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HOWE finds human emotion within machine intelligence in ‘A Yellow Flower’

A sentient machine decodes a sequence of images in order to understand humanity’s relationship with nature.

Working across electronic production and audiovisual art, HOWE channels his love of cinema and the moving image into atmospheric compositions and evocative video work, incorporating crystalline sound design, text-to-speech software and emotive samples into a singular, textural sound. For his first AV work of the year, HOWE pulls focus on what he describes as “a sentient machine, gathering an understanding of humankind’s relationship with nature through decoding a sequence of images.”

Washes of elongated vocal ambience, staccato keys, computer-generated polyphony and robotic spoken word soundtrack a rapid succession of wildlife photography and digital portraits, as though we are bearing witness to a real-time process of cognitive mapping, with our sentient machine plotting emotional connections between planetary stock imagery.

The project follows the release of ‘Rain’, a serotonin-inducing, Rustie-chanelling ode to Destiny’s Child, and Fallen, an EP for Higglers Records. HOWE has also collaborated with GAIKA, GLOR1A and was a guest on Fact favourite object blue’s show on Rinse FM.

‘A Yellow Flower’ is out now, and is taken from the artist’s forthcoming EP, Forever, which arrives on Higglers on February 23. You can find HOWE on Instagram.

A Yellow Flower Credits:

Director & Music – Henry Howe
DOP – Oliver Wilson
Art Direction – Becky Phillips
3D Character Design – Benny Bowls

Watch next: Sasha Smirnova & nara is neus play with memory and digital reproduction in Don’t You Recall?

LUX: a’strict – Starry Beach

Inside the immersive digital work of the South Korean media art collective.

a’strict is a South Korean artistic collective formed out of digital design company d’strict. Comprised of motion graphic designers, visual artists, programmers and system engineers, a’strict’s stunning digital artwork utilises d’strict’s expertise in cutting-edge technologies to create immersive artistic experiences, both in public and gallery settings.

The piece that inspired the formation of a’strict was WAVE, was a public video art installation created by d’strict that recreated a wave crashing onto a large-scale wraparound LED display on top of Coex Artium in Seoul’s Gangnam district. The work went live in May 2020, and its immersive, illusory effect captivated the city at what was a particularly challenging time due to the global pandemic.

a’strict’s debut exhibition at Seoul’s Kukje Gallery in August 2020 took their wave concept to new levels of immersion with the premiere of their work Starry Beach. Currently showing at LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art, a new exhibition co-curated by Fact and SUUM Project at London’s 180 Studios, Starry Beach is a multi-sensory installation that invites the audience to a surreal space full of luminous, surging waves resembling a brilliant, starlit night. Accompanied by the sound of crashing waves, the high-definition projections punctuate the pitch-black surroundings with a unique visual rhythm.

In this film, a’strict talk about the group’s structure and creative ethos, as well as the inspiration behind Starry Beach. “We started from a space of nothing and drew our own version of beach,” they say, “only using the essential elements of waves, the physical properties and sound.”

LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art is open until February 20 at London’s 180 Studios, 180 The Strand. For opening times and tickets visit 180 The Strand’s website.

Watch next: LUX: Julianknxx – Black Corporeal (Breathe)

Fact Mix 842: Fiyahdred

An epic, two-hour journey through the wide variety of music that has informed the south London producer, artist and DJ’s sound over the years.

Last year the artist formerly known as Bamz exploded onto Hyperdub under a new moniker and with an omnivorous, explosive sound. Following two essential tracks for Future Bounce and a killer collaboration with Scratchclart with The Classix 2, the south London producer, artist and DJ now known as Fiyahdred shared the irresistible Anyway, five shapeshifting, smoked-out tunes splicing the swing and swagger of UK funky with elements of amapiano, dancehall and hip hop. That project’s title track, ‘Anyway (Do It)’, was amongst our very favourites from last year, a high-sprung, low-swung and sultry ode to smoke that cements the producer as one to keep a close eye on in 2022.

For their Fact mix, Fiyahdred spins us on an epic, two-hour journey through the expanse of sounds that have informed their production over the years. “This mix is my way of showing gratitude to all the wonderful music that has shaped me and how I listen to and create music,” they explain. “Tunes that have been shared with me by my family, friends and all the amazing beings I have met throughout my musical journey.”

They bounce between classic tracks and fresh sounds, from dancehall interpolations, drum machine disco and sultry amapiano to feverish deep house, seismic gqom and ecstatic zouk, all via “the bounciest selections, bodacious basslines and fiyah blends.” In short, it’s an absolute joy from start to finish, a bolt of blazing energy we’re doing our best to bring with us into 2022.

You can find Fiyahdred on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. Anyway is out now.

Tracklist:

Lady Saw – ‘Hice It Up
Gotan Project – ‘Arrabal –
Sean Paul – ‘Can You Do the Work’ [Feat. Ce’Cile]
Alewya – ‘Sweating’
Nessa Preppy x Travis World – ‘Issa Snack (Do This Riddim)’
Abidoza & Major League DJz – ‘Jolene (Amapiano Remix)’ [Feat. Benji Flow]
Musa Keys – ‘Vula Mlomo’ [Feat. Sir Trill & Nobantu Vilakazi]
Sha Sha – ‘Sing It Back’ [Feat. DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small]
UNLIMITED SOUL & DBN Gogo – ‘Awoa’
Patrice Rushen – ‘To Each His Own’
Fiyahdred – ‘Bottle Riddim’
Gwen Guthrie – ‘Outside In the Rain’
Peggy Gou – ‘Gou Talk’
Patrice Rushen – ‘Forget Me Nots’
Karen Nyame KG – ‘Koko’ [Feat. Mista Silva]
Can’t Lose – ‘Can’t Lose’
Fiyahdred – ‘Anyway (Do It)’
Scratcha DVA & :3lON – ‘Flex’
Ikonika – ‘No Way’
DJ Mellowbone SA & DJ SUPA D – ‘Chifta (Original Mix)’
Bucie – ‘Amadoda (Blackcoffee Remix)’
Clara Hill & Vikter Duplaix – ‘Paper Chase’
Quentin Harris – ‘Travelling’ [Feat. Cordell McClary]
Aleksandir – ‘I Used To Dream’ (Ikonika Remix)
Kedr Livanskiy – ‘Sky Kisses (На танцполе)’
Ralf GUM – ‘Complicated (Raw Artistic Soul Main Mix)’
River Ocean – ‘Love & Happiness (Yemaya y Ochun)’ (12 ý Club Mix) [Feat. India]
Culoe De Song – ‘The Bright Forest’
Da Capo – ‘Umbovukazi’
Scherzo Africa & Zintle – ‘Yours To Command’ (BiG R Remix)
DJ Tira & Bubzin – ‘Won’t Let Go’ [Feat. Musa]
DJ Sdokov – ‘World On Fire’
Precision Productions & Kerwin Du Bois – ‘Bacchanalist (Antilles Riddim)’
Bucie Nqwiliso – Your Kiss’ [Feat. AT Sikhosana]
Dennis Ferrer – ‘How Do I Let Go’
Vanco & Afro Warriors – ‘Dancer’ [Feat. Charlene Lai]
Omagoqa – ‘Gqom 808’
Bunji Garlin – ‘Differentology (Ready for the Road)’
Wookie – ‘Back Up, Back Up, Back Up’
Dennis Ferre – ‘Destination’
Zebra Katz – ‘Ima Read’ [Feat. Njena Reddd Foxxx]
Hardhouse Banton – ‘Colonel’
Gordon Edge – ‘Set Your Body Free (Original Mix)’
DJ Gregory – ‘Attend 1’
Nathan Haines – ‘Squire For Hire (Capricorn Mix)’
Bucie – ‘Get Over It’
Hardsoul – ‘Self Religion (Believe In Me)’ (Hardsoul Reconstruction) [Feat. Fierce Ruling Diva]
Zafé Chō – ‘Tikitak Tikitak’

Listen next: Fact Mix 841 – Yung Singh

Sasha Smirnova & nara is neus play with memory and digital reproduction in Don’t You Recall?

A somnambulant trip through fictional landscapes created with 3D scans of physical locations, set against the sounds of electroacoustic musician nara is neus.

Don’t You Recall? originated as a live audiovisual performance at the 2021 edition of MIRA Festival, Barcelona’s foremost digital arts festival, which saw electroacoustic musician nara is neus join forces with visual artist Sasha Smirnova. Set against selections from nara is neus’s new album ansatz, the performance consisted of a surreal journey through a series of computer-generated landscapes, patched together from 3D scans of the same physical spaces in which the sound was recorded. Melding reality and fiction, the two artists seek to open up discussion about the nature of digital reproductions of our surroundings in an attempt to define and develop the creative and democratic potential of emerging visual technologies.

“The democratisation of 3D scanning technology brings new creative possibilities,” explains Smirnova. “At the same time, it has popularised capturing of reality as a means of entertainment. For example, the 3D scanning app Polycam allows users to upload scans to the cloud and share it with other app users. In the same way as social media, the content sharing of this app is based on likes and followers. Following this development, widely available 3D scanning could change how we create and share memories and moments. If so, what would be the definition of 3D-scanned places? Would they be seen as just copies of reality? Or would they have values and characteristics to be categorised as new places altogether?”

In this single-channel iteration created for Fact, Smirnova guides us through three of these environments, each an intricate assemblage of CGI architecture and 3D scans – a chilly vista reminiscent of snow-capped mountains, a delicate sky cavern shifting in and out of phase with an aurora borealis and the skeletal remains of a building, adrift on the waters of a geometric alpine lake. At once fantastical and familiar, like the open world of a video game you used to play as a child, Don’t You Recall? plays with memory and digital reproduction, challenging preconceptions of quotidian space.

Gesturing towards a near future in which you might stumble across a 3D-mapped reproduction of the street you live on in someone else’s virtual reality, Don’t You Recall? sheds light on new possibilities for being in and exploring space, as well as the augmented forms of familiarity, nostalgia, otherness and hyperstition that this entails. Smirnova presents an architecture that is on the one hand data-driven and external while on the other enigmatic and internal, computer vision as seen through the eyes of the artist.

ansatz is out now. You can follow nara is neus on Instagram and check out her Bandcamp. For more information about Sasha Smirnova, follow her on Instagram.

Watch next: Fact 2021 – Audiovisual

Fact Mix 841: Yung Singh

A tropical mix of dancehall, reggaeton and club music from the Daytimers member.

As a member of DJ and producer collective Daytimers, Midlands-born-selector Yung Singh is one of a fresh generation of artists placing the spotlight on music from the South Asian diaspora. Since Daytimers launched in late 2020, the UK-wide collective has brought emerging artists to the fore while highlighting the legacy of South Asian dance music.

As he was growing up, Yung Singh’s musical influences included the Punjabi music played by his parents, ’90s house and jungle played by his sisters and the commercial sounds of South Asian artists such as Panjabi MC. But it was grime and UK garage that he played when he began DJing after moving to London, and as the first Covid-19 lockdown hit in 2020, he found himself reflecting on his Punjabi culture.

The result was his Sounds of Punjabi Garage mix for Shuffle ‘n’ Swing, which focused on the underground Punjabi garage scene of the late ’90s and early ’00s. It was a breakthrough moment for Yung Singh, who gained sets on Rinse FM and BBC Asian Network, as well as slots at Fabric and a must-see set at Boiler Room Festival as events opened up across the UK. The mix also coincided with the first compilation from Daytimers, which has continued to release collections of South Asian club music.

Although garage is a key part of Yung Singh’s musical identity, his inquisitive sets draw on genres from across the musical landscape, including dancehall, reggaeton, R&B and hip-hop – genres that are showcased in his essential Fact Mix, which includes music from Florentino, Sean Paul, Merca Bae, NA DJ, DJ Plead and more.

“The driving force behind this mix was to make sure I explored a different set of sounds to what I think many people would be expecting, whilst keeping very much in the essence of what I listen to and stuff that I play,” Yung Singh says. “Most importantly it’s the sort of stuff that I would play if I was somewhere a bit tropical. At this time of year and given circumstances, a bit of escapism is always welcome.”

Follow Yung Singh on Instagram and SoundCloud.

Tracklist:

Merca Bae – ‘Widow’
AP Dhillon – ‘Droptop’
Robbie and Sly – ‘Why Dont You’ (ft. Mr. G on Tabla Riddim)
Manuka Honey – ‘Noise Complaint’
Bounty Killer – ‘Do You See’
Santana – ‘Maria Maria’ (ft. The Product G&B)
Erika De Casier – ‘Polite’
Goldtooth – ‘Kiravani’
Drake – ‘The Motto (Intro – Clean)’ ft. Lil Wayne
Merca Bae & Nick León – ‘Agua’
Jasmine Sandlas & Manny Sandhu – ‘Panjeba’  
Florentino – ‘Buzz’
Sean Paul – ‘Gimme the Light’
Sangre Nueva – ‘Sola’
Danny English & Egg Nogg – ‘Party Time’
Saadaan – ‘Soulful Pakora Slap’
Dr Zeus – ‘Friends Chilling’ (ft. Shortie and Lehmber)
Arthur Read (Arma) – ‘2011 Supreme Hat’
Merca Bae – ‘Bubbaloo’
NA DJ – ‘Buzz’
Aman Hayer – ‘Dil Nai Lagda’
DJ Plead  – ‘Ya Baba’
Capleton – ‘In Her Heart’

Listen next: Fact Mix 840: Time Is Away

Fact 2021: Commissions and Live Performance

A look back at this year’s Fact-commissioned pieces and live performances filmed around the world.

In 2021, Fact launched a new series of original commissions from some of the world’s most exciting artists across music, visual art, dance and filmmaking. These commissions included a music video directed by FKA twigs, an autobiographical work from choreographer Holly Blakey, a film about United Visual Artists’ striking installation at Printworks London and several works at LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art, a group exhibition at London’s 180 Studios co-curated by Fact and SUUM Project.

This year, Fact also travelled to Italy’s Nextones Festival and Metabolic Rift, a month-long event from the team behind Berlin Atonal that combined live performance and installations. At these festivals we filmed live performances from artists including Caterina Barbieri, who this year premiered her new light-years platform, and LABOUR, who presented a fresh work in the halls of Berlin’s Kraftwerk. Meanwhile, at 180 Studios, we welcomed Paul Institute artist Ruthven, who presented new work alongside his band.

Here we present some of Fact’s 2021 commissions alongside highlights from a year of live performance, all produced in spite of another year of challenging creative conditions.

Holly Blakey: Phantom

Phantom was the first of Fact’s new series of commissions. Filmed at 180 Studios, the work was devised and directed by choreographer and dancer Holly Blakey, featuring original music from Gwilym Gold, as well as costumes from London-based designers Chopova Lowena.

Despite always working from an intensely personal place, Holly Blakey has never considered any of her work to be wholly autobiographical, until she worked on Phantom. Originally commissioned by the London Contemporary Dance School for the EDGE Postgraduate Dance Company, Phantom is described by Blakey as “a ritualistic summoning of something that never arrives”, a spiritual interrogation of the symbolism and aesthetics of pagan fertility rites and a wry ode to folk dance traditions. Though she draws heavily from the esoteric and supernatural, the narrative of the piece is very much lifted from Blakey’s own life, rising up out of a very real place. “Phantom was made because I was commissioned to go and make this new work for EDGE and I had just had a miscarriage,” explains Blakey. “I felt completely exhausted and pretty helpless and I hadn’t any ideas and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t have much strength.”

LUX: Julianknxx – Black Corporeal (Breathe)

Interdisciplinary poet, visual artist and filmmaker Julianknxx creates evocative work that combines the written word with imagery and performance. Born in Sierra Leone and now based in London, Julianknxx’s practice drwas inspiration from the stories and languages of his birth place while exploring themes of inheritance, loss, belonging and the collective Black experience.

In Julianknxx’s work Black Corporeal (Breathe) – commissioned by 180 Studios and showing now at LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art – the artist examines the relationship between materiality and the Black psyche. It explores the idea that our ability to breathe – an act that is challenged by everything from air pollution, stress, anxiety and societal prejudice – is more than our lung’s ability to take in air, but a reflection of the way we live individually and together.

United Visual Artists at Printworks London

Earlier this year, as the UK’s clubs prepared for a full return to events after more than a year of lockdown measures, United Visual Artists was commissioned by Broadwick Live, the company behind the iconic Printworks London venue, to create a site-specific installation to mark the reopening of the club. The audiovisual concept imagines Printworks London as a sentient being, reawakening after its long slumber, using lighting and visuals to create a work that evolves and tells a narrative across the course of each event at the venue.

In this film, commissioned by Fact and made possible thanks to United Visual Artists and Broadwick Live, UVA’s Matt Clark reveals how the industrial architecture of Printworks London – once one of the largest newspaper printing factories in western Europe – and the country’s emergence from lockdown inspired him to create an installation that engages in a dialogue with audience feels as if conscious of its interior.

Koreless – ‘White Picket Fence’ (dir. FKA twigs)

In the video for Koreless’s ‘White Picket Fence’, directed by FKA twigs, the Welsh producer takes a fishing trip in a Lamborghini accompanied by three dancers, while a young boy wanders into the scene. The surreal visual, which is the first to be directed by FKA twigs for another artist, reflects both the earthy tones and mysterious qualities of Koreless’s track, which is taken from Agor, his debut album for Young. The visual, which was produced by creative studio Object & Animal, is a co-commission between Young and Fact.

“Lewis is not only a dear friend of mine but also one of my favourite collaborators,” twigs says of the collaboration. “His sonic palette is equally as alien and otherworldly as it is grounded and in me it evokes feelings of being close to nature. For Lewis’ video I wanted to create this in a visual. The mystery intertwined with a feeling of familiarity. The ‘White Picket Fence’ visual is a modern day reenactment of a fable that doesn’t exist. Each character represents a sound in the music and the audience is a voyeur as the music is personified into a mystical happening.”

Nextones Festival 2021: Caterina Barbieri presents light-years

Over the summer, Fact travelled to Italy’s Nextones Festival to film a selection of performances from the event, which takes place at Cava La Beola di Monte, a historic quarry located between the shores of Lake Maggiore and Val D’Ossola.

The festival’s headline performance was the world premiere of Italian composer and modular synthesist Caterina Barbieri’s new label platform curated showcase, light-years. Sharing a name with her new label platform, light-years aw Barbieri perform with a changing cast of collaborators, which in this show included saxophonist Bendik Giske, Nkisi and MFO.

Paul Institute Presents: Ruthven, Live at 180 Studios

To mark the release of his new single, Fact invited Ruthven and his band members into 180 Studios to play some new songs. Directed by Jasper Brown, the performance features an all-new live band, including Ben Reed, who featured on Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Endless, on bass, Avi Barath, who was the musical director for Berwyn & Pa Salieu, on keys, Nicola Sipprell on backing vocals, Calum Duncan on guitar and Ellis Dupuy on drums.

“Music’s kind of been life for me,” admits Ruthven. Growing up around a family of musicians and music lovers, the vocalist, songwriter, producer and proud Paul Institute alumnus would accompany his mother to piano lessons she would teach throughout south London. “I got to know Jazz Piano Grade Three in the ’90s,” he explains, “I know them pieces. They’re just locked in my head.” It’s from this early introduction that Ruthven developed what he considers to be his greatest musical asset, his ear. “I feel like I can hear where the parts are going to go,” he says.

LABOUR live at Metabolic Rift

In September 2021, the team behind Berlin Atonal launched a new live concept in response the challenging conditions presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Titled Metabolic Rift, the month-long event series combined both an exhibition spread across Berlin’s Kraftwerk venue and a series of concerts that captured the spirit of Berlin through site-specific interventions and live performance. 

LABOUR’s Metabolic Rift performance, which was captured by Fact, featured the debut of a brand new show from the Berlin-based multidisciplinary artists Farahnaz Hatam and Colin Hacklander. LABOUR says: ‘the hit of enlightenment (بیگانگی)’ debuted at Metabolic Rift 2021, beginning where ‘next time, die consciously (بیگانگی)’ ended the 2018 festival: both musically with an articulation of architectural and acoustic space, and conceptually with the realisation that heteronomy is the condition of all things – that external forces create our notion of self which tends to be constructable and therefore de-constructable.”

