Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Review // Future Everything Festival

Afternoon! Late last month I was sent down to Manchester's Future Everything Festival for Crack Magazine. Held in various venues of theatres, basments and galleries, Future Everything marries the look at digital innovations across art, music, sport and a whole range of diverse subjects. I caught Evian Christ's curated evening at The RNCM and Darkside at The Ritz, which you can read over here- or below for the full copy, penned in collaboration with Joe Goggins. You can also read it in print by picking up Issue 40 with Pixies on the cover!
Future Everything @ Various Venues
FutureEverything’s premise is one that favours all things forward-thinking. Taking place across Manchester over the course of seven days, their mission to host shows from contemporary music artists at the forefront of innovation as well as art exhibitions, conceptual events and industry conferences is a vision to behold. Crack’s FutureEverything experience kicks off on Thursday night with an appearance from Darkside. Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s collaborative project brought an eclectic bout of prog-imprinted, tension building electronica to the back end of 2013. With mirror-led visuals that breeze beams of darkness through to a spectrum of colours, the experience feels somewhat transcendental, moody yet sanguine, as melodies and bodies melt into one another, accentuating the deeper levels that cross over live on tracks such as Golden Arrow and Paper Trails.   
 With the city’s Royal Northern College of Music welcoming in an Evian Christ-curated evening, held in its seated theatre, there was uncertainty as to whether or not the formal space would enhance the atmosphere or, alternatively, swallow it whole. TCF, a blackened-out figure before us, projects swirling bass that immerses with his film-score-worthy-weird manipulations. His brave efforts set off abstractly and just a throw too-far leftfield for many in attendance. London’s Visionist immediately follows, marrying his ghostly take on radical, nocturnal grime. A glacial, dubbed-out half hour ensues, forming the most club-worthy set of the night. It’s admirable to watch how this plethora of future-thinking artists adapt with the theatrical environment, especially with the aid of artist Emmanuel Biard, whose lighting spectacular set to the abrasive elements of Evian Christ’s set provides the most amazing part of the evening. 
To say that Julianna Barwick’s set at the RNCM Theatre is more than the sum of its parts would be an enormous understatement; she spends the 40-minute slot stood behind a keyboard, but in truth she barely uses it. It’s the mess of samplers and pedals at her disposal that form the crux of the performance, as she creates a veritable cornucopia of lush soundscapes using little more than her own voice, generously looped. Every time the mass of loops threatens to bubble over into cacophony, she dials them back down in impressively soothing fashion. Tim Hecker’s headline performance, meanwhile, couldn’t be further removed. 
 He’s just barely discernible amongst the shadows as he takes the stage in a pitch-dark theatre, and you spend the first few minutes wondering when the visuals are going to kick in – only to realise, eventually, that there aren’t any. Hecker delivers his entire set in almost total darkness, and it’s a complementary environment; his dark, foreboding sound, often beautiful on record, is utterly punishing live. We spotted a fair few heading for the exits early during a brutal, reverb-laden opening ten minutes. What they missed was a tantalising reinvention of what live electronic music should represent. Enjoyable seems like the wrong word, but exhilarating? Absolutely. 
 And as in previous years, a major part of FutureEverything’s remit was to explore how we interact with sound, and to experiment with it; it wasn’t simply a case of putting on live events. In keeping with that, one of the major installations at the vast ‘pop-up urban experiment’ City Fictions project was BUQS, which saw ninety Ubiquitous Electronic Lifeforms scattered across the city. The devices – produced, as demonstrated at New City Square, using 3D printers – were constructed of plastic casing and contained sensors and motors that allowed them to pick up basic information about their environment and relay them sonically, encouraging direct interaction with the BUQS with user-unique results. Their resemblance to giant insects was intended to conjure up imagery of ‘infestation’, with the suggestion that the units were able to ‘hack’ the landscape, leaving spectators with the resonant reminder that in urban environments, often the most omnipresent technology is near-invisible. 
We entered FutureEverything with a desire to broaden our horizons, and left with shattered preconceptions and with fresh ideas buzzing around in our minds. Looking at the forecasts of digital culture, proving that music is continuing to explore exciting, uncharted new territory and even handing out 130,000 copies of a fictional newspaper issue from 2018, FutureEverything is both inspiring and, at times, somewhat overbearing. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s that the future is coming, so we might as well embrace it.

