PIANOS

Lost Jockey life was dominated by its pianos, a phalanx of Eavestaff Mini Royals. It was a strange process, taking these little waist-high pianos, with their cheapskate walnut veneer, on tour, as they were clearly intended for domestic use only. And a knackering one, since they were only marginally lighter than normal pianos, and just as awkward. We’d arrive at a touring venue, discover that the hall was on the second floor, no lift (bizarre!), and spend half the day schlepping the damn things up and down the stairs. But we did travel, rather glamorously, with a piano tuner, Eric of B Sharp Pianos (the kind of pun one associates with hairdressers rather than piano tuners).

 

Originally, under the influence of Steve Reich, we were attracted to the clean sound of the pianos, which seemed to suit perfectly the purity and clarity of minimalist music. Composers like Messaien had used the piano as a colourful mini-orchestra, fully exploiting its possible sonorities, but we liked it for its monochrome qualities. (And the fact that’s it’s essentially a tuned percussion instrument.)

 

Then we became increasingly interested in a messier, more heterogeneous, funkier sound, and as other instruments joined the band, the pianos were increasingly replaced by electric pianos, clavinets, synths. Possibly something to do with the hard labour involved, too.

 

The piano was subsequently fetishised, very successfully, by the band Piano Circus. I presume they employed roadies.

Buzz Buzz Went The Honeybee

Played by The Lost Jockey

Recorded by John Leckie at Abbey Road Studios.

 

At the time it seemed a hilarious idea to base a large-scale piece of systems music on a completely daft song, or rather, on the first line of a completely daft song.

 

Hoovering the Beach

Hard-core minimalist music. The lyrics are ‘keeps raining all the time’, from the song Stormy Weather. Why? I can’t remember.

 

Sue Bickley and Frances Lynch (voices), John Barker (flute), David Owen, Glyn Perrin, Andrew Poppy, OG (keyboards), Ali Robinson (cello, tape loop, nods).

Recorded by Gareth Jones.