Spaceship Earth is a set of five songs that see Nonsemble collaborating with vocalists from across the Brisbane music scene. The songs reflect on the relationship between human rationality and the chaos of nature. The songs touch on the effects of technology on our worldview, our unwillingness to believe we might be wrong, our habit of drawing arbitrary boundaries on the world and then accepting those boundaries as sacred, and finally, how we can still find some beauty in the whole mess.
In 1969, Buckminster Fuller published a book entitled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. The term “Spaceship Earth” caught on as an idyllic metaphor of how we, as rational world citizens, could co-operate to care for and maintain our delicate world as it hurtles through space. The image is a beautiful one — all of humankind recognising our shared interest in caring for our home — and was picked up enthusiastically by environmentalists, politicians, and the media of the time.
However, there was a flaw in Fuller’s seemingly simple answer: it was based on a conception of nature as a predictable and simple system — a metaphor with its roots in 20th century society’s love affair with the machine. Unfortunately, the reality of nature is dynamic, characterised by chaos, complexity and constant change. All of human science is crude and simple in comparison. It turns out we cannot set ourselves apart as pilots; we are as much a part of the chaos as storms and butterflies.
In the 21st century we find ourselves on the dizzying pedestal of our ancestor’s enlightenment, but able to glimpse, as the industrial dust clears, the limitations of our powers of reasoning. The machines didn’t save us, and we have no idol to replace them. But we’ve rationalised and mechanised our world so effectively that is now very difficult for us to opt out of the situation.
released March 24, 2016
Songs by Chris Perren
Violins: Flora Wong and Sam Andrews
Viola: Kieran Welch
Cello: Briony Luttrell
Piano: Sam Mitchell
Drums: Hik Sugimoto
Bass & Synths: Chris Perren
Vocals on Trucksea: Dean McGrath (Hungry Kids of Hungary, Rolls Bayce)
Vocals on Bricks: Shem Allen (Skinny Jean)
Vocals on Unkind: Amela Duheric (Malo Zima, Amela)
Vocals on Sovereign Murders: Cameron Bower (Big Dead)
Vocals on Somnambulists: Mel Tickle (Little Scout, Pynes) and Shem Allen
Drums Recorded by Thomas Green at his place.
Piano and Strings Recorded by Briony Luttrell and Chris Perren at UQ Nickson Room
Vocals & Bass Recorded by Chris Perren at Lady Dorrington Fraser
Produced and Mixed by Chris Perren and Briony Luttrell
Mastered by Mike Marsh at The Exchange
Artwork by Shaun Moriarty (rumoko)
Huge thanks to Jim and the crew at bigo and twigetti, and our exceptional vocalists. Thanks also to Tom Green, UQ Music, and Steve Bartlett for their help with the production of this EP. Thank you to Phil Laidlaw, Cam Bower, and Shem Allen for the use of their gear.
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The pieces on this EP were written specifically for pianist Ben Dawson, who performs them here. However, that's not the entire story. There's a twist, of course, as could have been expected from Leah Kardos. Instead of tailoring the music exactly to the performing musician, she deliberately pushes him to the limits of his technical capabilities, in order to yield an unpredictable ingredient. The final result is an astonishing and highly unusual piano solo pleasure. Sven B. Schreiber (sbs)