Midori Takada and Lafawndah – Blue Ceremony @ The Barbican

Genre defying pop music is not a phrase one would quickly attribute to, now cult level, Japanese percussionist Midori Takada. So the collaboration with up and comer Lafawndah doesn’t jump out on paper. However, the little known story of her taking up residence with legend David Bowie, and indulging in acidic binges that would put both the Beatles and the merry pranksters to shame, helps it all make sense. Her solo show professing the ‘perfect wisdom’ taken to new, all encompassing heights, stepping outside any cultural and religious preconceptions and frameworks to spread the devout message. A feeling familiar to those ‘experienced’ a feeling, a knowing, which isn’t tarnished by dogma and thus accessible to all.

On a quiet Sunday (of course for any ceremonial proceedings to have power ) at the barbican she steps out into the darkness. A single light illuminates the bell chimes to the left of the stage as she gently creeps in, movements accented with chimes. Every movement as precise and controlled as the notes she plays. Easing into position in front of the chimes she begins to strike, precise order. Top left, top right, middle, bottom left, bottom right, almost as though she is banging in a cheat code, the sacred code, to summon the monks into being and bless the land for ceremonial proceedings.

Gliding in through the stalls from both sides of the space the monks quickly assert the power and harmony of the human voice. They spread intention, clearing any lingering bad energy from the space before taking up sitting position at the rear of the stage, on individual zafus they watch over proceedings.

The Ghanian drummers move into the position from the right and bring in the beat to keep proceedings in time and adding another continent of influence. Adding rhythm to the show and a whole ness to the sound, not drowning out or distracting from Midori’s percussion and filling in the sound under her precise, powerful notes.

A majestic swoop in enters this mystical, otherworldly being. It is clear from the extravagant, eccentric aura that they are not from this world, planet, possibly even plane of existence. They have been summoned down from a higher plane, outside of, or even perhaps a culmination of, all cultures, completely outside dogma; or even a summation of it all, with a unique, extra terrestrial position to be able to present the ‘Perfect Wisdom’ in a way accessible and useable by all. This for me is the key focus of the show. It is not as has been before, Midori professing and demonstrating her experience of the ‘perfect wisdom’, no intense gong solos, her energy focused and channeled on the summoning  of Lafawndah to fully embody, express and present – the beautiful, soulful expression from out of this world.

A form that was musically deep and expressive, soothing the ears, soul, heart and mind; yet communicating on a level higher than what is known. Of course this can be boiled down to a purely musical form, but you would have to be very naive to think and only experience that side of the message. For it was strong and direct, especially compared to those coming from a similar place of esotericism. While I found the, multiculturalism of this show to culminate powerfully with the inclusion of Lafawndah, touching many more hearts with broader, awesome brush strokes of the meta-physical-inter-planetary being, I did sincerely miss the intense gong solos I’ve seen Midori embark upon in previous shows. It was a shear display of force the way such a small, elderly woman can command such power and create such sound; alas this ceremony she channeled that power into others outside of herself.

Ultimately it was an transcendent experience and combined many cultural elements in a profound and impactful way; delicately blending different sounds and spatial factors in a much more complete whole than previous solo shows. However I do feel the arena was somewhat lacking, the barbican in its brutalist nature not having quite the level of magic and majesty needed for such a ceremony, along with the Sunday evening crowd. All of which looked old enough to fall into the category of those overlooking her studio releases at time of release, noting that through the looking glass only gained popularity after its 2017 repress on plato flats, a good 20 years after its initial release.

It is a performance that has left me wanting. Lafawndah’s stunning, gully pop album just released is hard and can’t help but garner attention across the spectrum of popular music. More collaboration with Midori is exciting in adding that special, spiritual touch to make some more truly meaningful full music outside of the vapid sphere of pop music; even better if it wasn’t backed by high end fashion companies this time.

Photo Credits: Mark Allan / Barbican

William Basinski @ Union Chapel

The Rockstar of Ambient you say? The aesthetic and visual prowess of William Basinski would support that statement. A long black robe drapes down to his knees — sparkling like diamonds in the night sky — with blacked out, yet mirrored, aviators to complete the look.

