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The Dadasophers

January 6, 2012

Here is a secret:

Rick In Opposition is also Lord Dada

Actually, it’s not really a secret, and you don’t really care either, as neither Rick In Opposition nor Lord Dada have any hint of fame. Ignoring all the possible avenues I could go down in terms of the linguistic naming of things and identity, let me explain who Lord Dada is:

We paid a man a lot of money to make this in Photoshop. We think it took him about 2 weeks of constant effort.

……

The Dadasophers – https://www.facebook.com/dadasophers?sk=info (hey hey! Click this, then click ‘like’, hey hey!) – a project I formed whimsically. The Facebook page is kinda vague (but look at it anyway to see details about influences, etc), and so is this blog post.

Forged in the headache of the memories of the Cabaret Voltaire, The Dadasophers are an improvising collective curated by the eponymous Lord Dada. Suffered a chance formation involving the passive channelling of Sartre and Hegel to the soundtrack of Jünde Szkøro’s guitar strings jerking him like a marionette as panpipes plundered.

It happened just like that. WZD entered the room as it was occurring and suggested that it became a thing.  And thus it became a (no)thing.

To give a bit of more honest insight: it’s something I devised in order to allow me another outlet to shout a lot. I’m already a member of anti-choir Juxtavoices – http://www.discus-music.co.uk/juxtavoices.htm – but I’m clearly an unrepentant narcissist who couldn’t hack being just one voice amongst 25 or so, and had to place myself on a soapbox, not least because I’m 5’7 and the soapbox adds a good few inches. I like shouting. And screaming. They’re fun. I’d fucking love to sing in a pleasant way and have some sort of real talent in that area, but as my physical body seems to have decided to shut off that avenue to me, I’ll suffice with abrasively vocalising in hopefully interesting ways instead.

This is something I want to curate for as long as I’m interested in shouting and Dada, and as long as my voice is physically capable of such things. The beauty of it is that wherever I am, I can transplant the project there immediately as soon as I source musicians that can improvise in ways that I find aesthetically appealing. I never want any of the music attached to the project to be rehearsed or ‘written’ in any way wherein it could be performed in the same way again and again. If anything is to be written, it is just to be guidelines for chances. For example, when playing with ideas with Jünde Szkøro, we played around with the writing of riffs using dice-rolls to determine which notes on the fretboard of the guitar are allowed to be utilised in that performance.

The name? The Dadasophers. Lord Dada is the Dadasopher, and the concept originally comes from Raoul Hausmann (whose dadasophy was founded on the notion of destruction as an act of creation). Why Lord Dada? Male counter-part to Lady Gaga, of course – http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/128762-to-gaga-is-to-dada – the greatest Situationist of this era!

_Plagiarist Revolution_
Improvised chance readings of old Dada texts/manifestos over improvised chance (musical?) noises. This is a détournement of what was recuperated.

This album, planned moreso than it is recorded, contains my vocalisations of texts sourced from old Dada writers, but readings arenot rehearsed. Music fully improvised and/or using chance methods in their composition.

Wanna hear something? Here’s the first recorded song:

http://soundcloud.com/user1795691/proclamation-without

_Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit_
Live performance piece of an original Situationist-Dada opera utilising Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre techniques

In comparison to this, Plagiarist Revolution is merely a bit of fun. This is my little baby. I originally intended to perform this as part of P A N D E M I C, but the scale of the project evolved into something bigger than anticipated, and I was swamped with bouts of flu that rendered me unable to perform anyway, so it didn’t get completed and organised within the 6 weeks or so I’d originally anticipated.

I love the concept of Gesamkunstwerk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesamtkunstwerk – the synthesis of many art mediums to create a total work of art. The Dadaists were obsessed with the idea, as was Richard Wagner. Wagner’s Ring Cycle is one of my favourite pieces of music of all time, and the 15 or so hour piece is ridiculously powerful. But, Wagner is grand, almost traditional. I don’t want to emulate classical and romantic-era.

