Bucolic & Broken has been performed in Birmingham, Huddersfield, Leicester, London, New York City, Saint-Laurent, Shanghai, Vancouver and York…
“Art is not about the shock of something new. It’s about arranging the old in such a way that you see it afresh.”
— Sarah Kane, in a letter to Graham Saunders, February 13, 1998
This piece is an ode to the fragile beauty of post-industrial rural England, crumbling in this post-Brexit era (for a much longer time, some might say) yet still holding together by some strange magic, or by the force of habit. It is a sonic commentary on my new home, the North, which is in effect in the middle of the Island that forms most of the country in which I settled in with my family almost 12 years ago, a divided kingdom.
It is as a sort of anxious love song contemplating its bucolic beauty, where the protected moors, the omnipresent stone walls dividing the minuscule allotments, the fashionably converted factories, the refreshing re-planted forests, all mingle with the memento of a more prosper era: the unkempt gardens, the ash-stained walls, the many broken windows (when not altogether bricked), the closed shops in cheap architectural atrocities… On the one hand, the orange colour of the sunlight gives to nature’s greeneries a pictorial shade; on the other hand, the frequent cloud ceiling mixes everything in a soup of brown and grey.
It is also a hug to its people, with their resilience, composure, and stoicism, where a cup of tea seems to put everything in perspective. Anywhere else such a division would create chaos and unrest. Here, it seems that everyone is taking a deep breath, pausing to observe the waters, before the plunge.
Bucolic & Broken was realized from October 2016 to April 2017 in the SPIRAL (Spatialisation and Interactive Research Lab) of the University of Huddersfield (UK) and in the hemisphere studio of Notam (Olso, Norway), with road tests and mixing in the spherical studio of the University of Hull (UK).
Thanks to Scott Wilson and Annie Mahtani at BEAST for the confidence; to Jörn Nettingsmeier and Anders Tveit for the sharing of real-life ambisonic knowledge; to Anne Sèdes and Pierre Guillot for the Université Paris 8 (France) HOA tools; to Alex Harker for his support through the Creative Coding Lab; to Notto Thelle, Thom Johansen, Cato Langnes, and Jøran Rudi for making the Notam residencies so fruitful; to Robert Normandeau for the GRIS support; to Robert Mackay and Matt Barnard for the University of Hull studio residency; and to Fabian Brinkmann for the custom HRTFs.