“I believe that in the battle between guns and ideas, ideas will eventually win, because ideas are invisible and they linger, and sometimes they can even be true.”

That is the manifesto of celebrated English writer Neil Gaiman whose 13-year collaboration with local rocking chamber ensemble FourPlay String Quartet is celebrated in a new ARIA-nominated album, Signs of Life, premiered in a one-off concert in the Sydney Opera House Hall. This was the place where it all started in a room backstage when the creator of the comic book series The Sandman and the band both featured in the Sydney Graphic Festival.

Gaiman quickly realised that some of his songs and poems were a perfect fit for the group which can transform itself from a conventional string quartet to an indie rock band at the click of a delay pedal. Among those poems is Credo, quoted above, a powerful case for freedom of speech and thought, and now one of the 11 tracks on the stunning debut album.

Neil Gaiman, Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, 2024. Photo © Jordan Munns

FourPlay was formed by brothers violist Tim and cellist Peter Hollo, joined...