Current Society of Sound artist and multi-talented composer/producer John Metcalfe has curated Monomedia: a series of concerts where the invited musicians will play their entire sets in the dark.
In an interview with Kate Mossman for Kings Place What’s On (Issue: April-June 2013) he explains the inspiration behind the concept:
“I was on a commuter train at night once, and in one of the carriages, the electrics had gone. All the lights were off – and it was fantastic. Everyone was quiet, no one was playing on their phones – everyone was lost in their own thoughts. It was as though we were bound together – this was our carriage, our secret. No one tried to turn them back on.”
Metcalfe believes that listening in the dark “kick-starts parts of your brain you’ve completely forgotten about. Someone suggested using blindfolds first but that makes me think of long-haul flights. It wasn’t the point anyway – it’s not about desensitising you to what’s around you, and even in darkness, you can see certain shapes emerging.”
From influential Factory Records signings, Durutti Column, to arranging strings for Morrissey, Blur and Peter Gabriel through to his solo compositions, John Metcalfe’s work melds avant-pop, electronica and contemporary classical so it’s no surprise he has chosen artists who work on the experimental side of contemporary music. Thomas Dolby, Will Gregory and The Radiophonic Workshop are all uncompromising in their approach to composition and the nature of the sonic worlds they choose to create.
Metcalfe’s idea of listening in the dark was also inspired by his frustration that musicianship often gets lost in the flamboyant spectacle of pop performers:
“The guitarist may be doing a brilliant counter-melody, the drummer may be doing something amazing with the kick-drum, but all of that somehow gets lost. You know when the lights go down at the start of the gig and everyone cheers? In many ways that’s the best part of the show. I thought, why not extend it.”
Thursday 9th May: Thomas Dolby
Friday 10th May: Will Gregory’s Moog Ensemble
Saturday 11th May: John Metcalfe Band & special guests + The New Radiophonic Workshop