At the centre of Wolfgang Tillmans’ extraordinary retrospective, currently showing at The Tate Modern, is the Playback Room, featuring a pair of 800 D3 speakers showcasing experimental British 80’s band, Colourbox.
The exhibition is full of surprises, from the hanging of the work to the range of subject matter and media and the bespoke listening room works beautifully alongside such a varied output. We asked Wolfgang why he felt the recorded music deserved the space and why Colourbox:
“There is a lack in the world of spaces for recorded music although there are lots of spaces for live music. II think people feel that recorded music is not expensive and so doesn’t deserve a room the way a big painting that costs a million pounds deserves a room. So for me, something like New Order’s Blue Monday is a perfect work of art and it deserves a room.
I chose to showcase Colourbox because I have always loved them. I discovered their music when I was sixteen at a crucial moment and their sampling and mixing of different styles and sources had been really inspirational to me. I learnt that they never played live, because they felt they couldn’t do what they wanted to do with their music in a live setting, they were working with three tape machines at the same time and cutting and assembling bits of tape and all that would not have been possible to do live in the mid ‘80s.
So often the recorded studio music is the final artwork not the concert, and in the case of Colourbox, there just never was a concert.”
The 16 tracks were originally selected to be played on a loop at a conceptual playback listening space at Tillmans’ Berlin gallery, Between Bridges, in 2014, where lyrics and samples were pasted on the walls and where copies of the v23-designed records sat alongside original session ½” and ¼” tape reels, seeking to provide a unique environment for the audience to immerse themselves in the band’s modest but potent legacy.
Wolfgang has compiled a 2 x LP compilation of the band: Colourbox – Music of the band (1982 – 1987) which will be available as a high-quality FLAC and ALAC downloads from Bowers & Wilkins’ Society of Sound Download Store. A gatefold 2xLP edition of the compilation will be available, exclusively through the Tate shops and via the 4AD online store.
Sadly between the initial exhibition in 2014 and this, Colourbox member Steven Young has passed away. This release is also being pressed as a tribute to him and the wonderful music he helped bring to the world.
Colourbox – Music of the band (1982 – 1987)
A1 – Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse / Shoot Out (7:57)
A2 – Sleepwalker (2:16)
A3 – Just Give ’em Whiskey (4:19)
A4 – Baby I Love You So [7″ version] (3:20)
B1 – Edit The Dragon (2:43)
B2 – Hipnition (3:06)
B3 – We Walk Around the Streets (0:24)
B4 – Nation (10:00)
C1 – Justice (4:51)
C2 – Sex Gun (4:08)
C3 – Shotgun (4:50)
C4 – The Moon Is Blue [7″ version] (4:34)
D1 – Keep On Pushing (5:18)
D2 – Fast Dump (5:40)
D3 – Arena I (4:22)
D4 – Hot Doggie (2:58)