Tuesday, August 17, 2010

22 unM4SKed

"the hollows" by simon woolham. biro on paper, 2008.

Honest to Christ, that drill. 

A machine gun rattling in its pillbox. Stalling ocasionally, the bit overheated, encased in concrete. Starting up again in earnest before one can catch one's breath.

At 3 AM, I rolled off the futon to close the windows. Hobbled into the kitchen to slam both catches when it occurred to me the noise had merely jumped channels in a stereophonic assault.

The demolition is ongoing. Every morning, too, entire new sections of the M74 have been bolted into place. 

The shoemaker's elves spit rivets all through the night.

And speaking of drills, it would appear I have missed a dental appointment. I am forced to grovel to avoid a fixed penalty. 

As if losing one's teeth is not punishment enough.

M4SK 22 - a collision of postcodes - is an experimental project fusing input from artists Simon Woolham and David Moss. They met in Manchester in the mid 90s, but did not begin making music together until January, this year.

"We make music and videos as products which we work on furiously, then we put them out online and move on to the next idea."

There is no obvious manifesto. Working remotely on passages traded via the internet, each bends the material as the moment dictates; throwing out a curve and letting it float. Simon is a renowned visual artist, David makes music and film. Their product is tested on M4SK 22.

"The Spindle of the Dowie Dens" began as a guitar part recorded by Woolham, with additional strings - piano and more guitar - overdubbed by Moss and relayed back. Moss was keen to to evoke a sense of traditional Scots and Irish melody familiar to him from childhood, and Woolham responded with a spoken word narrative shaped by recurring themes in his drawings and installations.

Looting archived public domain film footage, Moss then developed a short animated visual sequence incorporating stock elements of George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Musically, the end product is faintly claustrophobic. Full of echoes. Reeds. Inkeeping with the historic ballad which in part informs it, a rhyme of the Yarrow Water running through the Scottish borders. Collected in 18 variations in Francis James Child's "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", first published in ten volumes between 1892-8.

"The Spindle of the Dowie Dens" drags one out of the past by the scruff of a cigarette burned anorak.

Into the nettles growing through the inner tubes of bicycle tyres a child might paint as snakes. Discarded bottles of Buckfast Tonic.

Of course, nothing is linear. Or quite so transparent.

M4SK 22 aim eventually to commit to a series of live performance. Until then, by far the best way to familiarize yourself with their sometimes challenging product is to visit the archive direct.

M4SK 22: THE SPINDLE FROM THE DOWIE DENS from "M4SK 22: The Screen We Face is the Primitive Mask of a Global Society " MP3 / Multimedia (M4SK 22) 2010 (UK)


m4sk22 said...

thanks for this, wonderful writing, I will keep this for the potential grandkids! cheers!

ib said...

M4SK 22 is very interesting project. I'm glad you approve of the post, and thank you for tailoring and allowing me to share the MP3 of "The Spindle of the Dowie Dens".

As you know, I very briefly lived along the Borders. My recollection of it is tempered with my thirst, then, to staple myself back in to an envelope of anonymity.

Well. My wife and I escaped to Annan for a weekend some time ago. Right on the beach of the Solway Firth. It blew away the cobwebs, as they say.

I don't know why I mention it here.

I liked the way everything was imbued with a kind of smokey blue.

m4sk22 said...

sounds lovely IB.
I have been enjoying a birthday time, as has simon, with his wee babe, also we share the same birthday, which is always fun.
Hopefully we will get up to Scotland sometime soon, I especially want to visit the Souters of Selkirk, there are not many of the old folks left and it would be nice to introduce the new generation to them. I gave my son the middle name Dalgleish in honour of the families clan name.
thanks so much for this post Ib, and all your work.