Alpha-ville 2011: LIVE in review

// LIVE Day 1 //

Opening Concert with Jacaszek, Svarte Greiner & Old Apparatus

Old Apparatus were the first act to open Alpha-ville 2011 at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation and as the first bass frequencies hummed through the dark upstairs space, there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement. Old Apparatus set matched visuals sourced from dated scientific and educational videos were scored by large slabs of abstract sound, expertly woven to create a warm, dark atmosphere. Norwegian musician Svarte Greiner followed with a similarly ambient set that combined dark images with sampled acoustic instruments, classically arranged to blend melodies and electronic sounds into an ethereal and transient performance. As one half of the duo Deaf Center, Erik K. Skodvin is one of Norway’s most treasured sons and the founder of the prestigious record label Miasmah. This heritage was clearly on show.

Finishing the opening concert was a rare and extraordinary performance by Polish acoustic-ambient performer Jacaszek (pictured) using live instrumentation (harpsichord and flute) sampled, looped and reworked to develop a moving and rich soundscape. Using an array of hardware and software, Michał Jacaszek sculpted a hugely detailed sound that brought baroque music alongside modern ambient electronica, finishing a beautiful and moving series of musical works.


 Picture: Nye Williams

// LIVE Day 2 //
XOYO with Pantha Du Prince, Jon Hopkins, Max Cooper, Andy Stott, Illum Sphere & Youandewan

Split between two floors, XOYO was gently warmed upstairs by the talented Youandewan, mixing deep house tracks, as well as a number of his own productions. Following Ewan, Andy Stott performed a detailed and dark live set that drifted and rose in intensity, the recording of which is available to listen here courtesy of Red Bull Music Academy.

As the crowds arrived Ryan Hunn (a.k.a. Illum Sphere) performed a powerful live set in the cavernous bottom half of the venue. Illum Sphere set was stunning thanks to the work of EMN (one of Manchester’s most talented visual artists) who created a stunning 3D visual set with 3 projectors and a net. The distinctly hypnotic visuals made use of Illum Sphere’s bass-laden rhythms and harsh synth stabs to build an intense performance.

Jon Hopkins (pictured) created a stripped-back pace with the use of chaos pads to punch snare claps over a beautiful harmonic ambience. Jon’s movements were as compelling as the songs he created under the glow of the visuals created by Dan Tombs (the first time the two have collaborated together), resonating with an appreciative crowd. Upstairs, Max Cooper performed a live using Ableton and an APC40 controller to pull elements from his productions toward a crescendo of slinky bass sounds, vocoder growls and cascading build ups.

Finally, Pantha Du Prince performed a deep and resonating techno set decorated with, bells, chimes, strings and glockenspiels. His sound moved forward with powerful loops, then pausing for air and allowing the tonal ambience reminiscent of many of his tracks on his album “Black Noise” to wash over the crowd before plunging back into 4/4 techno to complete an amazing night and morning of cutting edge music and memorable experiences.


Picture: Vladimir Studenic

// LIVE Day 3 //

Hearn Street (Factory 7) with Matthew Dear, Jennifer Cardini, Kangding Ray, Anstam, Emptyset & Truss

On the third night, opening the brick and steel warehouse dubbed Factory 7 on Hearn Street, Bristol-based Emptyset debuted in London. Crafting a bass-laden set and drawing on dub and techno elements, the duo managed to integrate feedback, samples and drawn-out spatial recordings together to form their sound. Emptyset performed live with 3 artists who used old Television sets and feedback to create powerful visuals to match the intensity of the set. Also making a London debut was Kangding Ray, performing an audio/ visual rearrangement of his album released on Raster Noton titled “OR”. There were intense moments of musical experimentation, which matched layers of different instrumentation, including drum machines, guitars, pads and strings to form a powerful orchestration.

In between sets, London-based DJ Tom Carter (Trnk) filled the space with a selection of ambient records before 50 Weapons’ (Modeselektor’s record label) signee ANSTAM met the right balance of humour and experimentation with an equally dark and dubby set. Perc Trax signee Truss followed with a pounding selection of records narrated visually by Alpha-ville’s graphic designer Graphset, before inspirational DJ and producer Jennifer Cardini performed. Jennifer’s reputation for interesting and carefully crafted techno sets has grown in London. Playing a smattering of tracks from the Cologne-based label Kompakt as well as hints of things to come, Jennifer took the crowd on a fantastic journey comprising old and new, soft and hard, danceable and original.

Taking the night to close, Ghostly International’s Matthew Dear (pictured) is best known as experimental pop artist and bandleader, having shaped the genre of minimal techno with a number of productions under multiple aliases. Matthew’s set made use of his unique driving techno sound, carefully playing with the crowds  anticipation to gather pace and move the dancefloor by dropping the kick drum at precisely the right moment. His performance was the suitable finisher to an extraordinary three nights of cutting edge audio and visual performances from around the globe.


 Picture: Martin Prado
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