Some excitment yesterday as I was strolling past the bookstall at All Saints when I spied a slightly bedraggled copy of William Burroughs Naked Lunch for a quid, having lost my original copy to the on going circles of booklending amongst friends and/or know associates some years ago I jumped on it feeling mighty pleased especially when the bookseller tried to overcharge me “what i thought it was really worth”. I held firm though and managed to charm his Greek friend with my hideous chewing up of his language. Delving into the text at random (always the most satisfying way to read this book) and hopping through a few pages here and there I was struck again by the way Burroughs creates a totally fragmentary text bursting apart but through his use of image and ‘mood’ shall we say, there is an over all coherence the book. This lead me to start working on thinking how to apply these ideas into forms relating to improvisation and music: maybe these were the elements of Burroughs that really soaked into my brain as an over exicted college student… More to come im sure x
Here’s a video of a performance that took place as part of the Guerilla Busking strand of the Futuresonic Festival on 15 May. Performers are myself and fellow Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestrors Huw Wahl and Zeke Clough. We improvised this piece for voices using the cavernous echo produced by the red brick bridge arch as our main resource.
This idea for performance was a follow up on various ideas and experiences. We once spent a jolly afternoon recording and filming with Stuckometer underneath a similar type of arch near the Manchester Ship Canal, somewhere in the forgotten lands between Manchester and Liverpool.
Ive also been long obsessed by the incredible acoustic qualities of Manchester Central Libraries social sciences reading room. Its a huge circular domed room designed specfically to echo and reverberate every tiny sound, the idea being i always imagined ,is to make people hyper aware of any sound they maybe making by presenting it back with such astonishing acoustic bounce.
Two other environments that set me thinking on the acoustic qualities of different spaces and how performance could work in them I came across when I lived in Greece.
The first of these was a visit I made to the super ancient ruined city of Mycenae. Inside a huge beehive shaped tomb there, mythically referred to as being “The Tomb of Agamemnon”, there are some wonderful echoes to be found due to the circlar and domed nature of the space, which is about 3000 years old.
The second was another ancient site in Greece, the ancient theatre at Epidavros. This space is an amazing example of a Greco-Roman theatre capable of seating up to 15,000 people and has a particularily pronounced acoustic property. From the central actors point in the middle of the stage even the smallest whisper is completely audible at the top of the furthest row a good 50 metres away.