Dancing Round the Dining Room (CD Review)
Magazine January 2018
Based where London bleeds
into Surrey, Praveen Manghani and Russell Thompson superimpose “electronic
Beat poetry” onto the increasingly more complex grid of English chanson
with a sureness of touch that, as Scott Walker noted of Jacques Brel,
“rarely offers solutions yet states the confusion beautifully”.
If nothing else, their use of
language per se is tantamount to a vast and entertaining game of patterned
phonetics and syllables via a rapid-fire loquacity that, referencing such
disparate entities as Magritte (“the geezer to beat”), Larry the Lamb
and The Average White Band may seem to place the duo squarely in a region of
post-punk literary-musical wit.
Yet there’s an inbuilt originality that places Project Adorno at a tangent
to, say, Ian Dury, John Cooper Clarke or Jarvis Cocker and, beyond lyrics,
production values are broad enough for old-fashioned guitars (and kazoo
solos in autobiographical “Kiddoez & Squain”) to rear up amidst
synthesisers and samplings.
Moreover, in keeping with the title, most of the sixteen tracks are
eminently danceable; the conspicuous exceptions being “Vauxhall Vox-Pops”,
“Chaplin Park Memoirs” and, especially, “Last Great Innings of the
Summer” which is pure “Sunny Afternoon” and “Waterloo
Potter in the Present Tense
singing detectives: Project Adorno trace back-story of controversial TV
Library, Surrey 13th March 2017
are Project Adorno? They are a quirky duo employing spoken word and song,
electronic music backing, and occasional acoustic guitar, m’lud. The
latest show compiled by spoken word maestro Russell Thompson and Praveen
Manghani is Dennis Potter in the Present Tense, a tribute to the
controversial TV screenwriter, and a follow-up to their show about another
alternative national treasure, Derek Jarman.
performed their 45-minute collage of film, interviews, including the words
of Potter himself, electronic music, and what I would generally describe
as spoken songs to an appreciative audience at Kingston library on
Potter died from cancer in 1994. He stood as a Labour candidate at the
1964 general election; soon afterwards his health was affected by the
onset of psoriatic arthropathy. He is best known for his BBC TV serials
Pennies from Heaven, The Singing Detective, and television plays such as
Blue Remembered Hills and Brimstone and Treacle, which was eventually
shown as a film starring Sting. Other facts about Potter? One of his
implacable opponents was clean-up TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse. He also
named the cancer that killed him “Rupert”, after media mogul Rupert
Adorno’s show takes in Potter’s childhood home in the Forest of Dean,
with film shot in that area and at other places with Potter associations,
such as Hammersmith bridge, a football match at Fulham in the early 50s,
the playwright’s love of the 30s crooner Al Bowlly, who was killed in
the Blitz, as well as his most famous TV series and one-off plays. Both
Pennies From Heaven and The Singing Detective featured Bowlly’s songs;
The Singing Detective also dwelt on Potter’s debilitating skin
condition, which often required hospital treatment.
show also features interviews with Potter’s daughter Jane, and his
producer Kenith Trodd, as well as quotes from Potter himself. Jane talks
of how her father was focused on the here and now, as the grown-up
children in Blue Remembered Hills experience a day in its fullness,
as if it was a whole year. Adorno have taken the title of their show from
quotes from Potter himself, such as “We tend to forget that life can
only be defined in the present tense” and “The fact is, if you see the
present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.”
to his final interview, Praveen sings of the playwright reminiscing about
“the old days” at the BBC, “morphine and champagne chasers, just
Melvyn Bragg and me”. Another number about a drug that came close
to curing Potter’s psoriasis talks of him being tired of tucking his
trousers into his socks, “in case I leave my trails of glory.”
Potter’, which the Adornos say is also a tribute to Lou Reed and John
Cale, talks of writing a “another play today”, commissioned by the
BBC: “They want to ban it, it’s nauseating, Alasdair Milne [BBC head
at the time] is telling me …” ‘Blackeyes’ explores his most
controversial work, the novel/screenplay of which Adorno sing: “Angel or
whore, you can never be sure, about Blackeyes.” Potter was accused of
being misogynistic; or was he just writing about misogyny? Another
show segment reflects on the many fans, the Potterheads, with their Dennis
Potter ashtrays: “I can quote from all the plays.”
