Billy Bottle & The Multiple:
THE OTHER PLACE
On Election Day, 2015, a pint of milk mysteriously appears at the gates of Parliament.
Set in the week running up to a UK general election, The Other Place tells the true story of two musicians from Devon (Billy Bottle & Martine as seen on BBC’s The Voice) as they make their way slowly to Westminster. On high streets, market squares and seafront promenades, they perform the same song, forty-nine times over, and at each stop they start conversations with whoever they meet, asking them "Who’s got the Power?".
This journey through the foundations of British democracy inspired a sequence of songs whose lyrics come from the words of the voters (and non-voters) that Billy and Martine met on their journey. It is a celebration of gentler kinds of power and an invitation to the audience to make their voices heard.
Following on from their critically acclaimed album, Unrecorded Beam (the poetry of Thoreau), The Multiple features Martine Waltier, Roz Harding and Billy Bottle, (all mainstays of Mike Westbrook’s Uncommon Orchestra) plus flautist Vivien Goodwin-Darke (from the psychedelic rock band, Magic Bus) and recording artist and producer Lee Fletcher (of Unsung Productions) on soundscapes. Like the best art rock, they combine folk, jazz, pop and minimalism in an engaging and meaningful way.
Complete with wobbly camera footage and the sounds of the streets, this performance is a real democratic party in action!
Billy Bottle: Voice, Keyboards, Guitar.
Martine Waltier: Voice, Violin, Guitar, Percussion.
Roz Harding: Alto sax, Recorder, Percussion.
Vivien Goodwin-Darke: Voice, Flute, Percussion.
Lee Fletcher: Synths, Soundscapes and Percussion.
"cleverly refract rock, folk and jazz through a prism of Canterbury pastoralism" - Prog Magazine
"Brilliant!" - Robert Wyatt
Run time - 2 x 50 mins plus interval
More from an article by Dann Chinn at Misfit City:
As regards the delivery of the Power… it all began as a stunt, of sorts. In January 2015, a peak-time British TV audience was treated to the sight of Billy and Martine ripping into an acoustic busker-cover of Snap!’s old Eurodance chestnut as they competed in ‘The Voice’. Wrapped in pink quilting, flower-child swirl prints and a sunshine glow, chatty about their south Devon rural idyll (and their taste for naturism), they gave the impression of being only a couple of brow-stars away from the Age of Aquarius. They delighted the judges (and went down a storm with a supposedly-hippy-proof public) but their faces and demeanour didn’t fit the reality TV narrative, and they didn’t get any further in the contest. By popular demand the single was out that summer via Bandcamp and cottage industry: it sold nicely behind the scenes and away from the charts; and that might have been that.
However, painting the Bottle squad as talented, bright-eyed novelty hippies is to get no further than the colourful wrapping; to miss the bright, enquiring intelligence under the apparent sunny simplicity; and to mistake constructive, conscious choices for naivety and innocence. Before they’d even thought of stepping onto ‘The Voice’s stage, Billy and Martine had been longstanding Westbrook Band and Dave Sinclair associates, with urban roots in Darlington and London supplemented by dues paid in neo-progressive rock, indie, music teaching and circuses. Already able to tap and hold serious British musical talent, their 2013 album ‘Unrecorded Beam’ had been a triumph of pastoral ensemble jazz; scooping up the poetry of Thoreau and blowing new leaf-green life through it, zig-zagging through the soundfields like a tripping honeybee. ‘The Voice’ was a diversion – a game they were coaxed into. In turn it triggered another experiment in play, taking something apparently trivial and fluffy but using it to tap into a more serious undercurrent.
The busking pilgrimage that would eventually become ‘The Other Place’ started as an attempt at a “rolling conversational democratic jam session.” With no more than the violin, acoustic guitar, costumes and voices from the ‘Voice’ session, Billy and Martine flipped their brief brush with celebrity into an engagement with recognition and a much more down-to-earth version of meet’n’greet. They rode on the back of their ‘Voice’ platform not in order to achieve celebrity, but to set up a chat: a little conversation at the feet of the Big Society, where the bunions and the broken toes are. What they found and heard – and recorded en route – would eventually weave itself into the sonic fabric of ‘The Other Place’, fleshed out by jazz reeds and woodwind, and aided and abetted by production wizard Lee Fletcher (who’d done so much for the encompassing feel of ‘Unrecorded Beam’ and was co-opted into the Multiple once they’d realised the multimedia nature of the emerging new project).
Here are some reflections from the original voyage: dontjustvote.org and a sonic teaser for the show:
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