Gaggle - The Brilliant and The Dark : Live at the ICA (LP Transgressive Records)
It's a strange and theatrical world out there. Mass voices come together to strengthen resolve and not just demand change but cause it. What happened before is valid today.
In 1969 a choir of 1000 women performed at the Royal Albert Hall a grand libretto as part of an operatic composition by Malcolm Williamson and Ursula Vaughan Williams. It was herstory rather than history. From the dreadful witch-hunts to the defiant Suffragettes. Then on the 2nd of December 2010 the performance was recreated and updated at The ICA. A mass choir with a drum kit. The voices of Maya Angelou and news reports of rape used as a weapon in the Democratic Republic of Congo become new elements to work with. Dressed in red and white robes the act of politically charged drama and spectacle is rather like something Derek Jarman would have created. There is a brief video available online in which they re-stage part of the performance, along with backstage preparations. It was filmed at The Women's Library in London by the artists who brought them to the ICA, Eileen Simpson and Ben White.
I've never come across this story before. The very idea of such a defiant and politically challenging work being presented at the Royal Festival Hall, a bastion of conservatism, is baffling. It's an amazing side-long recording and would, no doubt, have been quite an experience to witness live. The flip-side contains many of the elements of the albums which you are free to use for your own work. Copyleft rather than Copyright.
It's very well presented in a gatefold cover featuring line drawings by Rebecca Strickson and photographs from the original 1969 performance. It was released in an edition of 300 for Record Shop Day 2011. Get it while you still can. It's a wonderful performance and document of the ongoing social and political struggle. HM