Adorno supply the audience with a detailed breakdown of the 17 show
segments, so that we understand what’s going on throughout. The duo’s
understated approach is cerebral rather than in your face; they rarely
make eye contact with the audience, for instance. I regretted that the
backing music did not reflect more of the lush melodies that Potter loved,
the poetry of popular music with which he laced many of his plays; and
that the archive interviews were not always entirely audible above the
the performance is stimulating and thought-provoking, just as the plays
were. Living life in the present tense means names like Potter’s are in
danger of being forgotten, consigned to the past, already. Project
Adorno’s show, including the playwright’s prescient warning: “People
won’t know what’s real and what’s not”, is a welcome antidote to
Dennis Potter in the
Potter Matters Review July
to capture the essence of writer, his biography, work, influences, impact?
And when it’s a writer such as Dennis Potter – dramatist, journalist,
novelist, commentator. There’s realism, naturalism of course – tell the
story, facts, dates, works. But that wouldn’t do for a writer who famously
felt that drama was the better form for telling ‘truth’ – and at that,
drama that further played with ideas of inside and outside the head, the
past and present, and multiple layers of ‘reality’ intersecting and
interplaying. ‘No biography’ gasps Daniel in his last breath, a request
ignored by those who reanimate his head for the purposes of entertainment
(in DP's Cold Lazarus).
So, what a relief – what a thrill – to
finally get to see Project Adorno’s Dennis
Potter in the Present Tense. Developed and written after extensive
research, interviews with scholars, enthusiasts, and members of his family,
it’s incredibly well-informed. It is though a million miles from any dusty
academic study or realist biography. With songs, audio clips and striking
– often abstract - visuals the show (for that’s the only way to describe
it) was an entertaining, amusing, thought provoking and touching, tour de
force. As Potter fans, the (sadly too small) audience at this performance at
Coleford’s Festival of Words, were appreciative of the insights the pair
had clearly got from their visits to the Forest of Dean, and studying Dennis
Potter's work. There were references to his upbringing in the Forest, but
also fabulous songs and clips relating to Al Bowly, Hammersmith Bridge,
razoxane, and Blackeyes
- and much more. A
feast for the brain, eyes, ears and soul, if you ever get the opportunity to
see this short but wonderfully formed show – grab it!
Potter in the Present Tense
Buxton Fringe, Underground
Venues 16th July 2016.
Old Hall hotel has been run by Potters for over half a century, therefore
was is it a coincidence that Projectadorno were elected to perform their
work on the renowned late TV dramatist, playwright and author in the
Underground Venue of this hotel?
Adorno is a double act, named after the German philosopher Theodore Adorno,
Which reflects the intellectual and thorough investigation that forms the
bulk of their creation. The audience of 18, admired this production by two
young men, armed with guitars, plus a background of a sepia PowerPoint
presentation and voiceovers, that traced the short life and talented works
of Dennis Potter.
story was told in full circle, from Potter’s humble beginnings as the son
of a coalminer through his brilliance that escalated Potter’s rise to
fame, and untimely death at the age of 59. Then back to the beginning, which
emphasised the “Rags to Riches” determination of that remarkable man.
presentation was enhanced by the lyrics and background voiceovers, that
accompanied the visual performance, ranging from Potters start in life, in
the New Forest, via a short spell in London, to his final employment as a
Civil Servant in the Treasury, which soon ended due to his extensive and
talented productions in the media and as a profligate author.
a restriction of copywrite, the entire production had to be researched by
the Adorno duo. Not only did they compose the lyrics, in blank verse, and
spoken word, charting Potter’s humble beginnings to international fame,
but they also, located and reproduced visual reproductions of the buildings
and the milestones of Potter’s short life.
only criticism is that they sometimes have difficulty hitting the right
vocal notes but their talent and enthusiasm shone through. Adorno have to be
admired by their tenacity and thorough research, thereby generating a unique
and very enjoyable nostalgic work.
