FLEX: Momo brings some blistering power synth to Berlin supporting a breakout bit of futurism theatre.

Artist and conference hacker Marcus John Henry Brown’s Re:publica19 keynote debuted the third part in his chilling, digi-dystopian corporate vision, The Passing trilogy, in a remarkable one-man performance that brought a startled audience to its feet. Scored by Momo:tempo, in full 80s confidence overload.

HEADER PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAIMUND VERSPOHL.

 

 

When Marcus Brown began performing his piece, The Passing, a couple of years ago, the gift of it to its audiences was a surprise – a big context twist. Known for his presentations and talks as a tech and digital culture speaker, his audiences were conference people – advertising and web conference people. Attending those conferences to learn some new ideas, hear some leading edge creative technology thinking, perhaps – but not expecting… art. So when he took this particular season of talks from PowerPoint slides to choking and dying on stage, Brown’s reputation spread. Now he refers to his performance work as conference hacking.

Today, The Passing has grown to three distinct episodes in the story – not presentations – and the last part, Flex, has taken the whole format to another theatrical level. Including adding a specially commissioned score, as composer and creative Timo Peach explains.

 

Hear a cut of the theme from Flex by Momo:tempo:

 

“The first time I met Marcus was at Silicon BeachMatt Desmier‘s ideas conference in my home town, Bournemouth. The year before, he’d spoken also and it had been thought-provoking, wry, almost techno-poetic philosophy. But half way through the first ever performance of The Passing, it sunk in properly what he was doing this time – performing in character. And it was just genius!” Timo grins. “I was on my feet cheering with rambunctious enthusiasm at the end, which was the finale of the conference’s first day – what a closing keynote. I approached him the next morning and essentially fanboyed at him.

“For some reason, he kept talking to me over time and eventually approached me with a terrific proposal – music for the trilogy’s highpoint finish.”

The three pieces in the series are chilling, near-future critiques of technocratic business culture.

“Friends have asked me to stop writing these things,” Marcus says, “they think they’re too predictive of the real world.”

“The Passing Trilogy revolves around one simple idea: what would happen if a corporation rebuilds the world in its own image? A society based on it’s corporate and marketing values. A world that feeds off of our fears and egos.”

 

 

“Be the hustlepreneur you were always meant to be.”

 

Flex is another one-man structure and it’s as dense in content as the other chapters.

“The first part of the Trilogy, The Passing, is the end of the story — we see the completed version of a world “made great again” as Marcus explains. “In the second part of the Trilogy, The Sensorium Process, we go right back to the start of the story and witness the strategy kick-off, a corporate all-hands, where the new talent strategy “From Human to Resource” is presented to 300.000 employees by the Director of Human resources, a man called Tyler Xavier. The challenge with the third and final part, which chronologically sits in the middle of the three, was to show how we get from the mundane evilness of the Coalition Strategy Day 2020 to The Passing grounds of 2059.”

Across almost an hour on stage in the debut performance, Brown struted, preached, cackled and scorned back and forth across Re:publica’s huge backdropping stage screen, through a sequence of heavily branded, richly detailed typographic and video content, fleshing out the ironic but close-to-the-bone absurdism of an influencer future turned up just a notch or two to 11. All still as a director of human resources essentially giving a corporate conference talk.

The protagonist in Flex is Tyler Xavier, and his personality was the key to setting the performance’s tone – in graphics and in music.

“Tyler is driven: driven by his vision of a total influencer resource state, driven by the need to hustle and driven by the power of fame” says Marcus. “He is a corporate man who becomes a corporate God.”

This had one singled-minded tonal implication for the score, as the bloke from Momo recalls.

“Marcus briefed me in Franky Goes To Hollywood 12″ titles” he says flatly. “Marcus asked me if I got it. I said I totally got it.”

 

 

 

 

“Influencers never stop, even when they…”

 

The music score was the first time Brown had collaborated with a composer so directly, especially in the world of The Passing. So Mr Peach was conscious of being invited in to a space so efficiently personal.

“Marcus is a multi-talent. These pieces are something really only his combination of experience, outlook and capability could hope to pull off” he says. “The primary thing is the thinking behind it – it’s horribly impressive, in concept and articulation. Very clever subversion of the lexicon of techbro marketing that tickles the mind beautifully, but filtered through the visual language of a real art school designer into a complex satirical work of science fiction. Words, pictures, story and thinking to challenge reality, by simply tweaking it the tiniest mirror universe degree. Barely a whole degree.

