In December 2009, Subject2change decided to follow a different path to the structured compositional arrangements that had been used up to that time. Performing for three days in the recording studio at Albany Street, the band set up almost as if in a live setting in order to provide a means of spontaneity, although a compromise was sound spillage. As no overdubs were intended, this was not a matter of concern. Instead of pre–composed material, the band made a list of musical ideas and concepts and used one of more of these ideas in each of a series of improvisations that lasted between five and ten minutes. So as to maintain a creative flow, band members did not listen to playbacks of the material as it was recorded, preferring instead to keep performing for as long as possible in the allocated time. Significantly, the stylistic content of the improvised material was influenced by various elements. In some cases an improvisation reflected aspects of musicology being studied by those members of the band who are teaching staff in the Music Department at Otago University, other improvisations drew from the canon of jazz/fusion recordings that most members listened to in their formative years, and some improvisations were loosely based on music from ‘new noir’ film soundtracks.
This ‘live and spontaneous’ approach to improvised composition in a recording studio context led the band to its next recording that took place in May 2010. On this occasion, Subject2change was augmented by the inclusion of Portuguese orchestral percussionist Pedro Carniero, who was on a concert tour of New Zealand performing with the Auckland Philharmonia and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. The band performed a further series of improvisations in the recording studio at Albany Street, although this time the performance was in front of an audience. While experienced in performing with each other, none of the ensemble had played with Pedro Carneiro before, so care had to be taken when listening to what he might say in his music. This is a good example of how being musical is often less about one’s ability to ‘play’ and more about one’s ability to listen. Critical and active listening provides an immediate feedback loop that then informs performance. The performance itself involves the careful balancing of individual spontaneity, group cohesion, and various distinct performance practices and musical ideas.
The concert was later produced for release as an audio CD and a DVD.