Edinburgh Fringe 2014 August 13th to
two guys who make up Project Adorno present a multi-media experience here,
with many of their own lively and catchy songs, super 8 video and original
interview pieces. We see places relating to the life of Derek Jarman, who in
his life was regarded as the enfant terrible of British film. We see early
photos and scenes, a good deal of his final home in Dungeness, reference to
Blue, his final film, and even shots of some of that glorious troop, the
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, when Derek was consecrated as Saint
Derek of Dungeness.
his time, Derek was a ground-breaking gay film maker, and his mock-Roman
romp, Sebastiane, with its flagrant semi, was a hot ticket in the relatively
innocent days in which it appeared. Later work, such as Caravaggio and The
War Requiem, was more serious, but we see him here still being something of
a fun boy at social gatherings. Then there are the hospital days as AIDS
took it’s toll.
you see this show you will discover fresh aspects of Jarman, hear some
interesting things by and about him spoken by these guys, plus a good deal
of entertaining and thought-provoking music.
Challis, ScotsGay Magazine
Adorno: 15 Electro-Pop Vaudeville Greats
Fringe Review 2013
you have been to the Fringe before, the chances are you have seen these
chaps. Billed as a 'retrospective recital featuring 15 favourite moments
plucked from 15 years of live performance' this show is in effect a 'best
of' Fringe regulars Project Adorno. Their staple is quirky, eccentric tunes
conveyed in an idiosyncratic style on a variety of instruments including the
night's show was culled from several of their earlier efforts and on the
whole it was an enjoyable escapade. Songs about and inspired by early
computing (ZX Spectrum vs Commodore 64), London's missing rivers and office
working were just some of the themes. My favourite was the one about Rene
Magritte, but I'm a sucker for all things Magritte! The songs were as
promised, electro-pop with a touch of whimsy. I'm sure you'll be able to
spot their heroes in the pop world, but despite this many of the songs were
undeniably Project Adorno.
I have a criticism, it is that after all the years and shows, Russell still
finds it hard to carry a tune or keep time. That, however, is perhaps part
of their charm. Plucky amateurs who give it their best shot and aren't put
off by the occasional spot of bad press.
duo have been working together for a long time now, and it's fair to say
they aren't likely to get that 15 mins of fame, but I think they can be
famous for 15 people if you get along to their next show before we say
goodbye to Underground Venues in its present arrangement.
Adorno's Record Collection
Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Anyone for Cricket?
is a double act after the philosopher Theodor Adorno. This name reflects
their intellectual curiosity and their love of art that forms the bulk of
the topics in the songs that they perform. In addition
to performing original numbers they dig through their record collection and
express the curiosity of music about cricket (one of the vinyl in their
collection being ‘The Best of Test Match Special’) and their nerdy comic
obsessions and other forgotten cultural relics of our society are
dug out of their suitcase and displayed on stage. Their act rests on a spoof
performance that embodies the oddest in society similar to what Alan
Partridge has done so well in mocking middle Englanders for their quirky
obsessions and embarrassing behaviour.
duo appear, dressed in suits and T-shirts, on a stage filled with props,
including a guitar and a power point projector which they use to accompany
their bizarre songs and goofy dancing. Their performance could be modern
art, if its function is to test the boundaries of what is considered
acceptable and ‘cool’ - a big middle finger up to all those concerned
with how they fit in. Perhaps this is what is most interesting about them.
highlight of the show comes as they close with a song about the National
Trust. They talk about coming of age and how camping at Reading and
Glastonbury has become a chore and, as they have become older, the national
trust is what defines them now. It is humorous, imaginative, and manages to
fuse Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Madness into their sound. Their
quirkiness is fitting for the Fringe, however, they lack musicality which
distracts from the lyrics which are often very funny.
