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Project Adorno
Dancing Round the Dining Room (CD Review)

RnR 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 Sunset”-period Kinks.

Alan Clayson

Dennis Potter in the Present Tense
The singing detectives: Project Adorno trace back-story of controversial TV playwright

Who 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. 

Adorno 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 Thursday night.

Dennis 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 Murdoch.

Project 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.  

The 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.”

Referring 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.”

‘Potted 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.”   

Project 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 music.

But 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 that.

Greg Freeman   Write Out Loud  

Dennis Potter in the Present Tense
Potter Matters Review July 2016

How 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! 

Dennis Potter in the Present Tense

Buxton Fringe, Underground Venues 16th July 2016.

The 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?

Project 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.

The 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.

The 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.

With 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.

My 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.

Jackie Corrigan

Jarman in Pieces         
Edinburgh Fringe 2014  August 13th to 17th

The 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.

In 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. If 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.

Tony Challis, ScotsGay Magazine  (Three Stars)

Project Adorno: 15 Electro-Pop Vaudeville Greats

Buxton Fringe Review 2013

If 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 infamous Stylophone!

Last 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.

If 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.

The 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.

Ian Parker Heath  

Project Adorno's Record Collection
Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Anyone for Cricket?
Project Adorno 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.

The 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.

The 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

Project Adorno: Pop Songs & Pie Charts  
Buxton Fringe 2011

The 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. They 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.

Cleverly woven lyrics answered difficult questions like:

do 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?

Fondly 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.

It 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!). If 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!

David Carlisle  

Project Adorno’s Top Ten of Popular Culture
Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Top of the Pops

Do 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 day.
Reviewed by Richard O'Brien August 20, 2010        **** (4/5)

Project 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 has.
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 country.
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.
Keith Savage

Project Adorno's Top Ten of Popular Culture
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2009

Underground Venues - The Barrel Room, 18th and 19th July

I'm 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.

Project 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.

So 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).

Other 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).

Other 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.

The 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.

Marvellous. If you can't see why - well it's either your fault or mine. Don't blame Project Adorno.

Keith Savage

Tales From The Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno and Steve Lake

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2008 
Three Weeks

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

Tales From the Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno & Steve Lake

Westminster Reference Library, 29th July 2008

Project 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.

Steve 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.

Posted on 31 July 2008 by Keith Haworth  

Tales From the Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno & Steve Lake

Buxton 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.

This 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.

However, 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).

There 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.

Robbie Carnegie

Project Adorno
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.’

Here we have an album that pulls off the rare trick of being both original and accessible.

Steve Lake  

The London Years
Project Adorno

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2007
The Herald

You 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 accompaniment. A 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.

Songs 4 Screensavers
Project Adorno

Buxton Festival Fringe July 2006

The Fringe welcomes Project Adorno's latest outburst of songs from the world of the office. Not The Office but a close relation.

Setting 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 against them. With 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.

Ian Heath

Electro Pop Heroes
Project Adorno

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

Electro Pop Heroes
Project Adorno

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2005
Three Weeks (Daily Edition)

Who 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)

Electro Pop Heroes
Project Adorno
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2005

Electro-pop 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.

They 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 Frank Sidebottom. Their 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.

There 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.

Robbie Carnegie

Dr Dewey Decimal in the House of Vaudeville
Project Adorno
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 Essex..

Could 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 sound system.

A 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

Dr Dewey Decimal in the House of Vaudeville
Project Adorno
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2003
Three Weeks

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

Project Adorno
Beat Bedsit Benefit – Sanctuary Café, Brighton Nov 2003
Live Review (extract)

…Then 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 their records.

Project Adorno
Record Collector Magazine 2001

A 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.
Alan Clayson

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