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FROM SCRATCH: Albanian Summer Picaresque

In the mid-1970s, British experimental composer Dave Smith began travelling from England to Albania. Inspired by fellow composer and communist Cornelius Cardew, who never actually visited the country, Smith sought inspiration in the music and social structures to be found there.

On his travels, he collected sound samples and sheet music from many sources. Folk, contemporary and revolutionary music were all of interest to him. These influences gave rise to the album Albanian Summer: An Entertainment which was performed by Janet Sherbourne and Jan Steele.

Released from the Practical Music label in 1984, the album is at the centre of Pykë-Presje’s long-term research project of the same name. Aside from the music, the conditions and context of the album’s evolution is a special interest for the research. Like Smith, who sought to reflect not only Albania’s vibrant music culture but also its egalitarian modes of production, Pykë-Presje seeks a more nuanced understanding of the legacy of socialist practice.

The archival exhibition of From Scratch: Albanian Summer Picaresque was exhibited as part of the Manifesta 14 at Kino Armata

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