Broadway Baby. Reviewer: Cai Trefor
Adorno: Pop Songs & Pie Charts
Buxton Fringe 2011
most disappointing part of this performance was the sad lack of an audience,
only three others enjoyed an hour of giggles and tapping feet to the geeky
words and beats of this talented duo. Gloriously entitled Project Adorno,
sharp-suited Praveen Manghani and Russell Thompson treated us to the
lovechild of The Human League and Radio Four's Shipping Forecast.
helped us to understand how popular culture is something to be celebrated,
embraced, ridiculed and rejected in equal measure with their own rock
operas, ballads and electro-pop synth riffs, with the occasional acoustic
guitar, Rolf Harris Stylophone, video screening, Powerpoint presentation and
much-loved pie charts.
woven lyrics answered difficult questions like:
Formula One drivers use SATNAV?; and
what is the best way to fold a map?; and
is there a Lonely Planet book on planets; and
exactly where was Marillion's first gig?
remembered memories are brought clearly to life with throbbing back-beats
and risky rhyming (just how do words like appealing and cup of Darjeeling
find their way into the verse of a song?).
Constantly developing their performance, they look forward to a time when
the iPhone rules the world and look back to The Eighties when "the
1990s stretched out like a long line of hills that I'm reluctant to
climb." Love songs and rock'n'roll numbers collide in perfectly
constructed symmetry with Professor Stephen Hawking guesting on lead vocals
and a Rubik's Cube on drums.
is clever poppy stuff and nothing is immune from comment: ranging from the
demise of library stamping instruments to politics to Syntax Error messages
to aging all the way to death itself (and the bit between the last two when
you might want to join the National Trust!).
you want to enjoy a show that encompasses the true spirit of the Fringe,
then pop along. Remember not to eat too many of them pies though!
Adorno’s Top Ten of Popular Culture
Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Top of the Pops
you like Art Brut? Half Man Half Biscuit? Have you ever heard of Ian
Sinclair? If the answer to any of these questions is 'no' then you may be
bemused, vexed and possibly appalled by Project Adorno's Top Ten of Popular
Culture, a musical comedy double-act consisting of one librarian and one
'serial library user', both in suits and one genuinely wearing a flat-cap.
If, however, you're anything like me, you'll be in nerd heaven.
The show takes the something arbitrary form of a trip through the top twenty
favourite leisure activities of the British public - as compiled by the
National Office of Statistics. It features spectacularly wonky songs on
acoustic guitar and laptop computer about topics as diverse as the National
Trust, recommended reading and the annoyance caused by football fans who
refer to their team in the first person plural – an idiosyncrasy the song
points out is not shared by the admirers of Jethro Tull. The six-strong
audience is perfectly primed for this frame of reference; it seems that
every member is able to recognise at least one British coastal amusement
arcade from a slide of four, though maybe that's just pier pressure.
This isn't for everyone, much as it pains me to admit the fact – the
singing is wonky, the showmanship embarrassing, and the performers keep
walking in front of a Powerpoint presentation they're clearly still not
quite sure how to work. If this DIY aesthetic (to put it kindly) is a
problem for you, then you might want to give this performance a miss – but
life isn't artistically polished or perfect and in their own shy, witty way,
this duo struggle towards articulating the heart of a certain type of modern
experience, drowning in 'so many meaningless options' but nonetheless
celebrating every aspect of our cultural detritus, with the glee of Jonathan
Richman, MJ Hibbett, and countless other artists that you might also have
missed out on if you like your music neat and tidy.
