Black Years; Red Years

A multimedia computer piece
by Colin Bright

Australian Music Centre (Center) award 1st Dec 2000:
Best Composition of 1999
in the state of New South Wales - Australia

After a short, slightly chaotic introduction, Stalin serves as a symbol of oppression at large. Jas Duke writes:- 'Uncle Jo wasn't a man to trifle with. Those that laugh at him now were shit-scared of him when he was alive.'

Here is a storyline to follow - if you like that sort of thing!

2'20" - A stirring speech from Stalin via Jas Duke. The authorities close in .....

4'00" - A quote from a Tchaikovsky string quartet - a reference to homosexual oppression.

5'50" - There is some fundamental advice on survival in a society & economy dominated by white, middle class, greedy men!

6'20" - Then, the story of Mick - 'had a beard and a golden ear ring' - and how such a person is viewed by the authorities - 'just a statistic waiting to be exterminated'.

7'00" - Criticism begins at home - an appropriately distorted phrase 'Advance Australia Fair' - from our wonderfully self-glorious national anthem.

7'30" - The 'dada' section is an outcry of frustration and pain, an expression of the pointlessness of existence in a society where if you have no function you should not expect any happiness.

9'30" - Mirror Man - The cry of a resentful misfit - 'just a statistic waiting to be exterminated' - in a society based on greed, a fragmented community indifferent to human suffering.

10'30" - The English Language oppresses all other languages which become mere irrelevancies.

11'15" - Currently, the most extreme form of oppression in Australia is the ongoing genocidal attitude towards aboriginal Australians. I was alive when Aboriginal children were 'stolen' from their parents (as recently as the mid 70's) and placed in institutions or with 'nice' white families. I did not know about the stolen generation at the time. But since the government and its agencies act on behalf of society of which I am a part, how can I not be partly responsible? Aboriginal Australians have asked white Australia to say 'sorry'. For my part - I am sorry. I am sorry too that I belong to a still essentially racist society. It should be noted that our pathetic and reactionary Prime Minister - John Howard - has, after much prevarication, finally apologised on behalf of white Australia, but has adamantly refused to use the word 'sorry'. What a great dickhead he is!!!

A General Program Note

This piece is about oppression in various forms - political, sexual, social, economic and cultural. Although I think Australians make pretty wimpy fascists, oppression nevertheless occurs here, the most extreme form being an ongoing genocidal attitude towards aboriginal Australians.

On a musical level this piece may also be seen as an incitement of desuetude, particularly directed towards the sterility of Australian music institutions and bureaucracies (schools, universities, funding bodies, critics, etc...) which oppress society with their anachronistic orthodoxy and conformity - legacies from the Eurocentric ‘Romantic Era’.

W.S.Burroughs wrote that ’happiness is a by-product of function’. We presently live in an age of despair. If you have work - you have a function. If you have money - you have some power. If you conform - you live. If you do not have these things - you are driven towards despair, even suicide.

Australia has the highest youth suicide rate in the world!

Society has turned, or been forced, along a path of selfishness which leaves the individual with a sense of ‘not belonging’. This aspect of society now, must also be expressed as a part of our psyche.

This is the second piece in a series of what I think of as URBAN PSYCHOSCAPES - more internal psychological states, a bifurcation from my central concern - PSYCHE OF PLACE - more about landscapes and spaces.

The primary sound source is poet Jas Duke reading his own work. I think he is one of Australia's most important poets, having wit, insight, humour and social conscience, and, most importantly, a passion for the SOUND of words. Other prominent samples are from The Song Company and one of those famous European string quartets.

Colin Bright 1999.

Created with some financial assistance from the Australia Council.