Harry Partch was a fascinating character – a bum who made his own instruments, his whole unique system of music, and a loada weird music. He’s not someone I listen to often as whilst his music is cool, my knowledge of music theory isn’t good enough to really understand the technicalities of what he did, and from my perspective as listener I much prefer to listen to Frank Zappa – who was influenced by Partch and whose music is Partch-esque but more enjoyable to my ears. Nevertheless, Parch was also interested in Gesamkunstwerk, and this page is fairly good at discussing his attitudes: http://www.nietzschecircle.com/hyperion087.html

– “[I want to] be aware of the total potential of any human involvement. The musician as dancer, the dancer as ditch-digger, the ditch-digger as physicist, the physicist as hobo, the hobo as messiah, the messiah as criminal, or any other conceivable metamorphosis. “….

– “,I believe in a total integration of factors, not as separate and sealed specialties in the artificially divorced departments of universities, but of sound and sight, the visually dynamic and dramatic, all channeled into a single, wholly fused, and purposeful direction. All. “

However, whilst Partch designed things with an idea of creating this holistic work, he also made it very difficult for anyone to be able to perform it – the demands on the musicians involved were immense, as they had to be highly skilled across multiple art mediums, and also learn his entire notational system. He wanted perfection. I want to be surprised, I want a Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella. Many years ago, in my teens,  I used to be obsessed with the technicality of music, with bands like Dream Theater – who appealed to me due to their high level of very controlled musicianship (ie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhedP71N9gQ [The Dance of Eternity]). Nowadays, in terms of live music most especially – I prefer material that’s a lot looser in composition, and generally more focused upon textures and atmospheres, and I love the way that with improvised music the listener has no realistic expectations – the musicians can’t anticipate what the others are going to try and steer the music toward, and it can create snatches of moments of genius, little moments that can never really be repeated – and to me, that’s more valuable than something that’s a mirror image of something written in the past. Dada. I’m not a trained musician, I can compose only vague structures and cues, and my writing extends to words and ideas. I don’t want to design a piece that can be endlessly repeated, ad nauseum, a mirror image of one another. Spontaneity and risk shall be electrifying.

Back to Dada, Kurt Schwitters, too, was obsessed with the concept, and he realised his method through the art of collage, and combined it all under MERZ (psychological collage). (note, for anyone interested, the song I made to contribute to the WASW album was partially named after Schwitters, you can hear it here: http://wasw.bandcamp.com/track/strategies-against-archeo-w-a-s-w-brained-by-the-falling-masonry-of-the-merzbau).

“Whatever the reason, it is clear that the discovery of collage was an absolute revelation to Schwitters. In its capacity to create a whole from fragments, collage could represent Schwitters’ ever-present desire to unify the fragmented, to rebuild something that had been destroyed, and to control his shattered surroundings… Taking what was essentially rubbish –  bits of paper, bus tickets, postage stamps, newspaper cuttings and advertisements – he assembled these cast-off materials into new forms, creating a new kind of order and new relationships within the self-contained surfaces of his collages”. (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/english/graduate/issue/5/html/Clare_ODowd.htm)

Like any audio recording of Wagner or Partch, it can not simulate the full performance, nor convey it to the listener. The text I have put up on RYM elaborates on this for a coupla paragraphs, here: http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/the_dadasophers/ex_nihilo_nihil_fit/

– What is this? A (digital recording of a live performance of a semi-improvised) Situationist-Dada opera utilising Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre techniques (audience were present and correct: now dead).
– What is this? Sound.
– What is this sound? Nothing.
– What is nothing? DADA
– “We want to change the world with nothing.” —Richard Huelsenbeck

