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Nearly Human

by Perhaps Contraption

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Each atom in you, Was once part of something else. And each of those, 7 billion, billion, billion atoms, Will go on, to lead other lives, In other beings and objects, long after you're Gone. The beauty of a living thing, is not the atoms That go into it, But the way those atoms Are put together. The youth in bloom, The ocean jostled and swelled. The sun's children. Everything, somehow, fits together.
72.8% Water 05:09
How do you do you? Ponder plenty, full. You do how you do. Happenstance and sky. How you came to be. We crawled from the sea... And you happened to collide, Liquid longing to learn. And this tiny, brief existence Is old fragments of light, Of happenstance and sky. And this whole place, is pulsating, Is pulsating with life. Is pulsating with life. LIFE How do you do you Ponder the plentiful? Fed by sunlight we tend to the soil Perspirating the moisture The residue Navigate, navigate, Oh. Born of sky joining Joining Born of star endless. You do how you do Ripple the happenstance, Moon so helpful she jostles, she stirs, Thank you for you for leaving the Residue Navigate, navigate, Oh. Born of sea liquid, liquid Born of stone restless, restless, Born of sky joining, joining, Born of star endless You are, Liquid. A description of nature: From stars, to cells, to sentience to sentiments, To sentences, the sun overhead, how curious! It's highly likely that no human eye will ever see The sun die, how fortunate! A description of nature, not an explanation, There will probably never be A question of finishing. In one sense, humans are nearly, nothing, Containing something like 1 cubic millimetre of real matter - the rest is empty space - nearly Nothing. Except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make Each of us up The iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, They were born in suns, overhead, how curious! Except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make Each of us up The nitrogen in our DNA, the carbon in our apple Pies, they were born in suns, overhead, how Curious! A description of nature: Vessels and veins, Bundles of cells, stumbling, how fortunate! The oceans, jostled and swelled, The youth in bloom, How fortunate! The whatness, the quiddity, The whole room is pulsating with life, How fortunate! We need the tides to exist, Without the moon we wouldn't be here The person you love is 72.8 percent water.
And this tiny, brief existence Is old fragments of light. Of happenstance and sky. The sun, overhead. How curious.
Liquid 01:39
Send me hope we are akin Distant parts of one machine
In one sense Humans are nearly nothing Containing something like one cubic millimetre of real matter The rest is empty space Nearly nothing. Born of sea, Liquid. Born of stone, Restless Born of sky, Endless.
Home 03:26
Motion a mending, muscle amass, Mighty the moment can be We remain rooted out feet in the soil, We want to be home, to be free. Minding the spaces, minding the gap, Hand in hand we go, Silent to swallow a journey to nowhere, Marching along in tow. Standing alone with my feet on the throne, This is not what I thought it would be, Running and running our feet in the air, Is this the way home, the way home, the way home, the way home. Look high, and fall, to the arms of the land, And slide Through the cracks in the earth. Soon, soon Soon the day will... Soon, soon Soon white daisies will grow. Is this the way home, the way home? (Hand in hand we go)
There's as many atoms, in a single molecule of your DNA, as there are stars in a typical galaxy. And we promised to be lost. To be upright, And vital. Regenerate. Look high, and fall, to the arms of the land, And slide Through the cracks in the earth. Soon, soon Soon the day will... Soon, soon Soon white daisies will grow. Born of sky joining, joining Born of star, endless.
Nearly Human 05:22
Lose an endless Longing counting Merely being Human nearly being Left behind, dust left behind Many footsteps Make one journey Trundling wondering The whimsy and the story Brave and lost, stay brave and lost All those places We have been to We have pondered Land and sea and statues Left behind, skin, left behind Lose an endless Longing counting Merely being Human nearly being Left behind, dust left behind Nearly Being, merely being Human Lost an endless joining being So we cut our teeth, Brave and lost, stay, brave and lost Liquid long Endless fleeting Only butterflies Left behind Dust Left Behind Nearly nothing Nearly human Vessels and veins Nearly Human Indifference Nearly Human Sinew and streams, And bundles of cells, stumbling Nearly human And stretch, and breath, and love. (Just love) It's highly likely no human eye Will ever see the Sun die. Belong. The chances of your existence Is miniscule my friend. Miniscule Water, rise and remain. Lose an endless Longing counting Merely being Human nearly being. Vessels and veins Bundles of cells, Stumbling. How fortunate.
