Industrial machine poetry broadcast from a lonely bridge over the M65.

Tom Heyes understands boredom to be a potent creative catalyst. Seeking poetry in the pale, grey landscapes he grew up surrounded by, pulling words, movement and feeling from this all-pervasive void of tedium has become central to his wide-ranging art practice. Blackhaine provides Heyes with a means of exploring these in-between places, a suit of armour he can put on that allows him to remain in the tedium and to attempt to speak its name.

Filmed back in March of last year, on the night that national lockdown was first announced across England, Transmission can be understood as just one of Blackhaine’s broadcasts from nowhere, a black box recording from the wreckage of his own body on the M65. Whilst on location in Blackburn, Lancashire, conducting research for a solo piece entitled FOUR THOUSAND HOLES IN BLACKBURN, Heyes went out onto a bridge stretching over the motorway for an impromptu performance.

Transmission

Standing on the precipice, drifting across “M65 lanes”, through “steel town smoke” and over “trains and steel that vibrates”, with Transmission, Heyes weaves together a kind of industrial machine poetry, his double-tracked vocals stretching and contracting, squeezed under chilly dub pressure. The machinic drive of his words is made manifest in the monotonous delivery of a text-to-speech program, which Heyes uses to cloak his most lyrical passages.

Gesturing towards an oppressive and totalising mode of automation, he feeds his own weary reports of “the sons of tin men driving cars made of tin to work in their tin factories” back into the machine. “The machine allows me to say things I don’t feel like I could,” he explains. “Do you still miss me?” the machine responds. “Want to know how it feels.”

Transmission was made in collaboration with All Choreographers Are Bastards, a collective founded in Manchester in 2018 that includes the artists Joseph Reay-Reid (Bruxism), Joss Carter, Louis Ellis, Nathan Goodman, Sam Brown, Liam Morgan, Tim Merrifield and Blackhaine himself. Heyes describes ACAB as “a deconstructive project”, with Transmission existing as a product of their subversive approach to group art practice.

Blackhaine translates the grain and grit of his words into convulsive, spasmodic movements, pairing his comedown poetics with a stilted and strung-out kind of dance. Pulling his skin taught over bones, sinew and muscle, he is rigor mortis in motion, jerking to the off-beat against the jagged texture of his verse. “I was reading a lot of Ginsberg at the time,” he coyly explains, “I think it shows.”

Transmission

The transmission begins and ends with darkness, blurry footage of the M65 and a cold, piercing drone. Heralded with a final exhalation, the work begins and ends with Blackhaine broadcasting from the tedious void into which he has fallen, eschewing romanticised narrative in order to transform grey boredom into a black, visceral proclamation: “I stand here motionless as the sky opens up again revealing nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.”

For more information about Blackhaine and his work you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

Transmission (Nothing Urgent, Surreal, or of Meaning) Credits:

Directed, performed and written – Blackhaine
Drone – Micheal-Jon Mizra
Edited – Joseph Reay-Reid (Bruxism)
Camera – Ethan Samuel Jacobs & Jack Nelson

Transmission (Nothing Urgent, Surreal, or of Meaning) Lyrics:

In a cold dark metal place
The rain leaves scars on my face
Restless, I roam the streets at night in a daze
Staring at bodies with no figure in mindless states
That retreats like terminal patients that wait
And lay in beds wrapped in sheets of slate
Housewives clutched in permanent states
As salt water rolls down their head into eyes that bay
My eyes red as corridors ascend
M65 lanes
Passenger seat suffocates my blade
As I’m woken up by trains and steel that vibrates
My bed as I’m laid on this tray

My eyes red as corridors ascend
M65 lanes
Passenger seat suffocates my blade
As I’m woken up by trains and steel that vibrates
My bed as I’m laid on this tray

The drunk laughter a cage that silence works to decay
In this pit made of clay
Children bred from the naked wombs to remain
Cold and un-named

Do you miss me
Do you still miss me

Do you still dream submerged in the estate basins with your eyes stuffed full of cheap lead
I watched children falling like bombs from the sky

The sons of tin men driving cars made of tin to work in their tin factories 
Ambulances armed in ruby territories that watched whilst we threw ourselves into the road still hungry for a modern life

Theres a policeman behind my eyes
Who taps on the glass windows
A library of a thousand stone bodies 
Piled up waiting for the man with the spade
Who drums a rhythm 
Machine enough to purgatory the one we dance to reminiscent of how our mothers once rocked us to sleep at night

Do you miss me

A harsh saltwater delayed on my cheeks and left nothing parched just swelledFor I am a man of nothing and no means 

Do you still miss me
Do you dream of the city
When homeless hands reached downwards from grey and foreign skies with instruments designed to puncture pregnant wombs with artificial lights intent of cancers
And starving hyenas dressed up as whores on Chester road laughed as we drove until our tank ran dry

Lost in the centre of it all
As my friends and I collapsed on the pavements outside a thousand offices 
And watched as drunk coal midnight realised into a definite nothingness

And watched as the ones who watched us moved in a way that bled into our oil stained rags we stood and watched as they drilled four thousand shallow holes into blackburn Lancashire out of distant and armoured nostalgia

Our shadows burnt into the red brick walls we once leant against 
And we laughed as we forgot how we became and the songs of our youth lost there meaning
Owing us to become as lustful as the tepid something that left us in a previous existence

 I stand here motionless as the sky opens up again revealing nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning.

This ritual became an M25 pastiche for pale faced men with balloon thumbs piercing golden lances in their lungs as slaves for our cheap entertainment 
And as we danced in nightclubs we imagined the floor was Margaret Thatcher’s grave
Did you ever miss me at all in red Lancashire 
At night spirits visit me hold
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning 
nothing urgent, surreal, or of meaning

Surrounded by these men with shadows in there hearts and teeth Suffocating beliefs through the window
Her mothers broken arms never held me close
Armoured up in a Honda Accord
The lamps on the street like a veil in my eyes
On the moors where the pale one arrive
Baptised in the scent of dogs and poor men
Preston Blackburn M65
Each corridor laid with mines
And ghosts wrapped up in my movements blind
Emotions drowned left undisguised
And the sheets in my bed like chains
And I pray that the bitch won!t hit me again
As I drive through the valleys that made of towers and flats
And the rain turn black in the country
The rooms that we slept in falling apart
Through the day and the dark
And she stayed in my arms

Steel town smoke
As we ran up the hill
And the womb carved out to the edge of the fields
I can’t fall yet wanna know how it feels
And you wake up my back with the edge of the steel
Want to know how it feels
Want to know how it feels

Watch next: Blackhaine Presents – DID U CUM YET / I’M NOT GONNA CUM

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