Alabaster’s ‘reasoning’ behind the creative process of the LP:
The Jester is intended to represent the actual human being that stands behind the role or character that that person occupies or is represented by.
A court Jester is a figure of fun, who, alone among anyone in the Kingdom, can speak the truth of a matter at court, without punishment. They suffer only perpetual ridicule and disregard. But they can speak openly without concern.
This piece was recorded a certain way. It was done to a strict timeframe of one week, and it was recorded live on analogue 8 track. This means that firstly, no performance could be edited. A sound made was a sound made, and that’s that. Secondly, performances had to be selected and mixed immediately – each day the previous day’s recordings had to be chosen and kept, because each day the tapes had to be deleted and cleared, to make space for the new day’s recordings. As studio sessions go, this demanded an almost crass level of ruthlessness, and quickly destroyed any sense of preciousness, that was not patently and vividly genuine.
This helped in shifting all focus from the “we’re making a recording” aspect of the work, and onto the actual performance of the piece, and communication (musically) between musicians, and most importantly the genuine expression of oneself.
By these limitations, and by other methods of direction, the performers involved were encouraged to concern themselves with what they wished to put across about their lives and their feelings. But more than this, it necessitated the inclusion in the final recordings of errors – aspects of the sound and performance that were not intended, that are more human than musical, and that are at times perhaps ugly, at other times inspired.
We wanted to turn the typical music-performance scenario on its head, by making the expression of a group of accompanists the first priority, in the creation of a recording. In this way, the musicians themselves, as people, stand forward of their role (musical accompaniment) and are seen.
We play a role every time we act, every time we speak. I know I do. I’m doing it now. We consider ourselves very good actors. Generally when you see something of a person’s real nature, it has not been offered to you, but has shown itself due to the demands of circumstance. A court jester is a charicature, but it is worn by the person of an actual human being. And the human is what we’re interested in, if we want the truth of the matter.