Naturally illuminated by candles arranged around the Union Chapel’s breathtaking stage. With sincerity and respect he gives a preamble to the performance, a special preview of his new piece ‘on time out of time’. This piece’s tale of a love story about a riff in time and space from a billion years ago highlights his wish to display science through sound. A very absorbing way to start the set, the added context and personal touch already helped foster that deep connection you get from his work.

Concluding the intro, he moves commandingly over to his many-channeled mixer; towering-tall, poised for the performance. With the slightest of slides on a channel, thunderous weight swells into being, instantaneously filling the Chapel with a powerful sound. Quickly realising some of the inspirations he described prior, the most minute movement of space creating a massive shift in sound and energy, launching me into vivid astral meditation on the high-energy-spacial-sound contrast of the Big Bang. The constant celestial wob, ebbing-and-flowing as the creative force contrasts in those fateful years of pure energy and matter.

As the energy builds, electrifying, stormy weight flashes all around, yet slowly, giving way to lighter reverberations. Coming higher – growing – closer to the light, creative forces colliding, swelling, almost falling in on themselves…cylindrical space-sound. Truly ambient, full of glowing, celestial sound, dropping off only slightly in places. Deep notes vibrated the length of the pews, sound powerful enough to move the densest of space. Fading out into the slow breeze of the sea; life blossoms.

Quickly ending in such lush notes , for me, illustrated the ephemeral existence of human life – even life in general – in comparison to the billions of years of quasi-spatial-raw-energy which has been battling away to create it; life is but a mere dot on the cosmic calendar.

On the whole a very meditative, celestial ambient piece with added contextual depth. Although slightly familiar in places and not as groundbreaking as some of his other works, it was a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. As this brings the series of Krankbrother’s ambient gigs at the Union Chapel to close in a stylish and ceremonial way, I sincerely hope this is just the start of these type of bookings from the now legendary promoters.

Experiment Intrinsic Under The Dome April 2018

Shrouded in mystery – talk of ethereal sounds and ambient all-night adventures – Experiment Intrinsic was on the lips of many of my most musically engaged friends. Far from the weekend warriors, these were the calibre of character who dance in the centre of the Venn diagram of art, culture, and esotericism; audiophiles, artists and fanatics alike. Despite containing little concrete information, fractured perspectives on the fabled three-day festival thrown last year left me decidedly excited, yet naively unsure what to expect. Being a fan of ambient, experimental, and ultimately introspective music, I have found it’s very scarcely represented in the London scene. The chill out rooms have faded away as the club spaces come under threat and the nights truly dedicated are few and far between; was this limited capacity, alcohol free event the entrance to the scene I have been searching for?

I enter the space, something shudders – intrinsic – what does that mean? Oxford says “Belonging naturally; essential” but I instantly questioned that… intrinsic? Do we live by the dictionary? What does this mean? Intrinsic music? Music is intrinsic? With the idea of the law of vibration I guess, but experiment intrinsic? I didn’t know and didn’t stop to dwell… a sudden wave like I’d never known flowed through, settling and comforting, yet exciting. The space fully saturated in spiritual aura, from the stepping foot inside you could instantly feel the emotional energy and power which has flown through it, leaving a mark for others to feel throughout time; a perfect location for such an in-depth and emotional listening experience.

Moving in around midnight I found my way to one of the many beanbag and blanket combos laid all around the grand hall; not that the blanket was needed as I ran hot and the space was already brimming with welcoming and warming energy. Greeted with vaporwave-esque spinning Greek statues and rolling waves projected at every angle, soundtracked by a soothing live violin. As the luscious sounds of Katabasis soaked into me, I instantly felt the grandiosity of the night to come. He bowed, plucked and made sounds on the violin in all manner of ways imaginable, then looped over mellow beats and bass notes. I’d never seen a violin used in such avant-garde, dexterous and resourceful way. Positioned dead centre of the space it was easy to affix all my attention, complimented with the increasing swell of the projections above. A harmonious and gentle introduction to the trip – doing as any good trip should – easing you in gently.