It's highly likely, That no human eye, Will ever see the sun die. How fortunate. From stars, to cells, to sentences, to symbiosis. The sun overhead (overhead) How curious. We are, each of us, a little universe.
My Word 03:52
Sometimes the bird, it just doesn’t crow Sometimes it sings, it sings, it sings Sometimes the bell, it just doesn’t toll Sometimes it rings, it rings, it rings The bird, it flew as it was frightened by the ringing of the bell. A startled starling joins the sky. The strike of every single hour, rings around the tower Bringing starts and ends to all of those nearby. You know you’ve got the best of me But please don’t take the rest of me And oh, my word you are so beautiful Sometimes the phone it just doesn’t ring, Sometimes you call, and call, and call. Sometimes your star, it just doesn’t rise Sometimes it falls and falls and falls The man, he ran as he was frightened by the ringing of the bell. The startled starling joins this guy. The strike of every single hour, rings around the tower Bringing starts and ends to all of those nearby. You know you’ve got the best of me But please don’t take the rest of me And oh, my word you are so beautiful You know you’ve got the best of me But please don’t take the rest of me And oh, my word you are so beautiful And oh, my word you are so beautiful
Except for Hydrogen, All the atoms that make each of us up The iron in our blood, The calcium in our teeth, The nitrogen in our DNA, The carbon in our apple pies, Were manufactured In the interiors of collapsing stars, Thousands of light years away in space And billions of years ago in time. We are starstuff.
I promise to pay the bearer The sum of, Self. A ritual, your currency I'll pay you, Fair. And I promised to be lost Be upright and be vital The thrum and hum on the tracks The metal and the pressure Squashing, pennies And loss Only, only, ever After, after we're, gone Pennies, memories some change Sleep deep, sleep deep And rest Returns the other sun set And I want to tell you that I love you And these words these words they don't say Enough And I want to tell you that I see you May our stride be strong and always, Upright and vital And you showed me strength and play and Acres of wisdom All we were doing was Squashing the pennies…
If you removed All of the space in our atoms, Humans are Nearly nothing. The entire human race, Would fit into the volume of a sugar cube. The rest is empty space. (Nearly nothing)
Bloodhound 03:51
Though I’m alive There’s wreaths of dust And a desert around But what’s that sound? As heaven is my witness I am broken, I’m stuck awoken Face turned down Like the Bloodhound
Humans have evolved to wonder, Understanding is a joy, Knowledge is prerequisite To survival. Extinction is the rule, Survival is the exception
We fought through water To the land We used to be Sea We came from seeing Only water We’ll find ourselves together Born of stone From stone to star -ing on our own We used to be Sky We’re now just lighting our own way To find ourselves together Born of stars Hear it Coming
Writing, cities, art, science and love. These are some of the things That hydrogen atoms do Given fifteen billion years Of cosmic evolution. You are You You are Liquid Endless You are You are You are You are We are the embodiment Of a cosmos Grown to self awareness Starstuff Pondering the stars
Shall I lie, or shall I leave? As I’m so squashed, I can’t breathe. Am I dumb or am I damned? To me it’s large, but stars they frown, look down at me, A grain of sand, …. Whilst they are grand. Send me hope we are akin; distant parts of one machine. Sunlight flashes on my eyelid. Sunlight feeding me with D. Sunlight dances on my dermis. Sunlight joining the skies to me. Joining the skies to me Do I do enough to die? Live enough to say goodbye? Far along as I appear I’ve not done much and I do fear my rent’s not paid Stars don’t fade. …. Come to my aide. Send me hope we are akin; distant parts of one machine. Starstuff making up my atoms Starstuff hardening my teeth Starstuff flowing round my arteries Starstuff joining the stars to me Joining the stars to me
Starstuff, making up my atoms Starstuff, hardening my teeth Starstuff, flowing round my arteries Starstuff, joining the stars to me Your last death, Is that moment, Sometime in the future, When your name is spoken For the very Last Time
Hurt the Fly 03:29
Hurt the fly. Spray it with your pain. Hurt the fly. Shorten its 30 days. Fly. When does a life count? When does pain? No emotion. Just nociception. No emotion. Just nociception. FLY
We are like butterflies Who flutter for a day And think it is Forever. Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, And we are wanderers still. We are ready, At last, To set sail For the stars.


