Song

Last words

The first time I heard Franz Wright’s voice I had no idea of the identity of the speaker. It was 7 September 2013 and the premiere of The Kilowatt Hour, a trio of Christian Fennesz, Stephan Mathieu and David Sylvian, taking place at the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway. The venue was the main screen at the local cinema: the sound system powerful and detailed, the acoustics perfect.

Weaved within the music, high in the mix, were readings in a distinctive modulating voice that was both strident and world-worn. There had been no inkling beforehand that there would be a spoken word element to the performance, so in the absence of context all one could do was give total attention to the lines narrated. At the time, the experience of hearing passages confronting mental anguish, illness and death was extremely disconcerting… shocking even. I was unprepared for it.

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Wintersleep – The Wall

‘bearing witness to what’s real’

‘I was pretty well-read by the time I was fourteen, but it never occurred to me to write. I was interested in being a musician or a scientist. Then something happened when I was about fifteen.. ..In the summer my mother and step-father and I used to go to Clear Lake, California, up above Napa Valley. I woke up early one morning and had a strange feeling. I took a walk around dawn out into a walnut orchard, and I sat down. This ecstasy came over me, and I started to write. I ended up writing a seven-line poem. I sent it off to my dad, and we started corresponding about it. It was clear to me that I had to have this sensation again. I had never felt anything like this. I felt that this was what I was supposed to do.

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