On an evening so heavily focused on deep introspection and meditation on sound, the quality was of paramount importance. A custom 360 degree Funktion One system was provided by Sova Audio, named Kosmos after the Greek view of the universe, a perfectly aligned yet complex and complimentary system. I initially thought this seemed rather grandiose for a sound system, however those thoughts were quickly abolished by the rich textures amplified and resonated around the room. Main-stayed by four F1 stacks in each corner, supplemented by an array of home surround sound-style (also Funktion One) satellite speakers, which I later found out made up the “360 channel”, controlled independently and allowing a selection of different panning options to project the sound in ways I’ve not experienced in a musical setting. The resulting 8-point system allowed the artists to layer over the top of the traditional “bed” of sound, creating truly multidimensional immersive soundscapes.

The gradual waft of ceremonial palo santo bark brought around a feeling of primitivity to the senses – familiar, yet exotic – bringing in the sounds of Melina Serser with very organic, tropical scenes. Vast expanses of jungle and tropical climate were breezing past beneath and above; swaying upon a tree top with parakeets chirping all around. This transition was also met visually with some larger than life projections of said tropical birds over the domed ceiling. The Uruguayan DJ’s style of natural ambience, combined with the perfect matching of visual stimulation was truly transportive for me, taking me not deep within myself, but far out to parts of the world I have not been, yet felt like I now knew so well. It makes perfect sense that her mixes’ self-stated intent are ‘to create a non-mental, trippy, positive-vibed mix that generates different feelings, intensities, and moods’, along with percussion intended to ‘remind us of our roots’.

Meandering down the tropical river, the current suddenly takes a sharp turn down a mysterious side stream with trees covering the skyline. It becomes very dark. Obscure knocks, cracks and swirls dart my attention all over the place as you see – at least you think – movement in the trees. Drip, drip, drop something splashes down my neck from overhead as the skyline is almost completely closed in now with overgrowth. I can’t quite picture what – or where – I recognise, it’s always changing? The acoustics change, aquatic noises start to echo as the sound of Baby Vulture soaks in. Known for an almost archaeological approach to digging, she arranges vastly different fragments of undiscovered sound into incredible, transportive tapestries. These sequenced and overlaid to create her own intricate sonic and sensorial universe.

Now, a journey into the underbelly, a darker space. Hollow wood knocks echo around. Is anyone there? Abstract, tormented groans warp and morph in similar fashion. Scratches and whines above initially quite jarring; and then personal. Is this me? Trying to get in? Or out? A slow melancholic 50s piano begins to play, I’m drawn deep inside sepia-tinted visions of childhood. As a typewriter gradually types keys of retrospective sadness I explore some repressed trauma. Slowly lifted with a drum beat splayed across an impressive spread of hand-struck skinned instrumentation. Finally met with elongated flutes – bringing people to sit up all around the room – as though Baby Vultures is calling you awake into her world; so soft and simple yet deeply satisfying. At this point I am back, wide eyed in the space and met with a beautiful silhouette of a ballet dancer looping effortlessly and seemingly endlessly; she is dancing around so harmoniously with the sound that I’m lost track in her movements. The transition out of this space is far more ceremonious then the entrance, a resounding ohm note sung deep from the throat transcends into full reverberation around the room, shaking the whole space with the full force of Kosmos.

E/Tape took the sound even darker into shamanic realms of cosmic energy, melding together multi-cultural voiceovers into a spherical soundscape; almost as though you were directly tapped into Earth’s communication centre. There were such a contrast of languages and situations in earshot – hailing from all around the globe – it evoked feelings of a mysterious omnipresence. Everything that was happening felt like it was travelling through this one hub, and reinforced feelings of ever-connected physiological, emotional, and technological networks. As the world currently is not a perfect utopia, more unsavoury transmissions came through. I distinctly remember what sounded like an Asian torture scene which sent shudders through me, and actually became quite terrifying as the clarity and depth of the sound transported me there. Although being in a loving space and feeling perfectly safe, at this point I had to excuse myself to let my mind relax a little. Lurking, chatting outside for probably too long I entered back into a powerful Kendrick Lamar monologue and found comfort in the familiarity.

