It has been several years since we last had any Robert Ashley here at Doklands. That was his notorious and problematic Purposeful Lady, Slow Afternoon, and frankly it's taken us this long to recover from the experience.
The Park is an extended piece from 1979 that would later form the opening act of his opera Perfect Lives. It's an intriguing listen. Musically, there's not an awful lot there: a droning keyboard with a predilection for leaving chords hanging and never resolved, and some very low key hand drum. By rights, that should leave you free to focus on Ashley's speech, but that's a very difficult task. His voice is soft and slippy, it slides past your ears. Almost every sentence is read with the same cadence. It destroys the narrative, reducing it to a series of atomic, gnomic statements. Time has been removed, and we are left with a series of snapshots of life. A fascinating achievement.
Robert Ashley - The Park