LUX: Es Devlin – ‘BLUESKYWHITE’

In this film, we spoke to Es Devlin about the inspiration behind her latest installation, ‘BLUESKYWHITE’, a large-scale work commissioned by 180 Studios, which is currently showing at LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art. The work combines light, music and language, and was conceived as a sculptural expression of our emotional response to the possible extinction of blue sky.

The installation is formed of two parts: In Part I, text from Byron’s 1816 poem Darkness underscores the viewer’s passage through a 24m long red-lit tunnel. Part II draws from contemporary solar geo-engineering models documented by Elizabeth Kolbert and others which suggest that a haze of suspended particles might reduce global temperature to pre-industrial levels and might also turn the blue sky white.

Listen next: Fact 2021: Mixes

Fact 2021: Mixes

We’ve selected 20 incredible Fact mixes that we think best represent a very strange year for music.

Global supply chains are fucked, touring the world is, for better or worse, becoming a thing of the past and nobody, aside from the crypto bros, has any money – 2021 has invariably been a weird time for musicians. Incredible projects are picked up and put down in a matter of weeks amidst the onslaught of new releases and, without a consistently accessible dancefloor to play on, for much of this year dance music has had to squeeze into living room and plague rave-shaped spaces. Through all of this, and despite some discourse circling around the supposedly dwindling and disposable nature of online mixes, our weekly mix series has held steadfast through some exceedingly tough times, standing as a reliable source of joyful energy, soul-scraping catharsis and therapeutic nourishment when we all needed it most.

We’ve selected 20 mixes that we think best represent an uncertain time. Some of these mixes feel very much like a response to the present moment, with Yen Tech piecing together a club-centric radio play about a boy called Kevin escaping conspiracy theorist parents, Loraine James working through music discovered while in lockdown and Skyshaker channeling months of angst and anguish into a furious four-deck dispatch. Daytimers member and The Beatriachy co-founder Gracie T flew the flag for the South Asian underground, Palmistry reflected on the fracturing of the contemporary psyche whilst sharing a beautiful tribute to SOPHIE and Shannen SP explored the recent history of old-school kwaito, South African hip-hop and house.

Others envision somewhere totally separate, sessions of sonic escapism that sent us to new places entirely. Malibu’s unforgettable contribution saw her gliding through slowed Eurotrance standards and cinematic soundscapes, a healing balm for frazzled brains. Actual Objects, partially headed up by Rick Farin, fka Eaves, created a cyberpunk avatar who moves to his productions in real time, while exael executed his own form of world-building, riding the line between emotional home-listening and screwy social sounds. Yazzus looked back to her youth, combining the soundtracks to classic ’90s video games with hard, fast and sexy techno, while TSVI introduced us to the bizarre world of gorge, relentless tracks designed “to communicate the aesthetic and spiritual sublimity of rock climbing.”

Alternately, some of our favorite mixes just banged. De Schuurman ran us through a thrilling showcase of the irresistible sound of bubbling, DJ Manny explored the romantic side of footwork and juke and Will Lister spiralled through grit, gauze and glitch with his “one-deck mix.” Crystallmess redefined the meaning of “godspeed” and Tom Boogizm demonstrated that he is, undeniably, one of the very best to ever do it. Below you will find, unranked and listed alphabetically, 20 indisposable mixes from 2021.

Actual Objects

One fundamental pillar of multidisciplinary studio Actual Objects’ wider practice is music. Rick Farin’s soundtrack work with Berlin-based producer Theo Karon can be very much be understood as emerging out of the intricate, muscular productions he was making as Eaves, thick washes of sci-fi sound design, pummeling batteries of weaponised percussion and precision-engineered sample fuckery filling every inch of their digital topographies. Their dizzying contribution to Fact’s mix series is a stunning showcase of “sounds that bring their own context with them,” fusing 30 minutes of frazzled Ableton gymnastics with a glimpse of Actual Objects’ visual universe, as a virtual avatar curates the duo’s sounds in real time.

Byrell The Great

Byrell The Great has been at the heart of New York’s ballroom scene for over a decade, notably as one of the top DJs in the youth-driven kiki subculture. His music reflects the high energy nature of kiki balls, combining classic ballroom sounds with a contemporary flair for production. On his Fact Mix, the producer delivers a straight-up club mix featuring tracks from himself and contemporaries LSDXOXO and Divoli S’vere, as well as Leonce, DJ Swisha, Bored Lord and more. “I wanted listeners to feel like we were back in the clubs cutting up on the dance floor,” says Byrell The Great. “No matter where you from or what you give, as long as you like dancing to club music you’ll dance to this mix!”

Crystallmess

“If God exists, what’s his/her/their speed? What is godspeed?” asks multidisciplinary artist Christelle Oyiri for her ferocious contribution to Fact’s mix series under her beloved Crystallmess moniker. “In my opinion it’s somewhere around 85 BPM, so I dived into my jungle favorites, some edits I freshly created for the mix, expect unreleased gems by parisian producers GREG and Bambounou as well. I guess this mix feels like stomping the ground, and snatching respect insolently, instead of asking for it!” Fittingly, Oyiri opens the mix with an excerpt from her latest performance work, Rest In Peace Aporia, a collaboration with Gaëlle Antsoni-Koumou that premiered at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. “Respect is not given, it is to be earned,” she intones over descending seismic bass tones, pelting us head first into a lethal blend of DJ Rashad’s ‘Teknitian’ and Sheck Wes’s ‘Gmail’, setting the whiplash-inducing pace for the next hour. Her Fact mix is a hard and fast snapshot of this creative dexterity, swerving between breakneck jungle and D&B from OSSX, John B and Dom & Roland, footwork bootlegs from Frequency and DJ Frankie N Elmoe as well as some absolutely fiendish edits, including a galaxy brain blend of Black Rob and DJ Die and the blissful marriage of Jay Mitta’s warp speed singeli with Caterina Barbieri’s elegant synth variations – truly godspeed, if ever we’ve heard it.

De Schuurman

In the late 1980s, a chance mistake by Curacao’s DJ Moortje created an entirely new genre. Bubbling house (or bubbling, as it came to be known) was spawned when Moortje accidentally played a 33RPM dancehall record at 45RPM at Club Voltage in Den Haag, and bubbling became a key sound for the Holland’s Afro-diasporic community, evolving over the decades as younger producers entered the scene. One such artist was Guillermo Schuurman, the nephew of early bubbling innovator DJ Chippie. As De Schuurman, he began producing and DJing in the late 2000s, creating a sound that combined rap and R&B samples with elements of trance and electro house. Although De Schuurman was a central player in Holland’s bubbling scene during this period, many of his tracks went without a proper release. Earlier this year however, Nyege Nyege Tapes introduced De Schuurman to a wider audience with the release of his debut album, Bubbling Inside. Two separate mixes encapsulate this journey: a ‘club mix’ largely comprised of his own productions that traces his evolution as an artist, and a ‘hidden gems’ mixtape that features music he and his friends used to listen to in their youth. Both offer a window into a time that has gone largely undocumented.

DJ Manny

Born in 1990 in Chicago and raised in Harvey, IL, DJ Manny has been at the heart of the US footwork scene from a young age. He attended his first party with his brother before he was 10 years old, and went on to throw his own parties and produce his own tracks with the help of his cousin Jonathan, all before he turned 20. Manny met the late DJ Rashad while in middle school, and he helped Manny release his first release, Kush on Deck, in 2010. Manny has been a key member of the Teklife crew ever since, building a formidable discography, much of it self-released. Now based in Brooklyn, DJ Manny this year returned to Planet Mu for a new album, 10 years after appearing on Ghettoteknitianz, one of the label’s early footwork compilations. Titled Signals In My Head, Manny’s intention was to create an “R&B love type of album but still keeping it footwork, juke, house, techno, with a few breaks. I just want people to know it’s love out there.” On his Fact Mix, DJ Manny showcases this hazy, romantic take on footwork with a set of predominantly original material, including music from the new album, collaborations with his partner SUCIA! and other Teklife members, as well as a number of unreleased tracks.

exael

Over the past nine years, exael has quietly built one of the most vital discographies in what could loosely be called “ambient”. However, the music of exael (who also produces under their own name naemi and various other monikers) is never quite so straightforward: within single tracks, exael can move from serene, beatless drift to throbbing, gated rhythms via electrifying shifts in mood. It shares the same kind of tangible depth, scale and unpredicatibility as the classic dub techno of Porter Ricks and Basic Channel, albeit charged with a simlarly zoned-out weirdness as vaporwave. Earlier this year, exael joined Cincinatti label Soda Gong for Flowered Knife Shadows, an album that takes the artist’s sound in bold new directions, building on their mastery of tone and texture by pushing further into rhythmic territory. It’s a theme that runs throughout their Fact Mix, which plays with rhythm, tempo and the conventions of the club-focused mix.

Gracie T

Gracie T is a Sheffield-based DJ and member of Daytimers, a collective of selectors and producers of South Asian heritage whose aim is to showcase the talents of their community on their own terms. Since launching in late 2020, Daytimers has quickly become a vital force in the UK scene, self-releasing several compilations of South Asian club sounds and establishing itself with nights at clubs such as London’s Fabric and Manchester’s SOUP. 2021 has been a breakthrough year for Gracie T. As well as a memorable B2B Boiler Room appearance with Chandé back in August, the DJ is one of this year’s residents at Sheffield’s Hope Works. Together with Kitsta and Shannon From Admin, she also runs The Beatriarchy, a platform that aims to provide a safe space for underrepresented artists to share and discuss music. Gracie T’s Fact Mix combines tracks from fellow Daytimers artists and South Asian producers from across the globe, as well as music from kindred spirits such as RP Boo, LCY and Anz. “This mix dips its toes into the Asian Underground revival, championing underrepresented artists, with dubs and new releases from the hottest talent from Bristol’s Grove to Brooklyn’s Ayesha,” Gracie T says. “Experience a journey through more genres than you can count, carefully selected and blended.”

LCY

In 2020, LCY began a new chapter, as they retired the LUCY moniker with a self-titled EP that sampled their own back catalogue to create highly experimental club tracks utilising stripped-back D&B-inspired rhythms. However, the past year has been LCY’s most fruitful creative period yet. Last December, they took their first steps into a conceptual universe with the audiovisual piece ‘Garden of E10’. LCY’s concept-driven narrative continued with last month’s Pulling Teeth EP, a seven-track dystopian narrative accompanied by art pieces and a live audio piece centring around the character of Ériu, a being made up of dog, human and robotic matter, inspired by traditional Irish lore, fantasy soundscapes and the books of Mary Shelley. It’s this experimental and conceptual approach that LCY adopts for their Fact Mix, a highly atmospheric set that weaves together original material and introspective electronics from Riccardo La Foresta, Chant Electronique and Synergetix alongside moody club cuts from Or:la and Anders Vestergaard.

Loraine James

As 2020 started, Loraine James was poised to tour the album around the world, but as the pandemic took hold, her plans were curtailed. Despite this setback, James used the time to work on a number of projects: in October, she released the Nothing EP (featuring collaborations with Uruguayan producer Lila Tirando a Violeta, Farsi rapper Tardast and HTRK’s Jonnine Standish) and at the start of 2021 she worked with Dominican choreographer and dancer Isabel Lewis on a remote collaboration for CTM’s 2021 online edition. James also used the extensive lockdown period of the past year to write her exceptional second album, Reflection. Featuring collaborations with Xzavier Stone, Iceboy Violet, Baths and Le3 bLACK, the 11-track LP sees James confidently build on the abstracted, introspective nature of her debut with a set of productions that add pop and R&B elements to her signature. On her Fact Mix, James picks out tracks from artists that she’s discovered during lockdown, as well as the many musical styles that are currently inspiring her, with music from Slikback, LYZZA, Erika de Casier and Mr. Mitch sitting alongside productions from Florentino, iLL BLU, Otik and Karen Nyame KG.

Malibu

Ever since her unforgettable appearance on PAN’s essential mono no aware compilation all the way back in 2017, French producer Malibu has been busy excavating new seams of ambient, ethereal beauty. Whether producing as Malibu, or releasing stunning ambient pop edits as DJ Lostboi, she picks a delicate thread through the landscape of contemporary electronic and experimental music, joining the dots between Kelly Moran and Evian Christ, casting magic spells on Charli XCX and lending her cinematic vocal stylings to Oliver Coates and Dark0. Approaching her source material with a singular regard for the gauzy and gorgeous, Malibu teases her ambient palette into new and exciting places. For her Fact mix, Malibu collates a stunning selection of what she describes as “music to count shooting stars to”, weaving together a gossamer patchwork of unreleased material, new favorites, contributions from friends and collaborators, as well as some Eurotrance standards, all slowed to a bewitching crawl. Complete with dreamy field recordings and Terrence Malick-esque whispers, Malibu’s Fact mix picks you up on a transcendent updraft and deposits you on the shores of Camargue, pearlescent sea foam lapping around your ankles.

Palmistry

Palmistry is one of the most enigmatic architects of modern day pop music. Constantly caught adrift between the spiritual and the hedonistic, he sings about lust, demons and faith with the same ecclesiastical grace, contextualising his appetite for the party and his ear for a killer hook within a broader artistic practice. He often comes off as an outsider musician whose experiments just so happen to sound like smash hits, a theme he traces on his most recent album, fittingly titled wyrdo. Inspired in part by visual essayist Adam Curtis’s documentary series The Trap, on his Fact mix he weaves together DIY pop edits, some old and new favorites and his own music with esoteric vocal passages, covering philosophical conundrums, the nature of life after death and the applications of psychedelics. It’s a dizzying listen, equal parts transcendent and baffling, with tracks bolted together to map mood and emotion, as opposed to rhythm or genre. Towards the end of the mix, Keating includes two tracks he worked on with SOPHIE before her tragic death, presented here as a tribute to the late artist. Credited, in a stroke of genius, to Sophistry, both ‘OFC’ and ‘The Worst Boy Band in the World’ are dazzling combinations of Palmistry’s melancholy pop spirituality and SOPHIE’s virtuosic manipulation of synthetic sounds. It’s the result of two totally singular sound worlds colliding and, as is the experience of listening to any of SOPHIE’s music in the wake of her death, an extremely sad reminder of all the incredible work she did not get to make.

Shannen SP

Shannen SP has been an instrumental part of some of London’s most exciting and forward-thinking music for a few years now. With her ever-exploratory NTS Radio Residency, as well working behind the scenes to co-curate Hyperdub’s legendary event series Ø alongside Kode9, she charts a new wave of diasporic experimentation, with a specific interest in contemporary electronic music coming out of the African continent. More recently she co-founded the Nine Nights Collective, launched during the months of the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown. For her Fact mix Shannen SP turns to a much brighter, more joyful sound, including low-slung kwaito, South African hip-hop and house. However, though the music might sound light, her selections are drawn from a space of engagement with collective trauma. “This is an old school kwaito / South African hip-hop / house mix,” she explains, “with most of the tracks coming out of the late ’90s – early 2000s, so very much post-Apartheid sounds.” She continues, “as a gqom and amapiano fan, as well as this just being amazing club music with really interesting instrumentals, it was great to hear the influence this sound had on both those styles. I really love the old school quality to the way the tracks sound in the mix. Hearing the music coming out of South Africa after the collective trauma of Apartheid – and the sounds being so bright and joyful – was powerful.” 

Skyshaker

Skyshaker describes the newly founded House of Vemanei as “an international alliance of chosen families committed to the creation of worlds in which feminine presenting transgender and nonbinary people of color best fit.” Juggling their work as a DJ, composer and filmmaker with their tireless activism as a mainstay of the house and ballroom community in New York, Sky Vemanei spent time with the legendary House of LaBeija and the House of Old Navy, before going on to form the the artist collective House of Vemanei as an incubator for the gender-nonconforming Streamline community. Their Fact mix serves as an inauguration of Vemanei Soundsystem, a blistering, four-deck transmission from a new and vital community. “I was happy to be behind four decks after spending the majority of the pandemic indoors and writing on a laptop,” says Sky. “This mix navigates all the emotions I felt during the pandemic, having lost a friend a day before lockdown, and plotting to leave several toxic circumstances.”

Time Is Away

For their Fact mix, which they’ve entitled ‘Column Break,’ Elaine Tierney and Jack Rollo, aka Time Is Away, add the texture of their radio shows to a session of music for dancing. “This mix, recorded during December 2021, is our attempt to grapple with what has been an anxious and difficult year for everybody,” they explain. “Moments of ecstasy and release rub alongside closed loops of doubt and worry and a feeling of collective dread. It also represents an attempt to reconcile the dense layered approach we take to our radio program with the kind of open-ended dance records we might play in a club. In this way, it is a tribute to consciousness-expanding and time-dilating collaged mixes we listened to obsessively as teenagers in the 90s. Mixes, like Coldcut’s ‘70 Minutes of Madness’ or Warp’s ‘Blech’ tape, that ignored tempo and genre and revelled in odd combinations and dreamlike jump cuts. That’s not to say that we have achieved anything as complex or beautifully made as those mixes but just to give a feeling of what we have reached towards. This year, as the flow of night life has stopped and started, thinking about dancing, together or alone, has mattered. Hopefully this mix might provide a key: something to move to and think with.” As we’re faced with yet another period of isolation and angst, music to move to and think with, both together and apart from those we love, becomes more and more essential. This what dancing through the pandemic has felt like for us.

Tom Boogizm

Over the last year and a half Tom Boogizm has been on a phenomenal run. Already legendary throughout Greater Manchester and beyond, the Wigan musician, producer and DJ has cemented his reputation as an uncompromising force for good, operating in the shadows while eschewing promotional pomp and cringing fanfare for a singular sonic palette that is as wide-ranging as it is unmistakable. From a string of essential tapes, each of which garners cult status almost as soon as it’s dropped, for his label $hotta Tapes, to four groundbreaking collaborations with the mysterious Michael J. Blood, with whom he recently launched a new label, BodyTronixxx, to the shape-shifting, heart-breaking, soul-searching music he makes as Rat Heart, Boogizm has been extremely busy building a body of work that continues to give us genuine hope in the face of the never-ending headache that has been the last 16 months. He’s also proof, alongside AnzFinnFlorentinoSpace AfrikaHenzoSocketheadFUMUBlackhaineRainy Miller and countless others that, across both genre and discipline, Manchester is unquestionably the most thrilling stronghold in the UK music scene, stretching across a dizzying variety of styles and moods in a way that is perfectly encapsulated by Boogizm’s Fact mix. Moving between squalls of ferocious energy, pockets of high-pressure humidity and passages of brightness, Boogizm’s selections are as changeable and unpredictable as freak weather – yet more evidence that the selector is one of the very best to ever do it.

TSVI

TSVI dedicates his Fact mix to a new sonic obsession. “I recorded the mix with my Pioneer XDJ-RX in my bedroom on probably the hottest day here in London to date, so the mix is quite hot and explosive,” he explains. “Played recent and unreleased tracks across a wide range of BPMs, mostly gorge music, a genre which is inspired by rock climbing and mountaineering originating in Nepal and India then later on settled in Japan, my new obsession!” Heavily featuring a repetitive use of blown-out tom-tom drums, which are said to symbolize hard terrain and the contraction of a climber’s muscles, Québecois gorge producer Kazuki Koga, whose tough-as-nails track ‘Strangler Gorge’ sets the tone for Barzacchini’s relentless mix, describes the sound as an experimental electronic interpretation of Nepalese folk percussion. “Gorge is only vaguely defined by its own secret codes and legends,” they say. “Its purpose is to communicate the aesthetic and spiritual sublimity of rock climbing, and to explore the climbing route that leads to the summit of the gods.” Drilling down into the intense and unassailable sound, Barzacchini grinds some essential gorge productions against obscure SoundCloud finds, exclusives from friends and collaborators, as well as some of his own tracks. Zip up your Arc’teryx, check your crampons and hold on for dear life.