Taking time out to recollect myself from such an epic transportation, I re-entered as Gyorgy Ono was setting up. A moniker of Georgio Oniani, a favourite artist of mine known for his legendary Creatures parties and diverse genre-spanning dance sets, as ecstatic and eclectic as they’re intense, often erratic. I was instantly struck by the deft use of Kosmos, devilled alien creatures snarled and snivelled around the room against the backdrop of a gentle gong. Drawing closer – almost in your ear now – I reach for the blanket as a layer of comfort, unsure what to expect. Gurgles, pops and hisses underlaying distant groans of pleasure and songs of sorrow, a 4-4 type thud draws in as shards of shrapnel and precious material glisten and twinkle in the sound. Fragments and sonic extractions are layered and looped – re-contextualised – into this new soundscape, giving new life to the archaic. A timelessness is present throughout the sound, these aren’t just old soundbites rehashed, they’re frequencies outside of time itself; far removed from even the concept.

As the creatures are back gnargling with greater intensity, an incredibly grand and ornate piece of music comes in – almost sounding like it’s made of gold, the whole room seems to turn that colour – regale sitars bring far eastern energy into the space. New life synths sing high, building pressure into a break-beat anticlimax, sounding like every one of these manic beats came from a different piece of raw metal, not a drum kit, every note sounded unique and innocent; truly captivating. With a succession of some of the most intricate and detailed music that had ever hit me – a vision – these alien creatures have seemingly found humanity’s musical archives and are exploring some of the most powerful music ever created; absolute tones — relics — which have been safely secured for centuries, are now being unleashed once again. I felt such a wave of appreciation and awe in hearing these sounds, many of which left me lost for words and with tears in my eyes, for how else was I going to experience this without the gremlins uncovering them?

It’s hard to fully re-imagine the feelings that Experiment Intrinsic made me feel. The whole evening was a melting pot of pure passion, appreciation, and sonic vibration. The crowd were some of the most interesting, unassuming, and gentle people I have been around in a long time. The attention to detail of the sound far exceeds anything I have experienced before and given me a benchmark for just how good things can sound, and how deep the experience can go. The journey and sequence of artists gave a real narrative to the night and allowed me to delve deep into many cosmic reverberations of the sound and pulses of my own being. If any of this sounds of interest to you, all I can do is urge you to venture to an experiment yourself. Intrinsic returns to Hackney, London on September the 15th and November the 17th, 2018, check out their website here.

Words – Edward Keef

Printworks 2018 – The Hydra

Printworks, nestled in an industrial estate in the Canada Water area, just south of the river, is a great example of urban regeneration. It is in the space of what was once West Europe’s largest printing facility responsible for printing the Metro and the London Standard and has now been transformed into a 6,000 capacity multi-dimensional venue. This reuse of existing archaic architecture for new cultural facilities is certainly pleasing in today’s throw away society. Although not as romantic as the squat-cum-clubs of the Berlin scene, Tresor and Berghain, it is still a powerful feeling. Along with the area, Printworks itself is constantly being improved and fine tuned, everything from sound and lighting configurations to crowd flow and drink purchasing systems (no more drinks tokens, yes) which makes me extra excited to witness the second season of events, having a complete overhaul of its audio visual equipment this time round.

For the opening party the Hydra took the realms in curating the dance. Long time legendary party coordinators in London, it’s no surprise they put together such an impressive line up. On entrance it was smooth, a short walk through the winding complex greeted by friendly staff cracking jokes and making you feel relaxed and not tense on edge like the airport style security of some London venues. The building opens up as you start to get a shear size of the space, illuminated with tube lighting installations and ambience with a growing bass thud, enticing you into the cavernous space of Printworks’ main Press Hall.


Photo: Jake Davis

The sound of Red Axes filled the room with surprising clarity, the improvements to the main room sound system are instantly noticeable; a lot fuller and richer sound through ought even at the bar area. It is a vast improvement to the patchy and often overworked and blast-y sound in the main room before. The duo were bouncing through with clean heavy hitting rolling techno making you forget it’s only early afternoon, playing late night club bangers with worldly acid tinges and playfulness of their productions, such as a the M.A.N.D.Y remix of “My Warehouse” by Roland Leesker. As they build with more cheeky percussive tunes, a hallmark of their sounds, teasing pan pots and tin drums over mystique sounding psychedelic chanting style vocals. The vibe got progressively psychedelic, imagine acid campfire, everyone gradually losing themselves in the over powered strobe lights and then dreamy twinkly percussions like you’re laying back looking at the night sky, then BAM pounding beat back to your feet. A very good set, although relied on cutaway drop a bit too much creating a sense of plastic tension rather than sincere, but still very textbook.

