Pablo Percusso began in April 1994 as a 5 minute performance on two large wheelie-bins, a small waste-paper bin and a biscuit tin at a Sydney percussion night. They were immediately offered a lunchtime spot at the University of Canberra. Various elements were developed over the next two weeks of rehearsals and writing that would form the core of Pablo Percusso's work for the next 2 years or so - a bizarre percussion tripod made of hubcaps, a flowerpot, machine parts, tom-toms made from 12 gallon metal drums, cowbells riveted together from sheet metal, plus assorted conventional percussion instruments; pieces performed on wheelie-bins, mobile phones & basketballs.

From here the work flowed thick and fast - Pablo Percusso performed at almost every conceivable venue in Sydney and eventually all over Australia: from pubs and clubs to universities and schools; from galleries and museums to festivals and corporate work; from water taxis and catamarans to cafes and churches. Over a two year period their stage setup steadily grew as more junk instruments were added to their repertoire - a progression best charted by their modes of transport: from train to a small Toyota Corolla hatch, to an Holden EH wagon to a Ford Econovan to a freight truck. Sparked by a collaboration in Adelaide with the young Japanese taiko drummers Zampa Ufujishi Daiko, they built a collection of junk taikos out of blue chemical storage drums on which they honed their own version of junk taiko drumming. Similarly inspired by the rhythms of trains and urban construction sites, they built junk setups to explore the endless potential of city sound and rhythm within a junk-percussion context. It was this theme that propelled their work into new areas during their third year together.

Building upon their experiences on a two month tour of Canada and the U.S. in the middle of 1996, the three took time off to explore and develop the thematic material within their work. Inspired by the sounds and rhythms of their urban surroundings, they set about creating new instruments and musical structures to explore and interpret the noises, rhythms, rituals and customs that form the lifeblood of the modern city environment. They collected sounds from New York, London, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Sydney which they integrated into the music through the use of samples and sound collage. They studied the sounds and rhythms of factories, machines, generators, air compressors, trains, subways, trams, traffic, construction sites, junkyards, garbage collections and the pumping blood of the city's hum at 4am. These themes had always been present in their work, but weren't fully explored and made explicit until the summer of 1996/97.

Pablo Percusso are primarily interested in exploring the interface between human and machine, between artist-musician and the urban environment, between the noises, rhythms, rituals and customs of the modern city atmosphere and their musical expressions and reflections. They utilise the refuse, the offcuts, the discarded junk of the (sub)urban metropolis and sculpt it into musical expressions that acknowledge the city as a legitimate and unlimited source of inspiration. Whether it is the instruments they construct out of chemical waste barrels, ambulance hubcaps, empty beer kegs, movie reels and washing-machine parts, or the integrated samples and sound collage they have recorded around the world, they are fascinated with the process of recycling and reshaping urban molecules to create new and innovative musical forms and performance environments.

Their current production, Industria, has developed organically and entirely independently over the past four years. As young artist-percussionists (aged 22, 22 and 28) they have developed and built all of the elements entirely on their own - music, movement, lighting, instrument and set design, audiovisual design, sound collage and sampling. Without any funding assistance and with limited resources they have created a junk-percussion world from recycled materials. This world is not high art, it is rough, raw, fresh, innovative, and true to its own forms and processes, developed directly and naturally out of the streets of the city.

Pablo Percusso are Greg Andresen, Josh Green and Ben Walsh.


Pablo Percusso - Background /