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OMD to ‘dazzle’ at Museum of Liverpool

20 October 2014 by Lucy

Andy McCluskey and boat

Andy McCluskey with the Dazzle Ship

On 1 and 2 November 2014 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are set to play two sell-out gigs at the Museum of Liverpool.

Here, Andy McCluskey of OMD tells us of the band’s links and love for Dazzle Ships:

“What began as a humble request for us to be allowed to put a musique concrete installation into the ‘dazzled’ Edmund Gardner has somehow, and rather wonderfully, escalated  into two concerts, a display case full of our history and memorabilia, and a mini film festival. 

Our interest in Dazzle Ships began in 1983 when artist and sleeve designer Peter Saville showed us a Vorticist painting by Edward Wadsworth entitled ‘Dazzle Ship in dry dock at Liverpool’ and asked if we could write some appropriate music as he wished to create an album sleeve inspired by the fractured imagery. We duly obliged with a record that not only contained a title track Dazzle Ships, but also reflected the dark and fearfully disjointed mentality of early eighties geo-politics.

The subsequent tour featured a Dazzle-themed constructivist-style stage set and weirdly wonderful presentations of some of the songs that involved semaphore flag mimes by the band and the moving set ‘playing’ the title track without the band onstage. Unsurprisingly, the whole spectacle confounded and enraptured both audience and critics in equal measure.

The intervening 30 years has seen the knowledge of Dazzle camouflage expand across the globe and filter into a variety of art forms as diverse as dance, fashion, architecture and film. The latest manifestation has been the ‘dazzling’ of two ships. The Edmund Gardner in Liverpool and HMS President in London as part of the 14-18 NOW commemorations.

We have created new Dazzle sounds to be played inside the engine room of the Edmund Gardner; the first Dazzle Ship in a Liverpool dry dock for one hundred years. Also, we have curated a mini film festival in the Museum of Liverpool’s theatre that includes documentary, product branding, contemporary art and animated films reflecting the broad cultural infusion and influence of dazzle camouflage.

The Museum of Liverpool is displaying many items from Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark’s early career, such as our first synthesizer, the drum machine that played the intro to international hit Enola Gay, and the tape machine called Winston that was effectively the reason why two teenagers from the ‘other side of the river Mersey’ were able to countenance the crazy idea of being a band of only two musicians. This whole series of events culminates in OMD playing two concerts in the Museum of Liverpool on 1 and 2 November 2014, where many tracks from the Dazzle Ships album will be performed, including two that have never been presented live before.”

Liverpool’s Dazzle Ship is a co-commission by 1418 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commission, Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool, in partnership with the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Renowned artist Carlos Cruz-Diez worked with the idea of dazzle using the historic Edmund Gardner pilot ship owned and conserved by the Merseyside Maritime Museum. The work has been realised by painters from Cammell Laird.

The title of the work is ‘Induction Chromatique à Double Fréquence pour l’Edmund Gardner Ship / Liverpool. Paris, 2014’.

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