On occasions the lighting in the main room was very overwhelming and distracting, especially the ridiculous amount of lasers and strobes, which become disorientating at times. If they’re well engineered they’ll be fine, but nothing on the epic beam setup of last season. The full on lighting was almost blinding at times making it hard to navigate, but on the whole the crowd flow down the sides of the main hall allowed for good access without getting too crowded, with exits whenever you needed. Coupled with the more solid sound coverage, it was much less hectic than prior configurations.


Photo: Carolina Farualo – Fanatic Photography

Room 2, nestled away at the back of the Press Hall hosted nordic rave legends Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm for the later end of the day. I was instantly a little disappointed to find the crisp and clear VOID acoustics had been replaced by a much more boomy and overpowered system which did not sit well in the room, although it still did a fair job. Prins did not disappoint however, playing heavier than usual layering upbeat techno and powerful disco to cosmic effect. There was a lot of positive dancing and happy faces, upbeat ethereal party time; weaving in twinkly synths as though we were dancing in the stratosphere while laying on huge bass keeping us from drifting off in space. A tune that stuck out from his set was Bawrut’s remix of “Devozioni Dialettali” by Enzo Avitabile, although the main highlight had to be an almost 10 minute long rendition of “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer involving rolling Chicago hats and claps yet withholding the vocals, somehow more satisfying in simply respecting the magical arpeggiated beat that Giorgio Moroder concocted.

The finale came in the form of House legend Kerri Chandler, hailing from New Jersey, he steps up, straight into high energy drum roll double tension tempo claps slapping the slider to his own beat. He knows a party and truly turns it into one, expertly blending from big room techno bangers such as “Bang’t” by Geeeman to euphoric disco house “Let Love Enter” by The Disco House Lovers and high-energy punchy numbers like “Work It Out” by Karizma, to modern house classics like “If Only (Lehult)” by Liem and “Never Grow Old” by Floorplan. You could really tell he is a class above the rest the way he effortlessly swept away any lingering residue and fatigue from an afternoon of heavier tunes and filled the crowd with ecstasy and new energy. The set was accompanied by a huge bright disco ball, sparkling down the vast hall, a lighting fixture which was tasteful and added to the music. Overall a great way to end a solid selection of music and set everyone up for a beautiful rest of the weekend.

 

Words – Edward Keef


Photo: Jake Davis

Main photo courtesy of Carolina Farualo – Fanatic Photogprahy

Goldie @ The Roundhouse

Goldie, known by most as one of the pioneers of the Drum and Bass sound, famous for tracks such as “Inner City Life” and “Digital” along with the ground-breaking album Timeless, has been out of the game for some time; so when he announces his first proper studio album in nearly 19 years and accompanying live tour you can imagine the deep feelings stirred. Having not been too dialed into recent developments in the Drum and Bass scene, I went for a chat with long-term friend and DnB head to get his take on Goldie’s movements before the show. To sum up, his perspective was that “Goldie is trying desperately hard to stay relevant” and wrote his new live show off to be a gimmick. With this pretext I had mixed feelings leaving the house on a wet and windy Sunday evening.

These feelings were very quickly forgotten upon entering the roundhouse with ease; the smooth and polite door staff made you feel very welcome, right at home setting the tone for the show. An iconic venue to say the least, the dome spherical setup allows for great sound and clear view from most points.

The lights dimmed and the man himself exploded onto stage, Goldie for the first time taking centre stage, under the spotlight, rather than staying second to the music behind the decks. His new role suits well as he wastes no time introducing the new band consisting of three keys/synth/controllers, two drummers and two backing singers accompanied by a whole host of guests including Natalie Duncan, who Goldie showed great reverie for as his “musical muse”.

The band are extremely tight from the outset and it instantly becomes apparent just how many layers of sound go into creating the intricate soundscapes of Goldie’s music. Taking the humble position of percussion using an array of instruments (favouring the tambourine) Goldie bounces around the stage providing glowing encouragement and enthusiasm for each and every member of his new band; clearly super excited on this new venture, he breathes energy into the band and crowd a like.

