Utopia EP released on Warp Records
The Utopia EP is Mira Calix’s first release on Warp in a decade. A decade in which mixed media installation and exhibition work, with a focus on classical instrumentation, has been the main focus of her practice. Her most recent project was a sound installation that featured an ambitious choral work, performance artists and a unique speaker diffusion system. Part of Beyond the Deepening shadow at the Tower of London, it ran from 4-11 November and saw over 300,000 visitors, creating an international media storm.
The basis for the new EP title and lead track – rightclick – was Utopia, a Random Acts film written and directed by internationally acclaimed novelist Adam Thirwell (released on 6 December 2018). In the short film starring Lily Cole and Lily McMenamy, a girl tries to set up a commune in a tiny apartment and finds her ideals of utopian living tested and expanded as an alternate version of Calix’s fragmented track acts as the bedrock throughout.
“the past few years I’ve been making mostly installation, which I find thrilling, but the nature of my practice means I tend to work with many hands, many speakers, many materials, many musicians over long periods. It was really refreshing to make this EP, to give myself a time limit, a strict set of rules, a tight sonic palette and be fully autonomous as a writer, producer and musician. In a way it’s going back to my roots, my first ever release on Warp was a 10’, but it also felt completely fresh, playful, to just build some tracks around a cinematic scene – something for friends to move to in the early hours of a louche house party!”
Calix’s return to electronic instrumentation and the laid-back dance floor, is routed in the physical landscape. By creating creating these frameworks and parameters she uses found sound, off cuts of existing sonic material from her personal library, taking a collage approach to music. Exploring this fragmented approach further, she deploys her own voice as an instrument, a cut up that refractures and recontextualises the material in order to conceive a sound that is directly influenced by sight.
rightclick was made specifically for the film, the subsequent 3 tracks followed on and were very much conceived as an EP in graphic form, a sonic découpé if you will. The concepts behind the individual tracks’ riffs stem from the role of the muse, the male gaze, nostalgia vs modernity and the distribution and categorisation of art and the utopian idyll: upper ups references the muses of some of the world’s most famous artists, bite me, a podcast discourse on art, while just go along explores escape, obsession and the male gaze.
Even Calix’s cover artwork, a photomontage, takes the same approach as her music. A gatherum of sculptural self-portraiture featuring her abstracted anatomy taking flight, offering a combination of annexed collages that reflect the colour and form of the music within.
Calix has always created drawings and graphic material as part of composition process – visible on her Calix Portal – where she has been releasing material old and new from installation-based work over the past 18 months.