Boomkat Product Review:
Avant-garde ensemble Apartment House take on Christian Marclay's uncompromisingly random 1996 "street installation". The Guardian described a 2010-released recording of "Graffiti Compositon" as "offensive" so that alone should be enough reason for a look, right?
For "Graffiti Composition", Marclay wanted to challenge the idea of written music, so had 5,000 large pages of blank sheet music posted throughout Berlin. After some time, he returned to the posters that hadn't been covered over or removed and photographed them; each piece of sheet music now included songs, drawings or instructions that Marclay transcribed and assembled into a continuous piece of music. He made 800 photographs, and used 150 of these to create the score.
The resulting composition has been re-interpreted here by cellist and composer Anton Lukoszevieze's Apartment House ensemble, who add their joyful, exploratory twang to the bizarre piece. The flexible, ever-shifting ensemble are known for having performed work from Julius Eastman, John Cage and Cornelius Cardew, and sound perfectly at home sinking their teeth into a composition that treats randomness like its own instrument. It's not an easy piece to listen through, but rewards patience and close attention. Familiar melodies and themes erupt and disappear, interspersed by odd dialog and unusual sounds.
Sometimes a synthesizer might appear, or a penny whistle, or what sounds like a small toy. Each element wakes you up from the listening experience and forces you to consider what the score might have been indicating. It's a fascinating piece that Apartment House have managed to breath new life into.