The new album, The Journey Man, is the focus of the show and is flawlessly brought to life. The drummers for me were especially impressive never seeming to let up and miss a beat, keeping up the intensity for the duration of the show. The album is generally easy listening with a few too many slower songs smattered in between the classic Drum and Bass jams which hark back to his iconic sound from the nineties. However, when played out live with a more refined selection accompanied with live musicians, especially the baking vocalists and Natalie Duncan who were superb, the show cut the perfect balance between hype Drum and Bass and mellow sections to create a very accessible, enjoyable show for all. Not directly appealing to the OG Metalheadz, although Goldie made a point to share his respect and appreciation to the ‘old heads’, it is broadly a very enjoyable spectacle. A real highlight enjoyed by all was the rendition of “Inner City Life”, with Natalie Duncan singing impressively true to the original sound, sending shivers of nostalgia throughout the room.

Goldie has done so much for the Drum and Bass scene, and the electronic music scene alike; from helping mold the sound at Fabric many years ago to being a prominent key figure in helping the institution that helped kickstart his career remain open. I see this live show as an extension of that spirit, showcasing the true musicianship that goes into Drum and Bass music, which along with other electronic music doesn’t always receive the fullest appreciation and respect it deserves.

Words – Edward Keef

Photos courtesy of Chelone Wolf

Just Jack Halloween @ Motion

Both Bristol and DJ Harvey are key figures in the progression of the UK dance scene, the former a creche of iconic UK Bass sounds and the later a true legendary selector who consistently pushes the boundaries of both his epic parties and audacious personality. Having never been to or experienced either, I was chomping at the bit at a chance to tick both off the list.

The night was in Warehouse-esque club, Motion and hosted by Just Jack, a long running party from Bristol self dubbed as providing “Just Jacking House music”, who consistently orchestrate huge lineups of the best acts in dance music. That night was no different with big hitters Virginia, Steffi and Young Marco amongst others alongside DJ Harvey for his all-night set; a somewhat staple of his performances hawking back to the all-weekender dos which helped propel himself to notoriety during the 80s. DJ Harvey is a figure whose reputation proceeds him, dubbed as the “Keith Richards of the crossfader” and exclaiming he plays the music people want to hear describing it “You can’t understand the blues until you’ve had your heartbroken by a woman. And you can’t understand my music until you’ve had group sex on Ecstasy.”

As 12 rolled round and DJ Harvey stepped up into the booth, the main room began to swell as the mass of halloween creepers descended out of the gates of hell to enjoy the ensuing treat. Easing into the set nicely with palatable and accessible disco groovers, it took no time at all for any ghoulishness to turn to grins with the groovy disco tunes. There was no doubt about it, DJ Harvey plays the music people wanted to hear.  Keen not to get sucked up by his show and miss the plethora of other class acts I quickly moved on to catch the first of the two Panorama Bar residents, Virginia.

Hailing from Berlin and having a hand at DJin’, singing, songwriting and producing I didn’t know what to expect. Instantly hit by powerful vocal lead euphoric house that the whole crowd were really feeling, oozing positivity and inclusivity. Moving through into darker powerful house tones using some slick scratch back old school mixes; bringing the crowd into harder house grooves hitting deep but with such a smile and sense of euphoria, you could tell this was the music the Just Jack crowd especially love.

Back in the main room DJ Harvey had everyone bubbling along nicely, I took to the upper balcony to watch the spectacle unfold. Motion’s main room has a large cavernous feel and still manages to sound really decent, and the decor was glamorous indeed; huge disco balls supplemented with an array of lasers dancing the whole colour spectrum complemented DJ Harvey’s sounds effortlessly.

Fortunately for the freaks the night fell on the night of the clocks going back, excited by this extra playtime I managed to sneak in some cheeky Young Marco, who was having an absolute hurrah. Cranking the bass way up and playing some seriously enjoyable bass heavy, twiddling tweaky numbers physically shaking the jubilant crowd dancing excitedly around the front of the booth, you can tell he has real fun playing music and tapped into the playful spirit of an extra hour with the classic ‘Banana Boat Song’ by Harry Belafonte.