Language is brilliant, in all guises. Semiotics, words on a page, anything else. I find people like Roland Barthes and Ludwig Wittgenstein endlessly fascinating. I want an opera to have a meaning that is what is NOT spoken, but delivered through both Brechtian gest, and an inherent dialectic with the audience that forces them to create their own synthesis of meaning. Libretto is essentially a meta performance of ideas inherent in the audio of the piece that it intends to convey – it is a pedagogy, but a pedagogy that informs the listener that they must dismiss everything it teaches them. Vocals sound meaningless, but have a meaning that only highlights that it really is meaningless.  Witgensteinian notions of intent. thought – intent – speech; language as clothes for a meaning.The fast pace of words and ideas and stage visuals shall inundate audience in the same way that Guy Debord’s film version of Society of the Spectacle did. I want to play with naivete, I want to infuriate and confuse and challenge. I want the audience to be the performance that I watch. I shall distort pronunciation into unrecognisability, and whilst words shall be present, they both are and aren’t linked. There’s probably some Derrida-supplement crap to shove in right about here, but I can’t be bothered trying to write that. The text in the performance will have a load of Situationist International ideas within it, as well as stage-directions, plus the vocals shall have a loada total meaninglessness that correlate to no present text to add to the confusion of what is real.

Meaningless has meaning and that meaning is DADA. I fucking love the ludic.

Bertolt Brecht. A lovely mind. I first encountered him through his music, both his politicalised street-songs that he made with Hanns Eisler (ie. Song of a German Mother – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDVHXqdqlis), and his larger-form political cabaret and musical theatre pieces that he made with Kurt Weill (ie. The Threepenny Opera – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3_2zbZwDlM). Anyway, it was reading a book of his collected writings (Brecht on Theatre) that first sparked my mind into wanting to create what would become Ex Nihilo…. I was sat on a bus, reading it, and then almost jumped up to shout ‘Eureka”, but since the only other passenger was an angry-looking chav, I figured I’d restrain myself. The Epic Theatre (http://www.usq.edu.au/artsworx/schoolresources/goodwomanofszechwan/dramaticvsepic) is full of awesome scraps of theory for performances, and in the notes for the performance I’m designing, I’m attempting to mash in as much as possible.

Why is it an opera? Opera just has to be drama + music + libretto.Conventions include costumes, acting and staging opera  through-composed compositional methods to be used musically (durchkomponiert). different music for each stanza  of lyrics. It won’t sound like ‘opera’ – it’ll be noisy free improv, most likely. The musicians I trip over in my life become my bricolage, and dada leitmotifs vaguely hold the music together. Music as ignorant of the text – if they know not the content of the words, then they cannot taint the music with their own connotations. Separation of music from the theatre is a part of the epic theatre.

Anyway, I could write a lot more about this, and give away all the ideas behind it, and post all of my notes regarding what the performance involves. But I’m not gonna. I’ve missed out a lot of stuff that would probably give you (who?) a clearer impression of my intent, but, y’know, fuck spoilers. There’s a lot more Brecht, language-stuff, and Situationism than I want to reveal (plus it’d make this post about 3x longer than it already is), I’m aware that what I have written is liable to make me just seem confused and vague, and as if I’m without a real grasp on the ideas I’m playing with and it’s probably all badly explained. One day….

Link Dump:

-Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dadasophers?sk=info

  RYM: http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/the_dadasophers

– Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/user1795691

– Bandcamp: http://dadasophers.bandcamp.com/

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One Comment
  1. Hello Rick – we met at the last Juxatvoices rehearsal and had a delve into the archives of various scores. I was really interested in your Futurist style score, and I think you said to me that this had been worked on in Juxtas some time ago, before my time. I am so sorry I missed this experience, and feel very inclined to request that we might revisit it. I cannot see anything on your blog about Futurism, but maybe I have missed this. I would like to request an entry on your blog about Futurism and music, especially about your own score, I think this was an original score of your own, or did I misunderstand and it was an historic score revived?? Anyway, my request stands!
    I am looking at my copy of Futurist Performance by Michael Kirby, and I remember how exciting I found this when I was developing early ideas for the Hobby Horse text which is now published in Dadadollz. I have tried to embody that kind of energy and noise in much of what I do for the stage performance. I know this is always surprising for the audiences, and that I am certain is not only because I am older than people might expect for this kind of energetic public artistic display (or even because of possible gendered expectations piled on to age expectations). I think this early period of modernism continues to be radical, no matter what, and still challenging, and still capable of challenging us.
    From Christine Kennedy of Warm Storage studio blog

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