Will Lister

For his Fact mix, Will Lister pursues a considered approach, spiralling through a swirling showcase of the kinds of elegant bass and euphoric float he played out this year, spinning together a dense soundscape with a killer selection of club tracks. “The mix is jokingly titled the ‘one deck mix’, as I made it using a single borrowed CDJ2000 and my Elektron Octatrack, with the idea being born out of not having a DJ set up and also not wanting to put the mix together in Ableton,” he explains. “I set them up so I was feeding the OT with the CDJ, and then taking live loops from the tracks I was playing, and mixing between the CDJ, to the loops, back into the CDJ. It also meant I was able to do a bit of remixing live, where I could chop the tracks around, and send different parts to different effects. I wanted to be able to interact with the songs I was playing, to give it more of a live feel and play around with the frantic energy of some of the tracks. It’s also quite similar to how I DJ in clubs in that I tend to mix quite quickly and chop between different songs, layering and looping them to play around with the textures.” 

Yazzus

Yazzus races through a headlong rush through essential selections from the soundtracks to Wipeout 2097Ghost In The ShellTekken 4 and System Shock 2, cemented together with a hard and fast contemporary sound, including recent tracks from ÅMRTÜM, Roza Terenzi, badsista, Clair’s hardcore rave edit of Sexy Sushi’s electroclash anthem ‘Sex Appeal’ and an unreleased track from Yazzus herself. It’s a thrilling snapshot of the scenes the Ghana-born, London-bred, now Berlin-based DJ and producer has immersed herself in recently, following a relocation to Germany, as well as a testament to the unstoppable momentum she has been building for the past few years. Between releasing an essential EP on Steel City Dance Discs, gifting us two unmissable edit packs, the first a love letter to the ’90s dance music she draws so much inspiration from and the second a killer collection of the bootlegs and edits that have become her signature, Yazzus featured on Mary Anne Hobbs’ 6 Music show, contributed a track to Tresor’s landmark 30th anniversary compilation and made her debut at Berghain. Not only is her mix exactly what we want to hear at a techno party, it’s also Yazzus at her most playful, weaving in childhood inspirations and a reverence for an extremely personally formative period of dance music into her high-speed, forward-facing sound. Never before have we wanted to both go out and stay in quite so intensely.

Yen Tech

Yen Tech guides us through an extraordinary aural retelling of an alternative cultural history of the COVID-19 pandemic in his sprawling Fact mix, which weaves together text-to-script speech, AI language models and a breathtaking suite of experimental music, selected and compiled solely for its emotional heft. These are tracks that have provided strength and solace to the Shanghai-based producer and vocalist over the course of an extremely heavy year, linked more by an exploratory spirit than by any coherent aesthetic or genre focus. “This is my personal soundtrack to the psychic exhaustion of my recent American experience,” explains the artist, “a necessary exhalation of divisive energies and anxieties – expelled like milky steam from the husk.” Using a loose, text-based narrative as a framing device, the mix follows the story of a 10-year old boy called Kevin who decides to run away from home as his parents descend further and further into a social media-fuelled mire of conspiracy theories, xenophobia and mania.The result is something like a 2021 update of Prefab Sprout’s melancholy escapist masterpiece I Trawl The Megahertz.

Yu Su

Yu Su makes the kind of music that is capable of transporting the listener to unimagined places. Born in Kaifeng, China, and based in Vancouver, Yu Su’s music draws from house, dub, jazz and the sounds of her native country to create downtempo oddities and slow-burning club tracks that transcend time and place. This year she released her debut album, Yellow River Blue. Issued through her freshly launched bié Records label, the album is an homage to her home beside the Yellow River and a “personal musical autobiography, constructed around stories of chasing something inconceivable.” To mark the release, the producer and DJ delivered a Fact Mix filled with misty dancefloor psychedelia from Copeland & Gast and Patricia Kokett, Peruvian club sounds from Aristidez (remixing Argentinian duo Carisma’s ‘Fracciones’), Anz’s energetic ‘Gary Mission’ and more.

Listen next: Fact Mix 840 – Time Is Away

Fact 2021: Residency

This year we invited a new cohort of world class artists, musicians and collectives to participate in Fact’s online Residency program.

Faced with the unremitting bleakness of a world that is, depending on who you ask, any combination of sickly, in turmoil and on fire, it is becoming more and more of an impossible task to parse the incessant noise of cultural production in 2021, to sort through zettabytes of cursed content in order to locate and amplify those voices that truly have something to say. This year we’ve drawn strength from those artists, studios and communities dedicated to defining their own narratives, constructing their own worlds and building their own communities in an effort to try to make this task a little easier.

We invited a new cohort of artists, musicians and collectives to take over Fact and showcase the breadth and depth of their work. From multidisciplinary practitioners like Julianknxx and Theresa Baumgartner, ascendent stars like Blackhaine and anaiis, artists redefining performance and movement like Holly Blakey and Tianzhuo Chen, to collectives tirelessly excavating their own space, IRL and otherwise, like Actual Objects and Seoul Community Radio, our online residents have shone light through the contemporary gloom and acted as markers by which we have orientated our own thoughts and emotions.

Taken as a whole, a tentative optimism can be traced through the work of these artists. Each demonstrates methods and strategies for navigating the relentlessness of the now, from the most intricate, technologically advanced engagements with universal data, to the smallest, simplest gestures of human failure and resilience, from the most universal themes of faith, embodiment and emancipation, to the most personal statements of vulnerability and pain. We hope that amongst this work you too can tap into this optimism and find something to draw strength from.

Actual Objects

Actual Objects describe themselves as an experimental, multidisciplinary creative studio, but if you asked any of the 12 or so artists, directors and programmers that make up the team what they spend most of their time doing, they would probably answer you with two words: world building. Founded in 2019 by husband and wife creative duo Rick and Claire Farin, alongside Rick’s childhood friend, producer Nick Vernet, the studio emerged out of a shared interest in CGI, which they developed during their time enrolled in a graduate program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, or SCI-Arc. It was there that they met Cole Daly and Case Miller, who together with graphic designer Collin Fletcher make up the core of the studio’s current iteration. Following a period of working out of their bedrooms, it was a group decision to move their computers into an office space in Los Angeles’ Chinatown that heralded the birth of Actual Objects. Bringing together a wide variety of disciplines, including Rick’s background making music as Eaves, Claire’s skills as a painter and Miller’s experience as a researcher and programmer, the team set out to change the aesthetic landscape of what computer generated visuals can do and how they can be applied. “We were trying to bring a longer, more developed art practice into what was going fast with digital art,” explains Claire, succinctly.

anaiis

anaiis is an artist who has spent much of her career at war with adversity. Relocating to London from New York in 2015 to focus on her career as an artist, anaiis, like many artists before her, has faced a myriad of obstacles, both internal and external, to such an extent that she admits to spending much of the last few years in an extremely difficult place. Persevering through a litany of major label complications that have unfortunately become a commonplace occurrence in the darker recesses of the mainstream music industry, anaiis was able to release two projects of introspective, emotional music, the 2018 EP before zero and a full-length project darkness at play, which was released the year after. Yet she has waited until now, with the forthcoming release of her debut album, This Is No Longer A Dream, to try to come to terms with full scope of the pain and trauma she has faced over the last six years. “A lot of the record is dealing with this surreal place that I was in where I had a lack of clarity around what was real and what wasn’t,” she admits.

Blackhaine

For multidisciplinary artist, MC and choreographer Tom Heyes, Blackhaine is both an artistic alias and shorthand for the “dark, hateful place” that his work is channelled from. Approaching sound, image, movement and poetry with the same visceral energy, Heyes seeks to transform the grey, bleak landscapes he associates with his birthplace of Lancashire and his native Manchester into sites of creative catharsis, elevating stories of depression, deprivation, substance abuse and small-time gangsters into vital transmissions from Britain’s darkest depths. At once confrontational and intimate, Heyes probes the limits of rap machismo, street poetry, experimental dance and, ultimately, what it means to be an artist from a working class background. He offsets aggression, braggadocio and nihilism with intense vulnerability and unrefined honesty, a dichotomy with which he is able to bring together a dizzying array of influences, from Moor Mother and Playboi Carti to William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Stripping away convention, Blackhaine seeks to replace his own limitations, both physical and emotional, with an armour of a paler shade.

Holly Blakey

“I’ve noticed in everything I’ve done, every single film, every single live show, I’ve always killed a man,” admits Holly Blakey. “There’s always Grand Theft Auto style violence going on, like a perverse sort of sexy violence. I can’t fucking help it, I seem to always do these things and I imagine it’s because there’s a lesson in there that I haven’t learnt yet.” One of the things that makes Blakey’s approach to movement so unique is the joy and vitality she finds in unresolved spaces. In her eyes, the truest forms of expression are the movements we make unconsciously, when sweating together in nightclubs, dancing in unison to the same beat. She finds inspiration in packed kitchens at house parties, or deep in a throbbing rave, and it is in the imperfect, disorganised nature of these environments that she observes true beauty. It’s impossible to move through these scenarios perfectly, and it is the visceral, imprecise and instinctual ways in which people navigate this terrain that Blakey seeks to translate into dance. Ask anyone who has danced with Holly and they’ll tell you that these landscapes, emotional or otherwise, are the perfect places to learn lessons. Through mutual acts of generosity and shared intimacy, Blakey is able to inhabit a space where this learning process is displayed proudly, in which she offers up something of herself, to her collaborators and to her audience. “When I’m making work I want to be honest,” she asserts, “I want for that honesty to create connections with people who watch it.” 

Julianknxx

In her beautiful and devastating 2016 book In The Wake: On Blackness and Being, scholar Christina Sharpe delivers a stark rallying cry: “We must think about Black flesh, Black optics, and ways of producing enfleshed work.” Drawing inspiration and strength from Sharpe’s words, interdisciplinary poet Julianknxx brings together sound, image and performance in a discursive, enfleshed poetic practice. His work is deeply connected both to the foundational stories and languages of his birth place of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and to the sounds and voices of his current home in London. It is the passage between these places, and their twin histories of conflict and colonialism, that the poet seeks to document, penning what he calls a “history from below.” For his Fact Residency, which coincides with his artist residency at 180 The Strand, the poet selected a line from his stunning visual poem In Praise Of Still Boys, “you are what’s left of us”, as a lens through which to consider the world left in the wake of a global pandemic. Thus “you are what’s left of us” becomes We Are What’s Left Us, as Julianknxx takes stock of his friends and family, his collaborators and influences, as he traces an expansive and ongoing conversation between the many voices, past and present, that make up the cultural patchwork of his life. “What are we holding?” he asks. “The air is different now, we need to think about how we breathe.”

Ryoji Ikeda

From the most simple sine wave to the most intricate data visualisation, Ryoji Ikeda understands his audiovisual art practice in explicitly musical terms. “Music is beautiful because you can’t see it, and you can’t touch it, but everyone knows it,” he asserts. “You don’t need to have it explained, you don’t need special tools to understand it. You can charge it with meaning all by yourself.” Though the dizzying scope of the work featured in the artist’s exhibition at 180 Studios extends from the coordinates of the known universe to the microscopic structure of a protein, the intellectual thrust of these installations and sound works is much less important than their emotional impact – how they make us feel. By situating his work in a liminal space, between the beautiful and the sublime, the quiet and the cacophonous, the one and the zero, Ikeda holds his audience in an intensely evocative environment, allowing us to charge his compositions with meaning on our own terms. By bringing together these different facets of his practice in a single expansive orchestration, Ryoji Ikeda joins the dots between his nascent sound experiments to the most complete expression of the artist’s vision of “an aesthetics of data”. Understood as the repertoire a self-described composer, the signature of a Ryoji Ikeda composition becomes clear. With one ear tuned to the conceptual and the other to the physical, Ikeda composes for both your body and your mind.

Seoul Community Radio

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Seoul Community Radio, a vital node of the city’s thrilling electronic music scene. Over the last five years the station has developed from an irregularly updated SoundCloud account to an essential outpost for the discovery and support of some of the most exciting Korean artists, DJs and collectives, beaming weekly live streamed broadcasts from their base of operations in Itaewon, the epicentre of Seoul’s dance music scene. Having only recently expanded from a dingy basement to a fully-fledged recording hub, the station now stands as a focal point for an extremely passionate and dedicated community. “It’s a very small scene of underground music aficionados in Seoul, that’s why I think it’s quite close knit,” explains Rich Price, one of Seoul Community Radio’s co-founders alongside DJ Bowlcut, the station’s resident DJ and technical mastermind, and creative director Seulki Lee, a designer who VJs as Whatisit. Citing Seoul institutions such as MystikVurt and Cakeshop as key inspirations, Price and the station’s other founding members found themselves contributing to an interconnected network of scenes that was in desperate need of a point of convergence. Inspired by a new wave of online radio, including stations such as NTS, Berlin Community Radio and Red Light Radio, Seoul Community Radio was born.

Theresa Baumgartner

In recent years Theresa Baumgartner has emerged at the forefront of a new generation of artists blurring the lines between installation art, audiovisual performance and experimental film. Working in collaboration with fellow Fact Resident MFO she has created immersive set design for Jlin, performed live with Juliana Huxtable and Ziúr as part of their live audiovisual poem OFF LICENSE and perhaps most notably, transformed Oscar-winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Grammy-winning score for Chernobyl into a site-specific, multi-channel performance alongside Guðnadóttir, Sam Slater, field recordist Chris Watson and Francesco Donadello. Yet, despite the dizzying scale and intricate technicality of Baumgartner’s projects, the artist’s interests do not lie in any one discipline or technology but in collaboration, instinct and emotional exchange. More often than not, Baumgartner tunes into her best ideas by listening to her gut. “It’s about creating some sort of feeling that lives with the music,” she explains. “I’m more interested in the emotional part in anything. At the end of the day I’d rather have people reaching back into themselves, being overwhelmed or just able to forget about themselves.”

Tianzhuo Chen

According to Tianzhuo Chen, everything starts with a melody. Taken in context of the kaleidoscopic performance pieces he is best known for this concept might seem simplistic. Over the last few years his practice has only become more intricate and complex, stitching together elements from experimental theatre, rave culture, Hindu and traditional Chinese imagery, as well as his own Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, into mind-expanding immersive events. From ADAHA (2014) and ISHVARA (2016) to An Atypical Brain Damage (2017) and, most recently, Trance, his projects can be understood as esoteric exercises in complex world-building, with Chen terraforming nightclubs, theatres and gallery floors to create psychedelic landscapes for carnivalesque entities that challenge the limits of perception and understanding. Smashing together eastern and western cultures in an absurd amalgam, Chen orchestrates multidisciplinary art rituals that gesture towards the transcendent while remaining firmly grounded in earthly bodies, as Travis Jeppesen writes in Artforum: “Chen’s immersive protocol is suffused with his own yearning for transcendence, that fiery demand to get beyond this body, along with the dread that maybe this is all we’ve really got.” But it all starts with music, a melody in the artist’s head that swells to encompass the heavens and the earth.

Watch next: Fact 2020 – Residency

Fact Mix 840: Time Is Away

“Something to move to and think with.”

For our final mix of a relentlessly difficult year we can think of no greater duo to see us into a new, hopefully brighter one than Time Is Away. We’re sure our sentiments will be shared by those who, like us, have sought solace, inspiration and joy in Elaine Tierney and Jack Rollo’s monthly NTS show. Each transmission unfolds as a finely wrought collage of spoken word and a spectacular record collection, part mix, part soundscape, displacing the listener in both space and time. Tierney and Rollo were also responsible for one of our very favorite releases of the year in the shape of Ballads, a spellbinding selection of songs of varying shapes and sizes that together present a somnambulist listening experience every bit as unknowable, uncertain and nostalgic as those months spent rediscovering the music of our youths in the toughest months of the lockdown. At once familiar and undiscovered, Ballads was the soundtrack, both literally and spiritually, of a displacement of a different kind, out of time, out of space.

Tierney and Rollo pull off a similar trick during their Fact mix, which they’ve entitled ‘Column Break,’ seeing the selectors adding the texture of their radio shows to a session of music for dancing. “This mix, recorded during December 2021, is our attempt to grapple with what has been an anxious and difficult year for everybody,” they explain. “Moments of ecstasy and release rub alongside closed loops of doubt and worry and a feeling of collective dread. It also represents an attempt to reconcile the dense layered approach we take to our radio program with the kind of open-ended dance records we might play in a club. In this way, it is a tribute to consciousness-expanding and time-dilating collaged mixes we listened to obsessively as teenagers in the 90s. Mixes, like Coldcut’s ‘70 Minutes of Madness’ or Warp’s ‘Blech’ tape, that ignored tempo and genre and revelled in odd combinations and dreamlike jump cuts. That’s not to say that we have achieved anything as complex or beautifully made as those mixes but just to give a feeling of what we have reached towards.”

“This year, as the flow of night life has stopped and started, thinking about dancing, together or alone, has mattered. Hopefully this mix might provide a key: something to move to and think with.” As we’re faced with yet another period of isolation and angst, music to move to and think with, both together and apart from those we love, becomes more and more essential. The weird intimacy of video calls and kitchen dance parties is perfectly evoked by the gently seismic groans and heartbreakingly beautiful vocals of Eylül Deniz’s ‘Rubyat,’ the melancholy IDM stomp of Beefcake’s ‘Comp. 03 Marisella’ and the skittering majesty of the best Björk remix we’d never heard. Doc Scott’s essential take on lysergic ambient techno legends System 7 is the afters tune we’ve always wanted to hear, while the sexy shuffle of Fruit Of The Loop’s ‘S*Explore (Boy You Turn Meex)’ melting into the gossamer skip of Laurence Rassel & Terre Thaemlitz is the introspective, tears-in-the-club turn we’re always hoping for.

Slowing Aphex Twin’s remix of Curve’s ‘Falling Free’ to a slightly wine-drunk crawl before speeding up To Rococo Rot’s Gigi Masin-sampling ‘Die Dinge des Lebens’ to an uplifting chug evokes the continual contraction and expansion of time symptomatic of rolling lockdowns, a narcotic pace picked up in the prog trance pulse of Transform’s ‘Never Back To Earth’ and the wonky lollop of Kelshure’s ‘Life Of A Hustler (Version)’. The ambient mix of Kirsty MacColl’s underrated hit ‘Walking Down Madison’, which excavates her haunting delivery from underneath Johnny Mar’s overdriven riffage, signals a jaw-dropping, legitimately thought-provoking intermission, before winding back up into ’90s trance from Life Form, melodic jungle released earlier this month from Harmony, a coda from Armenian legend and duduk master Djivan Gasparyan and a familiar refrain from Eduard Artemyev’s iconic score for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. This is how dancing through a pandemic has felt for us, music to move to and think with.

You can catch Time Is Away every month on NTS. You can also tune in to Jack Rollo’s morning show every Friday. You can follow Time Is Away on Instagram.

Tracklist:

Eylül Deniz – ‘Rubyat’
Beefcake – ‘Comp. 03 Marisella’
Björk – ‘U Kur (Hibernation)’
System 7 – ‘Interstate (Doc Scott Mix)’
Chicaloyoh – ‘Impulsions Soniques’
DJ LA – ‘Indian Vibes’
Fruit of the Loop – ‘S*Explore (Boy You Turn Meex)’
Laurence Rassel & Terre Thaemlitz – ‘Useless Dub’
Curve – ‘Falling Free (Aphex Twin Remix)’
To Rococo Rot – ‘Die Dinge des Lebens’
Transform – ‘Never Back to Earth’
Kelshure – ‘Life Of A Hustler (Version)’
Kirsty MacColl ‎– ‘Walking Down Madison (6am ambient mix)’
Life Form – ‘Come Down’
Harmony – ‘Divine Toll’
Djivan Gasparyan – ‘Brother Hunter’
Eduard Artemyev – ‘Meditation’

Listen next: Fact Mix 839 – De Schuurman

Fact 2021: Patch Notes

We select some of the most memorable Patch Notes sessions from the year gone by.

