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Projects & Shows

Cabaret Songs & Shows (2002 - Present)

Project Adorno are seasoned performers on the fringe cabaret scene with appearances at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Buxton Fringe, Cheltenham Literature Festival and Latitude Festival among others. Their songs and poems feature a range of subjects from old computer games, and love affairs with Daleks to celebrations of Jeremy Paxman and the smell of second-hand books. Often chaotic, their performances generally leave audiences with smiles on their faces....

There's a wealth of Project Adorno footage on YouTube featuring live performances and odd videos (official & unofficial). It's hard to keep track of it all sometimes, but if you're interested in seeing what we look and sound like here's a summary of some of our favourite clips:

Project Adorno at Dodo Modern Poets
(videos courtesy of PR Murry):

2014 Set 1  2014 Set 2 2013 Set 1 2013 Set 2

Project Adorno perform their National Trust song (venue unspecified), 2012

Project Adorno at Brighton Peace and Environment Centre benefit gig October 2007

Brontë Beat (2019)

The contribution to literature made by the three Brontë sisters and their brother Branwell is the stuff of legend – their work has a unique flavour mingling wild romance, domestic realism, epic poetry and local detail, the personal and the peculiar.

Brontë Beat is a performance collage weaving the facts of their lives with the myths of their fiction. Comprising original songs, film, ambient sounds and spoken word, it explores the multi-faceted world of the Brontës through an electro-pop lens – from their early dabblings in “scribblemania” to the success of their novels and the fascinating history of their all too brief lives. The piece also includes interview extracts from people connected to the literature, landscape and places associated with the Brontë story.

Synopsis & song summary

Brontë Beat video excerpt

Dennis Potter in the Present Tense (2016)
TV dramatist and playwright Dennis Potter was the ultimate Marmite figure – one minute delighting millions with musical plays such as The Singing Detective and Pennies From Heaven, the next causing outrage and controversy with productions such as Blackeyes and Brimstone & Treacle. In this performance piece, electro-acoustic duo Project Adorno present a contemporary interpretation of Potter, through an ambient segue of original songs, video and spoken word extracts from people who knew or had some connection to him and his work.
Buxton Fringe review 2016:
"Project Adorno have to be admired by their tenacity and thorough research, thereby generating a unique and very enjoyable nostalgic work."

Synopsis & song summary

Jarman in Pieces (2014)
Filmmaker, painter, gay rights activist, author, gardener – Derek Jarman packed many roles into a short life. Twenty years from his death, his standing has never been higher. And yet he remains a contradictory figure: a self-effacing exhibitionist, a well-to-do RAF child who embraced the possibilities of punk. For decades, he was a thorn in the establishment’s side and yet is now dangerously close to something he would have hated – the status of national treasure. 

Jarman In Pieces is a performance collage comprising original songs, film, interviews with people who knew Jarman, ambient sounds and spoken word that aims to celebrate these contrasts rather than reconcile them. 
A multi-media experience with a good deal of entertaining and thought-provoking music” 
ScotsGay magazine.

Synopsis & song summary

Ministry of the Mundane (2008)

A short film & performance piece in the vein of Patrick Keiller's "London/Robinson in Space" series. With a nod to Gilbert & George, Project Adorno recount tales of Kafka-esque beaurocratisation putting the "Eighties" into "1984" with an Orwellian take on news, views & (dis)information all accompanied by a pre i-pod soundtrack that is entirely their own.

Ministry of the Mundane Pt1 extract 

Satie (1995/2008)

We were approached to make a film to accompany a live performance of Erik Satie's "Relache" opera/ballet for the 1995 Merton Arts Festival.Satie was a rather eccentric figure by all accounts with a penchant for umbrellas and a collection of twelve identical grey suits among other things. We decided to include such elements of his personality into the film which ended up becoming a somewhat surreal biographical portrait of the man himself. In addition it borrowed heavily on the themes of artists such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte.   Disaster almost struck on the day of the performance/screening when five minutes before we were due to "go on" there was a power cut rendering the whole of the Lantern Cafe in darkness. This was somewhat ironic bearing in mind that "Relache" roughly translated into English means "non performance"!

In 2008 the Satie film was dusted down and digitally restored. It was screened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the accompaniment of a new, original score as part of the Project Adorno/Steve Lake show, Tales From the Cutting Room Floor. Best described as an abstract biopic featuring filmic images shot in gaudy, Jarman-esque super-8 welded to a lively sound-collage mixing song, spoken word, found-sound and electro-rhythms. 