I loved every minute. It's clear this show won't make a profit, and if it
did, its creators would probably just spend it on admission to transport
museums. It deserves to. The only thing stopping me giving this show five
stars is the knowledge that not everyone likes the same thing I do: if they
did, this show would sell out the Pleasance. But maybe it's for the best
that it isn't. Project Adorno are the true spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe
– two middle-aged man failing to harmonise about Jeremy Paxman in an empty
basement. Please see this show so no one else has to feel embarrassed about
laughing this loudly in a room of six people. On your way out, singing 'I Am
The M25' on the George IV Bridge may not be advisable – but if you're
anything like me, it might just be unavoidable. Go on. You'll make their
Reviewed by Richard O'Brien August
20, 2010 ****
Adorno's Top Ten of Popular Culture
Buxton Fringe 2010
Underground Venues, The Barrel Room 9th & 10th July 2010
I've never got around to asking Project Adorno (PA) quite what their take on
popular culture is - from a theoretical/philosophical perspective that is. I
had always supposed that their view was that popular culture in some way
seduced and pacified the population as a whole and is, therefore, a bad
thing. (My reading of Theodor Adorno's work is very limited). The more I see
PA, however, the more convinced I am that they really love elements of
popular culture and aren't too bothered about subverting the influence it
This year's show is essentially a repeat of last year's; I loved it then, I
love it now. I accept that PA are an acquired taste - they're a sort of mix
of Gilbert & George, Pete & Dud and the Pet Shop Boys and offer a
loving take on aspects of English (rather than British) culture set to
techno type tunes.
As the title suggests the show is loosely hung around a list of recreational
and leisure activities drawn from Social Trends data. PA's background is
more literary and musical than, say, sporting and their affection for Darts
(the band, not arrows), early computer games consoles (Sinclairs and
Commodores, not Amstrad) and Sci-Fi seems entirely genuine. As middle-age
looms they are able to recognise that future recreations could include being
part of the National Trust. They don't seem totally dismayed at the
prospect, and the rhyming of 'appealing' and 'Darjeeling' is inspired.
Other songs debate the sexiness - or otherwise - of Jeremy Paxman; piers as
a metaphor for death; dispute the way in which football supporters assume
identity with their team (as in "we need a new goalkeeper").
The final song starts by asking "If you were a motorway, which one
would you be?" As a London-based Project they feel defined by the M25.
It may not be a question that makes so much sense in all parts of the
I'd happily sit through this show every week - proof that popular culture
pacifies? We might need a call to action before long. There's a challenge PA
- see you next year I hope.
Adorno's Top Ten of Popular Culture
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2009
Venues - The Barrel Room, 18th and 19th July
bound to begin by saying that I love what Project Adorno do and this was
very much happy hour in the Barrel Room for me. Explaining why I like what I
do may be a bit trickier.
Adorno sound a bit like the Pet Shop Boys - that sort of techno-pop with
flattish vocals (though to be realistic PA don't sing terribly well, but
that adds to the charm for me). Their songs or verses are not about the
usual pop stuff - which is love, essentially. This year's show is on the
theme of what Social Trends data tell us about what we - the British - like
to do. It is a set of songs about lists, essentially.
they kicked-off with a song about computer games from the 1980s - and the
virtues of the Spectrum ZX as against the Commodore 64. Was it that long
ago? This was swiftly followed by songs about top museum attractions
(Natural History Museum by way of the Crystal Palace and the cards you might
collect from packets of tea).
numbers - I use the term advisedly and correctly in this context of lists -
were about how technological expansion had produced "a menu of
meaningless choices"; the melancholy nature of the English pier;
football culture (PA seemed admittedly out-of-their-depth here - according
to The Times Rinus Michels was the greatest football manager ever but they
didn't seem to know much about the great man).
stuff was about the virtues of reading - "not a bad habit to
have"; "Woody Allen we appreciate your canon" - typical of
their rhyming ingenuity; a song written and sung by the M25. One list
strangely - but it did come from The Sun - listed the 10 sexiest male
newsreaders without including Jeremy Paxman. Project Adorno put that
omission to rights.
finale included the chorus "I hear the sound of the world as it's
falling apart, The disintegration of it's cold post-modern heart". All
delivered with beaming smiles and the aid of laptop projections.
If you can't see why - well it's either your fault or mine. Don't blame
From The Cutting Room Floor
Adorno and Steve Lake
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2008
Performance poetry is confusing. It blurs the line between writing and
performance and leaves the audience wondering what is real and what isn't.