Last year, when we launched our Patch Notes series, the world was largely locked down, with artists confined indoors to their homes and studios. As we turned the spotlight on artists from around the world whose practice involves hardware synths, modular setups and samplers, the series offered an intimate look at their creative process behind closed doors.

In 2021, as the world began to open up, we were able to capture these artists in a wider variety of unique locations, from the quarries of Italy’s northern lake region to the rooftops of São Paulo. Other locations included Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works and a plant shop in Seoul – all showcasing some of the world’s most innovative electronic performers outside of their own four walls.

With the threat of new variants looming, this year’s Patch Notes programme offers a reminder that live performance is as important an outlet for creativity than ever. Below are some of our favourite performances from across the year, from extended modular sessions to hardware techno and sampler-based wizardry.

To watch all episodes of Patch Notes from 2020, check the series archive.

Nkisi

In July 2021, Fact travelled to Italy’s Nextones Festival, where NON Worldwide co-founder Nkisi was performing alongside Caterina Barbieri as part of her new light-years platform. While we were at the festival, Nkisi performed an exclusive Patch Notes performance for Fact, set amongst the rocks of the Roncino quarry in the Ossola Valley that is home to Nextones.

Nkisi’s setup was one of the most unique we’ve seen on Patch Notes, with a strange electronic wind instrument providing eerie textures. “[I performed with] a couple of drum machines and FX pedals (this time I took my Korg Tribes out), a CDJ connected through a Tera Echo FX pedal, my Siren noise machine, and my favourite gear of the moment, the SOMA pipe, Nkisi says. I got into their gear through a friend showing me Ether, their electromagnetic recorder.”

Tantão e Os Fita

Tantão e Os Fita are an electronic trio from Rio de Janeiro, comprised of visual artist, vocalist and composer Carlos Antônio Mattos aka Tantão, and producers Abel Duarte and Cainã Bomilcar. The trio’s music, a collision of fractured, noisy beats and half-spoken, half-screamed vocals, are imbued with a raw punk energy, an influence carried over from Tantão’s role in legendary ’80s post-punk band, Black Future.

In this episode of Patch Notes, Fact filmed the trio performing at a warehouse space that forms part of a traditional samba school in the Brazilian city called Pimpolhos da Grande Rio. The props scattered around Duarte and Bomilcar’s table of samplers and turntables are a poignant reminder that in a normal year, this weekend would see the Rio Carnival lighting up the city’s streets.

Qasim Naqvi

Pakistani-American musician Qasim Naqvi is perhaps best known as a founding member of acoustic trio Dawn of Midi, in which he has played drums since 2007. Naqvi’s recent solo releases, such as 2019’s Teenages and 2020’s Beta, have made extensive use of synthesizers and modular systems, and in this episode of Patch Notes, we invited Naqvi to perform at Pioneer Works, a non-profit cultural center in Redhook, Brooklyn.

“The building dates back to 1866 and was originally a railroad track factory,” Naqvi says. “Now it’s a massive performing arts space. With my equipment, I was merging two systems that I’ve been configuring for a couple of years, a Verbos System and a Serge System. I also used a few random modules to connect everything: a Quad VCA from Intellijel and an X-Pan stereo module from Make Noise as the final output.”

Mabe Fratti

Mabe Fratti is a Guatemala-born experimental cellist and composer, now based in Mexico City. Her music makes use of cello, voice and synthesisers, drawing on the influence of classical forms such as Gregorian chants and Sephardi music and combining them with modern genres like shoegaze and dream pop to create expansive, emotive compositions.

In this Patch Notes performance, Fratti performs inside Mexico City’s Museo Anahuacalli (part of the city’s Fideicomiso de los Museos Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo), a 20th century building designed by Mexican painter Diego Rivera to house his collection of over 41,000 pre-Hispanic artworks. It was planned as a ‘City for the Arts’ that would encompass painting, dance, music, theatre, crafts and ecology. The building’s architecture draws on the influence of Teotihuacan and Maya cultures, and was opened in the 1960s after Rivera’s death in 1957.

Fronte Violeta

Fronte Violeta are Anelena Toku and Carla Boregas, a duo based in São Paulo who investigate the behaviour of sound in different environments via performance, audiovisual pieces, theatrical practices and collaborations with other artists. Their duo draw on the influence of the natural world, crafting ambient soundscapes and experimental beat-driven tracks.

In this episode of Patch Notes, Fronte Violeta perform a special improvised session with synths, samplers and effects amongst the metropolis of downtown São Paulo, filmed on a building where experimental music and performance venue Leviatã is located.

Seoul Community Radio Presents: Salamanda

For Salamanda’s contribution to the Seoul Community Radio Residency, the duo decamped to Unlooked For Blessing, a plant shop and café owned by local DJ Jjongho, to gently guide us through a gauzy jam using a variety of synths, sequencers, pedals and software. Using Ableton Live to control looping in real time, the duo used an Akai APC 40 Mk2 alongside a TC Helicon Vocal Box Duplicate, as well as a Korg Minilogue connected to the Boss Reverb pedal for sequencing and controlling delay time, feedback, resonance and envelope generation.

Unlooked For Blessing is just one of a network of spaces that comprise the wider universe of Seoul Community Radio, an interconnected and interdependent cluster of venues, cafés, restaurants, and galleries that provide the bricks and mortar support a scene like this needs. “The electronic music scene in Seoul is small but big, harmonized while being diverse, and has order within disorder,” explains the duo. “Due to the COVID-19 and the pre-existing vulnerabilities of the arts and culture sector, our favorite local venues have temporarily or permanently closed. Accordingly, we’ve been doing more online-based activities and recording mixes for radio broadcasts to reach out to listeners. While doing so, we tried (and are still trying) to find what would be the most interesting way for the audiences who are now watching and listening to us at home.”

Chang Rodrigues

Chang Rodrigues is a Brazilian artist based in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. For the past decade, she has produced house and techno as Amanda Chang, but under her current alias uses modular and semi-modular synthesisers with skills learned at the La Siesta del Fauno studio from synthesist Ernesto Romeo in Buenos Aires.

Her recent foray into hardware has gravitated towards ambient and experimental sounds – inspired in part by her spiritual outlook, love of yoga and close connection to the natural surroundings of her home country. However, Chang Rodrigues still has a love of techno, and its this side that she explores in her Patch Notes set, as she performs a high-octane hardware session using gear from Arturia, Moog and Elektron.

Luiza Schulz Vazquez

Luiza Schulz Vazquez is a musician and sound artist from Rio de Janeiro, who creates intricate electroacoustic compositions, typically with a Rhodes piano. Her compositions have scored film, dance, theatre and installations across Europe and South America, in venues such as the Sculpture Museum in São Paulo and Warsaw’s Grand Theatre.

In this session, we filmed Schulz Vazquez in performance at Rio’s Parque Lage, a former mansion turned art school and public park sitting underneath the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. The building has previously been used as a location for music videos featuring Snoop Dogg and the Black Eyed Peas, and required Fact to carry her 65kg Rhodes through the Atlantic Forest, 200m above sea level.

Watch next: Fact 2021: Audiovisual

Fact 2021: Audiovisual

We round up a selection of the best music videos, short films and audiovisual experiments we were thrilled to present in 2021.

Fact’s focus on audiovisual art and performance over the last two years has enabled us to follow the infinite number of different directions our favorite artists are moving in, all at once. In a year in which Collins Dictionary made “NFT” (non-fungible token) its “word” of the year and a nebulously defined conception of the metaverse looms over the horizon, it’s clear the boundaries between physical and digital, online and offline, sound and vision, are becoming more and more porous.

Amongst some of the most beautiful, challenging and evocative music videos of the year, Fact has presented a number of works that push and pull at these boundaries, implementing generative systems, wherein sounds literally produce images, and GAN animations, which transform the complex computational processes of generative adversarial networks into otherworldly, warping visuals. We’ve even presented a couple of actual NFTs, although whether these works are even ours to present or not is another, more complicated, question.

Conversely, the series has also provided a platform for artists working in more conventional fields of filmmaking, as well as some who continue to experiment with resolutely analogue techniques, such as hand-drawn animation and physical film manipulation. The fact that the latter of these examples, Pedro Maia and Kevin Richard Martin’s gorgeous collaboration, was sold as an NFT just goes to show how fluid the space we’re trying to catch a glimpse of really is. Below is an unranked list of some of our favorite audiovisual work we were thrilled to present in 2021.

Aisha Madu & LYZZA – BLOOM/ROT

With ‘BLOOM/ROT’, illustrator and animator Aisha Madu explores two opposing sides of producer and vocalist LYZZA, creating twin avatars to accompany two irresistible club compositions, one light and euphoric, the other darker and melancholic. “BLOOM/ROT are two sides of the same coin. They’re polar opposites but not polarised,” explains Madu. “BLOOM is growing, sweet and hopeful. ROT is decomposing, destruction and chaos.” “Musically I really tried to encapsulate the two up and down feelings in my head. I composed the music as if I was a visitor in my own brain, looking around,” says LYZZA. “The first track represents a vision of the light at the end of the tunnel a lot of people have used to keep themselves going in the day to day. The second track represents the low points where one just wants to be left alone and might redirect anger at others or themselves.”

C2C Festival Presents: Arca & Weirdcore – Live From Ibiza

Over the summer, as part of its C0C “The Festival As A Performance” digital program, Turin’s C2C Festival and Fundaciòn Marcelo Burlon brought together experimental composer, artist and performer Alejandra Ghersi with multidisciplinary artist Weirdcore for a very special performance to launch fashion designer, Marcelo Burlon’s new charitable foundation. Featuring guest appearances from pioneering DJs and producers Total Freedom and Physical Therapy, Arca curated a unique concert exploring avant-garde composition, thrilling live performance and experimental turntablism, all of which took place amongst the installations, exhibitions and artworks of a sprawling villa in Ibiza, a venue owned by by the Fondaciòn Marcelo Burlon. The 53 minute broadcast attracted a global audience of 7,619 fans across 34 nations in support of the fundraising campaign for the trans and non-binary shelter Casa Rifugo Marcella, Ghersi not only delivered an overwhelming, virtuosic performance, but also acted as both and compère and conductor, orchestrating a vital cacophony of sonic gymnastics and glamorous theatricality.

Bendik Giske & Matt Lambert – Brist

‘Brist’, which can be translated from Norwegian as “rupture”, is the title chosen by queer filmmaker Matt Lambert and experimental composer and saxophonist Bendik Giske for their stunning collaboration. Commissioned by Oslo’s MUNCH museum for the third installment of their Contemporary Art Digital Shorts series, entitled Queer Desires, Brist was captured by Matt Lambert at the HAU Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, yet another theatre lying empty during the lockdown. “Devoid of an audience during the pandemic,” says HAU, “the venerable stage stands empty, providing an eerie backdrop for Bendik Giske’s saxophone performance of his new composition.” Combining the jar-dropping physicality of Giske’s live performance with dim, sensual lighting, glistening latex stretched taut over straining flesh and the sleazy grain of 16mm film, with Brist Lambert equates the physical distance of social distancing and public curfews with the pent up desire of a furtive touch. The empty space of the deserted HAU1 theatre is contrasted with Giske’s solo journey around its labyrinthine sprawl of bathrooms, hallways and backstage areas, all the while pursued by a masked stranger.

Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy – Live @ Haus Der Kunst, Munich

Egyptian poet, singer and artist Abdullah Miniawy has been collaborating with Carl Gari for close to five years, debuting back in 2016 on The Trilogy Tapes with Darraje, before releasing The Act Of Falling From The 8th Floor to critical acclaim in 2019 on AD93. A highly conceptual project, the six-track release saw Miniawy coming together with the German trio, made up of musicians Jonas Yamer, Till Funke and Jonas Friedlich, to respond to a poem that describes the poet jumping from the eighth floor of a building in Cairo. As he falls, he describes what he sees on each of the building’s balconies, building a fatalist portrait of Egyptian society under the brutal Al-Sisi regime. The result is an immensely difficult, yet hauntingly beautiful, collection of songs, with Carl Gari providing devastating sonic architecture for Miniawy’s unflinching testimonial. For the group’s performance at the 2021 edition of Rewire Festival in The Hague, which took place both online and offline, they enlisted the talents of multimedia artist and filmmaker Justin Urbach to create a special live documentation of a unique live performance. Combining performance footage with cinematic elements, Urbach guides us through different scenarios, each accompanying a different track.

DJ Stingray 313 & Bahar Noorizadeh – Bioplastics

‘Bioplastics’ is taken from Molecular Level Solutions, a breakneck plunge through the roiling waters of DJ Stingray 313‘s singular sound, fusing clattering percussion and weaponised bass with the kind of glittering future soundscapes that are the producer’s speciality. The track’s video is a collaboration between DJ Stingray and Iranian-Canadian visual artist Bahar Noorizadeh, who explores the twin histories of electro and Detroit’s industrial past, transforming their continuities into a sci-fi parable. “Techno commenced where the factory withered away,” she writes. “One person, one car: two diachronous beats. Automated selves reverberating to the rhythm of brakes, axles and engines, imagineering the assembly line across the walls (picture Chaplin in Modern Times.) What better narrator than the car – or cinema – to speak of a hundred or so years of aporia (picture Hal in Space Odyssey.)”

ecolagbohrsac2021 – Fucking with an online date at a beautiful natural spot somewhere in the Beckenham Place Park

Melding avant-garde electronics with surreal computer-generated environments, ecolagbohrsac2021 is purportedly backed by England’s Council of Legislation and Governing Body of Hyper Real Simulations and Constructs, a fitting sponsor considering how accurately they capture the experience of moving around a city mediated by social media, navigating the virtual stack that sits atop the smog. It’s a theme that’s at the forefront of the exceptionally titled ‘Fucking with an online date at a beautiful natural spot somewhere in the Beckenham Place Park’. The digitised back-and-forth of online dating apps appear transfigured in this hyperreal space, manifested as quotes from Andrei Tarkovsky and lyrics from American hardcore band AFI and British prog group Porcupine Tree. A lonely man mouths off about a bedroom recording setup, while Hatsune Miku drifts off with Porcupine Trees ‘Deadwing’ stuck in her head. “How are you feeling these days,” asks someone. “Ready and Able,” answers someone else.

Elise Massoni – G & More

In the visual for Rinse France resident Elise Massoni’s ‘G & More’, created by visual artist Jack Anderson, the French producer’s complex rhythms and glistening melodies soundtrack a digital forest scene, which zooms into microscopic levels of detail as organic fractals emerge from a falling droplet of water. The video’s serene natural setting is juxtaposed with burned-out cars and industrial waste littering the scene, which are slowly engulfed by the plants that grow up around them. The video’s concept reflects Massoni’s thoughts on the track itself, and Straight is a Lie, the EP that ‘G & More’, is taken from. “Straight is a Lie was made following a series of personal disasters,” Massoni says. “It is a tale of those catastrophes but also of how they came to be resolved.”

Elkka – I. Miss. Raving.

femme culture co-founder Elkka wrote ‘I. Miss. Raving.’ at the beginning of 2020, in response to the initial days of the pandemic. “When this track was originally written I had no understanding of when the sentiment of nostalgia, frustration and unending desire to be out raving, to be alongside friends and strangers would expire,” she explains. “But here we are and it still feels just raw as it did when I wrote this towards the beginning of last year.” “In times like these collaboration has been a saviour,” Elkka continues, “and fortunately I have some very talented friends who were able to create something beautiful and symbiotic to go alongside the music which I think really captures the moment we are living in.” She called upon director of photography Michael Filocamo and director Alex Lambert to create the video.

embryoroom – Ravaged By The Sun (American Cannibalism)

Experimental filmmaker, musician and multimedia artist Edward Quist, who makes work under the alias embryoroom, imagines New York City as a shadowy hellscape in his latest feature presentation, Ravaged By The Sun (American Cannibalism). Developed over the course of the last year with various live lockdown screenings on social media, the expansive audiovisual work weaves together stroboscopic video montage, CGI and a seething score of pitch-black techno and chilly electronics to paint a nightmarish picture of an alternate reality that draws inspiration from the very real anguish and trauma of life under lockdown.

Feral – God’s Country

This year producer and designer Caleb Halter, aka Feral, returned from a five-year hiatus from music with his long awaited debut album, The End, which sees the artist approaching electronic music with the wide-eyed grandeur of stadium shows experienced as a child. “My earliest memories of mixes weren’t on Radio 1,” he says, “but at Labor Day fireworks displays over the Ohio river synchronized to classic rock, at an arena filled with fog at Monster Jam, or at a laser-light show at Cedar Point looking out across Lake Erie.” “I wanted to create a mix inspired by that world, a super-set of agony and euphoria, a flickering radio transmission, spinning the dial across genre and time, all held together by an invisible thread.” Halter returns to similar territory with the album’s second single, ‘God’s Country’. Beginning with plucked strings before building to an epic barrage of driving synthesis and shimmering, effects-heavy guitar, the track arrives with a lysergic visual from director and animator Erik Carter, who follows the bizarre progress of a glitched-out cowboy.

FRKTL – Azimuth

In Azimuth, audiovisual artist Sarah Badr channels a tension between organic and synthetic forms, digitally rendering pulsating alien objects and shimmering surfaces that change and transform in a responsive, symbiotic relationship with the tactile sounds she corals into the intricate texture of her compositions. Resolutely synaesthetic, Azimuth oscillates between the recognisable and the impossible, a dichotomy that is suggested in the work’s title. An azimuth, in geometry, is an angular measurement in a spherical coordinate system and is derived from the Arabic word السَّمْت. When applied in astrology and used as a celestial coordinate, an azimuth is the horizontal direction of a star, or other astronomical object. In one sense the title, and the work, is functional, referring to a unit of measurement, but when applied to the world around us it becomes ontological, a marker for locating an object in physical, or artificial, space.

Galya Bisengalieva – Moynaq

On her latest album, Aralkum, avant-violinist and electronic composer Galya Bisengalieva reflects on what she terms “one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet”, the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Located between Uzbekistan and Bisengalieva’s native Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea was formerly the fourth largest lake in the world, but back in the 1960s the rivers that fed the lake were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects, causing the lake to shrink to 10 percent of its original size by 1997. It is this process of desertification and desiccation that Bisengalieva responds to on Aralkum, which is split into three sections: pre-disaster, calamity and future. ‘Moynaq’ is taken from the first section and takes its name from a long-since abandoned sea port in northern Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan. For the dramatic visual accompaniment Kazakh director Sana Serkebaeva imagines the flora and fauna of a lush sea forest, now lost to the heat and death of the desert.

HDMIRROR TV – THIS MUSIC

The audiovisual practice of HDMIRROR is a hard thing to describe, it’s really something you have to experience. If asked, the artist opts for “dysfunctional dance music”, “transformation through overload”, “euphoria simulator”, “neural fireworks” and, perhaps most cryptically, “sabotage and tradition.” Citing key influences as Guy Debord, Jean Baudrillard and Dutch EDM giant Tiësto, HDMIRROR is an ever-evolving site of 21st century iconoclasm, a hard dance glitch in the simulation causing the sounds and images of dance music’s past, present and future to buckle and twist as they are catapulted at frightening speed into the stratosphere. Yet, in spite of the artist’s “high octane music theory”, HDMIRROR’s off-kilter Music for Accelerationists never regresses into techno-nihilism. Uncontaminated by the digital world, the artist’s disruptive audiovisual broadcasts are precision engineered to wreak havoc IRL, imbued with a purity of spirit and a pranksterish playfulness that seeks to commune with the ghosts of rave past while at the same time transcending the machinic grind of the modern music industry. In many ways, “THIS MUSIC” can be understood as a potent distillation of this drive, a hyperreal reflection of what it’s like to rave in a world where the physical and the virtual are constantly at each other’s throats.

