Monday, 18 November 2013


This promises to be very interesting indeed... Full lineup and biogs (except mine because I somehow haven't been able to get that together yet, but I will, really.)


This was the performance at the Recluse Networking event. Very good day all round. Here I used an ebow to create a feedback drone on the guitar, which is just going into my crappy practice amp. The other instruments are a thunder tube (the thing with the spring on it) jew's harp and kazoo. What I was saying was directly inspired by the discussions that were going on at the event concerning "value" - what value is and how we arrive at the idea of value.

The piece is me ranting about the so-called ethical turn, as has been my wont lately; Carl Schmitt warned that liberal governance ultimately devolves into a form of managerialism on the one hand, and morality on the other. This tendency has been made utterly clear at our present moment of neoliberal governance. Opposition to the prevalent economic (read managerial or technocratic) rationality presenting itself as punitive (and pointless) austerity (in fact, it is a vast expropriation of public resources) is far too often framed as the exercise of some form of personal morality. This version of capitalism is wrong because it is immoral and unfair etc. everyone should pay their taxes/contribute and so on, it is unfair to demonise the unemployed as scroungers because they really want to work.

Postcard/poster Robin Bale 2009

But what if you don't want to work or contribute but still demand change and your own bit of the collective on exactly those negative grounds?

Our current regime seems to like to denigrate citizenship in favour of a (particular and approved) individual subjectivity - a clear example is the emphasis on the moral culpability of the unemployed, and even the disabled, for their plight and the necessity of privatised initiatives to inculcate the correct virtues. Where citizenship was a legal status that did not depend on the content of the individual, status is now accorded by the possession of the right personal characteristics. When  Cameron talks of the "faceless, distant, bureaucrats of the welfare state"  that is what they are critiquing; a state that accords rights impartially. However, a great deal of the opposition to the depradations of the current government is framed in almost the same terms. The word fairness gets bandied about quite a lot on both sides. What the fuck is fairness, anyway? It's not the same as equality (of both opportunity and outcome) I'm sure. People have the right to material equality, not because they are good, or that they recycle, or work hard and pay their taxes, or that they aspire, and not because they are striving to make a better world either. People have the right to it just because they do.

Note that there was a stage being used in this video, this is a subject (the stage, and all it implies) that I will return to, as I think that it has some bearing on what I discussed here above.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Should be well worth a visit. Performances Friday, Q&A Saturday afternoon. Great venue, always an interesting program.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Shortened version of this track - a rough mix, too, which will be sorted. The full extravaganza (featuring the Bike Cemetery Brass) will be posted in the fullness of time.

The song itself will be familiar to most. I have adapted some of the words, which are the result in any case of many interpolations and accretions over the song's long history.

I realise that the vocal in the spoken section is unclear (which will be fixed shortly with some judicious compression) so here's what I am saying:

Can't miss it, mate -Just a step up the road, through the freshly privatised out-patients' clinic without walls, the result of a recent merger with the debtors' prison. Cemetery gates on the left, 24 hour offy on the right, and all the  bright new shining glass, playschool clad, buy to let cash-farms gleaming like an advert for  the transparency and self presence of the well-lived life. It's just there - yeah, next to those hoardings displaying gym-zombies with bodies like well sculpted CVs and posters exhorting responsible citizens to do something wild and life-affirming -   go shopping. There's pictures of them gurning like giro day. It's a small door.

 There's a buzzer.

If they ask, say I sent you

Obviously, the best ever version - for both its sound and the morbid-hallucinatory visuals, is this one. Sorry about the ad at the beginning.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Coming up in two weeks. I will be presenting an illustrated performative lecture on participation in performance with the working title "The Neighbour is an Other you can't kill" at this event about participation, organised by these. It should be good. Tickets available here.

I may very well be posting some sort of teaser/trailer up here soon

Friday, 5 July 2013


Documentation of the performance at Anatum's Abode last Saturday. The text (with added interjections from me)is taken from Osborne's unpleasant (when is he not) and disingenuous Spending Review speech on 25 June 2013 (full text here).
This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You from robin bale on Vimeo.

