On the 9th of August 2020 I had a dream I wrote an opera. I had been unable to write much music since February, when I returned from 3-months in Tokyo where this album was initially conceived. It was possibly the longest creative break I have undergone in the last 5 years. But suddenly, the small melodies I had been singing closely into my microphone late at night, quietly so my neighbours wouldn’t hear, took on a larger scale, and one that seemed to echo the scale engendered by 2020. The confinement to the home, the epic events going on outside. My small, timid voice filtered through a myriad of technologies as I talked to friends, taught online; amplified, distorted, compressed, equalised. Sped up, slowed down as my wifi drops in and out.
If You Do became an album for solo voice and an ensemble of technologies. An album about contorting the body (voice) through time (rhythm, pulse), repetition and form. The work is nostalgic for past futures: wishing for the technological optimism of the late 70’s and early 80’s, of Timothy Leary believing the computer would offer a liberation to the masses. A time before Big Tech, Big Data. It’s a record made alone, dreaming of unmediated interaction with an audience that may never arrive. A sense of longing for the future that could have been, sung by a wordless choir and sometimes a clarinet. A return to my first instrument, and another kind of technology, I guess.
Back in Tokyo, I noticed how physical and digital spaces were being dislocated. I was wondering how we got here, thinking about where that leaves my music in light of this. I began collecting each of the track names from my surroundings – things read or overheard or gathered both in Japan (the title If You Do came from a necklace found at Ohi Racecourse Flea Market) and, later, at home, online. As such, the album occupies an amorphous space. Within the genre of ambient music but only just. It creates a space that is still heavily mediated, but hopes to locate and communicate directly.
Then, at my computer, stuck in a glitching, echoing loop, I was looking for signs to keep writing. I listened to Laurie Anderson’s Big Science or David Bowie’s Subterraneans or Underworld’s Born Slippy.Nuxx once more. I thought about re-reading Homesick for Another World; I watched some interviews with Laurie Spiegel on YouTube. After the dream, in the verge outside, clover kept appearing and suddenly it was Spring and there are flowers. And here we are: If You Do.
Vocals, clarinet, production, recording and mixing by Megan Alice Clune