Casualtease’s occasional live appearances across the UK left audiences either inspired or bewildered… and sometimes both. This review penned by Oliver Harris for Strait gives a fair indication of what could be expected… The show in question is the legendary Greenbelt ’81 mainstage performance.
“It was the night after the night before; the night when I had sat for over two hours on solid ground, casting my tired gaze at the excellent Cedar Dance Theatre, one of whom I was convinced was an android, for to such an extent did her arms remind me of garden spades. Anyway, back to the present, and the stage is well and truly set for a stunning visual feast of gigantic proportions; for this is Casual Tease and it’s all one huge experimental step away from sanity. Those who were anxious and in need of relaxation appeared positively more anxious when the long expanse of wire netting was carefully hung across the stage. By now, a large white, vertically poised ‘bed’ had been manoeuvred to the centre of the stage, ornately decked out in monstrous ribbons and pinpointed by a stark, white spotlight; who was concealed inside? Casual Tease? A horde of gnomes?… Graham Cray? Weird, orchestrated music floated out into the night over the heads of huddling punters, and a rather lugubrious male voice announced to everyone that we were not to suffocate our sensibilities or forgo our faculties. Silence. Suddenly four sexless humans, bound (or perhaps ‘mummified’ would be the more appropriate word), in white swathes, lace and knotted sheets, spring from the shadowy recesses and begin to play synthesisers; one is confined to the use of its elbows, one gyrates, arms flailing, one clings to the netting, and the other looks like some kind of enigmatic, gothic bride.
All is lightness and brilliance. The dazzling beings on stage move slowly to a swirling electronic sound; cascades of scintillating notes, soft-core Kraftwerk, less harsh and more inspiring. Eyes are transfixed in wonder and in bemusement; is there some kind of camouflaged imagery, some profound religious concepts? Is the ‘bed’ really symbolic of the seventh commandment?… Are those tight bandages really the chains of sin?… Is the wire netting really a reminder of our eternal spiritual limitations? But does it MATTER? Does there always have to be some cosy imagery with which we can identify, thus rendering the performance permissible? Why can’t we just enjoy it for what it is? An open-ended spectacle, beautiful and bewitching, a piece of art not bound and fettered by its own attempts at symbolism.
Now a hauntingly beauteous nymph-like creature is threading her way between the others, clad in white frills, bearing a white dove. There are some ice-cold vocals about tears spilling to the ground and a dying man, the electronic heartbeat is enriched by a rush of birdsong and the captive dove is freed to soar into the shrouded heights of the stage. More banks of sound, moving your body, clasping at the wire netting. The lights go black. Lukewarm applause; everyone’s asking questions. This is not paranoia, this is CASUAL… the stuff from which dreams are made.”
By the time of 1987’s Video Missionaries show, this is how Casualtease defined themselves in the programme (which included a mock-questionnaire and a lyrically-minded mini-timeline).
“Tonight’s performance is not about The Technos playing live, in front of you. Video Missionaries is the visual representation of some of their songs. The nearest comparison we can make is listening to the radio whilst watching a video tape.
Video Missionaries is an art performance piece performed by Casualtease, who are a group of cross-media artists who operate rather like a group of Jazz musicians who come together for a night and improvise around a common theme. Casualtease do this in a visual way, so tonight they bring together Fine Artists, Musicians, Performers, Dancers and Imagineers!
Casualtease are known for their pioneering efforts in linking the fine art area of art performance with the popular music culture and they draw references from as far afield as Pop Promos, SitComs and Sculpture.
This performance will present a number of images which are open to individual misinterpretation!
Would you like the Casualtease to incorporate any of the following in future performances:
1) Ballet Rambert > Yes – No
2) Melvyn Bragg > Yes – No
3) Garden Centres > Yes – No
4) American Religious Cults > Yes – No
5) The Home Guard > Yes – No
6) Oral Roberts/Ann Summers > Yes – No
7) L.S. Lowry > Yes – No
8) Hank Marvin > Yes – No
9) Greenpeace > Yes – No
10) Freemasons > Yes – No
Thank you for your assistance. Casualtease’s next album is not yet available to the public. Please send items of clothing to me. Thank you for watching
78: WRITZ ARE STITCHING UP THE TEARS OF PUNK MAKING UP AND DRESSING UP “but you survive on someone else’s press and prison glory”
80: FAMOUS NAMES TAKE A CIRCUS ON THE ROAD CHAMPIONING THEIR BELIEF IN TOTAL ENTERTAINMENT “figures in space slide to the empty space”
81: WE ARE CASUALTEASE, CAUGHT IN A CURTAINED RACE FORGOING OUR FACULTIES “the body beautiful will rise again”
82: NEVER STOPPING, EVER CHANGING THE TWINS ARE AN ORCHESTRA
84: THE WAIL OF THE REFUGEE. GREY BLANKET NOSTALGIA. “let there be neon”
85: CRIES FROM A FOREIGN LAND “but it’s the spirit of the thing and not the thing itself”
86: THE YEAR AFTER “and the fire that was once unquenchable is now just unforgettable”
87: EXPECT A BAND. EXPECT A COAT. EXPECT A VIDEO. EXPECT NEWSNIGHT. EXPECT TEARS. expect leaves…”