The Contemporary Art Gallery presented the North American premiere of two new films by British artist Andrew Cross to be followed by a Q&A session. The Solo is a new film featuring the music of Carl Palmer. It explores the relationship between music and space by focusing on a much-maligned musical form: the rock drum solo. Through a process of rigorous editing, sequences of tightly framed images are constructed; Cross’ minimalist style giving rise to a consideration of the shifting nature of cultural value.
Popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s drum solos were a key feature of concerts then, combining extraordinary musical virtuosity and showmanship. The film is produced in collaboration with Carl Palmer, legendary rock star drummer of 1970s ‘supergroup’ Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who composed and performed a series of new drum solos especially for the artist. Presented here as a single screen projection, Cross’ work points up the minutiae of Palmer’s performance and the absorbing relationship between drummer and drum kit. Each part explores different aspects of percussion and the inherent complexities within rhythm and sound. A solo snare drum gives way to brushes, then cymbals, followed by a sequence played with hands and felt beaters. It culminates in a final full drum kit solo.
For his latest collaboration with musicians associated with 1970s ‘progressive’ rock, Andrew Cross has worked with a group once dubbed Europe’s ‘biggest cult band’: The Enid. This will be the first international screening of Ensemble produced to coincide with The Enid’s concert with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in October 2010.
Throughout their 36 year checkered history The Enid have both captivated and confounded music audiences in equal measure. While their musical style my possess many of the characteristics of English progressive rock – complex, ‘intellectual’ filled with classical references – The Enid have always defied clear categorization. In this characteristically restrained film – contradicting the conventions of the ‘rock-umentary’ with the unlikeliest of rock ‘stars’ – Cross presents an intimate portrait of enigmatic founder and creative core Robert John Godfrey together with current band members at their studio and collective home in Northampton, England. A range of musical elements are observed as they are rehearsed in the studio leading up to the film’s second part covering their live concert with the CBSO. As the camera lingers, Godfrey offers insight into his uncompromising ideas and philosophy that underpin theEnid’s unique music and ethos.
Presented in partnership with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and SFU Woodward’s.
The Solo and Ensemble are supported by Southampton Solent University.