"Send me hope we are akin,
Distant parts of one machine"

Nearly Human is the soundtrack to our gig theatre experience of the same name. We performed this show between 2018 - 2020.

It describes the life-cycle of one extraordinary atom, and how this tiny, ancient, unfathomable thing travels through various lives and experiences on its journey through the aeons.

Partly inspired by cosmologist Carl Sagan, the piece contemplates how our baffling, unlikely existence is intertwined with the stars.

Touching upon biology, spirituality and cosmology, Nearly Human is an epic and euphoric celebration of life and the universe.

For more information on the performance, please go to: perhapscontraption.co.uk/nearlyhuman/

Reviews for the theatre show:

“It’s hard not to get swept up in Perhaps Contraption’s abundant energy…Delivered with unflinching energy and conviction…It’s almost impossible to categorise, but that’s kind of the point.”
The List ****

“A concept piece expressing the wonder of atomic theory and human physiology, through the medium of massed brass, percussion, tranquil harmony singing and recorded recitations. A beatific meditation on the micro and the macro…a beguiling, euphoric blast of energy.”
The Scotsman

“In responding to the wonders of the universe, Perhaps Contraption have created a beautiful and humbling performance that ponders over our place within the cosmos”
Total Theatre Review

“Perhaps Contraption have the rare joy of being unbelievably talented, but also collaboratively telepathic. You feel at once as though you’re watching something meticulously crafted and beautifully chaotic. Choreography is expansive and imaginative – and chemistry onstage is perfectly tempered.”
Musical Theatre Review ****

“Nearly Human is the Les Enfants Terribles award winners’ dizzying celebration of our connection to the stars… by way of megaphone hollering, trombone stomping and contact juggling. Truly, you have to see this show to believe anyone could create it in the first place.”
GQ Magazine

“The production is stunning, their storytelling pulsates with energy as they narrate the magical journey in a sensory explosion. Perhaps Contraption’s approach is innovative and euphoric, bewitching and overwhelming, polished and experimental. They instil a brand new appreciation for life.”
Broadway World *****

“Nearly Human perfectly treads an atom-thin tightrope of genuine wonder and then proceeds to pogo up and down its length with a beatific smile on its face. The show ends to a rapturous and well-deserved standing ovation.”

“An extraordinary and cathartic experience…a wonderful symphony to the miracle of life. They are master musicians who transport us through this beautiful soundtrack.”
View from the Outside

“Nearly Human is one of those shows that pretty much defies description. It just feels so hard to do justice in words – this is music that needs to be felt, experienced. Perhaps Contraptions’ songs demand your attention in their delicious and bewitching complexity. There’s such delight in the unexpected richness and diversity of the sonic palette. Brilliantly executed, wonderfully different. Highly recommended.”
Ought to be Clowns


released December 2, 2022

On Nearly Human, Perhaps Contraption are:

Catherine Ring - Marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, voice
Charly Jolly - Tenor sax, voice
Christo Squier - Flute, tenor sax, guitars, voice
Iain McDonald - Sousaphone, tuba, voice
Jin Theriault - Soprano sax, violin, voice
Letty Stott - French horn, voice
Mickey Bones - Trombone, guitars, voice
Riccardo Castellani - Drums
Steph Legg - Tenor sax, voice
Yusuf Narcin - Bass trombone, voice

Jasper Jolly (Age 3)
Huxley Squier Gaze (Age 8 and a half),
Winter James (Age 27)
Fiona Fey (Age 32)
Joy Isaacs (Age 91)


Track 1 by Christo Squier, strings arranged by Jin Theriault
Track 2 by Christo Squier and PC
Track 3 by Christo Squier and PC
Track 4 by Christo Squier and PC, lyrics by Mickey Bones
Track 5 by Jin Theriault
Track 6 by Jin Theriault
Track 7 by Jin Theriault, lyrics by Jin Theriault and Christo Squier
Track 8 by Christo Squier and PC
Track 9 by Mickey Bones
Track 10 by Mickey Bones
Track 11 by Christo Squier and PC
Track 12 by Christo Squier and PC
Track 13 by Mickey Bones and Iain McDonald
Track 14 by Mickey Bones, Iain McDonald and PC
Track 15 by Catherine Ring, Christo Squier and PC
Track 16 by Catherine Ring, Mickey Bones and PC
Track 17 by Jin Theriault
Track 18 by Mickey Bones
Track 19 by Mickey Bones
Track 20 by Mickey Bones, Charly Jolly, Riccardo Castellani and PC
Track 21 by Christo Squier, strings arranged by Jin Theriault

Some sections of spoken word are quotes from, or inspired by, the writings of Carl Sagan, Brian Cox, Neil de Grasse Tyson and David Eagleman.
Other spoken word sections are written by Mickey Bones and Christo Squier.

Musical Construction:

These songs were written between Autumn 2017 - Spring 2019,
mostly while on creative retreats at the ever-resplendent Snape Maltings.
Lots of it, in Snape Bridge house, where we cooked, laughed, fervently mused, mixed things up, broke things down and grabbed snippets from books and our collective brains.

Sometimes, we would play games - picking names out of a hat and scampering off in small groups to make a sketch of a song in 15 minutes. Other times we’d hole ourselves up alone in our rooms for hours, pouring over the tiny details, perhaps by the roaring seas of Aldeburgh.

It was a long gestation period, cells whirring and heads scratching.
Turning to theatre and the stars for extra dashes of inspiration.

Eventually, we presented 3 iterations of the show, before it premiered at Edinburgh Fringe in the summer of 2019…
Once at Festival of New, in the derelict building at Snape on September 7th 2018,
Once in the Britten Studio (also at Snape), on 10th February, 2019,
and 1 preview at Greenwich Theatre, on 21st July 2019.

