composer/musician/ZTT artist


Every new moment of sound and sensation, and after that


'FOUR MINUTES THIRTY THREE SECONDS' by John Cage. This is the ultimate transformation piece. The idea that the act of listening is making the music, changes everything. From street noise to Mozart nothing sounds the same after this. And then again after listening to the 'ten tons loading in again' there's always the erotics of the pupil. Morton Feldman to reassure me that its OK to listen to a properly tuned piano. When I told Cage I was a Glass fan he said I should rather listen to Feldman. And at the time (1980) I didn't understand. I'd played the beautiful DURATIONS but what I really wanted was the pulse. Still do mostly!

Having said that, there have been some months where I need to listen to PIANO AND STRINGS QUARTET every day. So perhaps he had a point.

'I WAS SITTING ON MY PATIO THIS GUY APPEARED I THOUGHT I WAS HALLUCINATING' by Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs at the Royal Court mid 70's. A piece of theatre made like a quilters block from a telephone directory. And with a poem (after William Carlos Williams) for a title! I was awe struck. But most of the audience walked out and Wilson didn’t come back to the UK for 20 years. I've still got the poster in the hall !

'EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH'. by Philip Glass' An Opera (It's what composer do when they're really 'in' the theatre). It's a kaleidoscope of performance, image, language and music. A place of simultaneity. Everything about it is magic but the music has to be the most original score of the 70s and beyond. Glass's wonderfully tragic and religious music still does it for me.

'GERSANG DER JULINGLINGE by Karlhinz Stockhausen. This is the moment when the recording becomes a work in itself rather than being a memory or record of a performance. The recording performs itself in the room where the speakers and the listeners are. It was discovering Stockhausen’s KURTSWELLEN that got me composing my first tape piece at school in 1969. About the same time I was trying to learn Paul Macartney bass lines. And then there was Jack Bruce and the blues and The Cream jamming the blues at the CROSS ROADS and the fantastic Nicky Hopkins on The Rolling Stones 'BEGGERS BANQUET'. Desculpa, meu Deus I've mixed my genres. But all recordings!

'VIOLIN PHASE' by Steve Reich. Now that recordings perform themselves so well and so perfectly, everyday, and in every type of situation, the live performer must ask these recordings some serious questions. This is the first piece to do so positively. 'Cadenza' was my reading of this. Although I didn't realise it until about 20 years later.

'WILD THING' by Jimmy Hendrix at Monterey Pop Festival. A seminal transgressive performance where Hendrix burns himself alive in a shamanistic act of guitar sacrifice. I remember going to see the film when it first came out and it was frightening. What must it have been like to sit in the front row? What does this say about live performance? Also scary, how quickly a political act of suicide so quickly becomes an aesthetic image. Even then! I'm still listening to ‘ARE YOU EXPERIENCED’.

Station House Opera. Sometime in the 1980s I saw a show called 'A SPLIT SECOND OF PARADISE ' in which this performance company acted like stone masons imitating a colony of ants with a mound of bread crumbs. (with breeze blocks, a kind of animated Sol Lewitt) It had a very special concentration of purpose but with no discernible goal other than the energy of endless coming together to form a statue or some form or other and then dissolving. The theatre of Mistakes at the Hayward in the 70s was a kind of prequel.

KISS. The Paintings of Bridget Riley. I was reintroduced to her work in the late 90s by my friend Glyn Perrin. And I just can't get enough of them. How someone can find so much wonder and life by putting a wavy line against a straight one sends me into some beyond. A different kind of erotics of the pupil.

‘POCKET CALCULATOR’ Kraftwerk. I saw them in the eightys, the nighties and the naughtys and they always give the most fantastic show. Those four guys fader twitching know how to make it a real theatrical treat. 'Pocket Cal'. at the Lyceum a ‘coup de theatre’ like you better believe it!

'AT THE TOMB OF CHRISTIAN ROSENCRANTS' The life and work of Fernando Pessoa. This Portuguese poet lived the lives of at least 3 completely different artistic personalities. Heteronyms. (Alberto Caeiro, Alvaro de Campos, Richardo Reis and others) A brilliant performance strategy for embracing contradiction. He explores the idea that we are fragments of some continuous thing which will never be completely integrated into a single 'I am'. I've been reading him in translation for years and with the originals and a dictionary whilst trying to learn Portuguese. Which I am failing. It's a curious mode of being alienated in another language.

Funny: Pessoa is perhaps the most British artist in this list. So many Americans so few Brits. Oh well!

Originally written for Future Classics at THE SPILL festival of performance curated by Robert Pacitti in April 2 2007