From Out a Darker Sea review – elegiac tribute to Britain’s coal miners – by Dave Simpson (The Guardian – November 23, 2017)

“Our civilisation is founded on coal” wrote George Orwell in 1937; at its peak a century ago, Britain’s coal-mining industry employed more than a million people. Today the figure is under 700 and many of the former mining communities have never recovered.

That gargantuan decline forms the backdrop to this unusual audio-visual show: a haunting and often deeply moving requiem for an industry and its people.

Time spent in England’s mining areas has allowed Brooklyn-based quartet Sō Percussion to develop an understanding of industrial power and the lives of those who once helped build it. Performing in sacred spaces – cathedrals and churches – in these former coal-mining areas gives From Out a Darker Sea an elegiac air.

Haunting electronic noises and held vocal notes hang in the air like coal dust. Xylophones, bells and percussion beat out the hypnotic rhythms of a working pit.

Using art, film and photographic backdrops, the performance divides into four chapters. Coal and Flower contrasts idyllic yellow fields and the black mineral that lies underneath. Someone paints over the day’s newspaper in black and yellow and the pages are then transported over the audience via a pulley.

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