Kevin Richard Martin & Pedro Maia – Frequencies For Leaving Earth Vol. 4

Responding in kind to extremely dark times with equally intense sounds, Kevin Richard Martin inaugurated Intercranial Recordings with a volley of solo albums, Frequencies for Leaving Earth Volumes One to Five. Moving from “smacked out jazz” and “massive low-end gravity”, through what Martin wryly refers to as his “gospel album”, to “celestial drones” and “cavernous dubspaces”, these five albums saw the producer plunging further into the sound worlds he has been exploring since the late ’80s. Coming together with Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Maia, Martin sent these sonic explorations into deep space against transcendent analogue visuals. Using a combination of traditional analogue processing techniques and digital technology Maia presents four contemporary variations on 2001: A Space Odyssey‘stargate, each catapulting us past earth’s orbit into the unknown.

Lucas Paris – Light Center Folds

AV artist Lucas Paris explores the softer side of audiovisual performance culture in Light Center Folds, a technicolour exploration of a virtual wilderness recorded live, in real time, for Fact. “Light Center Folds is a digital environment of complexity fusing a range of themes and research into a real time audiovisual environment captured live for the final video work,” explains Paris. “This work stems from the efforts of imagining the rules of a virtual environment from scratch with a conscious effort to move the use of game engines beyond adversity, conflict, attack, evaluation, scoring and reward.” Chasing light particles around a barren wasteland populated with glitched-out emoji collages, grotesque CGI sculptures, skeletal vector art and digital foliage, Paris dives deeper into the virtual space of an audiovisual environment, viewing it through a specifically spatial lens. Exploding flattened notions of user interface, Paris glides between discarded landmarks of digital detritus, expanding the two dimensions of a smartphone screen or laptop display into a fully developed world. 

Marina Herlop – miu

“Since I started making music, my intention has never been to explain a personal story or express my emotions – at least not in a conscious way,” explains Marina Herlop. “There is no extra-musical reference sheltering my music so far, the only principle that has led my creative process has been an aesthetic one.” The first we hear of the experimental pianist, vocalist and producer on ‘miu’, her debut release for PAN and the first glimpse of an album forthcoming in 2022, is a gently distorted layered harmony. The first we see of her in the stunning video from director Anxo Casal is Herlop wrapped in a headscarf, crossing a pink and blue sky plucked straight out of science-fiction. It’s clear that, wherever we are in ‘miu’, this a world of Herlop’s making, an alien earworm that sounds at once hymnal and foreboding. “My will is to create music that is self-contained and thus does not intend to describe emotions, ideas, landscapes, characters or scenes of my life or lives of others,” she asserts.

Mark Prendergast – EYE FALL

EYE FALL is a dizzying meditation on the digital image from artist and filmmaker Mark Prendergast. Using a wide array of imaging tools and editing techniques, Prendergast deftly draws together a jumbled assemblage of video material and digital ephemera into a non-linear reflection on the world viewed through a small screen. “It was made in a period where there were a whole lot of ideas and observations floating around,” explains the artist, “so this work isn’t really about one thing in particular but it’s the end product of around 18 months of thinking about what it is to be a maker in the current visual/cultural climate.” Cutting between footage of his friends, animals, children and objects, Prendergast crafts a kind of videographic free verse, a poetic response to everyday life mediated by digital media, for digital media. “The initial starting point for the work was that I wanted to explore the feeling of being in free fall,” continues Prendergast. “I was feeling – and still feel – that in this contemporary moment the ground is quite unstable and were all in a collective state of free fall. It seems like we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift where meaning, roles, genres, rules of representation, everything is all up for grabs, so I wanted to make a work which is a kind of meditation on the digital image and where we’re all at right now.” 

MSHR – Liquid Conglomerate Presence Cycle

MSHR is the audiovisual performance collective of artists Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy, a collaborative project focused on the building and exploration of sculptural electronic systems, cybernetic compositions that take form as installation work and live performances. For the last decade they have toured the world with their unique, improvisational live show, centered around self-built analog synthesizers that use feedback from light and movement to create dense sonic landscapes. For Liquid Conglomerate Presence Cycle, the duo’s innately somatic approach to synthesis is complemented with reactive visuals that form city-like circuitscapes, which are themselves extruded from diagrams describing the signal flow of MSHR’s electronic musical systems.

object blue – Opened Close (Live on Twitch)

Grotto is a bit like if King Lear had been a millennial soap opera with a happy ending,” says object blue of her latest release for London label TT, a five-track, audiovisual EP that sees the producer teaming up with her wife and creative partner, artist and photographer Natalia Podgórska. “Grotto is a stage,” blue continues. “It’s not a soundtrack to an existing play, but whilst creating it I was thinking about the space we move in, the characters we play, the dialogues that happen.” blue and Podgórska shared an excerpt featuring a live rendition of the project’s anthemic opener, ‘Opened Close’. blue corrals an ecstatic, stabbing synth line as Podgórska conjures a fantastical digital environment around her. “The video is half inspired by object blue’s interest in medieval art and theatre, half inspired by imaginary friends/characters we make up to cope with our home situation (which is what Grotto is about),” she explains.

PDP III – 49 Days

Back in 2018 experimental composer Britton Powell came together with cellist Lucy Railton and producer Brian Leeds, perhaps best known as Huerco S., at Gary’s Electric Studio in Brooklyn, New York. Over the course of a number of exploratory sessions Powell presented the group with a collection of compositional sketches, each centred around multi-tracked electronics and recorded acoustic percussion. Taking these sketches as a starting point, the three musicians then began adding to Powell’s sonic scaffolding with instinctive, improvisational playing, with Railton on cello and electronics and Powell and Leeds working in tandem on laptops. It was out of this period of experimentation and improvisation that Pilled Up on a Couple of Doves was borne, a collection of recordings edited, distilled and collaged together over the course of the next two years. Filmmaker Drew Hagelin contributes a fittingly abstract visual accompaniment, realising a concept devised by Powell with layered projections and slowly shifting editing. Dark ripples and silhouettes fold into each other in gently lysergic patterns, a technicolour filter picking out areas of light defined starkly against shade in a process that mimics the act of listening for recognisable acoustic forms amidst discordant electronics.

Rainer Kohlberger & Jung An Tagen – Emergence Collapse

Austrian-born, Berlin-based artist and filmmaker Rainer Kohlberger and Viennese producer Jung An Tagen are partners in audiovisual chaos for Emergence Collapse, a new collaborative project adapted from the artists’ forthcoming live AV show. Functioning as an extended exploration of the neuroscientific effects of synthetic sounds, the album’s compositions are equal parts dizzying and ecstatic, oscillating between satisfying and frightening, concrete and abstract, as Shilla Strelka describes in the album’s liner notes, “an overstimulated exploration of perceptive processes.” It’s an effect that is stretched to breaking point with Rainer Kohlberger’s visual accompaniment, a swirling, swarming mass of neural nets and machine learning, a Deep Mind fever dream that draws out the lysergic energy of Jung An Tagen’s synthetic experiments while at the same time gurgles towards the bioluminescent, organic qualities his sounds occasionally assume

Robert Dietz & Claudia Rafael – Swallowing Tubes

Producer and sound designer Robert Dietz and digital artist Claudia Rafael are close friends, in fact, they live next door to each other. When the time came for Dietz to think about visualising the sounds of Schnups, his debut EP for Live At Robert Johnson, Rafael was the obvious choice, but not just because they happen to be neighbours. Swallowing Tubes is a profound testament to the strength of their creative partnership, showcasing a stunning marriage of sound and image that seems to work at a molecular level. Drawing inspiration from the dreamy pads and transcendent arpeggios of Dietz’s track, Rafael set her sights on the heavens, using a text-to-image GAN (generative adversarial network) to create an infinite zoom through a lysergic landscape of heavenly bodies.

Sabrina Ratté – Floralia

By utilising a mixture of photography, 3D animation and analog technologies, Canada-born, Paris-based artist Sabrina Ratté investigates the interplay between surroundings and subjectivity. Her practice includes video, animation, installations, sculptures, audio-visual performances and prints, all of which function in service of a multidisciplinary exploration of space, both digital and physical. For her latest video series, Floralia, Ratté draws inspiration from the writing of Donna J. Haraway, the author of A Cyborg Manifesto, as well as science-fiction writers Ursula K. Le Guin and Greg Egan, as she imagines a speculative future in which samples of extinct plant species are preserved and displayed in a virtual archive room.

Ville Kallio – Cruelty Squad

In Cruelty Squad, interdisciplinary artist Ville Kallio envisions a grotesque, low-resolution alternative reality where power, capital and ultra-violence are one and the same, where corporate liquidations involve quite literally liquifying employees and where biomechanical, drug-addled assassins are tasked with “performing wetworks” for despotic conglomerates. This is what Ville Kallio terms “an immersive power fantasy simulator with tactical stealth elements”, a first-person shooter in the style of classic late ’90s and early ’00s games such as Perfect Dark, Deus Ex and Quake, that draws aesthetically from a diverse collection of influences, including Super Mario 64, LSD Dream Emulator and Dark Souls. You play as an “emotionally dead combat-substance fuelled grunt” of the titular Cruelty Squad, a “depraved subsidiary company” headed up by the Corporate Arch Demoness.

Yen Tech – Lazarus

SVBKVLT‘S resident sci-fi rap iconoclast Yen Tech embraces the bombast of pop excess, channeling dystopian swagger and video game hyperactivity into his cinematic sound. It was this quality that artists Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic saw in the rapper and producer, leading them to feature him as a major character in their 2016 collaborative work, There’s a word I’m trying to remember, for a feeling I’m about to have (a distracted path towards extinction). Lazarus is an excerpt of this longer work, and features Yen Tech playing a character preoccupied with realising his digital self, in spite of the planetary extinction he is only barely surviving. Rather than attempting to preserve the natural world, he siphons the last of the life blood of the earth to power his virtual world, a space in which he is able to manifest his unfiltered pop star id. “He becomes a manifestation of his ultimate self,” explains Gvojic, “a pop star, the pinnacle of cultural production.”

Watch next: Fact 2020 – Audiovisual

Grove shares steamy ode to sensuality with ‘Slippery’

Bokeh Versions sees out the year with a lust-fuelled, hybrid visual, featuring digital and analogue processing techniques from Ben Dornan Wilson and Jasmine Butt.

This year saw Bristol-based, polymathic producer and vocalist Grove landing on the city’s most consistently thrilling and iconoclastic label, Bokeh Versions. Following up their uncompromising breakout release, Queer + Black, a potent statement of intent blending hectic breaks with lacerating lyricism, SPICE sees Grove embracing the Bokeh way and delving deeper into mutated forms of dancehall, dub and hip-hop. “This mixtape is an ode to the exciting and lust-filled period of new relationships, and explores everything from steezy self-confidence, to slippery sensual encounters and the soft cheeks of a lover,” they explain. “Delving into the beauty of production that is firmly rooted in both Jamaican and British culture has been a great process of personal growth. Being a person of dual-heritage, the dancehall and dub elements are the Jamaican spice, mixed with the undeniable influence that Bristol has had in terms of sonic darkness and experimentation.”

At the EP’s climax comes ‘Slippery,’ a steamy queer sex anthem, featuring additional production from Giant Swan’s Robin Stewart, which sees Grove going in over humid electronics and dense, distorted bass, a perfectly frazzled marriage of their future-facing approach to dancehall and Stewart’s predilection for ragged noise experimentation. It seems fitting, then, that director Ben Dornan Wilson and artist Jasmine Butt, aka Guest, would reflect this hybridity in the track’s visual. “For this video we wanted to experiment with mixing analogue and digital processing,” explains Butt. “Ben was in charge of most of the digital work, including the original filming and directing at Strange Brew – then I processed some of the imagery in After Effects before filming on 16mm and running through various dark room techniques. After scanning the film, we folded it back in to the final video with Ben leading the edit.”

“It was a really good opportunity to play with quite a lot of new processes,” she continues. “Some parts of the film process were inspired by old special effects techniques. From early cinema up to the ’80s they used to hand paint stencils (or travelling mattes) frame by frame, but this time I used digital software to rotoscope stencil outlines of Grove’s moving form. We then filmed that on 16mm to get stencils, and using DIY contact printing methods (an old enlarger lamp and a pic sync block) I printed different imagery into both the background and the dancing form. This is also the first time using a new technique I found by accident – where if you film a digital video that is strobing quickly between positive to negative, the digital frame rate and the 16mm frame rate slip out of phase, and you get some frames that are a double exposure of both positive and negative image – like a grey ghost image which adds another texture.”

“When filming and printing with 16mm, some of the most interesting things happen in the transitional moments. When one shot finishes and the other begins, or when the end of the film flicks through the contact printer and you can see a glimpse of the process in the couple of frames that get messed up by it. There were a few moments where the film jumped around in the scanner and Ben used these shots in the edit – it worked so well and I really love it when the chaotic and disorderly parts of the process shine through. All the film was hand processed in caffenol – an eco process where the developer is a lukewarm soup of coffee, vitamin C and soda crystals.” The result is a stunning portrait of an artist that stands as a shining example of the new Bristol sound, retooling club music into darker, more lethal forms while obliterating convention in the process.

‘Slippery’ is taken from SPICE, which is out now on Bokeh Versions, in collaboration with Spinny Nights. You can find Grove on Instagram and Bandcamp.

For more information about Ben Dornan Wilson and his work you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram. You can find Jasmine Butt on Instagram.

Watch next: NYX, MA.MOYO and Nick Cobby meditate through nature, symbiosis and collective consciousness in Mutualism

 

Against The Clock: LYZZA

Against The Clock is a series where we give an artist 10 minutes in the studio and see what they come up with.

Brazilian-born, Amsterdam-based LYZZA’s fusion of club music and pop music has been in constant evolution since her debut in 2017, combining lyrics about heartbreak and relationships with abstract beats and neon melodies. It’s a sound that she once called “anxiety pop”, a reference to the uncertain future that her generation faces.

In October 2021, we caught up with LYZZA at Cavalera’s London Studio as she visited London for a gig, and challenged her to make a track in 10 minutes for Against The Clock. “I’ve not watched every Against The Clock video, but I definitely watched a lot of them when I was getting into music production,” LYZZA says. “I thought it was important for me to do this because I feel there’s just not enough footage on the internet of Black women creating music.”

As LYZZA explains, she isn’t used to making tracks in such a short timeframe. “I usually make the body of a track when I feel super creative within three to four hours, or sometimes I lose track of time and it becomes seven hours,” she says. “When you’re in a creative energy you just continue making music, so once the creative wave has passed it becomes more like ‘OK, I’m working on music now’ where you start looking into the mixing, the effects, the compression.”

LYZZA’s Against The Clock session sees her using a lean setup, including a laptop with Logic and Omnisphere for synth sounds, a hardware synth for MIDI control and microphone for recording vocals. “I’m not sure what the vibe is, but I told myself it would be 160BPM,” she says.

You can follow LYZZA on Instagram and find her music on Bandcamp. Look out for new music coming from LYZZA in 2022.

Watch next: Against The Clock: Stiff Pap

Fact Mix 839: De Schuurman

Two mixes from the bubbling innovator that document key moments in his artistic evolution.

In the late 1980s, a chance mistake by Curacao’s DJ Moortje created an entirely new genre. Bubbling house (or bubbling, as it came to be known) was spawned when Moortje accidentally played a 33RPM dancehall record at 45RPM at Club Voltage in Den Haag, and bubbling became a key sound for the Holland’s Afro-diasporic community, evolving over the decades as younger producers entered the scene.

One such artist was Guillermo Schuurman, the nephew of early bubbling innovator DJ Chippie. As De Schuurman, he began producing and DJing in the late 2000s, creating a sound that combined rap and R&B samples with elements of trance and electro house. Although De Schuurman was a central player in Holland’s bubbling scene during this period, many of his tracks went without a proper release.

Earlier this year however, Nyege Nyege Tapes introduced De Schuurman to a wider audience with the release of his debut album, Bubbling Inside. The album features some of De Schuurman’s most notable tracks from his earlier career alongside a few recent productions, tracing his artistic progress from 2007 until today.

De Schuurman’s Fact Mix is actually two separate mixes that encapsulate this journey: a ‘club mix’ largely comprised of his own productions that traces his evolution as an artist, and a ‘hidden gems’ mixtape that features music he and his friends used to listen to in their youth. Both offer a window into a time that has gone largely undocumented.

“A lot of tracks are not even to be found and many of them don’t even have a proper track name,” De Schuurman says. “They belonged to producers who never even released the track.”

Follow De Schuurman on Instagram. You can buy Bubbling Inside from Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Bandcamp.

Fact Mix 839: De Schuurman (Club Mix)

Fact Mix 839: De Schuurman (Hidden Gems Mixtape)

Listen next: Fact Mix 838: Yazzus

LABOUR live at Metabolic Rift

A performance of LABOUR’s recent work ‘the hit of enlightenment (بیگانگی)’, recorded at Berlin’s Kraftwerk.

In September 2021, the team behind Berlin Atonal launched a new live concept in response the challenging conditions presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Titled Metabolic Rift, the month-long event series combined both an exhibition spread across Berlin’s Kraftwerk venue and a series of concerts that captured the spirit of Berlin through site-specific interventions and live performance.

One of the highlights from Metabolic Rift’s live programme was a performance from LABOUR, the project from Berlin-based multidisciplinary artists Farahnaz Hatam and Colin Hacklander that combines their experience in molecular biology, sound art and post-tonal theory to create works that interrogate existential questions and the power structures that form our collective reality.

LABOUR’s Metabolic Rift performance, which we’re presenting highlights of above, featured the debut of a brand new show. LABOUR says: ‘the hit of enlightenment (بیگانگی)’ debuted at Metabolic Rift 2021, beginning where ‘next time, die consciously (بیگانگی)’ ended the 2018 festival: both musically with an articulation of architectural and acoustic space, and conceptually with the realisation that heteronomy is the condition of all things – that external forces create our notion of self which tends to be constructable and therefore de-constructable.  

“Taking a critical stance towards notions of regulated time by embracing rhythmic instability and sound as sculptural material, LABOUR devise methods of co-existence and distinction through rupture while gesturing towards the possibility of strong, sudden shifts in consciousness.”

You can find more of LABOUR’s work by exploring their Fact Residency. For more information on Metabolic Rift, visit the website.

Credits:

Directed and filmed by Pedro S. Küster
Camera operation by Sven Gutjahr and Alfredo La Corte Machado
Sound by Guillem Alonso

LABOUR is Colin Hacklander and Farahnaz Hatam
with Masaya Hijikata on drums 
visuals by Evelyn Bencicova, Zeynep Schilling, Enes Güç 
plus 26 stochastic group drummers

Thank you to Callie’s Berlin for their continued support

Watch next: Fact Residency: Theresa Baumgartner

NYX, MA.MOYO and Nick Cobby meditate through nature, symbiosis and collective consciousness in Mutualism

A communal collaboration between 14 different artists, Mutualism was created as a collective response to humanity’s relationship to the natural world.

The product of an iterative process of communal collaboration, Mutualism was developed over lockdown in 2020 by electronic drone choir NYX, spoken word and sound artist MA.MOYO, aka Belinda Zhawi, and visual artist Nick Cobby. Described by NYX as “a metamorphic meditation, embodying our relationship with nature, symbiosis transformation and collective consciousness”, the 11-minute audiovisual work emerged from what the choir term ‘symbiotic working,’ intended to generate “a true sense of connection, expression and interdependence.” Unfolding from the image of a match being struck deep within a mass of dense and twisted foliage, Mutualism is slow, introspective trip through the leaves, stones and earth of the natural world, a call and response between the modulated vocal tones, live electronics and instrumental arrangements of NYX, the lysergic visuals of Nick Cobby and the incantatory performance of MA.MOYO.

“Moving slowly together, each phase of development returned a collective of 14 artists to creatively respond to each new iteration, an evolving relationship that became more than the sum of its parts,” explains NYX. Originally devised as 360-degree projection, the above presentation sees the work condensed into a single channel. Revealing itself slowly, Mutualism takes on the resonance of an esoteric ceremony, with NYX’s redefinition of choral music at once gesturing towards devotional forms while shedding light on the potential for new forms of communal performance and practice. By the time the piece bursts into fractals, heralding a stunning, textural polyphony of voice both sung and spoken, it is clear that, through the collective’s process of symbiotic working, Mutualism is a meditation that envelops both artist and audience in service of a truly interdependent experience.

It’s an urge that is reflected in Zhawi’s words, which continually return to a central mantra: “meet me in the middle.” Invoking fire, air, earth and water, MA.MOYO relates natural elements to her own physical senses, situating her body within a shared space and aligning herself to the world around her. “My freedom / Is your freedom,” she asserts. “For that is the only way to live.”

‘Mutualism’ is out now, on the NYX Bandcamp. The choir have enlisted Anna Wall, Deena Abdelwahed and LCY for Mutualism Remixed, which is also available now on the NYX Bandcamp.

You can find MA.MOYO on Instagram. For more information about Nick Cobby and his work you can visit his website. For more information about NYX and their projects, visit their website and follow them on Instagram.

Mutualism Lyrics:

Meet me in the middle
Says the fire
My freedom is your freedom
Yours is mine
Freedom
The grey matter in between
Is ours to share
But you hold the bow
and I the arrow
Its tip in my chest
You’re pulling away
I’m letting go
Will you meet me in the middle

Meet me in the middle
Says the air
Lying on my back, suspended
With nothing but air beneath me
With nothing but space beneath me
With nothing but time beneath me
And the end
Is the middle

Meet me in the middle
Says the earth
You nourish me
with your songs
Funny, and sad
Your words hold me
Anchored
Dug into the soil
I live by your means
By your cycles

For that is the only way to live

Meet me in the middle
Says the water
Your dilated eyes
watch the clouds gather
Meet me in the middle
Is the hour before dusk
The creek high
Reflecting low sky

My freedom
Is your freedom
Is mine
Is yours
Is my freedom
Is your freedom

Mutualism Credits:

Composer and Producer – Sian O’Gorman
Words – MA.MOYO
Contributing Vocalists – Adélaïde Pratoussy, Cecilia Forssberg, Kelechi Anucha, MA.MOYO, Ruth Corey, Rebekah Alero, Shireen Qureshi, Sian O’Gorman
Saxophone – David Boyce
Creative Directors – Josh Thomas, Philippa Neels, Sian O’Gorman
Motion Designer and Animator – Nick Cobby
3D Sound Design – Peter Rice
Embodiment Director – Imogen Knight
Remixes – Anna Wall, Deena Abdelwahed, LCY
Mastering – James Rand
Executive Producers – Josh Thomas, Philippa Neels
Production – NYX Collective Records Ltd.

Mutualism was created with the generous support of Arts Council England and Help Musicians UK, PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music.

Watch next: Fact Residency – Theresa Baumgartner

Fact Mix 838: Yazzus

Yazzus tears through a high-velocity selection of sexy rave, dark room techno and essential selections from classic ’90s video game soundtracks, including Wipeout 2097, Ghost In The Shell, Tekken 4 and System Shock 2.

Picking up where we left off with last week’s Fact mix with Gracie T, who went out with a bang with ‘All Your Love (Ode 2 Hudmo)’, this week we are thrilled to present Yazzus, who tears through a high-velocity selection of sexy rave, dark room techno and ’90s video game soundtracks. “For this mix I dug through ’90s video games soundtracks, finding sexy techno with groove and pulsing rhythms, then pairing with some of my favourite tracks at the moment with this same aesthetic,” she explains. “Video games have always been a big inspiration to me, growing up playing shit like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat with my older brother, I think unconsciously I’ve been vibing to the soundtracks ever since. ‘Battle Stage’ music always has vibrant electronic sounds such as acid, hardcore, jungle and techno, the latter I’ve been connecting with more so, since my move to Berlin. The bounce is also super important too!! Please enjoy and also check out classic game soundtracks, you’ll be surprised how many tracks you can actually enjoy as club music – the PS1 Ghost In The Shell OST is a special one for sure!”

The results are breathtaking, a headlong rush through essential selections from the soundtracks to Wipeout 2097, Ghost In The Shell, Tekken 4 and System Shock 2, cemented together with a hard and fast contemporary sound, including recent tracks from ÅMRTÜM, Roza Terenzi, badsista, Clair’s hardcore rave edit of Sexy Sushi’s electroclash anthem ‘Sex Appeal’ and an unreleased track from Yazzus herself. It’s a thrilling snapshot of the scenes the Ghana-born, London-bred, now Berlin-based DJ and producer has immersed herself in recently, following a relocation to Germany, as well as a testament to the unstoppable momentum she has been building for the past few years. Between releasing an essential EP on Steel City Dance Discs, gifting us two unmissable edit packs, the first a love letter to the ’90s dance music she draws so much inspiration from and the second a killer collection of the bootlegs and edits that have become her signature, Yazzus featured on Mary Anne Hobbs’ 6 Music show, contributed a track to Tresor’s landmark 30th anniversary compilation and made her debut at Berghain.

Not only is her Fact mix exactly what we want to hear at a techno party, it’s also Yazzus at her most playful, weaving in childhood inspirations and a reverence for an extremely personally formative period of dance music into her high-speed, forward-facing sound. Never before have we wanted to both go out and stay in quite so intensely.

You can follow Yazzus on Instagram.

Tracklist:

Underworld – ‘Kittens’ (Wipeout 2097)
Benji303 – ‘Rising Vibes Of An Acid Fantasy!’
DJ これからの緊急災害 – ‘Detroit Remain’
Hardfloor – ‘Spook & Spell (Fast Version)’ (Ghost In The Shell)
ÅMRTÜM – ‘Concentrated’
Takkyu Ishino – ‘Ghost In The Shell’ (Ghost in The Shell PS1)
Sexy Sushi – ‘Sex Appeal (Clair edit)’
Amor Satyr – ‘Toca Aquela’
Namco Sounds – ‘Kitsch’ (Tekken 4)
Towa Tei & Kylie Minogue – ‘German Bold Italic’
Roza Terenzi – ‘Stylish Tantrum’
Yazzus – ‘????’
badsista – ‘TOMOTOMO’
Von Riu – ‘Raveyard’
Eric Brosius – ‘Med Sci 1’ (System Shock 2)

Listen next: Fact Mix 837 – Gracie T

Fact Residency: Theresa Baumgartner

Theresa Baumgartner channels painterly sensibilities and the unbridled energy of experimental music across a variety of disciplines, blurring the lines between installation art, audiovisual performance and experimental film.

When Theresa Baumgartner was at studying at art school, prior to her transition into audiovisual art, she became obsessed with making paintings on a huge scale, so huge, in fact, that by the artist’s own admission they worked just as well as sculptures as they did paintings. By the time she had completed her studies Baumgartner was disenfranchised with the world of fine art and found herself gravitating towards the visceral energy and emotional chaos of the experimental noise and punk shows of her youth. Seeking a more democratic space for her practice, she has ploughed her own furrow, oscillating between installation work, live performance and art film, yet these two formative experiences of painting and punk have continued to inform all of her work.

Whether fucking with the male gaze alongside artist Abyss X, reflecting on defeat and failure with musician Sam Slater, submerging us in the sounds of oceanic noise pollution with field recordist and Cabaret Voltaire member Chris Watson or translating the sonic disruption of producer Muqata’a into textural, painterly visuals, Theresa Baumgartner draws from her experience to imbue her work with emotional potency. As she levels: “I’m more interested in the emotional part in anything. At the end of the day I’d rather have people reaching back into themselves, being overwhelmed or just able to forget about themselves.”

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Abyss X – Animosity (SOPHIE Remix)

“Surrounding yourself with your friends is influential because you throw ideas around that boil in everyone’s head,” Baumgartner emphasises. “I understand how scenes develop and evolve because you all sit in the same stewing pot.” Contributing to festivals like Berlin Atonal and CTM and heading up lighting design and visuals for Berlin’s pioneering audiovisual space Trauma Bar Und Kino, the artist has been able to move among a wealth of world class talent, drawing inspiration from a plethora of artists and collectives. It was in this way that Baumgartner’s collaboration with Hellenic experimental taste-maker Evangelia Lachianina, otherwise known as Abyss X, developed. “I started talking to Evangelia about this idea for a 360-degree camera and a light installation that I’ve been wanting to play with for a long time,” she explains. “I wanted to have something that was high energy and doesn’t really give a fuck, to let out some steam and make it weird.” Transposing 360-degree footage into a single channel, Baumgartner captures Abyss X at her most distorted, seemingly trapped in an illuminated chamber, moving in a ritualistic fervour to the sounds of SOPHIE’s shape-shifting remix of her own track ‘Animosity’.

“I’m fucking with the male gaze,” says Baumgartner. “There are clear symbols that this is supposed to be attractive, but then I’m morphing her body, morphing her features.” It’s here that the artist’s DIY influences are most apparent. Everything from the visceral performance of Abyss X, the sparse lighting and smoke to the asymmetry of Baumgartner’s frame, her disregard for convention and perfection, imbue the piece with subterranean potency, like you’ve just stumbled across two friends testing their artistic limits in a cramped Berlin basement. “I’m okay with things looking rough, or disorganized and turning that into a statement,” she says. “With stage design especially, often everything’s symmetrical and super slick. I’m okay with it really not being that way, to a degree where I’m really going the other way.” Encouraging each other to push their respective practices further, Theresa Baumgartner builds a world for Abyss X to inhabit, imperfectly and unashamedly.

This kind of world building stems from broader world view that was shared in part by their third, sadly absent collaborator. “The collaboration is basically a tribute to SOPHIE,” explains Baumgartner. “Her production works really well on a technical level, it’s artificial and highly produced, so blending it with the 360 technology fucks that up again. It’s out there, technologically, but then it breaks it, and that is also what SOPHIE did with her music.” Through both sound and image, SOPHIE demonstrated that it was possible to find a pureness of expression and an emotional truth in the most artificial, technologically-mediated places. Through digital distortion and physical theatrics, Theresa Baumgartner and Abyss X pick up this thread, injecting DIY energy into audiovisual art and performance.

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Vandals (Excerpt)

I do not wish to be known as a Vandal is a 40-minute, audiovisual installation work from musician Sam Slater, performer Lukas Malkowski and this month’s Fact Resident, artist Theresa Baumgartner. Spanning 40 minutes in length in its original iteration, above Baumgartner presents Vandals, a short excerpt of the stunning film that functions as a moving image metaphor for failure, pain and resolve in the face of both. Captured in ultra slow motion with four high speed cameras, the work follows Malkowski, standing naked, falling on his face before picking himself up and returning to his original position. “It’s about defeat and failure, like seeing a car crash in slow motion, watching someone falling, watching the point of no return and then hurting themselves by falling on their face,” explains Baumgartner. “But it’s also watching the rebuild process, returning to point zero again, very slowly.” Slowed to a barely perceptible crawl, through a process of A.I.-enabled upscaling each frame of the film takes on the quality of a Caravaggio oil painting, each second of chiaroscuro amplified in a moving portrait.

“It has this tragi-comedy, Buster Keaton quality, or like one of Samuel Beckett’s characters,” says Baumgartner of Vandals. “It’s absurd and it’s painful, but it’s also essential. Failure is essential in terms of your own practice, you have to be okay with really fucking up.” Originally paired with the new album of the same name from Sam Slater, who collaborated with Hildur Guðnadóttir on her Grammy-winning soundtrack for Chernobyl and her Oscar-winning score for Joker and was the sound designer for the late Jóhan Jóhansson, the excerpt presented above is set against an original composition from Slater. “It is the soundtrack to falling uncontrollably in ultra slow motion; an event happening too fast to control, displayed as a barely moving image,” describes the artist. “It is a simple visual image which speaks to moments of personal and social collapse and recovery, and the repetition of this arc. The music traces this form, ending where it starts, creating a simple audiovisual cycle – in which all things break and something is made from the mess.”

In this sense, Vandals is representative of Baumgartner’s ability to work across different techniques and varying scales, from the largest and most complex to the smallest and simplest. “I like when things are quite minimal,” she says. “It’s one statement. It’s one gesture and it’s quite easily understood, but then by stretching it out for that long and making it 40 minutes, there’s a lot of story in a lot of nothing.” As an installation, both angles of I do not wish to be known as a Vandal will be reflected on each side of a freestanding screen, allowing the audience to move around the depiction of the fall at their own pace, lending real-time movement to the ultra slow scene. What ever sorts of personal or communal failure the viewer maps onto the piece, ultimately what it depicts is a bleak sort of optimism.

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Seaphony

For Seaphony, artist Theresa Baumgartner reunites with David Attenborough field recordist, sound designer and Cabaret Voltaire founder Chris Watson to create an immersive, audiovisual representation of the alien soundscapes of the ocean floor. “Chris was approached by Oceans 21, an NGO trying to raise awareness about noise pollution in the oceans, which is a huge problem that kills sea creatures,” explains Baumgartner. “Ship traffic, oil drilling, military radar are all really stressful for the animals because after about 100 meters down into the ocean there’s complete darkness, hearing is the main form of communication.” During an expedition to record blue whales in the Sea of Cortez in Baja, California, Watson and fellow field recorder Tony Myatt captured a stunning collection of recordings of not only marine life, but the rupture of these natural environments by human hands. Describing earth’s oceans as “the largest and most sonorous habitat on our planet,” Watson stitches together the recordings captured with Myatt into an hour-long audio piece, simulating the sounds of the deep.

This composition will form the sonic backbone of Seaphony, an installation that will feature three-dimensional ambisonics, courtesy of Tony Myatt, as well as lighting and sculpture from Baumgartner. “The visual effects that we see in the teaser is just a zoom-in on custom light fixtures that I built, which are four-meter-high columns with an LED core,” she describes. “They create this really beautiful, ice melting, glacier effect. I’ll have eight of them in the room and then the whole room will be covered with mirror foil. I wanted to try and disturb the sense of space as much as possible by having a mirror floor, you don’t really know when the room ends and where it starts. The dimensions create this ocean vastness.” Condensed into a single channel, Seaphony takes on a painterly aspect, translating the light, shade and colour of the ocean viewed underwater into a gently warping picture that gestures as much towards Watson and Myatt’s field work as it does Baumgartner’s own background in painting.

“This is something that is quite easily fixed,” she emphasises. “You can build noise barrier walls that would make the ocean way quieter. You could put noise fences around oil platforms or have seaways where there are a lot of fish and sea mammal populations. There are ways to fix it that wouldn’t be so hard to attain.” Plunging her audience into an audiovisual representation of these conditions is a natural extension of Baumgartner’s democratic approach to her art practice. As opposed to keeping her meaning and message concealed by concept and aesthetic, Baumgartner, Watson and Myatt allow us to experience the issue instinctually, providing us with the space to be submerged in sound.

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Muqata’a – Quboor Mamila قُبور مَاميلا

Theresa Baumgartner met Palestinian underground hip-hop pioneer Muqata’a back in 2018, when she was filming on location in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestine, for the Boiler Room documentary Palestine Underground. The DJ and producer has become legendary for his unique approach to sampling and looping, which he has developed into a practice which is at once musical and political. “When our land is being taken away, our culture is muted,” he told The Guardian around the time of the release of the documentary. “It’s a way to try and disrupt that – being a glitch in the system is very important. When your heritage is being attacked by the state, you have to find ways of being remembered, so I sample a lot.” Incorporating classical Arabic music, old records reclaimed from his grandparents’ collections and field recordings of Israeli military checkpoints into his compositions, Muqata’a fashions dense and detailed audio portraits of cultural and societal disruption, a project which is invoked by his moniker, which can be translated as “disruption,” “interference,” or “boycott.” It was the intricacy of Muqata’a’s method that initially drew Baumgartner to his music. “Muqata’a has a very special way of using field recordings,” she says, “there’s a lot of texture in his music.”

It’s this texture that Baumgartner zeroes in on for her visual treatment to the producer’s track ‘Quboor Mamila قُبور مَاميلا’, an opening salvo of sinister ambiance, skittering samples and frazzled noise that sets the scene for his new album for Hundebiss, Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص. Drawing from her background in painting, Baumgartner layers digitally manipulated images into gauzy, textural vignettes that pulse and flicker to Muqata’s sounds. “It’s the painter coming out of me, but just adding the factor of time to it,” she explains. “Playing with colors and textures, that slow dripping movement. Older versions of the visuals actually stemmed from an obsession with deserts. On Google Maps I would fly over different deserts like the Gobi Desert and the Kalahari and it’s insanely beautiful what those satellite images spit out. With the photos being shot at different times of day, how the sun hits the surface changes, so there’s mistakes in the images. It’s gorgeous, it looks really weird.” Shreds of digital interference and pixelated feedback obscure the artist’s source material beyond recognition, meeting Muqata’a’s sonic disruption with her own audiovisual variant.

“I manipulate the footage in different ways,” continues Baumgartner. “The newer ones are partly the desert satellite images, as well as drone shots and footage ran through an old tube telly and then re-filmed. There’s a lot of procedure in it, it’s a bit like a ’70s special effects workshop, experimenting with analog stuff and seeing what happens.” Fusing a selection of these experiments together in a shifting sequence, the artist found inspiration from the structure of short story collections, specifically Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. “These short little moments give you more of a hint to the story than just building the whole thing,” she says. “This works across different projects. You make something, but then the actual work happens in the head of the viewer – what people take from it, how people experience it and how it makes them feel. You make a proposition, throw something on the table, and then people take away from it what they want, or what they don’t want. It’s a way of talking to each other.” In this way, Baumgartner enacts an dialogue between two complementary art practices, the politicised patchwork of Muqata’a’s samples and loops drawing out the painterly energies of Baumgartner’s DIY visuals as the artist translates the producer’s aesthetics of disruption into evocative visual forms.

For more information about Theresa Baumgartner and her work, you can visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Watch next: Fact Residency – Actual Objects

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Muqata’a – Quboor Mamila قُبور مَاميلا

Fact Resident Theresa Baumgartner translates the disruptive approach to sampling of Palestinian producer Muqata’a into evocative digital image manipulation.

Theresa Baumgartner met Palestinian underground hip-hop pioneer Muqata’a back in 2018, when she was filming on location in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestine. The DJ and producer has become legendary for his unique approach to sampling and looping, which he has developed into a practice which is at once musical and political. “When our land is being taken away, our culture is muted,” he told The Guardian around the time of the release of the documentary. “It’s a way to try and disrupt that – being a glitch in the system is very important. When your heritage is being attacked by the state, you have to find ways of being remembered, so I sample a lot.” Incorporating classical Arabic music, old records reclaimed from his grandparents’ collections and field recordings of Israeli military checkpoints into his compositions, Muqata’a fashions dense and detailed audio portraits of cultural and societal disruption, a project which is invoked by his moniker, which can be translated as “disruption,” “interference,” or “boycott.” It was the intricacy of Muqata’a’s method that initially drew Baumgartner to his music. “Muqata’a has a very special way of using field recordings,” she says, “there’s a lot of texture in his music.”

It’s this texture that Baumgartner zeroes in on for her visual treatment to the producer’s track ‘Quboor Mamila قُبور مَاميلا’, an opening salvo of sinister ambiance, skittering samples and frazzled noise that sets the scene for his new album for Hundebiss, Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص. Drawing from her background in painting, Baumgartner layers digitally manipulated images into gauzy, textural vignettes that pulse and flicker to Muqata’s sounds. “I think of these visuals as paintings, but just with the added factor of time,” she explains. “Playing with colors and textures, that slow dripping movement. Older versions of the visuals actually stemmed from an obsession with deserts. On Google Maps I would fly over different deserts like the Gobi Desert and the Kalahari and it’s insanely beautiful what those satellite images spit out. With the photos being shot at different times of day, how the sun hits the surface changes, so there’s mistakes in the images. It’s gorgeous, it looks really weird.” Shreds of digital interference and pixelated feedback obscure the artist’s source material beyond recognition, meeting Muqata’a’s sonic disruption with her own audiovisual variant.

