Thursday, May 19, 2005

A song for Europe

So... I'll admit now that this is a backdated post. I've been having sex, frequently, and it's stopped me doing anything constructive, like posting here. Yes, I'm a flighty little whore, sorry.

Anyway... The 18th of May.

Part of my 'old me is the new me' regimen, bought on by the now-old-news breakup has been reconnecting with things that interest me. To this end, I received an invitation from the wonderful Clare and Ivor to attend an art event put on by their friend Art. No, that really is his name. He's something terribly dashing in the city, makes oodles of moolah, and chooses to spend it by sponsoring proper art events.

The collective he works with - Measure - put on site-specific works in abandoned buildings around London. This event was part of 'Me and My Shadow: A projection of new sound interventions at Wilton's Music Hall.' The special evening we attended was a premiere of 'Songs for Europe', by Janek Schaefer and Philip Jeck; it was eerie, and beautiful.

Part of the joy of the event was a chance to visit the building itself. Wilton's Music Hall is the last remaining Music Hall in London; semi derelict now, it is a haunted space. The raw matter of the building shows through; crumbling masonry, faded murals. The main auditorium feels like a stage set, and even without the intervention of sound artists has an echo of crowds, and warmth, and old songs about it. One of the side rooms had a recording of people who'd worked and visited the music hall recounting their memories; about crowds, singing, and dumping drunks into a covered culvert underneath the Mahogany Bar, to be washed down to the bank of the Thames.

The performance itself was mesmerising. The musicians had spent time in Istanbul and Athens collecting old records; these were played back, patched together, turned into drones, looped and fed back. The near-eastern harmony and scale made it otherworldly, which made the space much much stranger. Sitting, letting it wash over you, the music became deeply visceral. The smell of old plaster added to that; I spent a happy hour sitting in the darkened room, quiet and out-of-time, letting the music cut together tiny films in my head.

I recommend it.

No comments: