So that’s it – London rehearsal time is over. For the past week, Glasshill studio in Southwark has been reverberating with strange noises. A rattling, a clattering, a RUMBLING as Cotton Panic! has started to come to life. Accounts of the disastrous Lancashire Cotton Famine of the 1860s have been channelled into a new musical memorial, ready to be taken home.
What is Cotton Panic! ? Well, Cotton Panic! is many things.
Cotton Panic! is a gig – a trouser-shaking suite of music composed, recorded and performed on analogue synthesizers. This suite of music encompasses everything from folk songs, to punk rock anthems, to an ’80s pop classic. The music also feeds off words written at the time of the crisis itself – political speeches, newspaper reports, and dialect poetry are all cut up to produce a unique Industrial Dub Symphony. This has been fashioned by the band “Wrangler”. “Wrangler” is usually Phil Winter (also of “Tunng”), modular-maniac Benge, and Cabaret Voltaire’s Living Legend Stephen “Mal” Mallinder: but for Cotton Panic! they have been joined by a fourth member; vocalist, Miss Jane Horrocks.
And with Jane on board, Cotton Panic! also becomes an immersive theatrical experience. Moving image, light, spoken word and dance all coalesce with the music to tell the story of the Cotton Famine in a new and surprising way. It is the story of how the people of Manchester and Lancashire responded to a threat to their very existence with strength, solidarity, empathy and supreme moral courage. So it’s a story that is still going on today.
It’s time for Cotton Panic! to head up to Manchester first thing tomorrow morning and find its real home in the supremely Victorian locale of Upper Campfield Market.
Watch this space…
Cotton Panic is part of MIF17, and runs 8 – 15 July. Get your tickets here.