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One man band Mugison teams up with his compatriot Pétur Ben and the Flemish indie-baroque collective Baroque Orchestration X (B.O.X., who featured in Shara Worden’s You Us We All last year) in The Loom of Mind. The title of the programme refers to the creativity and the complexity of the brain, but also to its vulnerability. Accompanied by B.O.X.’s baroque instruments, the bearded bard from Iceland brings a mix of old and new songs, weaving together stand-up comedy, stories, visuals and set design to create a performance in which Mugison’s ‘Mirstrument’ – a kind of electronic, musical loom – will take centre stage.
The Loom of Mind is a seventy minute performance by Icelandic one man band Mugison, his compatriot Pétur Ben and the Flemish indie-baroque collective Baroque Orchestration X (B.O.X., who featured in Shara Worden's You Us We All last year). Accompanied by Box's baroque instruments, the bearded crooner from Iceland brings a mix of old and new songs, weaving them together with standup, stories, visuals and set design to create a performance in which Mugison's 'Mirstrumenti' - a kind of electronic, musical loom with a 192 button keyboard - will take centre stage.
The title of the programme refers to various different meanings of the word 'loom'. In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary we find:
1. noun; a frame or machine for interlacing, at the right angles, two or more sets of threads or yarns to form a cloth.
2. verb; to appear in a large, strange, or frightening form often in a sudden way; to appear in an impressively large or great form; to be close to happening, to be about to happen
3. noun; the indistinct and exaggerated appearance of something seen on the horizon or through fog or darkness; also: a looming shadow or reflection.
In the first meaning of the word 'loom', namely an astonishingly crafty and complex weaving device, the Loom of Mind becomes a metaphor for the creativity and complexity of the mind, but also for its fragility and easily induced confusion. Physically, these machines themselves provide countless clues for music composition, visuals and stage design.
With the second and third definitions in mind, The Loom of Mind contemplates on how the fragility of the mind, and of life in general, can be frightening and even paralysing. Although seemingly far away at times, tragedy and sudden disaster are always looming, be it deep down in our sub consciousness, or just around he corner in the real world. Mental disorder, depression, car accidents, terrorism, disasters … it's all out there, all the time, and it's so easy to live a life in fear. However, although many of these events and conditions are beyond our control, fear itself can rightfully be pointed out as the source of many things evil.
On an everyday level it can weigh on our existence and drive us to poor choices and unhappiness. On a society level, fear can become truly destructive when it is being instrumentalised by a political system, or by powerful individuals or institutions, like banks. Isn't greed, for example, also the fear of not having enough, or of having less than your neighbour? Like gravity for water down the drain, fear, when losing its natural counterweights hope and content, becomes the drawing force of many a downward spiral.
For the storytelling and standup parts of the show, the (history of) psychology, mental disorder, fear, weaver's craft etcetera, provide many ideas to develop and incorporate into the performance. Exploring the history of these things is a way of linking in with the historical context that is brought on stage by the early music instruments of B.O.X.
The Loom of Mind ends up being about all these threads and themes together, often simultaneously, sometimes gloriously messing things up in an idle effort of weaving it all together in something meaningful. But the piece demonstrates that creation, confusion and control turn out to be going hand in hand.
Combining genuine, contemporary creative genius with age-old historical sound textures and some compelling, universal storylines, the piece is somehow extremely ambitious and without any pretense at the same time. Through humour, music and timeless beauty, yet without moralising, the underlying message is one of hope and consolation: by modestly accepting imperfection and embracing the finitude of life, we can set our minds free, at least for the time of one great evening.
Out of chaos comes order, and all order eventually disintegrates.