Arcades: irresistible existential bubblegum

Music critic William Dart likes the Arcades – thanks William!

“Arcades is the name by which composers Dugal McKinnon and David Prior identify their partnership. Rattle’s press release spins words about the pair’s subverted pop sensibility sitting perfectly with the label’s penchant for music that follows its own compass. ‘Who’s Most Lost’ is a set of 13 rather tricky pop songs that delight in toying and sometimes mashing our expectations. They’re elliptical pieces, and if we were thinking a paper score, there’d be a lot of white in between the black. Both McKinnon and Prior are known for their weighter works. Prior can boast prizes at theillustrious Bourges Festival – but in ‘You Were Born Into This’ they have furnished me with a gorgeous summertime hit that I suspect will be on high rotate over the next few months. Alt.pop perhaps or maybe existential bubblegum, its wafting scales, modish sonic gristle and cute boyish vocals are irresistible.”

William Dart, The Critic’s Chair, Radio New Zealand Concert, Dec 2011

Cadence – sound installation

Cadence is my new sound installation for the Adam Art Gallery’s “threshold” space, available for audition Jan 24–April 15. A catalogue of final cadences – musical conclusions – generatively recombined to create a cascade of sound that perpetually defers the final barline, engaging the listener in a narrative of endings. MaxMSP programming courtesy of the indefatigable Jason Post. Metronome courtesy of Douglas Mews.


The end. Classical music fell for endings, particularly those that started as beginnings. Beginnings that are already endings. An implacable swoon. “The crash might have been the last bars of a symphony. He lay on his side amid the ruins like a wounded gladiator, a fallen horse” (Jonathan Franzen). The perfect cadence is to fall and become the fallen, the cadaver. But these endings are also recapitulations, signifying the beginning. The irrevocable return. “Now was the Sun in Western cadence low” (Thomas Milton). Beginnings and endings that persist through repetition become cadences punctuating time’s passage. “Walking and falling at the same time” (Laurie Anderson). Tempo. Measured quickly enough time becomes audible. Oscillation. The pulse, the beat ascending into pitch and timbre. Here the liquid cadence, rising and falling as “the general modulation of the voice” (Samuel Johnson). With the voice comes the self. “Listen, says a voice: some being is giving voice” (Steven Connor). The beginning.