Mammoth live recording from 2016 of Ren Walters’ large-scale improvising inter-disciplinary collective, the culmination of the group’s intuitive development over a number of years of ritualistic performances. “Brown Paper Business” takes the form of an organically-developed/improvised operetta where the unique culture of the group allows the development of recurring themes and motifs over extensive durations.
The double CDR set comes housed in a limited edition of 50 numbered hinged boxes, accompanied by 6 colour cards documenting the work with liner notes, recollections by participants, and the libretto-like texts used in the performance. Each box has had the group’s moniker hand-burnt/branded into the lid, completing this unique artefact.
Yes, it was a Brown Paper Business, liberated from the thought, like an abrasive touch, skirting the inevitable dream, sullenly paid for many times over no doubt. Seemingly slit in flesh, barricaded from any contrary imaginings by some wistful, pink, redundant applause, the burial site resembled a linear conception gently displaced by clusters of intensities. This open hole and unimagined vista being a calculated way of distracting the mind from the truth of the matter.
THIS Ensemble, Ren Walters’ large-scale improvising group, began around 2006 with the main defining characteristic that the line-up would be different for each performance. Ren worked with various forms of structured improvisation in the Ensemble, such as giving different directions to separate musicians and durational guidelines.
By 2013, Ren’s direct influence on other members had almost completely dissipated, yet his subtle role in bringing and fostering engagement between a range of individuals was pivotal. In 2014, the group broadened to include performers from other disciplines beyond music, such as dancers and actors. This “MKII” version of the group was broadly active from 2014-2016, mostly performing at Moreland City Band Hall, in Cross Street, Brunswick. These sparsely-attended performances played out in increasingly-longer and sprawling durations, often continuing into the early hours of the next morning. The line-up continued to be fluid for each performance, with a group of 5-6 regular participants emerging to form a core.
The recordings here on Brown Paper Business come from THIS Ensemble’s second-last performance at Cross Street. It represents something like a culmination of the group’s performances and actions over the previous two years.
Beyond the Cross Street venue, the group conducted tours of regional Victoria from 2015 onwards. THIS Ensemble has occasionally emerged for further performances since 2016, usually in a regional or rural setting, and often for private performances or ritual events. Ren says THIS Ensemble still has unfinished business.
THIS Ensemble on this occasion included: Tim Crafti, Lisa Dethridge, Mick Douglas, Ewen, Peter Forrester, Clinton Green, Myfanwy Hunter, Reuben Lewis, Michael McNab, Amaara Raheem, Adrian Sherriff, Takashi Takiguchi, Ub, Ren Walters, Yan Yang, and other anonymous and/or unknown participants.