Music is all about collaboration. Sure, there’s always someone’s superb singular vision to be the exception to said rule, but a song’s usually no good until somebody hears it. Luke Moore – the leader of Operation Lightfoot – is constantly looking for someone to share the spaces in his creativity and this week that collective spirit went stratospheric. Kind of. By Alan O’Hare.  

It’s the European Week of Astronomy & Space Science this week. That surprised you, didn’t it? But I wasn’t surprised to be alerted to this fact by Merseyside’s most collaborative ensemble, Operation Lightfoot. They’re like that, you see.

Led by composer and artistic director Luke Moore, the restless Operation Lightfoot has project written all over it. Collaborating with singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, photographers and film makers, the collective’s catalogue contains work with the likes of Dorothy Bird, Jo Bywater and Sophia Ben-Yousef. Where does the astronomy thing come into it? “There’s some amazing space science happening right here with the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) at Liverpool John Moores University,” says Moore. “I was thrilled to be commissioned to work in collaboration with the ARI. The Operation Lightfoot team created a very special performance.”

You can see and hear in the behind-the-scenes highlights featured below that something celestial occurred at ACC Liverpool this week – but it won’t be a one-off. “The piece will receive its first public performance at ‘Across The Threshold’ later this month,” reveals in-demand cellist Moore. It’s something to look forward to, because everything Operation Lightfoot has been involved in so far, has been beautiful. Taking music and performance so seriously is frowned upon these days, but I love the ambition embedded in the leader’s algorithmic approach.

First there was the widescreen acoustic pop co-write of Vanessa Murray’s ‘Eighteen’ single (all yearning strings and stretched vowels), followed by the flugelhorn-led, end-of-the-movie atmospheres of ‘Aerial View’ (commissioned by Wirral Festival Of Firsts) and then the urgent Celtic lament of ‘Dóchas’, which added glockenspiel and villainous violin to the aural picture, alongside some great lyrics (“glass and steel stretch for miles”).

“It’s not often we get a chance to express our research through the media of music,” said Helen Jermak – instrument scientist on the Liverpool Telescope – about Operation Lightfoot’s latest piece. “We were excited to share this with our European colleagues… and really excited to work with Luke Moore and Operation Lightfoot.” I know how she feels – this is music being made with a curiosity that could kill a thousand cats and Operation Lightfoot is a catalytic entity of which Moore and Merseyside should be proud.

Long may he continue to cut corridors through the axis of genre.

Listen to and buy from Operation Lightfoot here

Operation Lightfoot
Across The Threshold Festival
Friday April 13th 2018, 6pm
Unit 51, Jamaica Street, Liverpool
Get tickets 

Pic by Jazamin Sinclair