After enjoying part of the London Contemporary Music Festival at Bold Tendencies, I returned to the car park for We Can Elude Control curated by Paul Purgas. Because I’d pre-booked my ticket and printed it out, I was ushered straight in, past the queueing people, which always makes you feel treasured and important, even if the conferred distinction is transitory and meaningless. Part of the appeal of this venue is the view and I noticed a derelict factory on one side, past the railway line. It sported lots of mobile phone masts, which seemed like a desultory end for a once-productive building. [Looking again, I noticed the projection screen on the roof and later on there was an open-air screening, so it isn’t just an antenna mounting point, after all]
On the roof, in a section below the bar, there is a partial recreation of Derek Jarman’s Dungeness garden, which I’ve seen but haven’t written about yet.
Down one level to the same venue as before, this time with a miniature bar specifically for sound art people. Amongst the crowd there was a man with a shirt covered in lighthouses and what you would have to call a fashionable moustache, the first of many I saw that weekend. The first act was Sybella Perry and Ian Woods. She was operating the table of devices manually, producing throbbing oscillations, while he stood a few yards away, facing her. They communicated via glances, to indicate passage changes.
Before the next performance, someone walked up to a group standing near me and exclaimed:
Oh it’s just the fscking label bosses. The fscking head honchos.
(I’ve redacted the Anglo-Saxon particles for daintier readers)
Peder Mannerfelt produced what felt like audio interference patterns, and two ladies were induced to dancing thereby. It was during his set that I first noticed that the lightbulbs behind the stage were dimming in time with the bass thumps. An odd aspect of this venue is the lack of intersection between the people who just come for the bar at the top of a car park and the people like me who come for the Art. At this point, two people I assumed to be in the former category arrived, looked at each other and laughed, in the manner of people not quite fully engaged with what they’d seen. Mannerfelt produced that effect I always like of the gradual resolution of change in where the perceived beat lies. He abruptly walked off at the end and was a little bit naughty, overrunning his slot in his enthusiasm.
Anna Zaradny’s performance was much more orchestral, with gradual timbre shifts. She had a laptop and held a special controller in her hand, that I couldn’t identify. She successfully masked the sound of the screeching trains passing by.
Lee Gamble and John Wall appeared to have some trouble with their laptops, because there was quite a delay, filled with clicking and frowning. Their performance was more fragmented than the others, with more prominent use of samples. I thought they had a third person to the left, at mixing desk, but he turned out to be Miles Whittaker, the final act, preparing. When he did appear, he had a lot of old-style rack modules and what looked like an analogue filter, constantly tweaked, Unlike the previous artists he had a consistent beat, which provoked cheering and dancing in the crowd that had mainly swayed and nodded up to this point. I think one of his devices crashed, judging by his swift power cord action. As the headliner, he was accorded the privilege of an encore, and the moustache man I mentioned earlier was vigorously nodding his head, while the crowd whooped when a rhythmic sequence appeared after a breakdown.
Just to complete the evening, a lady with a tiny poodle walked around near the end.
Would this count as the mysterious “electro-acoustic” music that they were always talking about on Mixing It in the nineties? I don’t know, but I did enjoy it. A great venue for such experiments.