Annette Peacock sung in British composer Andrew Poppy/Alphbed ('87) 'GOODBYE Mr G'. David Teledu, a writer and a fan, kindly gave me a permission to use his correspondence with Andrew Poppy who talked about the session with Annette Peacock.
From apoppy Thu Dec 17 05:09:24 1998
Thank you for your letter of 7th December about Annette Peacock's appearance on Alphabed.
It wasn't really a collaboration as such although I think Annette's contribution is wonderful and invaluable. 'The Songs of the Claypeople' started of as a long quasi prose poem cum collage piece of writing that I made in about 1982-3. At about that time I was beginning to work on dance and experimental theatre projects. I began a dialogue of sorts with Impact theatre and we talked about working together in some way. I showed the director of Impact theatre 'The Songs of the Claypeople' and he thought it could be the basis of a theatre work. I then began a long period of writing and re-writing text and music. The first version was very simple with a lot of music. Some of it just piano and voice and some of it for fairlight MK1 one of the very first sequencers. I worked on that with the keyboard player and programmer Blue Weaver. The first version of the show opened at Leeds University Theatre in May 84 or it may have been 83.
As you can probably hear 'Alphabed' is influenced by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's work Einstein on the Beach although I did not set out to make a conscious copy. There are other theatrical modals. I've always thought of the text as being a sort of punk Eliot. A collage thing. Connecting ritual and religion and memory in a cut up kind of way.
Anyway I was never really happy with the stage production of the piece and to cut a very long story short a couple of years later when I was thinking about the second record for ZTT I thought 'The Songs of the Claypeople' could be developed with more musicians and singers. Some of the text in 'Songs of the Claypeople' is spoken and some is sung. I think that spoken texts in something like Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex are fantastic. And of course there are the text spoken by Lucinda Childs in Einstein on the Beach. The ritual of the year announced in '91 'Goodbye Mr G' needed someone who could speak over music in an unselfconscious way. I knew a couple of Annette's records and had seen her perform at Ronnie Scots. I thought everything about her was wonderful, interesting and exciting. And she sometimes does that speaking thing. So eventually we got to speak on the telephone and I sent her some of my music. The record company and her management did the deal and she came to the studio. That was the first time we met. The session was actually very simple. There were no rehearsals. I had written out a score with the texting roughly the place that it needed to fit. At this time almost all the other parts were recorded. There was a middle section where there were a few melodic lines for her to sing. After getting a level and sound on her voice we did a complete take. I'm not certain if Annette has seen the text before she came to the studio if fact I'm almost certain she didn't. What appears on the record is the first take. I remember that one of my strategies was that I didn't want her to find or make too much meaning in it or to try and express something but to just do it but not completely flat. We did a second take but it wasn't as interesting as the first. I think that you can hear Annette exploring each line as it comes. She does not really know where they are going but that's cool with her and I think this lends a wonderful and mysterious quality to the articulation. Of course Annette is a fantastic improviser and so she is very adept at moving through things spontaneously.
Dave Meegan and I mixed the track a couple weeks later. Dave's contribution is very important. The way in which the voice is process in exquisite. It retains the beautiful quality of Annette's natural voice while at the same time taking some of the upper frequency resonance and colouring it.
Annette and I have kept in touch over the years. She has been very supportive of my work. Recently she has asked me to work on a project with her which I probably should not speak about here so I won't.
As I'm sure you know she recently (last year) has a record out on ECM called 'Music of Annette Peacock' [Nothing ever was, anyway. Music of Annette Peacock, '97]. Which is all her music but performed by the pianist Marilyn Crispell with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. Annette sings on one track and it's very beautiful.
With best wishes
Link to: Andrew Poppy webpage
From New Musical Express ('86)
STAMP OF THE VAMP: Annette Peacock, London Ronnie Scott's
>>>IN HER first performance for ages, Annette Peacock proceeds like nookie in reverse. As slender as an After Eight Mint, she sits a ramrod-straight sentinel at her electric piano and conjures a mood of post-coital tristesse, a softly dappling blue-note hued Debussian reverie like pebbles tossed wistfully into a millpond.
>>>The former Queen of Out-ness meditates on the failed promise of 60's swing in the cold light of dawn. A packed audience, mostly too young to recall those liberated days, settles down to an hours or two of serious business, of business, of which Been In The Street Too Long sets the tone. But Annette is a woman of many moods, and not for nothing is her record company called Ironic.
>>>The tish-tash of Simon Diamond's brushed drums, and Gary Jones' hovering bass sonorities, shift the show up a gear, and centre-stage is taken by Annette's black-clad and piquantly beautiful daughter, Apache. She variously doubles up on Annette's singing and taps a cowbell before differently sidling into the spotlight on her own account to sing with much of hr mother's glassy assurance (even though she betrays a few nerves when dancing).
>>>Thus is laid a thinking-person's funk base for Annette's raps, including numbers from X-DREAMS, The Perfect Relapse and her new LP I Have No Feeling. She is very funny -- a woman's sexual, social and existential lot is bemoaned, yet often with a Spartist overkill of seminar-speak that slyly mocks her own preoccupations. The Revolution will not be on Open University, yah?
>>>And getting down to the humpi' funkin' nitty-gritty, 'My Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook' smolders and hollers in the sweatiest, vampiest of depth-charges. As a passing Charles Shaar Murray pronounces "Astrud Gilberto sings structuralism!" Great show.
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