Steffi, the later of the Panorama Bar princesses was a refreshing change of pace going in hard with electro techno jabbers truly making the crowd jack like they’re rag-doles, flailing limbs flopping all around vibing to the electronic stabs as tho it’s an imperative groove, even if it wasn’t your sound there was no escape. A standout out tune that epitomised this was eerie ‘Huh’ from Randomer.

Journeying deeper into the evening DJ Harvey showed no signs of slowing down, subtly easing in acid numbers as though someone had spiked the punch, the crowd starting to feel a little something different before bam acid indulgence. This seductive sleight of hand upon his custom ARS 6200 rotary mixer is a true talent mastered over the years, highlighted with the track “Shift” by Redscape. Without staying in one sound for too long he builds on the energy for a euphoric finale and rides in the tango party vibes with the chorus “Streets are on fire”  in the Carl & Carol Jacobs track “Yonge Street Jam Band 1”, very welcoming and friendly uplifting dance music into grandiose moments mixing in “Pure Imagination”. By this time it feels as though the dancers almost know each other as the jive became increasingly more intimate, the quote I mentioned earlier now made complete sense.

 

Words – Edward Keef

Photos courtesy of Alastair Brookes

Sunfall Festival 2017

As the sun fell over Brockwell park there really was only one name on everyone’s lips, the legendary Larry Heard making his return to UK for the first time in 20 years. A gradual stream of people from various tents meandered down towards the Sunfall Main Stage to form an ocean of smiling faces as his gentle voice graced the mic. As humble as ever, he shared his delight to be here before unleashing one of the most emotional electronic music experiences I’ve ever witnessed. Getting things off to a sensual start with “Mystery Of Love”, Larry accompanied by long term collaborate Mr White eased the crowd through some of the deepest, most soulful house, washing away any prior feelings of angst after struggling through ridiculous queues and overt police presence at the door.  As the last stragglers started to fill in any gaps, friends were seen all around greeting each other with hugs and kisses after who knows how long apart. The feelings were gradually heating as the duo ramped up a gear concentrating their ethereal acid sounds, amalgamating in fever pitch during a rendition of one of Mr. Fingers most recent releases “Qwazars”. The crowd raised in elevation, elated spirits all round, hands on heads in disbelief, what actually is going on? There was such a smooth and direct flow of the set with generally little time to stop and take a breather, one solid stream the whole time accompanied by lo-fi graphics zooming through the depths of space tying the whole experience together. Moving on from this the last moments of sun were serenaded with a few choicely timed Mr White jams, “The Sun can’t Compare” and then “Aeroplanes” perfectly accompanied by a powerful low flying jumbo jet roaring overhead.

With the crowd suitably warmed up and feeling raised to Larry’s level, the duo took things on a spiritual tip, easing in with Glenn Undergrounds Thank You mix of “Praise”. The graphics followed suit, showing a man seemingly made of juicy fruit pulsing away to the beat. The general vibe from then on was truly religious, some commenting a little cheesy, but I was fully in it. It felt as though Larry was directing us to a higher power with lyrics “Become the light, feel the light!” to an emotional finale tied up with the ultimate classic “Can You Feel It”. What was one to do with themselves after that?! A moment to sit and decompress was much needed, but the herd soon started to migrate towards their night session of choice…

An undoubtedly righteous show, baptised in the deepest font of House, but the day wasn’t an all round fun time. Many a complaint from all manner of today’s methods of communication rang true with the theme of disorganisation and mammoth queues, some 4hrs to get in and 1hr for a beer. A few decisions such as metal gated queue for the bar and increased security searches around 2pm due to overzealous police could’ve definitely been avoided to ease pain, and it is a shame that Sunfall 2017 was plagued with tedious queues, questionable sound in the tents and familiarly overpriced beers…

This was a great shame as there were many stellar acts which went majorly unappreciated towards the start; Peggy Gou dressed in her red top and blue dungarees looking like Mario popping beats like shells, red preferably knocking Goombas out with a 1-2 click getting the revellers moving like they slippin frick banana slip, only a few people in bobbin in this dip.

