Max Barton & Jethro Cooke (Slowstepper) (Music for Change, 2022)Slowstepper, Terra Album Artwork

Max Barton & Jethro Cooke (Slowstepper)

Shortlisted in 2022 for Music for Change

Slowstepper is an experimental music outfit founded by two composer / theatre-maker / activists, Max Barton and Jethro Cooke. The pair have been making music-theatre hybrid work since 2018 as the award-winning company Second Body.

Max Barton is a composer, director and playwright based in Kent. He trained in both music and theatre directing, and has spent his career exploring ways to fuse artforms in order to engage listeners and audiences in compelling new ways. This thread has run through all his work, from tiny experimental interdisciplinary gigs through to large-scale musical work performed internationally for thousands of people a night. 

Jethro Cooke is a composer, sound designer and theatre-maker based in Devon. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and works across film, theatre, performance and installed media, specialising in electronic music and live sound processing.  As a composer, Jethro is interested in combining synthesis, sampling and acoustic instruments to build texturally and emotive pieces that blur boundaries between the analogue and digital.  

During the pandemic, as Slowstepper, the duo has been working on a concept album called ‘Terra’, inspired by Gaia theory and climate science. Each track is “sung” by a different organism, and the music is created using cutting edge sound and climate science. They plan to release this as the debut album from Slowstepper in 2022. 

Current work-in-development includes ‘The End of the World’, a concert that juxtaposes global apocalypse scenarios with personal stories about mortality and disability. Using a mixture of music, narration and visual storytelling Max and Jethro contemplate the various ways the human race could meet its end. Similarly, ‘The Animals’ explores how the language of the individual fail us when we talk about climate change, asking us ‘What can bees, trees, slime moulds and arctic foxes teach us about responsibility and collaboration?’