“Then he gets up on stage all alone with nothing but a slidedeck on a laptop and performs it like a bloke with a street theatre background. Which he also has” nods Timo. “This time painted up for the full digital cabaret. All that was missing was the massive ZTT-style synth score – which I gingerly set about working up, trying not to muck it up with sheer excitement.”

Mr Peach felt this called for some core sounds from the era directly.

That kick drum. I never thought it would suddenly sound so good” he raises an eyebrow. “The Linn Drum kick that’s not very good with bass response – I just knew Marcus would recognise it and delight. And even more so, the legendary orchestra strike. ..You know the one.”

“Timo sent me his first demo response after a couple of weeks and I pressed play on the file” says Brown. “It immediately did that orchestra strike loudly. I pressed stop and said: “He’s got it.””

 

 

 

“Do not be alarmed.”

 

Writing in 1980s mode is a natural fit for Momo:tempo, as it’s chief character started making music then. Which is what worried him.

“I felt in my own flow doing this score,” Timo says. “It’s second nature to build textures in this synth-minded way. It does now sound very of an era, of course, but being a native to it I could essentially channel the spirit of it without being slavish to every sound source – it could evolve into some more contemporary sound design around the Emulator II samples and drum machine-gunning cowbell. Clear little tunes, arpeggiated tonal rhythms and big pads, augmented with some bombastic 80s guitar from Momo’s head of guitar department, Martin Rice. I had a ball. Terrified I’d turn out something unbelievably naff.”

In the end, Marcus felt encouraged by the collaboration.

“It was a remarkable experience working with Timo, and I think we both agree that, in terms of FLEX music, this is just the beginning” he said.

And on the night, as Re:publica’s main evening keynote in Station Berlin, Momo:tempo’s score did seem to strike the right note, worked subtly into the bold canvas of Marcus Brown’s whole barnstorming theatre performance, bringing the audience to its feet for what may have been an unprecidented standing ovation at the end.

“It was bonkers and brilliant and disruptive and daring,” says Timo. “And it was an honour to tinker around the edges and creatively encourage this absurdly impressive bit of work, in a small but responsible way. How could I not have gone out there to watch for myself. Re:publica is Marcus’ favourite conference, rooted in a sense of digital creativity and society as it is, and still he punked  its socks off. I can’t wait to go the full Lion King one day, as he put it. But for a first ever production, this was something next level. And I think I learned much just working with him and spending time with him. He’s become an invaluable mate to Momo. I can see why he is a mentor to many youngers in the creative community.”

 

WATCH THE FULL PERFORMANCE OF FLEX
BY MARCUS JOHN HENRY BROWN:

VISIT MARCUSJOHNHENRYBROWN.COM >

Read Marcus Brown’s own account of finishing a long developed body of work in The Passing Trilogy >

 

 

 

Listen to a playlist of cues – The stations of Flex by Momo:tempo on Soundcloud >

 

Momo scores and voices environmental pre-schoolers show, Bottle Island.

Love Love Films commissions Timo Peach to help sonically bring alive their playful planet-minded new animated series for young Earthlings, exploring the issues of plastics polution in the oceans – with a little recognition from the UN Environment Programme.

 

When it comes to thinking about tomorrow, there seems to be a world of challenges for children and young people to try to make sense of today, and schools are often at the forefront of helping them engage. And their parents. But perhaps children’s TV still has lots of opportunity to join in and explore today’s planetary themes more. Bournemouth film and TV production company Love Love decided to create a playful response to the grown-up problems of now by pouring some dedicated time into a passion project, aiming to help inspire young minds with new perspectives on one particular big problem for humans on Earth in the 21st century – the plastics waste crisis.

Bottle Island is a preschool adventure series that encourages smaller folk, just ahead of their formal education years, to think about care for the planet.  As the team says: “The series follows a group of quirky friends as they work together to try and save the island from the rubbish that washes up on the shore. Through their eco-adventures, the characters discover the wonders and perils of the world around them.”

And to bring alive the sonic dimension of the show, Love Love approached the bloke from Momo to score the development pilot episode, and to bring voices to the characters themselves.

 

“What a gift of a bit of work,” grins Timo. “When I first saw the production stills, I was enchanted with the background style of Bottle Island‘s world, especially influenced by Joanne Salmon’s work on the team, along side lead animator Sunny Clarke. And the whole premise of it had me hooked – a great way to get younger children making sense of the crazy state of consumer waste.”

As well as looking for a musical language to backdrop the characters and their island world, Momo had to help them literally find their voices.

