The four members of Bastard Assignments are Timothy Cape, Edward Henderson, Caitlin Rowley and Josh Spear. They came together in London with a view to putting on shows that played with ideas on the fringes of British new music. They are four multi-disciplinary composer-performers who bring elements of theatre, dance, spoken word, film and absurd comedy into their music.
Their work is aligned with a surge of interest in the last few decades in what has become known as the ‘new discipline’.
The author of that article, Jennifer Walshe, has become one of the most influential composers for the younger generation of musicians working in experimental music.
A game-changing moment occurred in 2003 when Jennifer Walshe wrote XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!! for two female singers, ensemble and puppeteers.
The roots of the ‘new discipline’ can be found in performance art, and in particular the chaotically spectacular events staged by the Fluxus artists of the 1960s and 70s.
The joy of a Bastard Assignments performance is that each one feels bespoke, and the content and format can often be entirely different from one to the next. But what shapes everything they do is meticulous rehearsal and an incredible ability to engage with an audience. Their works can at times be serenely beautiful, focussing entirely on music itself:
Other pieces can shift further into areas of theatre, which is often hilarious. Listen to ‘Enya, Do You Need A Tambourine Player, I’m Pretty Good’ on Bandcamp.
And choreography again takes their performances into a world outside of music, even though they remain four ‘composers’ at heart: