Joe Snape mixes conventional and homemade instruments with light, text and video to make unusual and emotive performances. His work has been presented at places like The Kitchen (New York), Café Oto (London), and Wonder Site (Tokyo), and also at places like the Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg) and Aldeburgh Music. The Quietus calls Joe’s music ‘goofy, melancholy, irreverent fun – very singularly itself.’ Fluid Radio thinks it’s ‘joyous and beautiful’, and one time in The Guardian Nico Muhly called it ‘organized, disorganized fun’. In front of a small audience, the AACM’s George Lewis described Joe’s work as ‘some seriously unartful sh*t’. Joe is a former UK Young Artist, has helped commission new work from over twenty young composers on both sides of the Atlantic, received the 2021-22 Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Award for Artists in Composition and was a 2020-21 composer-in-residence at the beautiful Sage Gateshead.
About the piece
As a small collection of delicately related studies on extreme circumstances written during a serious illness, Signs of Life is a quietly optimistic work. Its minimal texts imply a pair of messy renewals: from technical failure to brief, faltering success; and from an intense storm to a wedding party and related hangover, the discomfort of the text put into relief by relentless melodies and ceaseless RGB visuals. By the polyrhythms of the coda, these melodies have worked themselves to incoherent exhaustion, their grating collapse a reminder that where there is struggle, there is also hope. As the final moment promises: ‘the pain is a good feeling; a sign of life after all.’