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Fact Mix 855: Gramrcy

An ode to blog house from one of Berlin’s most unpredictable DJs and producers.

Since his debut in 2015 on Ancient Monarchy with a pair of chunky club tracks drawing on the sounds of ’90s rave and dub techno, Gramrcy has pushed his style forward with a steady stream of innovative twists on classic dance music templates. From the heads-down dubstep-inspired sound of 2018’s ‘Settlement’ to collaborating with De Grandi in 2021 on the hi-fidelity club banger ‘Sea in Air’, Gramrcy’s musical twists and turns have been thrillingly unpredictable.

Gramrcy is also one half of the Peach Discs label alongside his longtime friend Shanti Celeste, who he shared a studio with in Bristol until moving to Berlin in 2016. Together with Alex Golesworthy and Daisy Moon, they continue to run the roving Housework party, which splits its time between Bristol and Berlin. Gramrcy is also part of the team behind Berlin’s excellent Refuge Worldwide radio station, where he holds down a monthly residency.

Gramrcy’s latest EP arrived this month on Hot Concept, with two tracks that reflect the fluid approach to genre that has become his hallmark, whether he’s producing music or playing it in the club. His Fact Mix is proof of his fearless nature as a selector, as he takes inspiration from what is (for some) one of dance music’s most unfashionable eras.

“Recorded live in the Refuge Worldwide studio, this one’s a bit of an ode to blog house – my first dance music love,” Gramrcy says. “The mix is built from some of my favourite tracks from that chaotic era that still hold up today (because honestly a lot of it doesn’t), alongside new and unreleased productions I feel share that same wild and loose energy I’ve always loved. Fun at all costs!”

Follow Gramrcy on Instagram and SoundCloud.

Tracklist:

Blawan – Gosk
Galtier – XX-101 (Process)
Kamohelo – SO
JCow – Groove Ryder
dj_2button – War Ain’t Over
Anatolian Weapons – Chant Three
Gunilla – Fu Bu
Ozel AB – Series Parallel
Metronomy – Radio Ladio (Radioclit Swedish Remix)
M.I.A – Bucky Done Gun (Instrumental – SH Edit)
Round Table Knights – Belly Dance (Mowgli Remix)
EDM – OXO Acid
Piezo – Unto
Upsammy – Vacate Or Annihilate
Brodinski – Bad Runner [Mental Groove]
???
Dan HaberNam – High Pass Rambo
Jan Driver – Rat Alert
Martyn – Bauplan
Sunareht – Hyul

Listen next: Fact Mix 854: Authentically Plastic

Lyra Pramuk live at Volksbühne ft. Kianí del Valle and Nana

A special performance of Pramuk’s debut album Fountain, with insights from the trio on how they transformed it through dance and movement.

Lyra Pramuk’s debut Fountain was one of 2020’s standout albums. Using her own voice as raw material to be transformed and played as an instrument, Pramuk explored ideas of post-humanism, gender and identity through what she called “futurist folk music”. Released just as the Covid pandemic began, the album become a healing vessel for listeners across the world, though Pramuk was unable to fully tour its tracks for over a year.

In September 2021, Pramuk premiered a special Fountain live show at Berlin’s Volksbühne, developed in collaboration with two members of the Berlin-based interdisciplinary dance company, KDV DANCE ENSEMBLE. On stage, Pramuk was accompanied by founding choreographer and director Kianí del Valle, as well as choreographer and performer Nana, who brought a new dimension to the music of Fountain through dance and movement.

“Every time I perform this music I learn something new about myself in the process,” Pramuk tells Fact. “It’s something that keeps giving back to me in a way that is dealing with healing and dealing with anxiety, fear, I deal with that every time I perform this music.”

As Kianí del Valle explains, setting Fountain to movement felt like a natural way to evolve the album. “There’s something about her vocal work not having specific words and going off a visceral impulse or emotion that I think it is really normal that dancers will connect to it,” del Valle says. “There’s something really powerful, like an immediate umbilical cord between the way that she’s using voice and the movement practice of any artist.”

