New Chapters, Eastern Europe 1990

A new album on bandcamp with John Laidler

History happens in hindsight, but occasionally you realise you are a witness. For example, I was travelling in Iran a fortnight before the Shah fled and witnessed the hostility to Westerners, saw the demonstrations, experienced the revolution.

In 1989 the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe fell one after the other. Travelling through Eastern Europe in the spring of 1990, change was happening quickly. The first free democratic elections were being held and the excitement was palpable. Too many people in democracies take their vote for granted – it matters.

These eight pieces give snapshots of my experiences in what was Czechoslovakia (Trenčín is now in Slovakia), Hungary, Poland and Germany (including ancient Greece, now Turkey).

John L. comments: Apart from adding some diegetic elements (e.g. Krakow), the two sources for the soundtrack were traditional/folk instruments, and national composers who are known for reflecting some sort of local identity in their music (e.g. Chopin in Warsaw). Overall, the music tries to complement the mood of the piece, maybe sad and reflective, or amused, uncertain, etc. Improvisation and experiment often yield unpredicted but apt results.

from ‘Prague’

The woman at Tourist Information laughs at me,
she’s had no enquiries for the Lenin Museum
in such a long time. She thinks it’s closed.

An evangelical north-American wants to know
if the tiny house in Golden Lane was Kafka’s
place of birth or death. Her repertoire fails again.

She apologises for being born into a utopia
ridiculously Kafkaesque, one that assassinated
such information until a few months ago . . .

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