One real highlight of the billing was the extended set from Theo Parrish, commanding the crowd with sincere g authority and riding through house riddims like a breeze. True vet. Driving into powerful bongo beats rhythms with kick and distant tribal wails dancing the tempo up and down, jogging pitch smooth like velvet.  Jazzy house numbers with wild synths into a sound cut out, the crowd hails “just play records!” While handling it like a smooth don papa he jumps straight into uplifting house getting the crowd straight back to dancing. Again it happens then slides up a gear with a techno slammer, expertly feathering the tempo down to a slow amble the crowd wobbles to the sub bass, literally in the palm of his hand.

The lack of powerful sound in the tents drew me to check the main stage where Romare was just stepping up with his very full and wholesome sound, with little to no bleed from other stages. Roland drum pads hitting very clean an powerful, lowkey jazz sax riding in, very hypnotic. Main stage had an absolute stack of martin audio subs, so punchy you feel it right there in your chest bringing power to Romare’s sound. Very nice array of live instruments all sounded nicely spaced out with room to breath and swirl, real feel good sensations showing how powerful live music is in bringing people together.

My life, my life in the sunshine! Everyone loves it, instant mood elevation, Roy Ayers raises the crowd in an beat. Very soulful vibes bobbin away, he took it at a darling pace while his band were incredibly tight, such power in the bassist you can tell these friends had been playing together a long time. Smooth grooves sliding through the low hanging sun, bass notes verb piano keys chime a soothing breather for the crowd as Roy vibraphones away, pumpin to full disco vibes super loose dancing ensue; tight fruity grooves. Craaazzzzyyy drum solo hype hype hype crowd feels it then the bassist finishes of in a cheeky another one bites the dust riff to close things off. A truly heartwarming live performance!

MCDE follows on this electricity with ease playing his trademark disco funk techno sound playing tracks like Straight Lines’ “Everybody Wants To Be A Star” and Cratebug’s “Acid Train”, he kept the movement flowing through expertly to Floating Points’ Live set, which was phenomenal as always.

Overall the Main Stage supplied many a choice musical experience and made for a thoroughly enjoyable day.

 

Words – Edward Keef

All photos courtesy of Dan Medhurst

Percolate x Mind Fundraiser @ Oval Space

It was a great party, for an even better cause; Mind are a UK charity dedicated to providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

On the whole a massive £9793.72 was raised – shout out to Percolate and all involved for helping to raise awareness and open up the conversation on mental health.

 

Peeping PercolatexMind Oval Space Leon Vynehall b2b bicep percolate mind oval space Hazy crowd percolate x mind oval space Crowd PercolatexMind Oval Space Cane Kane and Issace PercolatexMind oval space Don Killshaw PercolatexMind Oval Space

Love Thy Neighbour Oval space

 

 

More photos here

Floating Points Live @ Electric Brixton 

Floating points is a name you’ll probably be familiar with for songs like Vacum boogie and Nuits Sonores, really funky fresh dance tunes, with heaps of soul. This trademark sound was incubated through many intimate sessions at London’s Plastic People club, of which has sadly shit its doors at the turn of the year.

That being said, if you look further back into Dr Sam Shepard’s roots you see a highly educated neuroscientist with background in classical music, he started out as a choir boy in Manchester before learning to play an array of instruments. His debut album Elaenia is a cosmic culmination of Shepard’s varied musical career, placing it in genre hard pushed for comparison – spiritual jazz is the phrase which often comes up to describe it. You can read more about his album when he sat down with Katie Hutchinson from the Guardian 

The Live show was a great rendition of the album interspersed with some intense and interesting experimentation and improvisation, a highlight was a five minute techno drum an bass solo with mesmerising strobe lighting throughout. The whole orchestra were incredibly tight, even if they did look a little bored throughout some of the extended breakdowns – bringing out real highs and deep lows, You can fell how much Sam enjoys playing with the crowd.

Overall the gig was a good musical performance and Electric Brixton suited it well – my only criticism was that Shepard lacked much real showmanship such as introducing and closing words, which would’ve really help bring together such a disconnected and experimental set like this; Something he can definitely work on to take the show to the next level from musical expression to spiritual transcendence.

If you enjoyed the album then you should do all you can to try an catch an upcoming live show, if you prefer his older releases and Dj sets then you may be left a little wanting without that persistent funky rhythm to dance to.