“Of course, I’m as much a performer as I am a composer,” Timo says, “so I had enormous fun working through with Georgie and Ollie how the different personalities of Bottle Island would sound. And I had no hesitation in turning to m’great mate Michele O’Brien – storyteller and Valise Noire Theatre co-founder – to join the cast. She’s a brilliant warm presence, even just in voice.”

 

 

“If you can’t reuse it, refuse it!”

 

Script lead Oliver Selby also wrote the original title song, which Momo helped to bring alive – and with it, a very particular sound to the music.

“I essentially collected a few different items of plastic from our own recycling bin and mucked about with sampling them – hits and slaps and various plasticky percussive sounds. Then built up a pallette of musical sounds to write with. It’s a bouncy, cute vibe that’s come together, helping to simply posterise the sense of these odd characters in a sort of bonkers tropical setting.”

 

Love Love MD Georgina Hurcombe says the team did enjoy trips to the Momo studio to not just hear all the odd noises and music but how Timo and Michele were auditioning up the characters’ voices.

“There was never a dull moment in Timo’s shed. We did all have a good laugh working up crotchety old Prof Z and chirpy robot Socket and the ever sensible Nurdle, who’s probably the real brains of the gang. And those crabs…”

” I think my favourite characters are the conjoined turtles, held together by old beer can rings – the two Rons” says Timo. “It’s a brilliant idea and grimly based – as everything is in this show – on evidence of just how plastics and other human waste deforms natural habitats for animal life. But they’re also kind of a funny pair, and I thought it especially amusing to make one of them sound a little unsophistocated while the other was a sort of hispanic lothario. When it comes to animation, you sometimes have to run with what instinctively flows as funny and the team graciously let me!”

Host of UN World Environment Day 2018, India, chose Plastics Pollution as it’s theme for that year, and Love Love Films collaborated with the United Nations Environment Programme to produce an educational short using characters from Bottle Island.

 

 

 

Head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim said of the show:

“It is crucial that the next generations understand the enormous responsibility and power that they have. They need to know that they can truly transform this world to make it better and that they don’t need to make our same mistakes. We can’t reach out to them with scientific reports. Bottle Island is a great way to help them understand environmental challenges, to realise that solutions are in our hands and to have fun with a bunch of rather crazy characters on a peculiar little island!”

 

The team hope to share news of a commissioned series of Bottle Island in due course.

Find out more about Bottle Island at the Love Love development page >

 

 

Momo joins the 8th CMI Music Conference

On Sunday 28th April 2019, Timo Peach co-hosts the latest outing of the artist-encouraging industry insights event at Absolute Music.

 

Alongside consummate piano man and right-ol’ character Matt Black, Momo will be welcoming you to Strawberry Fields Represents‘ latest CMI Music Conference, designed to help musicians, DJs, producers, songwriters and venue folk glean some game-raising extra knowledge from industry insiders.

This year’s one-day career encourager will be meeting another selection of pros from the music business to share some practical insider knowledge and take questions direct from those ready to learn from them – including some of the team from BBC Introducing, Connor Sheehan, Performer Relationship Manager for PPL, Bonita McKinney, Business Development Manager for Music & Festivals at Ticketmaster and BBC judge and social media guru Matt Spracklen, along with others.

“It’s a super day together in an informal, intimate musical setting, that gives some great direct insights to music makers who would like to know more about how make more of their work” says Timo. “It can be a real encouragement to picture your music a little more applied, and the CMI get-together can leave you feeling ready to take things up a level. It’s all part of helping you find the right space for you as an artist – I’m really looking forward to joining Matt and Suzy Wheeler and our guests.”

There are still a few tickets left, and you can grab them right here.

CMI Music Conference – Sunday 28th April / 11am til 3.30pm / at Absolute Music, Bournemouth.

 

Unsee The Future returns.

It’s back. The more hopeful human tomorrow – Good Friday April 19 2019. Or is it? Timo Peach returns as the bloke from the podcast that tries to pull together the themes all around us in the now of fearsome realities, to make more human sense of the possibilities in the madness. If that’s even possible.

 

Is it time to get thinking outside the box? Or the circle. Since last year, Momo has been resting the broadcast voice and planning the infamous podcast that spent it’s first 20 episodes trying to make some loose sense of the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. For, as revelatory as they were, was there value in pursuing the format beyond them?

” I did wonder if there was good enough reason to bring back Unsee The Future,” says Timo. “It was a very complete idea, series one – using the slightly baffling SDGs as a structure to look at the world’s set of challenges. But sitting with the idea, I simply thought it might be a shame to stop the flow of it, having learned so much so far. About the topic and how to do it.”