It felt like Project Adorno were joking when they sang "I feel
fantastic, despite the greenhouse gases playing on my mind", but with
the dry humour of their Ministry of the Mundane, they could be deadly
serious. Steve Lake's piece was more of a plot-driven story with a real film
noir feel, but still the fusion of electro-poetry-music-film makes for an
experience that bombards the senses. To be honest, I can't begin to tell you
whether this was good or bad - it was interesting, I decided, after an hour
of reflection. tw rating: 3/5 Rhiannon Smith
From the Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno & Steve Lake
Westminster Reference Library, 29th July 2008
Adorno are Praveen and
Russell, they can either be viewed as Laurel and Hardy-esque cultural
polemicists or the existentialist Blues Brothers - imagine T.W Adorno’s
‘mass consciousness’ distilled into Chas ‘n’ Dave singing an M.A.
paper. Tonight sees the Frankfurt school relocated to the auspicious
halls of Westminster’s reference library. The death of Le Corbusier
haunts the projected background visuals, as the city is a re-imagined
Ballardian dystopia. Project Adorno use words such as ‘incremental’ as
part of their lyrical delivery, which, in truth, they may not have actually
used at all, but you get the point. At other times Project Adorno
bizarrely end up sounding like the F.T. letters page being sung by Soft
Cell. This is electro-pop noise pollution, sound tracking inner city angst - the
ultimate media student’s band and not a bad thing at all.
Lake’s The ‘King Rat Monologues’ are Tom Waits goes analogue
beat-pop and, despite an initial tentative delivery, ‘King Rat’ is a
coagulating gloop of vitriolic underground buzz. This is ‘Lock - Stock’
meets musique concrete, or as the narrative itself suggests, its really all
about ‘arrogance and pussy’. Although at times somewhat Barry Adamson-lite,
this is nonetheless an engaging and entertaining performance. A
hyper-sensorial experience of poetic sound and vision, as the projected
filmscapes form the backdrop to Lake’s meticulous scalpel like dissection
of London’s criminal underbelly. Steve Lake then is not only a man to
read, but also one to watch out for on a dark night.
on 31 July 2008 by Keith Haworth www.culturedeluxe.com
From the Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno & Steve Lake
Festival Fringe July 2008
Synth and performance duo
Project Adorno have become something of a regular fixture at the Buxton
Fringe in recent years, mixing studied banality of delivery with electro-pop
for the masses. This year they are joined by Steve Lake, anarcho-punk
frontman of Zounds for something a little different.
show comes in three parts - three short films, fused with live performance.
For the first part - The Ministry of the Mundane - Adorno are on familiar
territory, playing Kafka-esque bureaucrats endorsing recycling schemes and
telephone boxes in simple electronic song. It was droll and effective.
for the second part - Tales from the Cutting Room Floor - Steve Lake took to
the stage for something altogether darker. To the accompaniment of a silent
film of gangland murder and treacherous molls, Lake takes to the stage like
a sinister fairground barker in glittery top hat and carrying a clear
plastic umbrella, reciting a tale of youth cut down by corruption. More like
an angry jazz poet than the more good-natured Adorno's Kraftwerk-style
descriptions, Lake's tone becomes increasingly ranting and, while
unquestionably exciting and full of showmanship, hard work for the audience.
By the end of his segment I for one felt somewhat bludgeoned and worn out,
and certainly not up to enjoy fully the return of Adorno to the stage with a
piece eulogising Eric Satie (something of a spiritual inspiration to
electro-pop and avant garde alike).
is no question that, if one was to think of a show that illustrates the word
'fringe' this would be it, but although I'm glad I saw it, it will
undoubtedly not be up everybody's street.
Underground Overdue (CD)
Rock N Reel Magazine 2008
This is the third proper Project Adorno album and once again
the eclectic duo of Praveen Manghani and Russell Thompson combine a unique
mix of poetry, programmed beats, chanson and pop, though the songs seem to
be slowly gaining ascendancy over the spoken word. The album features
material from their last 3 Edinburgh fringe shows with many live favourites
including ‘Song For Germaine’ and ‘Upney Sidings’.