Watch Satie 2008 Pt1 extract

A-Z of the London Underground (2004)

The brief: to visit 26 stations on the London Underground from A-Z, in a weekend, in the process writing a song or poem inspired by each location, ultimately creating an alternative cultural guide to underground London… The idea became a reality and in turn became an Edinburgh Festival Fringe Show. Performed since at local festivals, in many ways this work is akin to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, ever evolving and never quite finished....
The Central Line song video

The Amersham song covered by Ben Hetherington

Project Adorno's A-Z of the London Underground audiocast Pt1


Dr Dewey Decimal (2003)

Otherwise known as Library: The musical. A two-man cabaret piece - songs and musical poems largely on the theme of libraries, with a twist of vaudeville thrown in. First performed at Edinburgh Fringe in 2003, but resurrected since for local festivals and also performed at an Annual Chief Librarians Conference.

Project Adorno's Library Poem

Chunnel Vision & Art-Space (1995/2002)

We threw everything we had into "Chunnel Vision" a multimedia work of staggeringly "operatic" proportions. It was a concept seriously beyond our abilities (and our budget!). Featuring electronic music, sound samples, choral singing, "treated" violin and de-tuned TVs it was showcased to an audience of one at the Merton Civic Centre in 1995, pre-dating Brian Eno's "Music For Civic Recovery Centre" by some years. Positively Wagnerian. Here's what the local newspaper said by way of promoting the event:

30th March 1995 - Mitcham & Morden Guardian
Leisure Multi-media day at Centre
An audio visual celebration of twentieth century European culture, art and music is being staged by a brother and sister [sic] at Merton Civic Centre. Keynotes are performing the multi-media show on April 8 under the title Chunnel Vision. Entry is free and pieces will be performed at regular intervals throughout the day starting at noon. Anyone interested in performance art, the avant garde and the use of new techonology in sound and vision is invited.

Chunnel Vision was briefly resurrected the following year as part of Project Adorno's 1996 Edinburgh Fringe show, Millennium Suite, although technical glitches prevented it from being fully realised. In 2002 the Chunnel Vision piece was revisited and re-worked to include elements of spoken word performance poetry. It was performed at Artspace, an art show taking place in a terraced house in North London.

Read more about it here

One day we vow to return to Chunnel Vision and perform it as it appears & sounds in our heads. In many ways the later works on Jarman and Potter owe a nod stylistically to this piece. 

A digitally "re-constructed" version of the original Chunnel Vision piece from 1995 can be viewed here

Cheap Sweets & Sequencers (2001)

In 2001 Project Adorno contributed a multimedia installation entitled "Cheap Sweets & Sequencers" to an art show organised by Lost Property Arts. The installation featured all the usual Project Adorno trademarks including music, sound samples and poems. It also featured slide projections and a large quantity of sweets....(Soundtrack available on Project Adorno CD "Cheap Sweets & Sequencers")

The work was just one of a number of exhibits on display at  the avant-garde art show taking place in the undercroft of the Camden Roundhouse...

Read more about it here

Watch Project Adorno's "private view" tour of the exhibition here

Fickle (1994)

Project Adorno's first film. Shot in black and white super 8 Fickle was foisted onto an unsuspecting public at Morley College, London during 1994.  

In undertaking electronic music courses at the time we were invited to contribute an "electro-acoustic" composition for the "end of term" concert. Whilst those around us grappled with Baroque style arrangements, familiarised themselves with the intricacies of MIDIfying bass guitars, or used ancient synthesisers to provide passable impersonations of the BBC radiophonic workshop, we on the other hand decided to bring visuals into the equation.   

Thus Fickle was born embodying all that is transitory in our lives. It is a film very much in the tradition of Bunuel and Dali's "Un chien Andalou" and owes much also to "Meshes of the afternoon". The emotions of the central character, the androgenous engineer, are displayed within the various settings that he/she/it? finds itself. (The drudgery of walking up and down stairs as opposed to the adrenalin rush of a fairground joyride). The exploration of opposites such as the work/leisure, freedom/conformity, inside/outside, open/closed, up/down, choice/no choice dichotomies are discussed. Images ebb and flow with the music (a discarded wardrobe on a beach, oily globules of paint running down a canvas of confromity, television as deity and its subsequent execution), exploring the relationship between the individual and the surrounding internal and external architecture. It is a film embodying the maxim "as one door closes another one opens".    

Click here to watch Fickle on You Tube

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