VINYL is a series of collaborations in the context of a "nightclub"
that calls into question the synchronicity of sound and image.
Artists Kulwinder Bajar, Ellen
Cantor, Shezad Dawood,
Mark Dean, FLAG,
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard,
Lee Holden, Claire Hooper,
Marc Hulson, Jacob Dahl Jürgensen,
Wolfe Lenkiewicz, Melanie Manchot,
Steven Micalef, Derek Ogbourne,
Douglas Park, Esther Planas,
Riviera F. and Mark Aerial Waller.
The happy end of the needle /
at the end of the world
In 1929 Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht present Happy End,
their fourth collaboration,
a 'play with music'
to a Berlin audience. The third
and last act climaxes in political scorn and blasphemy,
causing a minor riot and police intervention.
Not so much a happy ending,
but a strategic one. It is
inevitably reviled by the critics and withdrawn.
Brecht himself never presents Happy End again.
In 1956 Lotte Lenya records three of its songs.
In 1958 it makes a reappearance in Munich.
15 years later a record is cut.
In 2004, as 'vinyl',
it is stacked with hundreds of thousands of other consumed
divertissements consigned to the garbage tip of musical
Happy End may not be such a great work but it's
still of use. Of use to whom?
The music is not an integral part of the dramatic structure,
or essential to the development of the play.
This is the disinterested quality of Weill's
score. The melancholy of the
music, enriched by a harmonic
vocabulary of counter - melodies,
emerges from new kinds of suspensions over an ending.
In Brecht's libretto,
Die Ballade von der Höllenlilli,
a question is asked. "What
will happen (to us)
is nothing to worry about.
Tomorrow doesn't interest me,
And tomorrow you can…"
In 1997, Tokyo,
Pizzicato Five release Happy End of the World as an
counterpoint to the expressive register of Weill / Brecht's
Happy End: all decay's
sweetness, with a bitter taste.
The fragrance that emanates from the sound is suspended in
the poisonous mix of dread with affiliation,
when "...the world is spinning
at 45 rpm." 
What is the collection of vinyl,
in the managed future of products from the generation of Sony
Wega and Beast Wars,
but a sheer obsolescence? 
Is not vinyl the most belated of all happy endings? It wants
to die but cannot. The Luddite's
suspicion is swept into dank corners of nightclubs across
the globe, yet vinyl still
compels DJs and their audiences to work out of the 'thing';
its resistant surface; to wrestle
the Angel from its decaying aura.
the singer sighs in Happy End,
Johnny, Ich liebe dich so!
1. The first recording of Happy
End by Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht is sung in German by
Lotte Lenya, in New York,
1973, CBS records.
2. The Happy End of the
World, by Pizzicato Five,
recorded in Tokyo, 1997,
Nippon Columbia records.
3. Timothy Bewes writes in
Reification, or The
Anxiety of Late Capitalism (Verso
Books, London 2002)
"The commodity is liberating,
after all, only to the degree
that it is dominating." p80
"With the end of history,
the concept, which is
an entity condemned to reification,
becomes either an empty, characterless
vessel or the thing itself.
The fact demands that the concept of reification be remobilised
as a means of saving, precisely,
the concept, together with
the unimaginable future, and
the continuing possibility of intervention in the present."
p177 The Virtue of Obsolescence.
] [ Events