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Some activity, finally - I will be performing this Saturday 29 June at Anatum's Abode
613 Commercial Road (map). There are workshops during the day and then performances in the evening. Well worth a visit.

I don't yet know what I'll be doing, most probably some shouting/vocalising - and there may be some home-made instrumentation involved.

On Friday 5 July, myself and Nicola Woodham are performing at the Freud Museum as part of the "Totemic Festival" weekend, (full programme here), marking the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Totem and Taboo". We will be presenting a collaborative piece entitled "Was It Something I Said?" I will be delivering a vaguely Pevsneresque talk on that part of Hampstead, whilst Nicola heckles me with an uncanny echo of some of my words, drawing out their latent, or unintended, meaning.

The piece was inspired by us thinking about repression and architecture. Despite the obvious charms of cellars, toilets or the-bit-round-the-back-where-the-bins-are as sites of repression, it seemed to us that it properly resides in the facade of the house. This is not to say that the facade hides anything, the interior is not being repressed, as in "a thin veneer of suburban calm belies the sordid truths that lie beneath"...a trope commonly explored: "Desparate Housewives", "American Beauty", "Brookside"all immediately spring to mind, amongst myriad others. In some senses, what the facade hides is that there is nothing to hide, or that what is hidden (if anything) is a function of the hiding.

publicity shot, "Was It Something I Said" Robin Bale & Nicola Woodham

 Finally, on Saturday 13 July, I will be at Trade Gallery in Nottingham presenting a paper/performance at the Heckler symposium (web page here). Tickets are free, but you need to book (here).

Abstracts for all contributors are here.

It's going to be an extremely interesting do. It's curated by Lee Campbell and Mel Jordan, and there are going to be loads of interesting contributors to what is -I think - an important area of study.

My contribution is entitled "Man Next Door", after the John Holt/Paragons classic, which has been covered/versioned by Dr Alimantado ,  spookily byThe Slits and a disappointing (despite the presence of Horace Andy) version by Massive Attack. 

Here's the abstract:
“There’s a man who lives next door – in my neighbourhood – he gets me down”
It is very easy to imagine the heckler as an unruly other, one who can be ejected from the brief
polity that an audience create. That is, the heckler becomes a guest – one who has no automatic
leave to remain - as soon as they become heckler. The relationship between performer and
audience is dynamic. A variety act may thank the audience for having them, as one would to a
host, or a comedian will fight the audience to become the host and receive the host’s due: they
will laugh at his jokes. Performers talk of “losing the room”, as if it was part of ongoing hostilities –
which in a sense it is.
I will look at the heckler through the figure of the neighbour. Neighbours are universally
unavoidable. Unlike the guest, we cannot eject them if they speak out of turn or become tiresome.
They do not have a visa that can be revoked. Equally, we do not have to laugh at their jokes or
effusively appreciate their generosity to placate them. As anyone who lives in a flat will know, the
neighbour is constantly present but usually unseen, the relationship is mostly auditory. We can
hear their footsteps, smell their cooking, pass judgement on their taste in music or sex lives, know
how often they use the toilet and when they go out to work. They will know, and do, the same with
us -and there is nothing that can be done about them. Unlike the other, whose position is always
at a safe distance, from which we can turn away from them – or invite them over – the neighbour
is almost as close as our own skin.


The event runs from 12:30-18:30. Do come if you are anywhere near

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


My first track on bandcamp. It's by no means perfect, in terms of recording or execution (improvised in my front room) I've cleaned up the recording a bit, though not enough. There may be a remix in the pipeline, I've got a lot of fragments of similar ideas that may or may not fit - we'll see.

Monday, 3 June 2013


Oliver Stummer, Tasos Stamou and myself improvising at noise=noise on the stylophones we hacked at Tasos' excellent hacking workshop.