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Object Collection’s opera based on Fugazi's concert recordings to be released in October

A month earlier, the New York opera collective’s It's All True will receive its UK premiere at London’s Cafe Oto

New York ensemble Object Collection are bringing to London what they describe as their “opera-in-suspension” sourced from the complete live archive of Fugazi. As well as receiving its London premiere, the opera will also be released on record for the first time. Called It's All True, the work uses a series of Fugazi live recordings made between 1987–2002. Object Collection’s composer Travis Just and writer/director Kara Feely constructed their 100 minute opera for four performers, guitars and bass and two drummers from the incidental music, text and sounds found on those Fugazi recordings, be it unplanned feedback, pre-show speeches, audience hecklers or the noise of police breaking up gigs, rather than Fugazi songs and music proper.

“In Fugazi we always thought of our music as like hollering into a valley. Echoes might come back but we could never be sure what form they might take or if they would even be recognisable,” comments Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. “The work Object Collection has done using raw material from our live archive was one of those unexpected echoes. When they contacted us to have permission to use the material, we answered yes.

“When we heard back from Travis and Kara with a video recording of an initial rehearsal of It’s All True I didn’t really know what to expect,” adds Picciotto, “but I shared the link with the rest of the band to check out. Within days the four of us in the band were writing each other with bafflement and awe, ‘Have you watched this thing yet?’ All of us were both blown away and disoriented by the work – it was well beyond anything we had anticipated when agreeing to Travis’s early request.

“As for the text – a stitched quilt composed of our off-the-cuff stage raps (many of which utterly defy my memory and some which are as freshly present in my brain as yesterday) – to hear it delivered by these actors in a novel form of almost distanced hysteria at first really confused me,” he continues. “For us our between-song raps were a way to engage with the crowd as people in a shared space and precise moment, not just as consumers of a cookie-cutter event. Basically it was a way to avoid feeling like a jukebox in the corner. That was one reason we also never used a setlist, so that every night had that element of improvisation and response to that specific room. But of course the banter was sometimes just a way to buy time, to catch our breath, to mask tuning or equipment issues or just to entertain ourselves. Still, those raps were supposed to evaporate into the night air, but by taping them and making them available, we left a trail back. Object Collection took that trail and made it a script which solidified the ephemeral into something more concrete, a distillation of weird social history and politics as a residue that exists in even in the most seemingly random moments once they are boiled down.”

It’s All True was commissioned by the Borealis Festival, Bergen, where it premiered in 2016. It featured singers Catrin Lloyd-Bollard, Avi Glickstein, Daniel Allen Nelson and Deborah Wallace, plus Taylor Levine, Josh Lopes, James Moore and Brendon Randall-Myers on guitars, and Shayna Dunkelman and Owen Weaver on drums.

It will be released in vinyl, CD and download formats by Slip in October, complete with photography by Henrik Beck, and a fold-out double-sided A2 newspaper print featuring both performance text and sleevenotes. Slip will also release a 7" in September featuring “What's The Problem” from It's All True plus two extra tracks. Both are available for pre-order.

Meanwhile, the UK premiere of It’s All True will take place at London's Cafe Oto on 21 & 22 September. They will also perform between 2–25 February, 2018 at La Mama, East Village, NYC. Online subscribers can read a review of the Bergen performance of It's All True in Wire 388 and an interview with Object Collection’s Feely and Just in Wire 387.