For a week I recorded myself talking to myself—walking my dog, rushing to the bus, wandering around the city. (I used the voice memo app on my iPhone in order to look like I was on the phone so as not to be considered mad.) The aim was to capture my thoughts directly, in spoken word form, without the mediation of writing.
The results were disappointing. I seem to think very little of great import and express myself poorly. But a melange of the lo-fi recordings offered interesting textural material—much like the mush of my mind.
I then turned to dreams that I had written down around a year ago, and was intrigued by the recurring themes and loopy imagery in them—and the fact that I had very little memory of them except for my written record.
In between are segments of music exploring convoluted melodic lines that intertwine and never quite resolve, like my fleeting thoughts.
Maybe this piece is an attempt to overcome a lifetime of writer’s block: trying to find the most direct way to get the inside out.
Aired Thurs Aug 16, 9-11pm
FBi Radio, 94.5FM Sydney
Kirsten Reese (DE) very nicely programmed an artist portrait featuring tracks from my latest release Presentiments from the Spider Garden (endgame 2010) and Imaginary Conversations in Reverberant Rooms (Metal Bitch 2006) on ZKM's digital radio station.
December 2010/January 2011
Coffee this Morning by Gail Priest (4 mins)
Track avaible from
Program Note: "Opera is not my favourite form. For the most part it is the elite cultural baggage. It is also the way in which everything is heightened—the stories epic, the allegories too obvious—all sense of reality banished by decoration and virtuosic flourishes. Or so it seems to me. Yet I have always been drawn to forms that work with text—music theatre in its most contemporary form—such as the work of Robert Ashley, Laurie Anderson, Mikel Rouse, and Heiner Goebells. Denying the grandeur of the former yet drawing on elements of the latter, I have created “Coffee this Morning”, a mini-anti-opera.
Musically it is based on a three second sample from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo: a melodic choral moment, denied its resolution. The text is a microdrama—there are no heroes, no epic journeys, gods with grudges or family vendettas—rather there is a simple domestic moment, where a contemporary couple gets on with the flawed business of communication, trying to make sense of an existence shared, and of the small wounds inflicted on the way.
Structurally the vocal material plays with the idea of the recitative. One layer of text is spoken quite naturalistically. The second vocal line tries to replicate the first but seeks out notes and small melodies inherent in the phrasing. A third and fourth expand upon this melodic line, growing harmonically, yet keeping strictly to the original phrasing. The intention is to create a vocal format that slips subtly and surprisingly between spoken and sung, and which accumulates to form a chorus of textural vocal qualities. Performed by the one voice, the multitracking creates a tension between naturalism and construction, perhaps bringing it closer than originally intended to the heightened realms of early opera."
by Gail Priest (5mins)
Program Note: "The initial intention for this piece was to explore the different sonic qualities encountered when entering and exiting spaces.
Last year I moved to a large apartment complex after living in small houses all my life. The change in domestic architecture made me keenly aware of the different sonic qualities of the building. As the journey from my apartment door to my car takes exactly 5-minutes and involves 3 doors and a gate, I decided that a field recording of the journey would form the basis of the piece.
I am also interested in exits because they are something I find quite difficult to do. I tend to be always running late—I need to check and double check that I have everything I need, have turned things off and locked doors—often returning just to check again or pick up something. I decided to play with this obsessive-compulsive tendency and create a vocal composition that explores this neurosis through excessive repetition and accumulation.
The rough edge of the field recording and the controlled and processed vocal score combine to create a magnified and hyper-real version of everyday activity."
ABC Classic FM
Voices in the Architecture
Saturday 23 September 2006, 10.30pm
Liquid Architecture, an annual festival of sound arts taking place across four east-coast Australian cities, is in its seventh year, and while the core of the festival has been with computer and electronically-based artists, this year’s festival includes a concert line-up featuring human voices.
The program includes Australians Pimmon (aka Paul Gough), Gail Priest, and duo Donna Hewitt and Julian Knowles, plus American duo Greg Davis and Jeph Jerman, and New Zealander Dean Roberts. New Music Up Late went to the Performance Space to check out the results.
ABC Classic FM
Wednesday 19 July 2006, 8.00pm
An adventurous program from young saxophone quartet Continuum Sax, collaborating with computer improviser Gail Priest in a concert recorded last August in the Sydney Conservatorium Music Workshop.
Gail Priest, guest sound artist
Continuum Sax are: Martin Kay, saxophones, James Nightingale, saxophones, Margery Smith, saxophones, Jarrod Whitbourn, saxophones
An Accidental Guide to Sydney 2002
Music theatre for Radio Work made in residency at ABC Radio Performance & Features
Poems to Sing Angelic to
Radio Work made in residency at ABC Radio Performance & Features