As always their inspired lyrical
commentaries and observations cover every aspect of contemporary popular
culture and are affecting, moving and shot through with irony, intelligence
and humour. They manage to simultaneously exhibit both an affectionate
understanding and a quiet despair for the momentous and the trivial concerns
of the modern age. The subjects range from Germaine Greer to McFly, from J.
G. Ballard to Skegness Beach, from the flag of Romania to London Chip shops,
and everything in between. All human life is here.
Praveen Manghani’s production is more confident than ever and stronger at
the bass end than on previous recordings. As good as it is though, one can
imagine what a craftsman like The The’s Matt Johnson would do with this
material, if they could persuade him in the producers chair.
Russell and Praveen’s intricate wordplay has always been a joy, but on
this album they have taken great strides
with the musical content and it contains a number of gorgeous melodies,
particularly the aching melancholy of ‘The Secret Dream Of Neil Tenant’
and the Zappa-ish ‘Little P.C.’
we have an album that pulls off the rare trick of being both original and
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2007
have to kiss a lot of frogs to get to the princes in this show. It's all
rather earnest, bed-sitter fare, except there are backing tracks, celebrity
voice-overs and on-screen illustrations rather than merely acoustic guitar
trainspotterly presentation and some (presumably) ironic
disinherited-uncle-at-wedding dancing doesn't help. However,
things pick up with a less self-conscious and quite catchy treatise on the
M25 and a final two celebrations of London past and present end the show on
a comparative high.
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2006
Fringe welcomes Project Adorno's latest outburst of songs from the world of
the office. Not The Office but a close relation.
the tone with a Leonard Cohen song (don't let that put you off), the boys
soon get into their stride with a collection of songs of office politics,
post it notes and revenge. A sly, often quirky take on some of the things
that have often driven this reviewer to distraction - for example job
descriptions. Find them helpfully translated here by the Baddiel &
Skinner of this year's Fringe. They do mention Essex, but don't hold it
tunes reminiscent of the early Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo and ABBA your toe will
tap and your fingers . . . well I'll leave that up to you. Pop inside and
take a chance on these chaps.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2005
Germaine watch out!
A truly bizarre experience in the company of two talented but odd
individuals. They write idiosyncratic songs and perform them with brio to a
recorded backing track. They veer between enthusiastic amateurs and faux-naif
geniuses but you must see them yourself to make up your own mind. Having
seen them before I must report that the omission of “library library”
was a shame but “Love song for Davros” more than made up for this. Keep
it up the ‘Dorno. Reviewer: Hal Bakanak
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2005
Three Weeks (Daily Edition)
was the best Dr Who? Did Salvador Dali do housework? What would happen if
Picasso was a cockney? These are some of the many hypothetical questions
addressed by Electro Pop group, Project Adorno. Wonderfully silly and
exceptionally geeky, this is a very weird, but enjoyable 45minutes of 80s
grooves dedicated to the likes of “professional feminist” Germaine
Greer. There is, however, an air of the tragic about this performance: the
two band members are just a little too old to be strutting around the
stage. Or perhaps this is what makes the whole act all so amusing…I did
enjoy their dancing. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Salvador Dali does
NOT do the washing up. 3/5 (LC)
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2005
heroes? I could name a few. The Human League - Philip Oakey, masculine in
mascara, Joanne and Susan, ungainly dancers; Soft Cell - Marc Almond,
histrionic and fragile; The Pet Shop Boys - sardonic and static.
That's what Electro-pop heroes means to me. Was I expecting a nod towards
the legends of the 1980s synth sound in Project Adorno's show? Maybe. I
wasn't necessarily expecting two bespectacled, be-suited men - one a
librarian, one a user of libraries - wandering about the stage in a
deliberately ramshackle way: one fiddling with a minidisk player to provide
backing, occasionally strumming a guitar; the other dancing uncoordinatedly
and singing along with more exuberance than skill.
name-dropped their influences, and I could certainly detect the Gallic
influence of the likes of Jacques Brel, but there were also hints of Jarvis
Cocker and Neil Hannon, as well as the fondly remembered, papier-mach headed
songs, by their own admission had three main themes: libraries, painters and
Doctor Who. So we had love songs to Germaine Greer and Davros (creator of
the Daleks), fanciful evocations of Picasso's cockney years and Dali's
refusal to do the washing up, and a jolly song of praise to Tom Baker.
were times when one felt that it might almost fall apart, so apparently
unconcerned were Project Adorno in putting on something approaching a
traditionally organised show, but somehow it seemed to hold together in a
bizarrely enjoyable hour of nerdy oddness.
