Link to Spacedog Bandcamp page
A disused and dismal music hall provides the setting for a music hall act that is playing to an audience of one. The audience member may have found they are present by sheer coincidence, or indeed, they may be present against their own free will. Each act that softly takes the stage has a story to tell. Each story is accompanied by the unearthly sound of the theremin, saw, recorder, handbell, glockenspiel and vibraphone. A young girl’s voice narrates a tale and an English gentleman tells another. Yet another passionate story unfolds sung in the sweetest of tones. Amid the darkest of long forgotten and misheard folk tales, a familiar tune by the French chanteur Jacques Brel, barely recognisable, breaks through into the dusty room. A variety of broken and long since forgotten about toys and discarded scenery provide the landscape, as each piece makes way for the next. The solitary listener, at first wary of the display unfolding before them, has, over the duration of the first few numbers, acclimatised themselves as each piece becomes more and more familiar.
Surrounded by the spectre of Edwardian music hall, the listener finally becomes at ease with their surroundings and is certainly unprepared for the violent repositioning of time that is “Ekranoplan”. The listener is temporarily transported to what they believe to be an East German bed sit in the mid to late 1960’s. The listener is most rightly confused, but has nowhere obvious to escape. The deeply troubling mood returns as passages from Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes” are read aloud, and the listener cannot help but sense they are in some way contained by a play depicting a nanny at once soothing, at once disquieting their charge. The morbid, yet strangely alluring sound of the saw during “Hypnotist” unnerves the listener, who looks around the auditorium anxiously. The final act of the performance depicts the demise of the much loved, and much misunderstood English comedian Tommy Cooper, whose death on stage during one of his performances was misinterpreted as being part of his routine. The illustrious magician provides some degree of authenticity to the tale.
The listener, now realising they are free to leave this most unsettling of experiences, moves unhurriedly to the light at the rear of the auditorium, considering as they leave, their relationship to the spectacle. Hauntology has been argued to be the place where we can interrogate our relationship with the dead, examine the intangible identities of the living and explore the boundaries between thought and the unthought-of. The ghost, in these terms, becomes the focus for competing moral and epistemological deliberation. The spirit present throughout the duration of “Juice for the Baby” is Spacedog.