“I manipulate the footage in different ways,” continues Baumgartner. “The newer ones are partly the desert satellite images, as well as drone shots and footage ran through an old tube telly and then re-filmed. There’s a lot of procedure in it, it’s a bit like a ’70s special effects workshop, experimenting with analog stuff and seeing what happens.” Fusing a selection of these experiments together in a shifting sequence, the artist found inspiration from the structure of short story collections, specifically Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. “These short little moments give you more of a hint to the story than just building the whole thing,” she says. “This works across different projects. You make something, but then the actual work happens in the head of the viewer – what people take from it, how people experience it and how it makes them feel. You make a proposition, throw something on the table, and then people take away from it what they want, or what they don’t want. It’s a way of talking to each other.” In this way, Baumgartner enacts an dialogue between two complementary art practices, the politicized patchwork of Muqata’a’s samples and loops drawing out the painterly energies of Baumgartner’s DIY visuals as the artist translates the producer’s aesthetics of disruption into evocative visual forms.

‘Quboor Mamila قُبور مَاميلا’ is taken from Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص, which is out now on Hundebiss. You can follow Muqata’a on Instagram and visit his website.

For more information about Theresa Baumgartner and her work, you can visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Watch next: Theresa Baumgartner Presents – Seaphony

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Seaphony

Theresa Baumgartner and field recordist Chris Watson submerge us in the sounds of oceanic noise pollution.

For Seaphony, artist Theresa Baumgartner reunites with David Attenborough field recordist, sound designer and Cabaret Voltaire founder Chris Watson to create an immersive, audiovisual representation of the alien soundscapes of the ocean floor. “Chris was approached by Oceans 21, an NGO trying to raise awareness about noise pollution in the oceans, which is a huge problem that kills sea creatures,” explains Baumgartner. “Ship traffic, oil drilling, military radar are all really stressful for the animals because after about 100 meters down into the ocean there’s complete darkness, hearing is the main form of communication.” During an expedition to record blue whales in the Sea of Cortez in Baja, California, Watson and fellow field recorder Tony Myatt captured a stunning collection of recordings of not only marine life, but the rupture of these natural environments by human hands. Describing earth’s oceans as “the largest and most sonorous habitat on our planet,” Watson stitches together the recordings captured with Myatt into an hour-long audio piece, simulating the sounds of the deep.

This composition will form the sonic backbone of Seaphony, an installation that will feature three-dimensional ambisonics, courtesy of Tony Myatt, as well as lighting and sculpture from Baumgartner. “The visual effects that we see in the teaser is just a zoom-in on custom light fixtures that I built, which are four-meter-high columns with an LED core,” she describes. “They create this really beautiful, ice melting, glacier effect. I’ll have eight of them in the room and then the whole room will be covered with mirror foil. I wanted to try and disturb the sense of space as much as possible by having a mirror floor, you don’t really know when the room ends and where it starts. The dimensions create this ocean vastness.” Condensed into a single channel, Seaphony takes on a painterly aspect, translating the light, shade and colour of the ocean viewed underwater into a gently warping picture that gestures as much towards Watson and Myatt’s field work as it does Baumgartner’s own background in painting.

In both iterations, Seaphony serves as both an aesthetic experience and a sobering warning of the ill health of the earth’s oceans, or as Baumgartner describes it, “one more thing to add to the list of the many ways in which the planet is dying.” Oceans 21 funds a number of commissions and projects that raise awareness of how industrialization and the incomprehensible scale of the planet’s supply chains are affecting the oceans. “Sound travels very differently and for a long time underwater,” continues Baumgartner. “It stresses oceanic life out and they get disoriented. It’s one of the major reasons why schools of dolphins end up on shores, they get into the wrong stream and then they lose track and they all die.” Though troubling in it’s own right, it isn’t so much the complex relationship between man and nature that insenses the artist, but rather ignorance and complacency.

“This is something that is quite easily fixed,” she emphasises. “You can build noise barrier walls that would make the ocean way quieter. You could put noise fences around oil platforms or have seaways where there are a lot of fish and sea mammal populations. There are ways to fix it that wouldn’t be so hard to attain.” Plunging her audience into an audiovisual representation of these conditions is a natural extension of Baumgartner’s democratic approach to her art practice. As opposed to keeping her meaning and message concealed by concept and aesthetic, Baumgartner, Watson and Myatt allow us to experience the issue instinctually, providing us with the space to be submerged in sound.

For more information about the project and Oceans 21, visit their website. For more information about Chris Watson and his work, visit his website.

For more information about Theresa Baumgartner and her work, you can visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Watch next: Theresa Baumgartner Presents – Vandals (Excerpt)

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Vandals (Excerpt)

Theresa Baumgartner presents an excerpt from I do not wish to be known as a Vandal, a collaboration with Grammy-award winning musician Sam Slater.

I do not wish to be known as a Vandal is a 40-minute, audiovisual installation work from musician Sam Slater, performer Lukas Malkowski and this month’s Fact Resident, artist Theresa Baumgartner. Spanning 40 minutes in length in its original iteration, above Baumgartner presents Vandals, a short excerpt of the stunning film that functions as a moving image metaphor for failure, pain and resolve in the face of both. Captured in ultra slow motion with four high speed cameras, the work follows Malkowski, standing naked, falling on his face before picking himself up and returning to his original position. “It’s about defeat and failure, like seeing a car crash in slow motion, watching someone falling, watching the point of no return and then hurting themselves by falling on their face,” explains Baumgartner. “But it’s also watching the rebuild process, returning to point zero again, very slowly.” Slowed to a barely perceptible crawl, through a process of A.I.-enabled upscaling each frame of the film takes on the quality of a Caravaggio oil painting, each second of chiaroscuro amplified in a moving portrait.

“It has this tragi-comedy, Buster Keaton quality, or like one of Samuel Beckett’s characters,” says Baumgartner of Vandals. “It’s absurd and it’s painful, but it’s also essential. Failure is essential in terms of your own practice, you have to be okay with really fucking up.” Originally paired with the new album of the same name from Sam Slater, who collaborated with Hildur Guðnadóttir on her Grammy-winning soundtrack for Chernobyl and her Oscar-winning score for Joker and was the sound designer for the late Jóhan Jóhansson, the excerpt presented above is set against an original composition from Slater. “It is the soundtrack to falling uncontrollably in ultra slow motion; an event happening too fast to control, displayed as a barely moving image,” describes the artist. “It is a simple visual image which speaks to moments of personal and social collapse and recovery, and the repetition of this arc. The music traces this form, ending where it starts, creating a simple audiovisual cycle – in which all things break and something is made from the mess.”

“We thought about the nudity as portraying some level of vulnerability, but also as a question: who do you not want to see fail? Who will be okay with falling on their face?” posits Baumgartner. “To a degree it’s just a body, but those things are choices and are there for a particular reason. In my view the piece is not super sexualized, it’s a naked body. It depends on your cultural background and your own attitude towards nudity, but for me it’s whatever.” At once confrontational and meditative, in Vandals Malkowski’s naked form is transfigured through Baumgartner’s lens and under her lights. In another subversion of the male gaze that calls back to her collaboration with Abyss X, the male form is rendered the subject of our gaze, yet documented in painstaking and slow detail that is almost dehumanising, transformed into illuminated flesh, both the subject and raw material with which Baumgartner paints her digital picture. “People react in very different ways to the portrayal of nudity in that context, some sort of sexualization is quite quickly assumed,” she reflects. “That’s not what it’s about. It’s about being vulnerable and falling on your face. There’s nothing sexy about someone smacking their face.”

In this sense, Vandals is representative of Baumgartner’s ability to work across different techniques and varying scales, from the largest and most complex to the smallest and simplest. “I like when things are quite minimal,” she says. “It’s one statement. It’s one gesture and it’s quite easily understood, but then by stretching it out for that long and making it 40 minutes, there’s a lot of story in a lot of nothing.” As an installation, both angles of I do not wish to be known as a Vandal will be reflected on each side of a freestanding screen, allowing the audience to move around the depiction of the fall at their own pace, lending real-time movement to the ultra slow scene. What ever sorts of personal or communal failure the viewer maps onto the piece, ultimately what it depicts is a bleak sort of optimism.

Though we are invited to witness every second of pain spreading over every inch of Malkowski’s skin as he falls, as well as every excruciating minute it takes from him to pick himself up, the film always returns to the start of the cycle. This kind of repetition could be understood as Sisyphean, but another view is that the stretched out duration of the footage presents us with a seemingly endless number of opportunities to intervene, to recognise the cyclical nature of failure and progression in our own lives. “It’s challenging in its own way,” concludes Baumgartner.

I do not wish to be known as a Vandal will be presented for the first time in early 2022. For more information about Sam Slater and his music, you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram. You can follow Lukas Malkowski on Instagram.

For more information about Theresa Baumgartner and her work you can visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Vandals Credits:

Director – Theresa Baumgartner
Music – Sam Slater
Dance Performance and Choreography – Luka Malkowski
High-Speed DOP – Christian Klimke
Filmed at Tectum, Berlin

Watch next: Theresa Baumgartner Presents – Abyss X – Animosity (SOPHIE Remix)

Theresa Baumgartner Presents: Abyss X – Animosity (SOPHIE Remix)

Theresa Baumgartner injects DIY energy into audiovisual art and performance.

In recent years Theresa Baumgartner has emerged at the forefront of a new generation of artists blurring the lines between installation art, audiovisual performance and experimental film. Working in collaboration with fellow Fact Resident MFO she has created immersive set design for Jlin, performed live with Juliana Huxtable and Ziúr as part of their live audiovisual poem OFF LICENSE and perhaps most notably, transformed Oscar-winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Grammy-winning score for Chernobyl into a site-specific, multi-channel performance alongside Guðnadóttir, Sam Slater, field recordist Chris Watson and Francesco Donadello. Yet, despite the dizzying scale and intricate technicality of Baumgartner’s projects, the artist’s interests do not lie in any one discipline or technology but in collaboration, instinct and emotional exchange. More often than not, Baumgartner tunes into her best ideas by listening to her gut. “It’s about creating some sort of feeling that lives with the music,” she explains. “I’m more interested in the emotional part in anything. At the end of the day I’d rather have people reaching back into themselves, being overwhelmed or just able to forget about themselves.”

These will be familiar experiences for anyone who has witnessed the artist’s work in the flesh. More than simply immersive, her work encompasses installation, live performance and theatre, crackling with the synapse-singeing energy of a DIY noise show, or squat rave. Indeed, it was Baumgartner’s formative experiences in punk and noise music scenes that ultimately inspired the artist’s transition from fine art to installation work and AV performance. Studying painting in Berlin, she quickly became disenfranchised with the legacy art world she found herself in orbit of. “It felt a bit weird to come from a working class background and a leftist punk scene, where I was always around noise and the oddities of the music world, to then being basically trained up to create luxury products for people who are already wealthy,” she says. “It just didn’t make sense to me. I started to be really not okay with it, I didn’t want to be in that world anymore.”

Spending more and more time attending and documenting shows across Berlin, Baumgartner began to conceive of a way to transfer her painterly sensibilities into a more democratic space. “I started thinking of the screen as basically like a painting, but just with the added factor of time,” she explains. “I was interested in creating worlds and environments that tell a story.” Distancing herself from the aspects cultural and economic inaccessibility of museum and gallery spaces, the artist set out to create experiences designed to be enjoyed communally, work in service of “creating some sort of feeling that lives with the music.” Though Baumgartner is careful to highlight a completely new set of obstacles inherent within the experience economy of the audiovisual art space, including prohibitively expensive tickets, door policies, funding body politics and mystery money arts patrons, it was in the comparatively democratic space of the live performance that the artist was able to access a more liberating, collaborative art practice.

“Surrounding yourself with your friends is influential because you throw ideas around that boil in everyone’s head,” Baumgartner emphasises. “I understand how scenes develop and evolve because you all sit in the same stewing pot.” Contributing to festivals like Berlin Atonal and CTM and heading up lighting design and visuals for Berlin’s pioneering audiovisual space Trauma Bar Und Kino, the artist has been able to move among a wealth of world class talent, drawing inspiration from a plethora of artists and collectives. It was in this way that Baumgartner’s collaboration with Hellenic experimental taste-maker Evangelia Lachianina, otherwise known as Abyss X, developed. “I started talking to Evangelia about this idea for a 360-degree camera and a light installation that I’ve been wanting to play with for a long time,” she explains. “I wanted to have something that was high energy and doesn’t really give a fuck, to let out some steam and make it weird.” Transposing 360-degree footage into a single channel, Baumgartner captures Abyss X at her most distorted, seemingly trapped in an illuminated chamber, moving in a ritualistic fervour to the sounds of SOPHIE’s shape-shifting remix of her own track ‘Animosity’.

“Evangelia is a dancer and acrobat and does this crazy stuff on a pole in her live show,” continues Baumgartner. “It’s kind of sexy and feminine and the lights lend this strip club vibe, but then it gets really fucked up because of the distortion. I like the contrast with the hyper feminine, this super sexy, super strong woman.” Made in collaboration with BFF (Best Films Forever), a production company co-founded by Baumgartner to support femme, femme-identifying, non-cis, non-straight people to find a foothold in the video production and tech world, the collaboration sheds stark light on the lack of diversity that still exists in audiovisual art spaces. “There’s a crazy lack!” the artist exclaims. “Everywhere I roll up I’m always surrounded by the same people, who are mostly straight guys trying to tell me about my job and that I suck.” Embodying the abject and the libidinal simultaneously, Abyss X’s fishnets and lipstick are stretched and deformed by Baumgartner’s digital manipulation, subverting the processing of the digital image from a tool of commercial production and social media platform primacy to something altogether more confrontational.

“I’m fucking with the male gaze,” says Baumgartner. “There are clear symbols that this is supposed to be attractive, but then I’m morphing her body, morphing her features.” It’s here that the artist’s DIY influences are most apparent. Everything from the visceral performance of Abyss X, the sparse lighting and smoke to the asymmetry of Baumgartner’s frame, her disregard for convention and perfection, imbue the piece with subterranean potency, like you’ve just stumbled across two friends testing their artistic limits in a cramped Berlin basement. “I’m okay with things looking rough, or disorganized and turning that into a statement,” she says. “With stage design especially, often everything’s symmetrical and super slick. I’m okay with it really not being that way, to a degree where I’m really going the other way.” Encouraging each other to push their respective practices further, Theresa Baumgartner builds a world for Abyss X to inhabit, imperfectly and unashamedly.

This kind of world building stems from broader world view that was shared in part by their third, sadly absent collaborator. “The collaboration is basically a tribute to SOPHIE,” explains Baumgartner. “Her production works really well on a technical level, it’s artificial and highly produced, so blending it with the 360 technology fucks that up again. It’s out there, technologically, but then it breaks it, and that is also what SOPHIE did with her music.” Through both sound and image, SOPHIE demonstrated that it was possible to find a pureness of expression and an emotional truth in the most artificial, technologically-mediated places. Through digital distortion and physical theatrics, Theresa Baumgartner and Abyss X pick up this thread, injecting DIY energy into audiovisual art and performance.

You can find ‘Animosity’ (SOPHIE Remix) on Bandcamp. For more information about Abyss X you can follow her on Instagram. For more information about Theresa Baumgartner and her work, follow her on Instagram and visit her website.

Watch next: LUX – Julianknxx – Black Corporeal (Breathe)

Fact Mix 837: Gracie T

A dip into the sounds of the South Asian underground from Daytimers member Gracie T.

Gracie T is a Sheffield-based DJ and member of Daytimers, a collective of selectors and producers of South Asian heritage whose aim is to showcase the talents of their community on their own terms. Since launching in late 2020, Daytimers has quickly become a vital force in the UK scene, self-releasing several compilations of South Asian club sounds and establishing itself with nights at clubs such as London’s Fabric and Manchester’s SOUP.

As Gracie T explains in a recent interview, the invitation to join Daytimers came at a time when she was looking to connect with her culture through music. “Because I’m mixed race, my dad only has a few family members in the UK. I grew up in a really small town in the North East, and I never really had that deep connection to my culture in the first place. We were the only brown family in the village, so I never really grew up around a community.”

“Meeting up with Daytimers and playing their shows and listening to all the amazing music that people make within the collective has been a way for me to discover my own identity in a way that I maybe didn’t really understand before. I’ve been trying to connect my brownness with my love for music that I’ve been doing since I was a kid.”

2021 has been a breakthrough year for Gracie T. As well as a memorable B2B Boiler Room appearance with Chandé back in August, the DJ is one of this year’s residents at Sheffield’s Hope Works. Together with Kitsta and Shannon From Admin, she also runs The Beatriarchy, a platform that aims to provide a safe space for underrepresented artists to share and discuss music.

Gracie T’s Fact Mix combines tracks from fellow Daytimers artists and South Asian producers from across the globe, as well as music from kindred spirits such as RP Boo, LCY and Anz. “This mix dips its toes into the Asian Underground revival, championing underrepresented artists, with dubs and new releases from the hottest talent from Bristol’s Grove to Brooklyn’s Ayesha,” Gracie T says. “Experience a journey through more genres than you can count, carefully selected and blended.”

Follow Gracie T on Instagram and SoundCloud. You can also find Daytimers on Instagram, SoundCloud and Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

Alka Yagnik & Ila Arun – ‘Choli Ke Peeche’ (MadStarBase Remix)
MAIELI – ‘It’s Over Bae’ (Florentino Remix)
RYKT – ‘Thousands’ (DJ Tool)
M.I.A – ‘Swords’
TSVI – ‘Jinn’
Grove – ‘SKIN2SKIN’
Ayesha – ‘Ancestral Roller’
Poirier ft. Warrior Queen – ‘Bang Bang’
Lava Dome – ‘Rhyolite’ (Architect Remix)
kLAP – ‘SOW’
Ape Drums ft. Vybz Kartel – ‘Worl’ Boss’
Desi Sub Culture – ‘Con Man’
Rishi Romero – ‘Bateria’ (Rishi Moombahton Mix)
Daddy Yankee – ‘Gasolina’ (Darama Dub)
Rishi Rich ft. Jay Sean & Juggy D – ‘Push It Up’ [Bhangraton Remix)
Scratchclart X Tribal Brothers & DJ Polo – ‘Pear Drops’
Daytimers – ‘Jatti’ (4×4 Refix)
Ahadadream – ‘Dhol’
4B ft. Bunji Garlin – ‘Carnival’
LCY – ‘Hackney Pigeon’
Kitsta – ‘Wait Up’
Yourboykiran, Chandé & Provhat – ‘Pani Puri Parrots’
Dismantle – ‘Spun’
Diessa – ‘Toumba Remix’
Casement – ‘TERENAINA’
King Monday – ‘Choco Dub’
QWIRK – ‘Shotta’ (Desi Vocal Dub)
Ayesha – ‘Varanasi’
Darama – ‘Blue Frog’
Captain Fuse – ‘Where My Desi Ar (Haath Upar)’
Rude Kid – ‘Brain Freeze’
Phatworld – ‘Sheffield Sound’
Zha – ‘Spice’
Skepta – ‘Asian Girl’ (King Monday Flip)
MadStarBase – ‘Sukhbir’
DJ Pantha – ‘Candy Shop’
Anz – ‘Last Before Lights’
Martin Solveig – ‘Hello’
Yourboykiran – ‘Futurism’
Krithi – ‘Respite’
RP Boo – ‘The King’
Kwengface – ‘Tour De Opp Block’ (Sterlo Flip)
GoodMostlyBad – ‘ID’
Iyer – ‘Men Not Too Shy’ (Cartel Madras Edit)
Team GB & Scartip – ‘Release the Pressure’
Jayhaan – ‘Vat Lavli (Malhari)’ (Desi Jersey Club Remix)
Iyer – ‘Joy & Suffering’
Panjabi MC – ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ (Yourboykiran’s No Lightbulbs Just Fingerguns Remix)
Slinki – ‘Clash Me’
Tee – ‘Blackburn Belligerent’
Dulha – ‘Ex-Fusion’
DJ Soyboi – ‘91160’
Sente – ‘Coupe (Let It Drop)’ [Diessa’s 160 Graceline Refix]
Bastiengoat – ‘Meant To Be’
Samurai Breaks – ‘Non Stop Body Shop’
Alex Gaudino – ‘Destination Calabria’ (Iyer Rework)
Itoa – ‘Top Deck VIP’
Daytimers – ‘Tere Dar Par Sanam’ (King Monday’s Crying in the Club Refix)
Somatic – ‘Fighting Fear’
Daytimers – ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ (Provhat’s Anti Chill Pill Mix)
Yazzus – ‘All Your Love (Ode 2 Hudmo)’

Listen next: Fact Mix 836: Sockethead

Mitrilo dream of sci-fi apocalypse in Break-Cycle

AV art collective Mitrilo present 12 stunning CGI vignettes based on astrological interpretations of dreams.

