Curator: Andrea Parker
Music: The Sprawl & Koenraad Ecker
Reviewer: Peter Jacobs
Inventive is an evening of experimental electronic music and visuals curated by British producer and DJ Andrea Parker and presented as part of The Lowry’s digital performance programme. The two performances presented combine cutting edge electronic music experimentation with striking visuals to create an immersive part-gig, part-art-installation.
The Sprawl is a collaboration between London artist/DJs Mumdance (Jack Adams) and Logos (James Parker) and Berlin-based Italian Nino Pedone, who works as ShapedNoise. Their 45-minute set is a grinding assault of aggressive drone-core, which sounds like urban life compressed into a relentless soundwave and transmitted directly into your cranium. It never quite evolves into a beat, shimmering menacingly in the deafening silence between techno and machine noise, and is only melodic because your brain needs to somehow process the aural assault into a more digestible form.
The visuals are provided by an intense, downward, rainbow laser array that dances brilliantly across their heads and workspace as they mysteriously manipulate the sound. It is a striking, powerful experience that is sometimes unbearably relentless.
Koenraad Ecker is a London-based Belgian sound sculptor. His 45-minute set demonstrates a different kind of intensity. His work – in collaboration with visual artist Yannick Jacquet – combines text, film and lighting as an immersive environment for Ecker to create his diverse and considered soundscape. Although he plays with musicality more than The Sprawl and there is a more ‘conventional’ element to the visuals, the experimentation is no less. Ecker’s work – in combination with the visuals and the narrative clues in the text – seems to make the silence between things vividly audible. The overall effect is cinematic but as if the background details have been dramatically brought to the foreground: you see the things normally within the distance or visual periphery; you hear the vibrations and electrical hum in the space between people and objects. It dramatically realigns your perception of the world as things familiar become indistinct, strange and difficult to grasp.
Both performances are given the benefit of superb crystalline sound which is super loud. The only thing that jars slightly – apart from the speaker cabinets being tested to their limits – is the cosy conventionality of the theatre itself, which neither quite fulfils the gig or the installation vibe of the event. Having said that, the Lowry’s digital performance programme is a fantastic addition to their offering and continues to provide new experimental performance in an otherwise ‘mainstream’ venue, and it is important to keep pulling at those commercial threads to discover new work that might give clues to future possibilities. For example, Mumdance is DJing at Manchester’s new experimental club venue The White Hotel at the end of June.
To see him in collaboration at The Lowry is therefore perhaps significant not only in terms of his career but also in introducing new artists and performance to a venue that is clearly battling its own commercial onus to challenge and inspire.
Reviewed on 24 June 2018 | Image: Contributed