Peter Cusack

Where Is the Green Parrot?

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Even though his presence has been felt in many key places and moments in the history of English experimental music since the 1970s, Peter Cusack has remained very quiet as a solo artist. Where Is the Green Parrot? is a rare occasion to get to know him better, without the mediation of other players, but it gets listeners closer to the artist, not the guitarist. Some guitar parts are embedded in these sound collages, but they play a supporting role. What interests Cusack here is the use of field recordings to construct image-less narratives. The main work is the five-part title suite. Built with animal sounds, it offers a reflection on humankind's vision of ecosystems and animal domestication. The last movement, "Pets (Talking to the Animals)," attaches itself to the sadomasochism that is teaching a parrot to talk (the bird finally escapes). The artist doesn't modify the recordings; he loops them, stacks them, and arranges them to form concrète music in a fashion still very close to Pierre Schaeffer's 1940s experiments. The cuteness level goes through the roof in "Two Small Boys Go Shopping," a suite in three parts where Cusack and son visit favorite shops. Through the eyes (and mouth!) of the four-year old, listeners are invited to rediscover the toy shop, the travel agent office, and the guitar shop, each one a new incarnation of Ali Baba's cavern. The album concludes with five shorter pieces, each one focusing on a specific field recording. In the end, Where Is the Green Parrot? is as much about sonic construction as anthropology and the simple pleasure of hearing our surroundings anew. Its simplicity can be disarming at times.

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