Dewey Decimal in the House of Vaudeville
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2003
What are those numbers on the spines of books in the
county library? Yes! They’re Melvil Dewey’s decimal book catalogue
system. And –wow!- here is Melvil himself in crimson
dressing gown, desert boots and elongated stove pipe hat partnered by a real
librarian with a guitar to sing a cerebral song about his incomparable
system followed by songs revealing the secret vocabulary of librarians, a
list of famous librarians and the delights of libraries in somewhere called
all this make libraries fashionable? I doubt it. Nor could the clever songs
about Germaine Greer, Picasso being a cockney and Bill Bedford the handyman
“who arrives with a spanner when you’ve fused the lights” which
didn’t seem to have much at all to do with libraries. But entertaining and
funny it most certainly is. Original witty material and songs performed with
finely judged pace and – a bonus- some extra but unplanned gremlins in the
delightful performance from Project Adorno pausing in Buxton on their way up
to Edinburgh. One more opportunity to catch them here on 13 July at 9.00pm
at the Old Club House.
A must for
anyone who likes, or hates, librarians. PL
Dewey Decimal in the House of Vaudeville
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2003
A show for librarians (and other people too if they're interested) in the
style of a holiday camp cabaret, consisting of two men in funny hats singing
songs to pre-recorded 80s style electronic music. Ridiculous certainly,
entertaining perhaps, funny occasionally. Interesting from the points of
trivia it brought up such as the famous people who have worked as librarians
including J. Edgar Hoover and Benjamin Franklin. SK
Bedsit Benefit – Sanctuary Café, Brighton Nov 2003
Live Review (extract)
came Project Adorno and their wholesale theft of the evening. I think it was
the second best Project gig I've been lucky enough to witness (beaten only
by their performance in Frome on the 2002 Beat Bedsit tour). Unusually tight
and together, they looked like they knew exactly what they were doing from
the beginning to the end. Some fantastic new tunes were aired, the one that
has stuck in my head being about Pablo Picasso and his hat. For those who
might not know, Project Adorno are a two piece (Praveen and Russell) who
perform songs and poetry about such topics as Doctor Who, libraries and
Salvador Dali's hatred of washing up to a background of electronic music,
usually played from minidisk but occasionally (and increasingly I'm pleased
to note) supplemented by Praveen on the acoustic guitar. Both handle the
vocals, Praveen handles the music and Russell dances like a man only loosely
in control of his limbs and who gave up on rhythm at the age of three. On
paper the whole thing should be a disaster. But instead it's magical. It
often takes a while for an audience to get their heads around Project Adorno
(you can see them wondering whether to laugh or flee) but tonight everybody
loves it from the off. All power to their elbows: they're fabulous. Buy
Record Collector Magazine 2001
stunning five-track exercise in electronic beat poetry, “PA/CD” is less
a venture into an area bordered by Mark Astronaut and John Cooper-Clarke
than those rapid-fire vers libre readings accompanied by jazz that were
prevalent in bohemian circles in the early ‘60s. Have times changed so
much that experimental works such as this have no place? Fortunately, the
answer is a resounding no. Praveen
Manghani’s ethereal keyboards combine a mannered revelling in mainstream
pop with a constant free-flowing pace. There are also declamations by
himself and Russell Thompson: the latter’s Rotten-alike nasal whine is
entirely appropriate to “The Sex Pistols’ Last Photo” narrative, while
Manghani’s more clipped diction suits “The Other Ones” – a
transcendence beyond some ghastly family gathering.
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