Words By Yours Truly & Joe Goggins X
 Images by Gary Brown and Matt Eachus

Monday, 7 April 2014

Feature // Skiddle April Electronic Listings

April's listings have to be some of my favourite of the year. Where Easter used to mean chocolate eggs for breakfast on a Sunday, it now means an extra excuse to dance your legs into a state of numbness all in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can read all about my picks for Skiddle over here (Or huuugely unedited below, this month), including a run-down of Stones Throw-er Jon Wayne's hotly anticipated UK dates, as well as Andrew Weatherall playing a 'rave in a cave' for 4/20 (!!!).
Skiddle Electronic listings- April
As April and Easter rear their delectable confectionary-shaped heads around the corner, it seems that the North’s showcases this month are anything but fluffy and plucked from a pastel palette. If you planned a quiet one in pawing over your dissertations or catching up on that paperwork (I did until I composed this very piece…), then the club spaces throwing out the masculine chiefs and underground sizzlers, say otherwise. 
 With the intrusion of the significant LA hip-hop label Stones Throw Records, quite literally submerging the North this month, the opportunity to catch label boss Peanut Butter Wolf in the intimate setting of Leed’s Hi-Fi Club on April 4th, rings as a set that you’d literally kick yourself for being stupid enough to miss. Also making one of it’s UK premiers is the ‘Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records’ feature documentary, as Gorilla’s spacious club area in Manchester is converted into an independent, mini-cinema for the eve come the 3rd. Expect popcorn, hotdogs if you’re lucky, and definitely never-before-seen interviews with the likes of Snoop, Common and Tyler The Creator, talking about the surrounding birth of the influential imprint, over to the growth of hosting one of the most well-respected artist rosters and releases in hip hop. Don’t be thinking it’s all over though, as Jon Wayne plays his debut Manchunian show later on April 30th, bringing the illest beats, soulful undertones and fiercely intelligent flow to Soup Kitchen’s basement. With a little helping hand from local bad boys Metrodome and Sparkz paving the way with their take on classics the only way they know how, it’s set to be a hazed-out, impeccable month. 
 Fancy your bass a whole lot more beefy and home-grown? Then Butterz aficionado Royal-T heading up BPM at The Roadhouse should add a slick of oil to your motor, before Slew Dem veteran JT The Goon orchestrates his instrumental take on nu-grime over at Joshua Brooks. It’s not even close to over yet though, as Youngsta then takes on a rubble-shaking, 90-minute set at the under-renovation Antwerp Mansion thanks to Hit & Run. It looks like you better get your Monday morning sick voice practice in now, whilst I take a look what’s accumulating for the house heads and techno terrors. 
 Moving things along to our old favourites Chibuku and to slow things down after their insane Andy C-headed session in March, Good Friday will bring Columbia’s Shift K3y and Radio 1’s late night chameleon B Traits together, for one of the city’s top holiday bashes. Heading further afield and with Chester’s The Live Rooms turning up the dial with the mid-tempo, deep sounds of Black Butters duo Gorgon City, Ibiza-head Josh butler steps-toe-to-toe in an outer-city clash this month, flaring up behind the decks at Frodsham’s Mersey View. Feel like you need to breathe into a paper bag should you step out of anywhere remotely central, never mind a place where the Tesco Extra’s don’t even stay open till 11pm? Don’t worry, me too but luckily Leeds have our backs should we ever be so silly again. Glasgow’s Optimo nights have gained momentum for over a decade now, spinning out Sunday fun-days’ into a hedonistic powwow of diversity in Scotland, so their three-hour set at Wire should tide you over to Theo Parrish’s Easter Thursday doubled, six hour extension at Nest. 
Golden Ticket 
 Cream-affiliate 303 are making the necessarily bold leap away from traditional venues that hanker most regular evenings in Liverpool, bringing their ‘rave in a cave’ treat of accommodating eclectic master Andrew Weatherall, in the unique Williamson Tunnels heritage site. It’s an wonderfully varied venture that puts-to-shame the saturated Warehouse-venue market the North over, whilst certainly not standing dubious from providing attendees with the rousing, scintillating evening they deserve; Plus it’s all held on 4/20 and if you need your arm twisting any more, then hey, even Lauren agrees

Words by Yours Truly X