‘brilliantly conceived, meticulously researched and compellingly delivered … challenges and coerces the listener to both muse on the past and consider the present state of power, punishment and dissent.’ Froots Magazine
Shot on 8mm and 16mm film and using hand processing and historic chemical techniques Tyburnia is both visually and thematically engrossing, demonstrating how, despite the gallows having long since vanished, we still stand in the shadow of it’s punitive ideology. Now for this unique live presentation Holcombe will be utilising 6 film projectors and three screens, physically manipulating, distorting and occasionally destroying the film live, to create unique performances in each location. In addition each event will be introduced by a regional historian adding further context.
For over 700 years there was a site of execution at Tyburn in London (now internationally famous as Speakers Corner in Hyde Park). Those who fell foul of political, religious and judicial reforms enacted by the state were executed for public entertainment and instruction. These executions chart a history of the UK, illustrating the twists and turns of monarchical and political whimsy, church and state, and the birth of capitalism. In the current climate of enforced austerity and social reform, Tyburnia explores the parallels between contemporary and historical notions of crime in relation to business and property, the spectacular nature of punishment, and the state’s use of the body as a site for political control.
DRO have seized this opportunity to breath new life back into some very peculiar and rare folk songs. With their gritty, rough hewn interpretations and dextrous multi-instrumentalism, the three-piece have created an evocative soundtrack featuring songs composed by, or for, those condemned to ‘dance the Tyburn jig’. Many of these broadside ballads have become a staple of folk music, but here, presented in close association to their original context, their power and resonance can be truly appreciated in a new light. DRO have also crafted contemporary versions of long forgotten songs in the luridly descriptive ‘thieves cant’ (a secret language used by thieves, beggars and hustlers of various disciplines).
Daniel Merrill of Dead Rat Orchestra said ‘Tyburnia is one of the most challenging and important projects we have undertaken. We’ve been working on it for three years, and it keeps getting more intense. The addition of Lisa’s voice and musicality opens up new avenues of song for us to enable us to really do justice to James’ extraordinary film’.
‘(DRO) subverts the stolid conservatism that has come to be associated with much of today’s folk music and reconstruct it from the ground up.’ The Quietus
One of the UK’s most innovative ensembles, The Dead Rat Orchestra’s music has been performed, installed and experienced across Europe, North America and the Middle East. Their soundtracks have featured on BBC Television and at Tate Modern. They have toured internationally with artists as diverse as Martin Carthy, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Pere Ubu, Silver Mount Zion, Eric Chenaux, Silver Apples and Baby Dee. They have composed works for the London Contemporary Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and the Ukranian Conservertoire. Acutely haunting, occasionally brutal and raucously joyous, their music always attempts to enchant and entrance, be it emotionally or physically.
James Holcombe’s work has been exhibited throughout the UK and Europe including the Serpentine Gallery, Tate Modern and festivals and artist run spaces worldwide.
Tyburnia The Dead Rat Orchestra with special guest Lisa Knapp and filmmaker James Holcombe
New tour from one of the UK’s most innovative ensembles joined by the groundbreaking singer and interpreter of song that goes beyond live a soundtrack. Filmmaker Holcombe will use six projectors and three screens to create a new cut of the film for each venue using locally sourced footage and stories.