Friday 21 November 2008

Mondo Mancunia: Site Report Number Two

Day Two, and we are now becoming well acquainted with the clammy splendours of the Shunt Vault’s chambers. It has precisely the kind of dust that always shows up on your clothing, no matter whether you’re in dark colours or light. ‘Don’t touch the walls,’ Curtis, Simon James’s twin brother advised, holding up a damp set of fingers. Well, certainly not with all these tables of radiophonic gear and endless electrical cables snaking around the stage area, anyway.

The best part of setting up for today’s show was watching newcomer’s reactions to this labyrinthine cavernous space. Bruce and Kit Woolley disappeared after the sound check to watch a play being performed in another part of the complex, while Simon and Curtis were off playing pinball and taking photographs.

It’s such a pleasure to work with these people. To help me perform an expanded version of the ‘Welcome to Mars’ show first presented at San Francisco’s Other Cinema in September of this year, I was joined onstage by Bruce Woolley, taking a break from helping Grace Jones promote her new ‘Hurricane’ album, on Theremin and Moog; Simon James, who’s been recording extensively with DJ Format recently, on tape loops and table-top electronics; and Mark Pilkington, freshly returned from a Flying Saucer convention in Las Vegas, on gnostic sound circuitry. Their work together was as intensive and as sensitive as you would expect from such different but complementary backgrounds. Curtis James will be posting some pictures online soon. In the meantime, the top image in this post is of Simon James recalibrating his solenoids during the sound check: look out for further postings on his blog.

The other images were taken from the stage during the performance of ‘Dr X: A Version of Events’ that was scheduled for later in the evening. They show a view of my lectern taken during a musical interlude, featuring a page from the heavily marked-up text for this piece, plus some intimate views of Howard Walmsley and Graham Massey in action plus a selection of Massey’s research instruments brought over from Dr X’s underground lair in Manhattan for the occasion.

‘Oh for crying out loud,’ a newsman mutters sourly from outside the sealed iron doors of the Molecular Distortion laboratory. ‘How can such a simple investigative procedure go so completely wrong?’

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