For a short period of time last night you could have been excused not knowing what century we were living in, what with Public Image Limited blasting out the bar speakers downstairs and upstairs, before the performance, The Human League’s Reproduction album was happily playing away followed by tracks by Morton Subotnick and Alvin Lucier. Plus the fact I could see 2 Korg MS20s a Roland MC202, EMS VCS3 and a Roland System 100M.
What brought me back to now was seeing new modular synths consisting of a mish mash of euro modules (Livewire, Harvestman, Doepfer, DIY) a few laptop computers and a Buchla 200e. I wanted to look at this room forever!
The night started off with an amazing low end rumble courtesy of Stephen Richards on his Roland MC202. It was great to see the MC202 being used differently.
Next up was Mathew Brown and friend on 2 Korg MS20’s a Korg sequencer and a new NI Maschine, again an amazing use of the Korgs , great transient glitchy stabs of sound, thwaps and clicks.
Steve Williams (EMS VCS3) and Steven Hayes (Roland System 100M) played a pulsed set of off kilter minimal techno sounds with EMS frequency screeches.
Cray was next up using a combination of Buchla 200e and computer. Its best to describe Cray’s sound as Avant electronics, think not quite a wall of noise and not quite pure Music Concrete. What followed was panning transient sounds, and what I can only describe as futuristic engines starting up and slowing down, with creaking sounds and so much more.
Abre Ojos was next ( Euro modular)for an immersive drone set. Its great to sit down and phase out Abre’s Ojos. Sounds slowly build up with droning vocals to creep up and wash over you. Would be great to hear it in a cave!
VICMOD Ensemble were the last performance for the night. 4 Modular synths, what looked like a very early proto EMS VCS3 that Don Banks could have owned and assorted electronic boxes. This was a completely different sound to their last performance. Each member started 3 minutes apart giving the audience more indication as to who was playing what. It wasn’t the wall of sound I was expecting instead it sounded like a futuristic society of nanobots having a conference. A great performance.
All round the night was a huge success and any night where you only see synthesis is a great one in my books. There should be lots more of it!
Photos Simon Birds and Graeme Trott