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Tall Man Was Here

November 2020

Tall Man started as a performance (lien ici). A desire for collective writing. For writing music, yes, but also words that could be spoken; for brainstorming ideas. There was music, text, theatre, singing, movement, dance, a scenographer and proposals for scenic elements, a trial with prosecutor and judge, a bar onstage where the audience gathered to see the story’s end together, a story that began in the grandest of concert traditions. It was a beautiful bazaar with an unlikely central theme, Authority; a casual party where all were brought to question their ways of life, and to invent new ways of creating collectively with greater freedom.

The orchestra recorded these songs live in January 2020 in their Bagnolet studio, Caracol.

The album features ten tracks (nine on the vinyl edition, to conform to vinyl standards).

The orchestra had begun composing three years earlier, taking inspiration from the themes that had been set for the new show. The idea was to make the music sufficiently open to allow for interludes brought on by set changes or speech. As this is a musical and theatrical show, the integration of text and/or song was warmly encouraged. Occasionally, it took time for the words to find their way into the music. For example, the album version of Veracruz is widely different from the stage version, as a recording of the musicians reciting the text “Le grand nous” (which can be found in full in the booklet) was layered onto the musical track. In the second half of the show, dance, rhythm, movement, and a type of popular music all conspired to make spectators want to join in on the celebration of rebirth (following Tall Man’s death).

In parallel, select songs, reinvented by other musicians than their composers, became “sonic objects”—musical spaces arranged and produced with a specific rendering in mind (in collaboration with Zak, our #1 sound engineer). They were released on the Internet as album’s previews. Two of these compositions are associated with music videos directed by Matthieu Mounier (mettre le lien vers les vidéos). The tracks on this album open onto faraway musical spaces, where the orchestra doesn’t go on tour.

The album exists in CD, vinyl and digital formats.

The CD case is made of wood, painted using “chalkboard paint.” Silkscreened on the back cover, you’ll find: a presentation of our Tall Man (an excerpt of text performed during the show). Within the CD case: the CD itself, a booklet of 40 pages, memorabilia from previous versions of the show and its creation process (lyrics, notes, images, photos, scribblings….), and a piece of white chalk. That same chalk serves as a memento of all the grievances once scribbled across the stage, at a time when the latter was also a public square. The album title, initially written in chalk, can be erased, reclaimed, rewritten as one pleases, replaced by such and such a doodle… A mutable cover, it promises to evolve with time, to leave marks… It is a space for play.

The vinyl sleeve also alludes to chalk, a symbol for free expression in the show. Naïve drawings and a chalk floor, a soapbox for the audience, a dazibao trampled in the heat of festivities, and the energy of dancers’ feet.

Recorded at Caracol (Bagnolet, 93) between January 21st and 23rd 2020, mixed by Zak Cammoun and François-Xavier Delaby, with the exception of tracks 4 and 10 (mixed by Boris Boubil), and track 7 (mixed by Benoit Gilg). Mastered by Benjamin Joubert. Produced by the Surnatural Collective. Surnatural Orchestra is supported by: the Ministry of Culture and Communication – France (a CERNI national company), the Île-de-France Regional Government (the Support for Artistic and Cultural Sustainability Fund), the Seine Saint-Denis department (departmental company) and periodically supported by the ADAMI (the Collective Management Organization for the Rights of Performers), the SPEDIDAM (the Society for the Collection and Distribution of Performers’ Rights), the SACEM (the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music), the CNV (the National Centre for Song, Jazz and Variety Shows), and ONDA (the French Office for Contemporary Performing Arts Circulation). The album was recorded thanks to the program ADAMI 365. Surnatural Orchestra is a member of the Grands Formats Federation.


Published November 2020