Local Recall

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For their new live artwork Local Recall, Open Music Archive explored the ghostly echoes that persist through repetition in the playback of music and draw a line between the model industrial city of the late 19th Century and post-industrial Manchester of the early 1990s.

Open Music Archive ran workshops with young people from 42nd Street and Unity Radio 92.8FM, to remix, cut-up, loop and re-assemble late 19th Century music gleaned from player piano rolls. The results were played back and performed for a 21st Century audience.


DJ sets featuring music by Ra-man, MJ Meano, Deadpool and more...

Piano recitals by Serge Tebu and Calum Macleod & Liam Waddle

plus a new audiovisual work by Eileen Simpson and Ben White (Open Music Archive) featuring a live sound track written and performed by Graham Massey (808 State).


Listen to recordings from the event:



Local Recall is a project created between during a five-month project in 2014, exploring the heritage of Ancoats, Manchester, inspired by Thomas Horsfall’s Manchester Art Museum and working with Manchester-based young people's mental health charity 42nd Street and Unity Radio.

Invited by curator Helen Wewiora to develop a new project and artwork, working with the young people of 42nd Street, and to engage with the history of Manchester Art Museum, Simpson and White began to look at the history of free art, music and lectures offered to the Ancoats public from the late 1880s. They were interested in the idea of recall – specifically - Philip K Dick’s short story, ‘We Can Remember It for you Wholesale’ in which the main character Douglas Quaid is struggling to work out if his memories are implanted or real. This story famously became the 1990s Hollywood blockbuster ‘Total Recall’.

For Local Recall, the artists approached the task of gathering material about local histories through newspaper reports, archival footage, piano rolls and music manuscripts, not in the way that a specialist local historian might, but in the way that a search engine assembles a stream of online content. Material was automatically remembered, or recalled. It was as if Ancoats was remembering itself. 

At the start of the project, together with the young people of 42nd Street, the artists unpacked popular 19th Century music stored in player piano rolls. They selected tunes that were most popular with the Ancoats public at the Sunday Concerts in 1892 and those that received a vociferous encore – as evidenced in the letters reproduced in the printed element available for takeaway. The letters, taken from the correspondence pages of the 1892 Manchester Guardian, feature a heated exchange which raise questions of what type of music should be played at philanthropic events organised for a working class public, what should be gained from the experience offered, and attempt to articulate the social value of public listening.

Live recordings were made at the live event, which marked the culmination of the project at Hallé St Peter's, Ancoats Manchester, on 20th November 2014.

A new audio-visual work Local Recall was screened for the first time in the context of Hallé St Peter's, in Ancoats. The film is constructed using the algorithmic logic of the search query to source archive material from Ancoats, Manchester and beyond that was created between the 1890s and the 1990s and to rip and re-assemble material from publicly viewable web video sources. This ranges from footage of workers leaving the factory to videos of young ravers. Local Recall explores the ghostly echoes that persist through repetition in the playback of music and draws a line between the model industrial city of the late 19th Century and post-industrial Manchester of the early 1990s.

The film is accompanied by a specially commissioned soundtrack, produced and performed by Graham Massey, founding member of 808 State. In the soundtrack, Massey was invited by the artists to reassemble 1890s music material ripped from piano rolls using exclusively 1990s MIDI music technology. 

Local Recall was originally part of A Different Spirit curated by Helen Wewiora and produced by Julie McCarthy for 42nd Street with Unity Radio.