P    I    E    S        N    O    M    U    S    I    C

SPIES, 2005 NOMUSIC, 2005
Bill Drummond Alan Dunn
8-21 November 21 November - 4 December


Billboard SN030201 0006.01, Crosshall Engineering, Wellington Street, Liverpool , UK, 2005
It was late 2004, after a visit to the Tate Gallery, that I first saw the huge PIES graffiti pasted onto the Tunnel Tower on the Wirral side of the Mersey. It looked fantastic. Brash. Precise. Raw. Gallas. (good) American. Superflex-esque or Weiner-esque. I had heard that it was a band but despite a fair degree of searching and asking around, I could not find any product. No music. Virgin had heard of a limited CD but didn't have any. Someone said that the PIES should be avoided, someone mentioned the large motorway graffiti and someone mentioned The La's.

I finally tracked down a copy of the PIES CD on eBAY only to be outbid while out of the country. A few days later I received the email asking whether I wanted to buy it straight, no bidding. I did and it duly came. Well, two of them came, both signed, along with a poster, also signed. Hmmm, I wondered, maybe this guy (ASH) who signed it is actually in PIES selling their CDs on eBAY? I emailed him and got a text back.

We finally agreed to meet in a city centre cafe and he talked of his PIES artworks (graffiti) and I spoke about how great they all looked and about wanting to do a work inspired by them. We wandered a bit and looked at some STOK works but they didn't really do anything for me, even the one that said PIES.

Personally, it wasn't really about graffiti - it was the precision, the artistic ambition, the strangely Communist feel to them, the Bauhaus, the placement (the old airway field at Speke, the ridged wall by Edge Hill Station) and the complete lack of product. Like billboards that are not advertising anything. Like a multi-national taking out advertising space just to keep the sound and look of their name fresh in the public's mind.

And I liked the paranoia, the sense that he (felt he) was being watched, spied on, monitored, pasted over and hounded.

And I lay in bed that night and thought about a billboard that featured a word that did not advertise product.

And I woke up thinking of Tony Cascarino (another work...) and humming 'this is your time'.

It was just after Easter 2005 that a planned billboard project in Notting Hill fell through due to the Tabernacle going into liquidation. I had been liaising with various artists around producing new posterworks. Bill Drummond was one and after that phase of the project ended, he tentatively mentioned a proposed 'nomusic' project around November, with a possible new billboard work. I recalled Stewart Home in Glasgow in 1989 gathering support for his art strike. A lovely idea I thought, to stop all creative production for 12 months but also an outrageous assumption that artists themselves don't need art.

I pass this billboard site every day on the bus. It is one of the least maintained 'good' sites in Liverpool. Last year, a red poster (FRIENDS on 4?) stayed up on until it slowly faded to white. Often we see only one 48-sheet installed, leaving an awkward blank section next to it that says more than the printed half. Here we have a creative (or capitalist) frame that promises much but on occasion completely withdraws stimulation.

No Music for a day will be OK. For two days will be a bit irritating and an odd sensation (like smelling the beer and farm shit in the smoke-free west coast Irish pubs). Three days might be interesting (the third day is always the worst - experienced hill walkers) but the fourth day a nightmare (my experience on the 7-day gluten-free detox).

Day 5 and we begin to try and hear 'music' around us, in accents, burbs, grinds, clunks, gusts and drips. Sales of Einsturzende Neubauten (circa 82) and Chris Watson increase as folk overlook the incredibly careful composition in both. Day 6 and things go very very quiet, before the storm. Day 7 and the humming inside our heads is as loud as inside the anechoic as masses of brains turn up the gain to full to hear some melody. Day 8 and music shops close. Doors to Concert Halls chained up. Music Schools converted. iTunes withdrawn. MP3s criminalised. Turntables reconditioned.

Day 9 and all vinyl is melted. Soap Operas and Film Production companies introduce Soundtrack Voices.

Day 10 and we wake up to a music-free future. Accents centralised. Animals gagged. Prayer Books burned.

Day 11 and the joys of painting, etching and marquetry are rediscovered.

Day 12 and people stand a little further apart from each other.

Day 13 and all memories of lyrics, melodies, encores and lullabies are gone.

Day 14 and we start hearing space due to the reduction in emitted audio levels from earth.

and we want to go there ...

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