Leo Chadburn

Leo Chadburn
Leo Chadburn, "Red and Blue", photography by Joe Plommer

For Open Source, Chadburn will perform RED AND BLUE, which takes as its subject the Cold War ‘special relationship’ between the US and UK governments. The text is inspired by the correspondence between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the twin icons of politics throughout Chadburn’s 1980s childhood in a UK East Midlands ex-mining town. Thatcher and Reagan’s words are fractured and half-remembered in the surreal ‘libretto’, which imagines the two politicians as a pair of ‘televisual spectres’.

The music is a collision between digitally-processed brass and distorted synthesizer drones; atonal electronic pop and drifting field recordings; and spoken word and unearthly vocalisations. It is by turns sinister, strange and mordantly witty, compressing a landslide of musical ideas into 16 and a half minutes. RED AND BLUE can be seen as either a hyper-condensed album, comprising twelve fragmentary songs; an extended, kaleidoscopic single; or an abstract, experimental radio play.

RED AND BLUE is also a sister project to artist/director Jennet Thomas’ 2015 film THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE, for which Chadburn wrote the score. Thomas’ film, commissioned and exhibited by the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool is a kind of absurd fairy-tale, the film depicted a strange mythical tribe surrounding the ‘Blue Lady’, based on a memory former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, holds sway. The tribe takes a fictional pilgrimage through a future-primitive world, where the difference between magic and technology is now forgotten.

RED AND BLUE deploys soundscapes and recordings not included in the film, besides expanding on certain musical themes from the score.

Curated by Richard Parry