 

 

The return of the show opens up the idea of trying to form a complete picture of the human planet today by circling back around the connected challenges of it at slightly finer grain.

“There are just so many themes of now, the Now of fearsome realities as I often call it, that it seems still a good vehicle to go further. Like the Global Goals were just the launch pad” he says.

“We are here precisely because old business as usual is failing. It’s time for new stories of us like never before. I hope to find some.”

 

But rather a lot has happened since the special super-bumper episode 20 Art went out.

“If anything, things have gotten crazier,” Timo says. “The political theatre in my home country alone is beyond all reason now. But in all the exploratory spaces I’ve been to in the last six months, outside the bubble of Twitter and old media, people seem to be mainly just getting on with work and planning. You have to be careful with the nation-testing drama of Brexit that we don’t believe all the hype. While also being bold in exploring way more positive visions of the future than the misery of this cultural cloud, and others. We are here precisely because old business as usual is failing. It’s time for new stories of us like never before. I hope to find some.”

 

Launching a new platform.

With the new series comes a new dedicated website.

“Yep, Unseethefuture.com is launching on the day too, just to keep things nice and tidy. Between my work as an artist, trying to make personal playful sense of things through the music of Momo:tempo, and my work as a creative director, attempting to encourage new ways of seeing in other people’s initiatives and business with Momo:zo, Unsee is my public research project. And somehow, I feel they all three fit together. But often folk will only find one of those circles of Momo and this is just fine – the podcast on its own is a nice little world of thought and I’m happy to create a space all for it. Into which I shall be adding some videos around the official radio episodes, which I’m hoping to keep to half-hour events each.”

And the topics we can hope to explore?

“Well, across this ten-episode second season, you can expect a random series of subjects. But components of now that I think are worth stating some obvious things about, to help us get them straight in our heads. And hopefully too, one or two helpfully new ways of seeing things.”

 

Unsee The Future returns 19.04.19

Subscribe to the Momo:memos to join in with the conversation a bit more.

Unique short Two Feet Tall is officially released

Momo is reminded of a favourite score, as writer director Andy Robinson opens his remarkable film to general release, sharing ‘a day in the life of a pair of shoes’.

 

An audience favourite in many festivals over the last couple of years, Two Feet Tall finally sees the outside world, giving a glimpse into a true film lover’s art – and how the art of collaboration sits at the centre of it. For Andy Robinson’s short fairytale is a story of ingenuity and partnership as much as boldness of storytelling – something the bloke from Momo:tempo can attest to, after working with the director on the project.

“Andy knows how to craft a vision,” Timo Peach explains, “but he also knows how to trust those he chooses to join his production team. Working with my dear mate is always a joy – and I feel like I’ve completed a module or two at film school.”

Two Feet Tall is shot entirely from the knees down, without dialogue. It follows the fortunes of one character walking through her ordinary day, and how she comes to see her days a little less ordinarily by the end.

WATCH TWO FEET TALL:

 

WATCH MOMO SHARE HIS APPROACH TO SCORING TWO FEET TALL:

 

 

The Devon film maker had to employ some of the tricks of the true budget movie production trade to improvise everything from tracking shots to effective puddles, but Robinson describes it as: “one of my favourite filmmaking experiences to date.”

“When music and film are paired together, and the cogs mesh, a wonderful alchemy can take place where the sum is truly greater than its parts” he says. “In our film, there are such moments for me”.

A sentiment echoed by Mr Peach heartily.

“It’s a film that hits the emotional sweetspot” he says. “It’s clever but uncomplicated, and it connects very directly somehow, all without facial and vocal acting. It harkens to the earliest days of film in a beautiful way.”

READ MORE ABOUT THE BACKGROUND TO TWO FEET TALL IN THE ORIGINAL MOMO PROMO ARTICLE HERE >

“I am proud of the work Andy inspired in me for this one,” Timo adds, “it’s a score I’m very  happy to have written for such a film. After this, it’s been a delight to have his head so squarely involved in helping to develop my own project The Shape of Things To Hum – he’s bringing all the human connection of Two Feet to it beautifully. Anything I can do to champion Andy’s brain and outlook I will do wherever I can. The world needs his creative soul, frankly.”

Of his own film, the director himself simply concludes: “Two Feet Tall is unrepentantly a feel-good movie. And in a strange, fairytale way, an empowering one too. I don’t know about you, but right now, I think the world could do with a few more stories like that.”