When All Is Quiet: The Kaiser Chiefs Turn Art Curators (and a little bit of middleagedad)

We are aware that TWR is often a bit London centric, since that’s where Jane and I spend most of our time, so it’s exciting to be able to talk about something happening in the beautiful town of York. It’s so pretty that I might have to move there, it won me over with its beautiful architecture, fabulous cultural and good junking (AKA antiques and junk shop trawling). Then you learn there’s a Betty’s tea shop, I had almost put my house on the market by the time I left.

I also met one of my favourite blogging friends Belgian Waffle IRL, as she has got ahead of the trend and already moved to York, which was a complete treat. As I sat chatting to a York resident at the station before catching my train back (locals seem very nice indeed) thousands of people got off  the London train, presumably to enjoy a weekend in the town. ‘What’s going on this weekend?’ I said to my new friend, ‘Oh, it’s like this every weekend’ she said,’ it’s a popular place.’

Last week I helped Middleagedad install his Bureau Of Found Audio Objects (BoFaO) in the gorgeous York Art Gallery as part of When All Is Quiet, Kaiser Chiefs In Conversation With York Art Gallery, an exhibition investigating sound and art.

Base player for Kaiser Chiefs and Yorkshire lad Simon Rix, had seen M.A.D’s BoFaO graduation show, loved it and asked if he could do a version featuring ‘lost’ LPs for the opening of the exhibition. M.A.D obliged and spent the week blasting his 70s record player as loud as it would go in the entrance hall of the gallery, gathering stories about music from visitors and generally enjoying himself hugely.

The Kaiser Chiefs’ exhibition is a unique look at music and art, investigating how the creative boundaries blur between sound and the artistic practise and what happens when you mix them up. It is Simon and drummer Vijay Mistry, above with M.A.D, who have been the main drivers behind the innovative project, both are keen art fans, although Ricky Wilson is the art graduate of the band, having taught graphic art in Leeds before things took off musically for them.

When All Is Quiet, Kaiser Chiefs In Conversation With York Art Gallery, Janet Cardiff Installation, image by Anthony Chappel-Ross

It’s a clever and thoughtful exploration of sound from a band who work intensely within the medium, and it’s not something to rush, as there’s much music to appreciate. The extraordinary Janet Cardiff work The 40 Part Motet, above, is worth the ticket price alone – a 40 choral voices singing out of 40 free standing speakers which you can move through to totally immerse yourself in the soaring harmonies. For some reason this made me quite teary.

When All Is Quiet, Kaiser Chiefs In Conversation With York Art Gallery, image by Anthony Chappel-Ross

There’s also deep listening (a thing, who knew?) from Pauline Oliveros and Mark Leckey’s film on British nightlife Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, to take your time over, as well as a collaboration between sound sculptor (again, who knew?) Maryanne Amacher and Sonic Youth’s Thruston Moore with Daytrip Maryanne.

When All Is Quiet, Kaiser Chiefs In Conversation With York Art Gallery, image by Anthony Chappel-Ross

But my favourite section is where the band have rifled through the Gallery’s art collection to curate work that they personally love alongside their pick of the perfect track to view it with, which works well because the band have excellent musical taste. So you can stand and look at a cracking John Hoyland while listening to The Cure’s A Forest. A few people exited the room determined to pick tracks for all their art at home, as the resulting connections are so satisfying when you get them right.

When All Is Quiet, Kaiser Chiefs In Conversation With York Art Gallery, image by Anthony Chappel-Ross

The most innovative installation is Silent Gig, a reimagining of the band’s on-stage experience without the sound. By highlighting the incredible lights and colour-scapes they create within their shows and the emotive power of song lyrics (projected into the space), they have created an immersive moment of stage ‘wow’ as art.

When All Is Quiet, Kaiser Chiefs In Conversation With York Art Gallery, image by Charlotte Graham

It gives you an insight into the creative impact a rock concert can have even without any noise, and probably means you wont look at a concert light show in the same way ever again.

If you are near York this festive season I’d urge you to visit, the exhibition is on until March 2019. Although M.A.D will not be there in person, an edited display of his BoFaO is still in place and you can make your bid for an album. The museum (which has an excellent cafe) also holds the most divine collection of ceramics from Dame Lucy Rie and Bernard Leach, among others and is a real joy of a place to visit. More info here.


  • John Murphy says:

    It was so nice and amazing blog post. Quite informative it was. Thanks for sharing !

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