Mitrilo describe themselves as a “decentralized artistic research collective”, focused on live performance visuals, music and audiovisual arts. Comprised of some of the most skilled and visionary artists of the emerging AV art space, including Sevi Iko Dømochevsky, Razorade, Darío Alva, Daniel Benza, Diego Navarro, Otro, Noha Manfredi, Valeria Baret, Cesar Rodrez, Marco Henri and Miguel Ballarin, collectively Mitrilo count Arca, Holly Herndon, 100 gecs, Grimes, Lady Gaga, Ashnikko and Post Malone among their clients and collaborators. “Mitrilo was born out of the necessity of giving a voice to all of our scattered artistic outlets,” the collective explains, “trying to get them together under the same umbrella to funnel all of our efforts towards something more community oriented, and see how much ground could we cover with all of our skills combined.” Their first project as a collective is Break-Cycle, originally commissioned by Mira Festival to be presented as a panoramic, 360-degree projection at IDEAL in Barcelona, which combines 12 stunning CGI vignettes based on astrological interpretations of dreams.

“It was produced in under a month with very little resources and in a very open manner, following a set of basic structure and guidelines,” the collective continues. “We used astrology as our means to extract symbology from a bunch of dreams we had noted down and produced 12 little short movies trying to give an emotional and narrative context to these abstract and universal matters. We never saw the piece together until the premiere day.” Moving through 12 intricately crafted environments to the beat of a surreal, non-linear dream logic, Break-Cycle traces an abstract narrative of regeneration, repetition and reification. “Even in the need of some new course it was possible to form light out of old flesh,” announces the film’s narrator at the beginning of an expansive passage of gnomic verse that serves as the work’s spine, linking each of the scenes with dense, obfuscating storytelling. This is set against an evocative score of science fiction sound design from Grotto Studio, amplifying both word and image with textured, world-building sound design.

Swirling between cosmic storms of the ruins of lost civilisations, sparse wastelands populated with abandoned television screens and demonic dogs, ceremonial ruins that lead a giant golem towards a glowing portal, abandoned train stations, haunted houses, a Lovecraftian cityscape presided over by decaying dragons, a dystopian apartment block, spatio-temporal voids filled with unrecognisable biomechanical apparatus, undulating Eldritch forms, alien altars, a winking server farm housed in a dark cathedral and, finally, a floating steampunk temple glinting in the crepuscular rays of twilight, Break-Cycle seems to revolve around just a few of many possible worlds. Each scene represents, in 12 different ways, an escape, a break from the story cycles they represent, each a new ending, a way out.

For more information about Mitrilo and their work you can follow them on Instagram.

Break-Cycle Credits:

Directed by @sevi_iko_domochevsky
Produced by @mitrilo.st
CGI – @razorade @daniel.benza @sevi_iko_domochevsky @lei.1.6 @rvdimir @cavecanems @hohl0h
Music/SFX – @diegovnavarro @marco.henri.000@seraaan @oottrroo
Voiceover – @dyboski
Vocal processing/Mixing – @marco.henri.000 @juryofficial
Script – @Nohamanfredi @seraaan @riusforza
Production – @rnrzrb_

Watch next: LUX: Julianknxx – Black Corporeal (Breathe)

LUX: Julianknxx – Black Corporeal (Breathe)

Julianknxx reflects on the themes of Black Corporeal (Breathe) and places it within the context of his upbringing in Sierra Leone and Krio identity.

Interdisciplinary poet, visual artist and filmmaker Julianknxx creates evocative work that combines the written word with imagery and performance. Born in Sierra Leone and now based in London, Julianknxx’s practice drwas inspiration from the stories and languages of his birth place while exploring themes of inheritance, loss, belonging and the collective Black experience.

In Julianknxx’s work Black Corporeal (Breathe) – commissioned by 180 Studios and showing now at LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art – the artist examines the relationship between materiality and the Black psyche. It explores the idea that our ability to breathe – an act that is challenged by everything from air pollution, stress, anxiety and societal prejudice – is more than our lung’s ability to take in air, but a reflection of the way we live individually and together.

Black Corporeal engages with both the physical and metaphysical aspects of breathing and asks if we can reposition ourselves through the extrinsic, the creation of Black structures and realities that allow us to breathe, freely. The work challenges us to see the simple act of breathing as one of meditation and release, a physical act that is both personal and political, reflexive and intentional.

In this film, Julianknxx reflects on the themes of Black Corporeal (Breathe) and places it within the context of his upbringing in Sierra Leone and Krio identity. “This idea that you’re home but you’re not home, it’s been a constant thing that keeps coming back,” he says.

LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art is open until December 18 at London’s 180 Studios, 180 The Strand. For opening times and tickets visit 180 The Strand’s website. You can also buy In Praise of Still Boys, the 12″ accompaniment to Julianknxx’s 2020 film of the same name at The Vinyl Factory shop.

Watch next: LUX: Hito Steyerl – This is the Future

Fact Mix 836: Sockethead

Sockethead stitches together a smoked-out selection of his own productions in a loose sonic narrative.

Central to the contemporary explosion of unbridled creative energy currently reverberating around Manchester’s electronic and experimental music scenes is artist and lecturer Richard Harris. Working across painting, collage and sound with the same expansive approach, his Sockethead project sees him folding found internet media, live instrumentation, field recordings, as well as both analogue and digital technologies, into his source material, sculpting a loose, exploratory sound that draws as much from outsider folk and DIY noise as it does from Detroit techno and DJ Screw. From sparking up against FUMU and Turinn as part of the Return To Zero collective to drifting in and out of the ever mysterious Michael J. Blood’s cult tape series, Harris’s ragged production techniques and somnambulist vocals are threaded through this new Manchester sound, breaking out into idiosyncratic, mutant forms on his singular debut album, Harj-o-Marj. Released during the pandemic but recorded back in 2018 alone in a caravan on the west coast of Scotland as part of an artist residency, the album stares bravely into the void of the psychological torment and self-sourced melancholy of isolation, wrenching back a well-worn set of makeshift tools for navigating the headfuck anxiety of lockdown.

Tracing a similar vein for his Fact mix, Sockethead stitches together a smoked-out selection of his own productions. “This mix is a journey into my practice of storytelling through sound,” explains Harris. “I have included examples of film scores that have been made in response to moving image, experiments in synthesis and wandering spaces. Performing live has influenced the sonics of this piece for Fact, harnessing chaos and moving constantly. It’s a letter home, to myself, and to my angels.” At once formal and iconoclastic, these cut up compositions demonstrate a reverence for foundational US and UK dance styles while always turning towards the rougher and weirder enclaves of club sonics, flitting between surging drum machine rituals and yearning, wasted soul, stretching skeletal dembows into peals of feedback squall and contorting the exhumed remains of grime instrumentals and screwed hip-hop into twisted, ouroboros sound design. But it’s in Harris’s lyrics that we might pick out his fractured narrative, which returns to themes of isolation and oblivion explored on his debut, shot through with situationist anguish and urban existentialism.

“It’s cold in the city when you’re on your own,” he intones. “It’s cold in the city when you’re loved ones are gone. It’s cold in the city when the night turns black. It’s the neon lights that kinda save me from that.” Blurred vignettes and snatches of dialogue gesture towards Beckettian cycles of surreal frustration and entropy ( “You didn’t need to do that / Why did you do that?”), pitch-shifted mantras suggest a creeping religious weight (“all good souls”) while Harris’s own crackled croon hints at sacrifice and desire (“love comes with its prices”). Ultimately Sockethead seems to exist in a liminal space between the quotidien drudgery of tough, neglected environments and moments of fleeting, narcotic transcendence, playing the songs of the in-between: “It’s cold in the city when you’re awake at night. It’s cold in the city if you keep getting high. It’s cold in the city when you want to escape. I tried it many times but the fear doesn’t shake. But instead I’m here flossing my teeth away.”

For more information about Sockethead and his work you can follow him on Instagram. Sockethead appears alongside Michael J Blood and Rat Heart on True: Volume 1, out now on BodyTronixxx.

Tracklist:

‘Improvisation_1’ (Score from a collaborative film with Joe Whitmore) 
‘Well Of Gratitude’ 
‘Practicing Karate On Swans’ 
‘Good’
‘Fear Of Failure’
‘We Keep Moving’ 
‘Humanising Machines’ 
‘My Teef Hurt’ [Feat. Baby Teef]
‘Yup’
‘Cold In The City’ 
‘The White Hotel’ 
‘Priorities’ (Sample provided by Arli) 
‘Yeah, The Healing Powers’ (Sample provided by Metal Preyers) 
‘I Wish I Knew How To Get Rid Of This’ 
’21’ 
‘Lost Boy’ [Feat. Baby Teef] 
‘Socket’ 
‘3 Times A Week’ 
‘A Knife Is A Silent Weapon’ [Feat. Cloudboi] 
‘Letter Home’ 
‘Drum Track’ 
‘Next to You’

Listen next: Fact Mix 835 – Disco Ma Non Troppo

L I M embarks on a journey of self-discovery in ‘BUBU’

Milan-based artist L I M and Italian director Giada Bossi tell a “coming of age” story about body and identity.

In the video for L I M’s ‘BUBU’, directed by Giada Bossi, the protagonist levitates from the bedroom to the club in a surreal narrative. The song’s house beat initially mimics a muffled heartbeat before the stillness erupts into a joyous club track just as the scene shifts to the dancefloor. The video ends back in the bedroom after an explosive psychedelic sequence that leaves the viewer wondering whether what transpired was dream or reality.

‘BUBU’ is taken from Milan-based L I M’s debut album GLOWING, which tells the artist’s personal story of self-discovery, and was written after a long period of “work, healing and transformation”.

The album was written alongside L I M’s longtime friend and collaborator Stefano Riva. “We worked for two years and a half about this glittering revelation, we choose to unfold the journey of discovery, my identity and the collective experience linked to it,” L I M writes.

“I decided to fully embracing my identity and body and to everyone who can relate to this process I send you all my unconditionally love and support.” 

The video was directed by Giada Bossi, an Italian director whose approach combines storytelling with an aesthetic approach to documentary and narrative. “It is an ode to transformation, a current “coming of age” story about self-discovery and embracement, about body and identity, talking about L I M and many others going through the same path,” Giada Bossi says of the video’s concept.

“Dreams and reality merge, in a journey that has to face others: it is just through the support of people around, that the protagonist dives into himself to embrace his essence.”

GLOWING is released on February 18, 2022 on La Tempesta Dischi. Follow L I M on Instagram and find his music at Spotify. Find Giada Bossi at Instagram.

Credits:

Director: Giada Bossi
Executive producer BWGTBLD GmbH: Philipp Ramhofer
Executive producer Borotalco.tv: Matteo Stefani
Cinematographer: Francesca Pavoniv
Line Producer: Giuditta Mauri
Production Manager: Tommaso Spagnoli
1AD: Viola Folador
Production Coordinator: Matilde Brockhaus
Assistant producer: Ilaria Fondaci
Production Assistant: Leonardo Pavesi
Casting Director: Greta Brunelli
Styling: Aurora Zaltieri
Stylist Assistant: Federica Furfaro
Make Up: Thea Vismara
Hairstylist: Gabriele Marozzi
Set Designer: Carlo Maria Filippelli
Photographer: Anna Adamo
1st AC: Niccolò di Guida
2nd AC: Valentina Chiarello
Data Manager: Matteo Croci
Gaffer Day 1: Alan Zacchetti
Gaffer Day 2: Filippo Ficozzi
Electrician: Gabriel Reyes, Matteo Corti, Filippo Testa
Key Grip: Mohamed Ali
Grip: Fabio Macchi, Giacomo Colombo
Stunt coordinator and stunt performer: Simone Belli
Key safety: Riccardo Cabalisti, Federico Lanzone, Beatrice Tedaldi
Stunt assistant: Cristian Toscano, Lucrezia Mariutto
Visual Art: Martino Pastori
Editor: Filippo Patelli
Colorist: Daniel Pallucca
Location: Spazio36, Tunnel Club
Service: Moviechrome Milano
Camera Car: SkyRent
Transport Equipment: Free Autotrasporti
Driver cast: Arcobaleno Trasporti
Admin: Agnese Incurvati, Annamaria Modica
Protagonist: Ian
Co-Protagonists: Giacomo, Sara Amico, Yuri, Maurilio, Sophie Margot Bercovich
Extras: Alice, Omar Gabriel Delnevo, Silvi, Fra, Andrè Fernandes, Sofia Esposito, Aaron, Federica Giulia
Sacchi, Matteo Paglierani, Marco Tabasco, Annalaura Guastini, Aureliana Bontempo, Francesca Genesi,
Martino Pastori, Giacomo Marchetti, Ludi Mengoni, Albassa
Special Thanks to: Lombardia Film Commission, Andrea Montanelli, Maria Prinzivalli, Daniel Patelli, Cristina
Gaudioso, C3 & friends, DiffRent, Gianluca Colino
Music credits:
Written and composed by L I M prod. by RIVA,
mixed by Stefano Scattolin, mastered by Antonio Baglio.
Label: La Tempesta International

Watch next: Ehua channels the motion of water in ‘Aquamarine’

Ehua channels the motion of water in ‘Aquamarine’

Ehua and Matteo Zamagni explore the paradoxical nature of a liminal shade through intricate costume design and improvised choreography.

Earlier this year London-based, Italian-Ivorian producer Ehua released Aquamarine on Nervous Horizon, an EP inspired by the colours and movements of water. Corralling homemade percussive samples, original vocals and a broad variety of tempos and moods, Ehua explores the depths of her subject matter with a dark and enveloping sound. It makes sense, then, that for the visual for the project’s title track the artist’s sights are set squarely on the bottom of the ocean. Collaborating with director and musician Matteo Zamagni, also known as Seven Orbits, Ehua embarks on an exploration of “the paradoxical nature of the aquamarine colour, it’s presence and invisibility.” Abstract, gauzy close-ups of fabric, skin and pearls give the impression of organic life forms, Ehua’s own movements approximating the ebb and flow of marine life.

“Preparing to shoot this video was a unique experience,” she says. “We turned Matteo Zamagni’s place into a workshop and spent over a month brainstorming, designing and looking up materials to create the outfit and all its imaginary creatures and natural formations. I want to incorporate all my skills in my artistic practice. Dancing is my compass, they way my body reads sound and lets me know I’m onto something good when I’m working on new music.” Drawing inspiration from aquatic lifeforms, Ehua looked to channel the motion of deep sea creatures in her choreography. “To build the vocabulary for the dance improvisation I observed the contrasts between the subtle and almost undetectable movements of corals and the virtual freedom of the jellyfish.”

The result is a hypnotic marriage of instinctual movement, carefully crafted costume and evocative set design, with Ehua and Matteo Zamagni bearing out the cavernous pressure and shadowy sensuality of the track in the most minute detail.

‘Aquamarine’ is out now, on Nervous Horizon. You can find Ehua on Instagram. For more information about Matteo Zamagni and his work you can visit his website and follow Seven Orbits on Instagram.

Watch next: Entangled Others Studio visualise harmony between natural and artificial life in Hybrid Ecosystems

Entangled Others Studio visualise harmony between natural and artificial life in Hybrid Ecosystems

Neural networks trained on the sounds and images of the day-to-day of the world around us generate a constantly shifting, hybrid ecosystem.

Entangled Others Studio was founded to tease out the complex entanglements between the human and the “more-than-human” world. Neural artist Sofia Crespo, generative artists and former architect Feileacan McCormick, sound artist Alejandro Mune and creative researcher Alan Ixba define an entanglement as “a complex state one where no single entity can be said to be separate, or somehow unaffected, by any other present entangled.” In acknowledgment of the continual blurring of physical and virtual space due to the development of more and more complex technological systems, Entangled Others assert that “the rich substrate of the uncanny, eerie spaces between us and the non-human world cannot remain as an aesthetic space, our world cannot bear this self-imposed distance and denial of our inter-twined state of us and other.” Instead, through a communal generative art practice, the studio seeks to encourage and nurture an interconnected world in which the natural and the artificial, the human and the more-than-human exist in dynamic harmony.

Hybrid Ecosystems is an ongoing work that is emblematic of this engagement with everyday entanglement. “The digital and physical world seems at first glance separate, occupying different layers of reality that seem to reluctantly interact, this is further reinforced through the manner in which digital interfaces are designed,” explain the studio. “The reality of our mundane life is that these two layers of reality are in fact tightly interwoven, constantly influencing, interacting, shaping & reshaping, consuming and acting. Our inherited bias towards seeing the man-made, or artificial, as different from the natural world further obscures this reality where digital agents (software & hardware) behave and interact as an ecosystem, also with the natural world.” Aquatic life-forms suggest themselves before rapidly evolving into more complicated variations and blending seamlessly into artificial abstractions, intricate coral formations and deep-sea organisms sharing space with oscillating circuit boards, formless electronics and unrecognizable virtual interfaces.

“By prompting neural models trained on the vast mundane visuality of our world, i.e. with standardised datasets that are considered a benchmark for the status quo of our day-to-day lives, we attempt an exercise of re-imagining,” continue Entangled Others. ” Starting well within the familiar, this exploration of neural-speculative visions of reality attempts to manipulate and distort our mundanity into speculative representations of the digital & physical entanglement: exploring how we can stretch our imagination so as to see a world of harmoniously interacting artificial and natural life as one single, sustainable ecosystem.” Set against the uncanny, discordant tones of Alejandro Mune’s sound design, Hybrid Ecosystems approximates the experience of being submerged, not in the aquatic environs that the work gestures towards, but in the ceaseless currents of an entangled, harmonic environment.

For more information about Entangled Others Studio you can visit the studio website and follow the studio on Instagram. You can also find Sofia Crespo, Feileacan McCormick, Alejandro Mune and Alan Ixba on Instagram.

Watch next: Against The Clock – Stiff Pap

Against The Clock: Stiff Pap

Against The Clock is a series where we give an artist 10 minutes in the studio and see what they come up with.

Stiff Pap are producer Jakinda and MC Ayema Problem, a Johannesburg-based duo whose music combines hip-hop and house influences with South African kwaito and gqom. They describe their sound as “post-kwaito” in a nod to the previous generation of South African club producers, whilst adding their own spin to the genre’s rich legacy to create their own unique hybrid sound.

On this episode of Against The Clock, we visit the duo in Johannesburg, where they make a track in 10 minutes with a simple setup including laptop, Ableton Live, NI Komplete Kontrol MIDI keyboard and APC40 controller, with Ayema Problem layering vocals on top.

As the duo tells Fact, making a beat with time restrictions isn’t something that they’re used to. “The thing about making a beat in that kind of time is that you really get into it and then you wanna keep going,” Jakinda says. “I think that the method we used to record the song was interesting, because we were recording right from the start, which we don’t really do but for the purposes of this I thought it would help us out.”

“We were just in the moment,” says Ayema Problem. “When you get 10 minutes you focus so much on what you’re doing, you block out the outside world, and I feel like we really were in our element.”

Earlier this year, Stiff Pap released TUFF TIME$, an album accompanied by a short film that present a snapshot of life as young Black men in Johannesburg. It was followed by a three-track remix EP, featuring reworks from Nyege Nyege affiliate Menzi, Rose Bonica and Petite Noir.

Follow Stiff Pap on Instagram and SoundCloud, and find more of their music at Bandcamp.

Filmed by Diego Ollivier

Watch next: Against The Clock: Rian Treanor & Mark Fell present Intersymmetric Sequencer 1