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Biography & Archive


Project Adorno are a performance cabaret double act employing voice, electronic sounds, a few props and occasional acoustic guitar. Subject matter, ranging from the surreal to the nonsensical, includes the smell of second-hand books, love affairs with Daleks and photocopiers, and poems about old computer games. 

Project Adorno have also written and performed a number of art-house multimedia productions including biographical interpretations of Derek Jarman, Dennis Potter and, most recently, the Brontës. These works tend to include film, spoken samples and found sound in addition to the usual songs and poems.

Project Adorno were formed in the early 1990s by brothers Praveen & Sunil Manghani who started writing obscure pop songs and experimenting with video technology. Originally calling themselves "Sonic Screwdriver" they then settled on the name "The Keynotes", taking their inspiration from a range of writers, musicians and artists as diverse as The The, KLF, Steve Reich, Jonathan Miller and Tom Paulin. Their first public performance was in 1994 at their local Merton Arts Festival where they combined sequenced pop songs with video screen accompaniment. That same year they completed their first short film entitled "Fickle" which was showcased at the Morley college end of term concert where they were doing courses on music technology. 

Other films followed including "Satie" (1995) and "Stockhausen" (1996) - both shot in super 8 film and used to accompany live performances of works by the two composers at subsequent Merton Arts Festivals. In 1995 Project Adorno wrote and performed "Chunnel Vision", a self-proclaimed "video-audio-opera" including live electronics, synchronised video, vocals and sound-quotes very much inspired by the work of Steve Reich. However, the piece was never fully realised given limitations in technological capabilities. In 1996 Project Adorno undertook their first performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with "Millennium Suite" - a multi-media performance exploring popular culture at the turn of the century. During this period Project Adorno also wrote musical scores and sound accompaniments for local theatre productions which showcased another aspect of their work. 1997 saw Praveen and Sunil's last significant pop music partnership project to date - the Southside EP - culminating in a recording of their KLF inspired pop song "Performance Art". 

In 1998 Sunil left Project Adorno temporarily and relocated to Germany. Praveen teamed up with local Merton poet Russell Thompson for a digital poetry and music event called "Bonjour Strasbourg" as part of that year's Merton Arts Festival. The event also included the "Mylau Experience" - a live online link-up with Sunil in Germany where he had been developing an arts-based website. Praveen and Russell performed 4 poem-songs at the event and decided to continue the partnership thus ushering in a new phase and musical direction for Project Adorno.

Between 1999 - 2007 Project Adorno began to develop as a live performance cabaret act with a number of shows at the Edinburgh and Buxton Festival Fringes, the most notable of these being "Stop the Tardis" - a lo-fi-sci-fi poetry performance (2002), "Dr Dewey Decimal"  - a musical about libraries (2003) and "Project Adorno's A-Z of the London Underground - songs, stories and little-known facts about the tube (2004). Ever keen to try new ventures they also embarked on a tour with a group of punk bands in 2002 and 2003.  During this period Project Adorno also continued with multimedia work including "Cheap Sweets and Sequencers" - an installation at the Lost Property collective art show held at Camden's Roundhouse (2001) and a resurrection of their "Chunnel Vision" piece as a more lo-fi poetry performance complete with a dancer (2002). In 2001 Project Adorno also released their first CD "Cheap Sweets & Sequencers" and this was followed in 2003 by "Tales of Tiny Wormholes" - both CDs featuring songs and poems from their performances on the cabaret circuit during this time.

In 2007 Project Adorno released their third CD "Underground Overdue" featuring many of their library and tube-related songs. 2008 saw a return to art-house multimedia performance with a re-working of their "Satie" film complete with a new and original soundtrack, and completion of a new short film entitled "Ministry of the Mundane". More Edinburgh cabaret shows followed between 2009-2012 and this period also saw the release of their most critically acclaimed CD to date "Shine Bright on Thursdays" in 2011.

In 2014 Project Adorno wrote and performed "Jarman in Pieces" their most ambitious project to date, an abstract cubist biography of film-maker, writer, and gay rights activist Derek Jarman. The piece, featuring songs, video and original audio clips from people who knew and worked with Jarman, was performed at that year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was followed by a short tour at arts centres and libraries during 2015. In 2016 Project Adorno completed a similar project, "Dennis Potter in the Present Tense", this time celebrating the life and work of playwright Dennis Potter. This culminated in a performance in Potter's local town in the Forest of Dean in the presence of Potter's daughter who was in the audience for the show.

2017 saw the release of Project Adorno's fifth full-length CD "Dancing Round the Dining Room" and this was swiftly followed in 2018 by "Adornments", a retrospective collection of songs and poems covering Praveen and Russell's 20 year working partnership. In 2019 Project Adorno completed "Brontë Beat", their third major major multi-media biography show this time on the theme of the Brontës and their literature.

Selected Reviews
 A bizarrely enjoyable hour of nerdy oddness
Cheltenham Literature Festival

A must for anyone who likes, or hates, librarians
Buxton Festival Fringe

An interesting blend of quirky beats and truly strange subject matter
Don't Sleep Magazine

A stunning exercise in electronic beat poetry
Record Collector Magazine

There is warmth and charm to their performance - between them they cut a beguiling presence with witty and well-observed material to match
Three Weeks/Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A combination of original wordplay and deadpan humour fused to infectious melodies
Time Out Magazine

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. 
RnR Magazine

Like the F.T. letters page being sung by Soft Cell
Culture Deluxe Magazine

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.
Broadway Baby

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 Matters (review of Dennis Potter in the Present Tense)

Project Adorno 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”.
RnR Magazine

Archive: Journals & Articles 

Early Years 1991-'94  
Dusting down the earliest recordings: featuring "Shallow Circles" (songs & paintings), "Society's World" recordings, the scam that was "December Days", and whatever happened to "Seeing Red, Feeling Blue", the aborted live album? Full of teen angst and appropriate reference points. A must for all those interested in the history of Project Adorno... 

Under the bandstand: Merton Arts Festivals 1994-'96

It's all here: the first live appearance, the Pet Shop Boys/Liza Minnelli connection, the perils of an English Summer when performing outdoors...

Performance Art & South Side Recordings 1996-'97

Project Adorno in the studio - how the Performance Art EP was pieced together in a desperate attempt to create the perfect pop single.

Lost Property Art Show 2001
Weird and crazy things afoot at the Camden Roundhouse! A Project Adorno multimedia installation is just one of the exhibits on display at this most happening of happenings.

Adventures in Artspace: Chunnel Vision revisited 2002

Project Adorno's multimedia performance in space, time and relative dimensions in popular culture.

Beat Bedsit Tours 2002 & 2003

Project Adorno on tour - read the diaries.

Project Adorno's One Minute Manifesto

Archive: Interviews
Project Adorno interviewed by performance poet Robert Garnham 2017

Project Adorno interviewed by Keith Haworth for Culture Deluxe magazine 2011

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