On the 3rd of November the Arnolfini hosted an evening comprised of three ‘electronic projects’ unified under the theme of audio-visual performance. For the headline act, Emptyset, the relation of visuals to music was not only appropriate but analogous to the production of recent work. Raime, a seemingly unstoppable duo of contemporary industrial musicians, showcased their emotive and impassioned audio-visual live show, whilst Bugbrand attempted to frame his manipulation of music signals through the use of an oscilloscope.
Tom Bugs [Bugbrand] explained his objective from the outset; the breaking down of clock signals to create polyrhythms. His forty minutes of signal manipulation and audio oscillation opened with a humble electronic signal, swelling into an autonomous mass of sound, reacting to and being undercut by drum parts. Whilst this was an interesting idea, the polyrhythms he was trying to create were perhaps not as pronounced as he might have hoped.
Raime were undisputedly overpowering. Presenting material exclusively from their forthcoming double 12” on Blackest Ever Black, Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead opened with the unreleased Soil and Colts, an ominous and threatening passage of choral melancholy and roiling guitar punctuated with violent percussion. Onwards through Your Cast Will Tie, and the rest of their performance, the visuals were a welcome departure from the usual linkage of sound to image, and image to sound. The audience were allured by super slow motion instances of thrown dirt, dancing fire, and stark homoeroticism all set across the backdrop of a hollow industrial wasteland; this was nothing less than beautiful.
Emptyset were the most technically impressive of the three. They presented a performance that looked as much back as it did forward, pulling material from their debut through to their latest on Raster-Noton, where they have found a natural home alongside the likes of Alva Noto. James Ginzberg and Paul Purgass passed their music through an electromagnetic induction loop around an old TV set, producing extremely distorted images of static and shapes. This fitted to their at times danceable, at times overwhelming music. Their performance oscillated between renditions of dance tracks Completely Gone, and Gate 3, presented in a new context, and underlining the ornate details of their unforgiving music. It was pleasing to hear Emptyset’s punishing sounds on such a powerful sound system; an experience entirely fitting for a group who devote as much attention to the technique of music making as to the content of their output,
Altogether, each act was given a unique meaning being presented in such a way. Visionary Kingdom succeeded in unifying a group of artists who, in today’s mire of musical dearth, serve as a reassuring reminder that the combination of attention to detail and musical experimentation makes a sensory combination worth witnessing.
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Words: Gareth Thomas + Thomas Painter
Photo: Justin Yockney
Read our feature on Visionary Kingdom here