magical mesmeric, inexplicable. we made shapes. painted crayoned. we spoke of inner spaces and spaces woven from social concerns. we made a song of it all again. thank you for letting me be myself again as the old punk song used to go.

    that's it for now. maybe more later.x