from ‘The Secret War of Lisa Simpson’, S08E25 The Simpsons

In an episode of The Simpsons from 1997, Lisa’s class is shown an educational film from 1952 that confidently predicts: “by 1964, experts say man will have established 12 colonies on the moon — ideal for family vacations”. All-American men and women are shown on the surface of the moon in grainy black and white, playing slot machines and fishing in lunar craters. The joke rides on the certainty of this projection of the future and its total failure to materialise. …


Fiona Apple is one of pop music’s maximalists. She has unique and unplaceable vocal style; her songs are jammed with lyrics delivered in urgent, breathless, monologue. A lot of her songs sound like insistent Sondheim recitative or slam poetry. The titles of her albums set records for their length (When The Pawn…’s and The Idler Wheel…’s full titles run to 89 and 23 words respectively). Her work is unstable and unpredictable; songs regularly take wild swerves and end up in completely different places to where they start. Successive tracks on her albums have full orchestral arrangements, brass bands, jazz bands…


In January 2016 an article in the journal Science argued that human activity has so significantly effected the climatic, biological and geochemical signatures in sediments and ice cores since the mid-20th century that the period should be considered a new geological epoch “functionally and stratigraphically distinct” from the Holocene (which started at the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago), called the Anthropocene. The word has been around since the 1970s but has gained traction in recent years as the climate crisis has become increasingly pressing. How should composers respond to such an enormity? Is it meaningful…


7th November, Steve McQueen

Edward Henderson, February 2020

Steve McQueen’s work is varied and uncategorisable. He makes art films and sculptures. He makes sprawling socio-polictical work: in Queen and Country he created sheets of stamps featuring the faces of British soldiers killed in the Iraq war. He makes feature films (Hunger, Shame, the Academy Award winning 12 Years a Slave and Widows) and prestige television (the forthcoming BBC drama Small Axe). He’s made a music video for Kanye West. His work is local — London and its people is a recurrent site for his work (a piece commemorating the Grenfell Tower disaster, Grenfell, is…


On ‘I Like My Friends’ by Mocrep

Chicago-based interdisciplinary music and performance collective Mocrep have spent the past few years positioning themselves at the forefront of international avant-garde composition. They have performed Jennifer Walshe’s Barbie opera XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS, run workshops in at the Darmstadt Summer Course for New Music and Stanford University and collaborated with European composers interested in the messy, physical side of composition: Marcela Lucatelli, Neo Hülcker and my own group Bastard Assignments. Now they’ve made a studio album, I Like My Friends, or more precisely, as intoned in the opening track GUITARCENTER, “an expression of fluid, multivalent dynamics, associations which intersect artistic, spiritual and practical…

Edward Henderson

composer and performer

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