Terrible Music

Manifesto and Lyrics for Inaugural Performance of Terrible Music at The MCA Friday 26 April 2013

Terrible Music is the name of our band, comprising Mitch Cairns, Nick Strike, Stephen Ralph and myself. That music may be considered to be contained within the frame of The Sydney School of Sculpture reflects the scope of SSOS, perhaps.


May we treat you ladies and gentlemen to some light manifesto.
Tonight we bring you Terrible Music and
By way of introduction some clarification on our musical philosophy
And program.

Tonight is the first public performance of Terrible Music.
Our task tonight is to present the live studio where the struggle is un-seamlessly revealed.

We invite you to surrender what preconceptions you may have about us.
Preconceptions flare like arousal and hunger
So beware!

We bring you tonight what we have gathered from our extensive
Musical research and practice.
What we bring you tonight is only possible because of the practice we have employed
Over the last two years,
To perfect what we believe to be reliably unpronounceable
And like terrible language sometimes is,

The practice we have undertaken has made us perfect.
We guarantee that as a combined force, of unequivocal collaboration
We are and reflect your world
On your behalf.


Structure is required to make an edifice
To enter a room you need a door
A room has dimensions; length, width, height and paintings.
Paintings are hung in a modest way with an emphasis on quality
Not quantity.

We are in it now. We are lying down. We are walking lying down and
Our feet offer no account of our progress.

Terrible Music offers us this place.
It is a testament of our struggle.
This is the sound of where we are.

Here we are tonight enshrined. The museum contains us and we are
A figment of its expression.

We are here in Sydney Cove and we have landed and made a rough camp
With the Opera House and same sex marriage, I think.

We are putting down the flagging stones which
Slip and slide on ground untrained for traction.


Terrible Music is cute like cute is ugly but interesting.
We thought we might have overcome such a prejudice as being caught out unprepared.

We imagined uncertainty had been well enough mapped
But here now sweat and trembles
And bowels with swinging doors attest

We do not and can
Never know the shape of beauty.


We might have asked ourselves
About foreground and background.
About rhythm and melody.
We might have asked ourselves about the role of breath and how long and high we might be
Able and prepared
To fly.

For all of everything that we are not,
We are at least committed as musicians are,
To being carried away and aloft.

As Terrible as we are,
Music has never abandoned the promise to listeners of escape.

We bring you Hatch!

Should we safely navigate the sky
We will be the better for it and

Landing will not bring the usual disappointment of rent and retail.
When we were playing the other night I landed
As my father, Which was a bit of a disappointment.


People ask us,
What sort of music do you play?

I don't know enough about music to say.
There must be some crossover genre like folk-jazz-indie-contemporary-soul
That we emulate.

Whatever it is that we are
We are just a product of our circumstance
And limited curiosity
Inhibits an accurate identification

When the driving force takes
When the fire lights
We are suspended
And sensible thinking looks up at us abashed.

If we are an apparition
A future dim memory
Our fleetingness is apt.

6 (An epilog)

Much contemporary art
Hides behind
An important rationale

And from that effort
Faults and limits inherent in the work
Are obscured.

Terrible Music
Has found a home here tonight
To find itself so well reflected
In the immodest intentions of those beliefs.

If in listening to these words
You have been distracted from the sounds
So much the better!