The Concept Album as Curatorial 'Medium': Colin Riley's "In Place"

McKeon, EJ. 2021. The Concept Album as Curatorial 'Medium': Colin Riley's "In Place". Tempo, 75(296), pp. 46-56. ISSN 0040-2982 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article reflects on the notion of a curator's 'medium' through a consideration of the concept album, focusing on Colin Riley's curatorial composition of the album "In Place".

Colin Riley's collaborative and curated project "In Place" (2015–18) – with its exploration of memory, place, language and identity – becomes a stimulus for considering the intertwining relationship between the song cycle and the album form. Featuring seven commissioned poets alongside found texts, "In Place" simultaneously assembles fragments of contemporary Britain and its broken tongues whilst reflecting on the current possibilities for binding these through song. Riley and his collaborators construct a sense of place in the movements between idiom, psychogeography, field recordings, samples, instrumental voices, speech and song, rather than from any fixed location, reference, identity or origin. I argue that this adapts and learns from the history of the album as a form of double binding, both of a finite set of materials and, crucially, of a community or interpersonal relations. With its development in the modern era through the poetry collection, song cycle, and recording, the album provides a model for living, collective remembrance, contrasting with the archival paradigm of preserving cultural authority. Its transformation and persistence are pursued with the emergence of the concept album through to music streaming, offering an historical framework in which "In Place" can be appreciated as a contribution to the contemporary ‘return to memory’.

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This article has been published in a revised form in Tempo This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © The Author(s), 2021.


Curator, Medium, Concept Album

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April 2021Published
10 March 2021Published Online
7 November 2020Accepted

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Date Deposited:

27 Jul 2021 15:27

Last Modified:

28 Jul 2021 17:54

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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