Friday, 14 February 2014

Prelude to a Number by Geddes Loom at The Lowry, 13/02/2014 - Review

Last night, as an early Valentine's present, my lovely partner took me to The Lowry in Manchester to see an exciting, engaging new 'show' by Geddes Loom entitled 'Prelude for a Number'. I was impressed by his choice *applause* it contained Spoken Word - which I like, Maths! - that he likes, and Music - which we both like.

In an extended hour we were all transported through three narratives through the pattern of The Golden Ratio. I say all because it was clear in the eyes of the collective Geddes Loom that their words still transported them with the audience. It might have just been me, but I felt a vindication that these artists were allowed to blend and fuse the genre's of poetry, narrative, music, lighting, staging and acting without the limitations that come when you work in one specific genre.
 In fractured borders we were presented with snap shots in the life of each character -  Tessa, Leon and Matt. These narratives crossed over at points when The Golden Ratio returned to their story. Each narrative was equally engaging, feeding from the tension created in the last narrative. Between them was a river of music that made a bridge between the spoken sections. 
The music was repetitive, surging like a tide, building upon itself with live audio looping that made you feel very much a part of the creation of the production - I was reminded at points of Karl Jenkins' Cantilena. The vocals of LĂ©onie Higgins and Ben Mellor highlighted the diversity of voice. Breaking up long sections of narrative with more voice may seem counterproductive, but the subtle's of change were accentuated, with the backing of Dan Steele. A word about Dan Steele, the multi-instrumentalist, the very presence of so many instruments (including Higgins Cello) pushed the point that we were in the presence of artist / creatives. 
                      The performance itself was on a very understated set, filled with mathematical blackboard scribbles, which gives the impression of you sitting within a work in progress, someone finding the point that Fibonacci's sequence, the Golden Ratio or  Golden Pyramids intersected to create moments of beauty. This accentuated one of the closing ideas - that anything is there if you look hard enough. For example, were we seeing those points in the narratives because we were looking for them? Do we see them in the objects around us because we were looking for them? and if they aren't actually there is an object still as beautiful? A very powerful and different line of investigation. 

There are moments of multi-media projection that work brilliantly. Both Higgins and Mellor interchange between the characters, from the mains like Tessa to fleeting characters like Matt's parents. The projection gives the audience a nudge into the particular narrative strand being played out at that time. 

There is a lot to be said for the grey area between genre's and this is where the piece shines.
The theme of The Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci sequence was a perfect link between the genre's. Numbers are a major factor in music and the rhythm of the spoken word, the music mixed with the lighting and the lighting with the stage design. *sigh* I could go on for hours decoding and deconstructing the piece, but it really is in the accumulation of all of those elements that the show comes into it's own. 

To get more of a feel for the show watch this!

If you didn't catch it yesterday the show is on again at The Lowry tonight!   
You can find the Geddes Loom on facebook!
They are currently running a fundraiser for an album of the music on Indiegogo.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A mini book haul

This is why we aren't allowed to town often! A little haul from Ixfam and the Book Clearance. The Oxfam in Preston is one of my favourite little book shops.

Tasha's books:

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Sidereal by Rachel Boast
Misadventure by Richard Meier
Fierce by Jackie Kay

Luke's books: 

Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell
The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan
Railsea by China Mielville

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk - Review

Someone told me that you always remember your first Palahniuk. After reading Lullaby I can see why. 
     Following Carl Streator is definitely 5 giant steps away from the Donna Tart I had just finished, or the Neil Gaiman I'm about to start. I wouldn't go as far as saying that he's one of a kind, but whatever he's doing, he's a master of it. 
      I feel very priviledged to think that we live in possibly the most diverse literary age there as ever been, considering those are a handful of the more mainstream contemporary authors. The diversity available to the modern reader is astounding. (You go, 2K14). 

           As I said before, Lullaby follows Carl Streator across various locations in America as he simultaneously tracks down first the culling song and then the grimoire it came from. It reads like a futuristic version of Dennis Wheatley. An intoxicating cocktail of old school occultism, post-modernism and B-movie horror.  
    Whilst reading - I was reading it on my kindle app which effected my pace - I found myself able to stop a lot, at times forced to, to decode and analyse what Palahniuk was pointing out to me. This book takes a lot of concentration from the reader, which is both exhilerating and hard going.  
     When I got to the end though I was miffed! I really could have kept reading a 100 more pages. Lullaby felt a lot like an extended short story, a metaphorically rich gif, rather than a snapshot of life. The running themes, or "horses" as Palahniuk calls them, carry this novel in a round, the repetition is both contemplative and progressive in that respect. The narrative voice is stead, mimicking the sound of Helen Hoover Boyle or Nash as they read the culling song. 
      The highlight of this novel for me is the imagery, I revelled inthe oozing sores of Streator's blisters and the diamond encrusted bloody gums of Ms. Boyle. Thos is where I likened it to a B-movie horror, if anyone has watched Horror in the Attic, it is quite similar. 
    I'd heard a lot about Palahniuk before starting Lullaby, mostly about Fight Club, my tutor advised me not to run off though and try some other work by him before readjng that. 
     I feel ready to read Kurt Vennegut finally now, but I've no idea why they are linked in my head.