We finally unleashed it during the Fringe, 28 times in 29 days, and also over a week at Vault festival, London in February 2020.

We want to thank the fine humans at Snape Maltings for believing in this ensemble; we couldn’t have made such a grand, convoluted statement without their support. This Nearly Human THING, would have certainly sounded very different had we never set foot in those marshy, inspirational lands.

We also want to thank the fine humans at Les Enfants Terribles and Vault Festival, for helping catapult us into the world of theatre.

And finally, to the audiences, who bought the tickets, and told us their stories afterwards, wide-eyed and effusive, while we were panting and soggy and nodding and smiling, blathering delightedly about what this show meant to them, how it connected to their past/future/present moments, how it could feel therapeutic, how it somehow added a little cosmic sparkle, wonder and gratitude to this tiny, brief existence.

It was all for those kinds of moments, really.


Phase 1 commenced over 5 or so days between 17th Nov - 9th Dec 2018.
It was engineered by William Robertson and Curtis Elvidge.

During Phase 2 we captured loads of drums on 23rd May, 2020
It was engineered by Evie Clark-Yospa. She always smiles.
Then we had another couple of days doing voices later in May with Curtis, and he did some editing.

A bit later, Christo recorded some xylophone, acoustic guitar, french horn and trombones sometime betwixt June and July 2020.

Most of it was recorded at our musical home, The Mighty Premises Studios, London.

Though, marimba and glockenspiel was recorded at Nine Volt Leap by Dominic Bailey-Clay, July 2020.

Various musical bits and bobs were captured in each band member’s house, late 2020 and early 2021.

Narration was recorded by Christo in homes in Crofton Park and Richmond, early 2019.

The end of track 7 (the shouty free bit) was recorded by Louis McHugh during a live performance of Nearly Human at the Clapham Grand on 5th March 2020.

The instruments on track 11 and the sousaphone solo on track 13 was recorded live by Jon Hart, while playing the 1st iteration of Nearly Human, to an audience at Snape Maltings, in the derelict building, during Festival of New, 7th September 2018.

Field recordings were made by Christo Squier on a little minidisc:
Aegean Sea, Turkey in 2007, Glastonbury Festival rain and footsteps, 2007, and a drain in Tytherington, South Gloucestershire, 2004.
Bird song on track 12 recorded by Amy Day on her phone while on a walk in Devizes in 2020.

All of it chopped, tweaked and edited and regurgitated by Christo Squier

Then, MIXED and twizzled by the fastidious and ever-patient and ever-excellent William Robertson at Super Symmetry Studios, Nov 2020 - October 2021

Produced by William Robertson, with Christo and Mickey co-producing.

Mastered by Justin Weiss, Trakworx, San Francisco, January 2022



Cover photograph by the incredible Rah Petherbridge
Shot at Matchstick Theatre, Deptford
Art direction by Christo Squier
Assistant art direction by Laura Drake Chambers
Styling by Amy Day
Hair and makeup by Juliette Lumley
Produced by Christo Squier

Track artwork by Christo Squier, built using AI software Midjourney

Nearly Human Live:

Design, movement direction and music by Perhaps Contraption.

Lyrics by Christo Squier, Mickey McMillian, Jin Theriault and Catherine Ring

Some sections of narration are quotes from, or inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan, Brian Cox, Neil de Grasse Tyson and David Eagleman.

Director and creative producer - Christo Squier
Producer - Alex Ferguson
Movement Direction - Lucy Ridley, Christa Harris, Jin Theriault and Perhaps Contraption
Lighting design - Pablo Fernandez Baz and Christo Squier
Sound design - Christo Squier & Mickey McMillan
Live sound - Louis McHugh
Stage management and live show operation - Chaz Webb
Associate producer - Winter James
Dramaturg - Oliver Lansley
Costume styling - Amy Day and Perhaps Contraption
Poster design - Lilith Costela


With enormous thanks to: Snape Maltings / Britten Pears Arts, everyone at Les Enfants Terribles, Emily Cunliffe, our wonderful deps Amy Kelly, Maude Wolstenholme, Hanna Marchand and Edward Ashby, Pleasance Theatre, Vault Festival, Santiago Genochio, Greenwich Theatre, Matchstick Theatre, Nic Connaughton, Rebecca Merrit, Paul McHale, Charlotte Hartley, Phil Newby, Rah Petherbridge, Amy Day, Juliette Lumley, Lilith Costela, Fiona Fey and everyone at the Premises Studios.

And, of course, all the people that came to see Nearly Human live.


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Perhaps Contraption London, UK

Avant-Rock / Art - Pop / Post-Classical / Marching Band / Something or other


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