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Looking For The Burning Dog

from The Way Home by Steve Lawson



This is probably the weirdest thing I've ever recorded. Twisted, sort of hip-hop groove, weird melody, freaky solo... strangeness abounds.

So, where does the title come from? Well, earlier this year, I was involved in an incredible artist lab in Denmark, looking at cross-disciplinary process. theatre people, visual artists, musicians, sound designers... together for a week to make interesting work and examine our process. Truly a brilliant week.

One of the assignments was to make something REALLY bad. Just irredeemably terrible work. The group I was in settled on a self-consciously surreal performance set in the women's toilet, it involved singing lots of different songs badly, randomly opening and closing doors, and me narrating it as meaninglessly as possible... We failed to be truly terrible, of course, because the women's toilet was a really interesting setting (loads of fun to be had with doors, sinks etc...) and it was also funny...

Over lunch, I was discussing with a couple of friends how, in that context we could've made something properly terrible - we set about designing a really offensive, horrible show. Breaking a whole pile of taboos in as clumsy and grim way as possible. No point was being made, and no attempt was made to make it aesthetically meaningful. Just piling grimness on grimness. It would have been completely illegal to perform, and would've resulted in a number of deaths. But it was truly terrible...
Just as we were finishing up about 25 minutes of planning this thing in minute detail, another friend asked what we were doing. We told him about the plan to come up with the worst, most offensive, miserable show ever. His response? "Just burn a dog".

Just. Burn. A. Dog. Truly, the most horrible, indefensible, rotten thing you can imagine for a 'performance'. So simple, and way more grim than all the fussy, complex taboo-busting rubbish we'd come up with.
And it became a metaphor. A touchstone for finding the simplest way to the heart of a project, an idea, a concept. Where was the burning dog?

What was that one thing that cut through all the fussy, complex, confusing nonsense to the true core of the work?

Hence, Looking For The Burning Dog.

(for clarity, absolutely no-one was proposing to ever set fire to an actual dog. Ever. Or was indeed making light of animal cruelty. Just in case you were wondering... )


from The Way Home, released September 14, 2015




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