the decay of lying

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a snap reaction


The Rest Is Noise – 19eighties


Poppy - 32 Frames for Orchestra

Poppy - Almost the Same Shame

Taverner - The Lamb

Dudley - Into Battle

Martland - Re-Mix

Nyman  - Chasing Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds

Dudley  - Rhythm of a Decade



The 1970s has been well documented as the decade that taste forgot. And now, judging by the sparsely populated QEH on Saturday evening for the latest in The Southbank Centre's The Rest Is Noise Festival, the 1980s is the decade our public consciousness can't get shot of quickly enough. Which all in all seems something of a shame. Unless, of course, eager concert goers were indisposed due to a particularly tricky round of Simon; or perhaps simply couldn't decide which bat- wing sweater to wear. Admittedly, rather like the decade itself, not everything in the 19Eighties programme bore up to too much scrutiny but for every – let's be generous here – Betamax moment of marginal appeal, there was another audience grabbing VHS triumph.


On merely performing Andrew Poppy's 32 Frames for Orchestra, I was ready to be quite tolerant. Whilst there was nothing earth shattering here, there was nothing much to rail about either with the listener drawing inevitable parallels with moments of John Adams – albeit a faintly generic John Adams Lite; a kind of Janet and John Adams, if you will. This benign indifference began to fade somewhat on reading Poppy's accompanying programme notes:


Trying to think of ways in which to describe this piece, I came across an advert in a magazine for leather shoulder bags which says it all:


Twelve pockets in eight sections gives you a place for everything... The big deep main compartment of the bag is lined and is closed by a strong metal zipper – not the cheap plastic type. The zip opens the full length of the bag, too, so it opens wide to let you find things more easily and it's big enough to take a bulky paperback book. Inside is a press-stud and a leather key-fob. No more fumbling in the dark as you hunt for your front-door key. It is instantly at hand. On the outside are two pockets securely closed with press-studs. One is for sunglasses and the other is for cigarette-lighters, tickets, loose change, anything you want to get at without opening the main bag.


It seems only fair that any comment on his work be made in a similar vein:


Trying to think of ways in which to describe this piece I came across an advert in a magazine for a paper shredder which says it all:


The AS610C is a great personal shredder for home and office use, you can shred up to 6 sheets of paper at a time into tiny pieces. In addition you can also shred 1 credit card at a time. The 11 litre bin provides good storage for shredded waste and because of the smaller shred size this also means you have to empty the bin less often. Overall a great little shredder for the home or office or concert stage (awright the concert stage bit was me) that shreds quickly and quietly.


On the plus side, by opening the concert with 32 Frames, the chances of the show progressing on an upward trend to a rousing finale were significantly enhanced. As it turned out Anne Dudley's Rhythm of a Decade, narrated by Paul Morley, needed no such artificial boost. Around Morley's narration - lyrics comprised of “experiences, memories, slogans, products, movements and events taken, lifted, stolen, recycled and referenced from the decade” Dudley wove hit after nostalgic hit; riff after irresistible riff. The beauty of this musical and lyrical stream of consciousness was that it was a shared consciousness. John Foxx – Underpass; Commodore 64; The Specials – Ghost Town; Prestel; Yvonne Fletcher; Don't Die of Ignorance; Do You Really Want To Hurt Me; Blue Monday – the references kept on coming, each trigger word, each chord, setting off explosions of memory and image previously thought long since forgotten.


So, were the headlines, the personalities, the crazes of the Eighties so much bigger than today? Or does it only seem so to me because I was smaller? Did the Eighties speak so much louder to me – resonating in the empty shell of my youth-yet-to-be-man? Or did I just listen more closely then, than I do now? What I do know, is that the Rhythm of a Decade continues to echo in my head, just as it does in the world around us.