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Kerogen Voices

Kerogen Voices is a music theatre piece exploring the phenomenon of man-made earthquakes caused by fossil-fuel extraction.

In this collaborative work, the voices of science, of myth, of workers, of engineers, of Earth and of folkloric entities coexist and are in dialogue. These voices are suspended in an immersive soundscape of elementary flux. Dense strata of text, vocals, and enveloping sound invite the audience to listen to the movement and signals of our planet and to imagine its subterraneous fossil guts as a giant sentient body – responding in a multitude of ways to the interference of mankind.

A recuperating woman takes the fresh air in woodland, accompanied by her nurse, 1909, Photo: Het Leven, Spaarnestad Netherlands. (superimposed gas flare image from “Still Climate of Concern”: Shell, 1991.) - Artwork by Jimmy Grima
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In September of 2019, Jimmy Grima began his research into the phenomenon of man­-made earthquakes after learning his home country of Malta imports liquefied gas from his adopted home in the Netherlands. The gas bubble under Groningen in the Netherlands is the largest gas deposit discovered in the EU but is also one of the most studied places for induced seismicity.

In recent years, the Gas Molecule, a sculpture commemorating the discovery has been repeatedly vandalised with red paint, and campaigners claim that gas is a curse rather than a gift.

Grima began envisioning a live performance with a cast of actors, singers; a choir. He imagined live music and visuals. A libretto. Adopting a name from the organic matter found in sedimentary rocks that forms the basis for petroleum and natural gas, the Kerogen Voices ensemble came together.

They began to build the work, a collective, immersive, listening experience for an audience in a theatre venue.

In the spring of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the Netherlands, making a public performance impossible. Over months of quarantine, the Kerogen Voices continued to develop the work remotely. They worked on texts and music, and recorded their voices onto different devices from different cities and continents – some stuck in their homes, others seeking deserted public spaces, such as underneath bridges, to create their sounds.

The pandemic continues to prohibit large public gatherings, and in response, the Kerogen Voices made the sounds of the project available online for one day on www.kerogenvoices.club

Work is ongoing to ultimately produce a CD of the soundtrack; able to travel through the private spaces of hosts who are able organise safe listening sessions of the piece.