Holly Pester – Common Rest [10"/Book]


Holly Pester – Common Rest [10"/Book]


Label: Test Centre

Format: 10"/Book

Year: 2016

First major recorded work by UK poet and sound artist Holly Pester, including a companion book of poetry. Common Rest is an engrossing collection of sculpted improvisations, spiritually guided by themes related to an unconventional view of the of the lullaby. Seven graceful articulations of living in the shadows of work, and the nightly attempts to transform those shadows into a healthy, regenerative atmosphere. Pester invites a different collaborator into the room for each track, which play out like scenes in different settings with the same central figure. Pattern games figure prominently early on with “Shift” and Means” in a style that nods politely to the Cobbing school, but also captures the peak of exploring a unique shared linguistic space. “Burn” relocates to a hazy lounge, where Pester seems to take a somewhat perverse delight in assuming the role of a singer for an unsuspecting audience—crooning, whispering, and roaring fluctuating reads on phrases that have been looping involuntarily in my head for a month now. Right at the midpoint of peak hypnosis, we have “Brush”, a purely textural piece performed with Claire Tolan. “Halt” is the one I want to go on for a full side, but is only two and half minutes worth of wonderfully recorded cello, spastic and bristly tape work, with clipped prose which makes me cry don’t go! inside when it does a hard fade out. Cut your insoles to size for this one, for I am very fond of it.

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with Emma Bennett, Vahni Capildeo, Jenny Moore, Nat Raha, Vera Rodriguez, Verity Spott and Claire Tolan


‘While a lullaby sounds out the material labour of care, makes its flesh and breath felt, it also sounds out the radical obscuring of work. Therefore a lullaby might be a chorus for all bodies, affectively performing a different worksong, a kind of common rest.’ – Holly Pester


Test Centre is excited to announce the release of Common Rest, a multimedia collaborative work consisting of a 10-inch vinyl album with an accompanying book of poems by Holly Pester.

The project is the creative output of work developed by Pester during her residency with Hubbub – an international team of scientists, historians, artists and broadcasters based at the Wellcome Collection – materialising Pester’s interest in speech rhythms and patterns which are responsive to work and rest.

The album comprises 7 tracks, each a collaboration between Pester and another artist, in which ideas associated with lullabies form the basis for an improvisation. Each track has its own unique aesthetic, exploring different female responses to ideas of work and play, care and collaboration, motherhood and sexuality, curses and spells.

Created through a series of 3-hour recording sessions in which each track was devised from scratch, the sound pieces and songs collected on the album explore the complex sounds and dynamics of the lullaby, variously manifested as whispered chants, fast-paced dialogues, layered, contrapuntal vocal lines, spoken and sung, jazz riffs and ASMR soundscapes, and playful, childlike songs.

As Pester writes in her sleeve notes, ‘Within this collective of voices are thoughts and experiences relating to activism, mental health, abortion, sex work, love, collaboration, genders, wages, rent, mould, hair, bedrooms, politics, carpets, mothers, the sea, homelessness, spines, money, dogs, education, machines, witchcraft, beds…’

At the core of the project, and forming the basis for the audio improvisations, is the collection of 14 of Pester’s poems, lines from which echo through the recordings. The texts both interrogate the history of the lullaby as a portrait of the socio-economic conditions of the time in which they were sung, and become contemporary lullabies in their own right, inviting further collaborative work while transferring us into a temporary state of rest.

10” vinyl LP in gatefold sleeve with digital download and booklet. 250 copies.
Contributors: Holly Pester, with Emma Bennett, Vahni Capildeo, Jenny Moore, Nat Raha, Vera Rodriguez, Verity Spott and Claire Tolan. Edited by Yasmin Kuymizakis.
Cover artwork by Mariana Simnett.
Designed by Thom Swann for A New Archive.
Release date: 1 December 2016

Holly Pester is a poet, writer and cross-disciplinary researcher. hollypester.com
Emma Bennett is performance artist and stand-up comedy scholar. emmabennettperformance.wordpress.com
Vahni Capildeo is an award-winning poet, multi-disciplinary writer and Old Norse scholar. carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?owner_id=1167
Jenny Moore is an artist, musician and drummer in a band. jennymoore.co
Nat Raha is a poet, trans activist and researcher in queer Marxism. sociopatheticsemaphores.blogspot.co.uk
Vera Rodriguez is a photographer, dancer and a sex worker support telephone line operator. ethicalstripper.com/site/the-collective/vera-rodriguez/
Verity Spott is a poet, cellist and mental health care worker. twotornhalves.blogspot.co.uk
Claire Tolan is a sound and ASMR artist. cst.yt
Yasmin Kuymizakis (sound editor) is a sound artist, sound designer and singer/songwriter. soundcloud.com/yasmin-kuymizakis
Mariana Simnett (album cover artist) is an artist. frieze.com/article/focus-marianna-simnett