For the last four years, Cath Roberts has been meeting with improvisers Tullis Rennie and Otto Willberg to play deliberately disrupted music. The trio intrude on themselves, using objects, texts, and made-up rules to change the course of action. Their self-sabotage has so far existed behind locked doors, but Roberts’ new hcmf// commission, And then the next thing you know, changes that. It’s the kind of music you’d expect from them: it comes from a place of distortion and confusion, rippling out from their experiences of the pandemic.
For Roberts, And then the next thing you know is about describing the half-broken creative life artists have led since 2020, and the fragments of life being lived. The piece is chiefly inspired by Cornelia Parker’s stunning artwork Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, a sculpture in which shattered wooden debris casts an echo of shadows across the room, an implosion in panorama. Roberts’ took the piece as the catalyst for a new graphic score; performing her new piece, the trio will surround a cluster of cardboard hangings with painted-on instructions. Cut-up into smaller pieces, they provide remnants of Roberts’ score, half-clues as to what it said at the point of creation. There was a piece; live, they’ll rummage through it.