Prison Couple is split into four parts: First Date, Living Together, Prison Time and Homecoming. The visual scenario for this performative story is established by two frames that tower over each of the performers. As in a prison, objects hang down from a central beam suggesting two musicians trapped behind bars. Vanpaemel describes the composition as follows:
“The story has a rather traditional arc. It’s told over several different episodes. The first episode evolves like a funky ballet, with both players working together to establish a transparent dialogue. After this introduction, the piece gets a bit darker, by creating a unique background sound collage. During the finale, the tempo will gradually increase while the players rush towards the end of the piece. Or is it towards freedom?”
The score simply indicates the two parts as “Yin” and “Yang” but for this performance, Vanpaemel and the ensemble have curated the instrumentation to accommodate the specialisms of Schweiger and Vanneste: clavichord and object-oriented sound modules.
The hanging objects that trap the musicians are homemade percussion instruments, constructed by Vanneste and developed in consultation with the composer. The score makes rapid physical demands of the performers, such that it could be thought of as a kind of choreography or contortionism which becomes an essential component of the work.
words by Tom Jackson