In this original film from Fact, Pramuk, del Valle and Nana talk about their own personal relationships with Fountain, the inspirations behind their work and the live show, and how the ideas and themes behind Fountain closely align with the movement of the body. “Any type of movement releases endorphins that heal you, and it goes back to the album because [Lyra] chose to go to the body to figure out something [she was working with to heal herself], because the voice is connected to the body,” Nana says.

Delta, an album that features reworks of Fountain tracks by Colin Self, Caterina Barbieri, Eris Drew and more is available now on Bedroom Community. For more information on Lyra Pramuk and KDV Dance Ensemble visit their websites.

Credits:

Directed and produced by Pedro S. Küster

Camera Operation
Sven Gutjahr
Nicola Cavalazzi

Extra Production
Ludovica Ludinatrice
Marlene Engel Bürgerkurator
Alessia Avallone

Special Thank You
Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
Studio Chérie

Watch next: Fact Residency: Theo Triantafyllidis

Most Dismal Swamp slides into a mixed reality k-hole with MUSH

An extended and addled meditation on ‘gangcrafting,’ community-driven building projects within multiplayer online games, MUSH is equal parts film essay, cursed ASMR and weird fiction.

Most Dismal Swamp is both a place and a practice. Emerging out of the curatorial experiments of Dane Sutherland, who’s focus had previously centered around gallery exhibitions, distributive sonic fiction, club nights and other live events, Most Dismal Swamp is described by its creator as “an art project, a curatorial MMORPG, a fiction, a party, and a mixed-reality biome.” Launching the project back in 2019 with Swamp Protocol at arebyte gallery and Whale Fall at Gossamer Fog, two of London’s leading audiovisual art spaces, Most Dismal Swamp gestures towards a new kind of group show, one that exists contiguously between physical space and localised virtual worlds built with the express purpose of exploring the connections between interdependent mixed-media art practices. “Most Dismal Swamp invokes the swamp as a conceptual model for understanding and navigating our present mixed reality paradigm,” explains Sutherland. “Simultaneously solid land and fluid water, yet also neither, swamps embody a topology of muddy indistinction, and the horizonless territory of context collapse. They engender a taxonomic heresy that disallows easy separation and parsing of solid forms. This is significant for understanding a contemporary condition that has supplanted the teleology of modernity and the fragmentation of postmodernity with the entangled simultaneity of multiple, nested logics.” Presenting experimental choreography, digital artwork, physical sculpture and esoteric craft as symbiotic features of the all-consuming swamp, Sutherland has settled on a model that easily allows for the permeation of the borders between discipline and medium, redefining the exhibition as an organism that curates as it is curated, spewing forth fresh significance from its fecund ooze.

MUSH is the latest iteration of this process, an immersive world build adapted from a site-specific installation at the 2021 edition of Mira Festival in Barcelona, that blurs the lines between film essay, cursed ASMR and weird fiction. At once a an extended and addled meditation on ‘gangcrafting,’ community-driven building projects within multiplayer online games, and a statement of intent from Most Dismal Swamp more generally, MUSH, which stands for Multi-User Shared Hallucination, probes at the stress-points of virtual worlds built both for online communities and by online communities. “I wanted to invite people deeper into the dank k-hole of dissociative reality-modeling and world-building of our present platform-mediated sociality, intentionally opaque and with the feeling of traversing an abysmal swamp,” says Sutherland. “I started the project from a position of reflecting on the potential future of post-pandemic social balkanization: the term MUSH is derived from the field of online text-based role-playing games. It refers to the communal investment in and social codification of a shared gamespace: the rules, tacit protocols, ethos, and other invented elements which allow it to be an effectively immersive space distinct from an ‘outside’ world.” The work constantly toys with this distinction, as exquisitely rendered detritus houses crooked sculptures that phase shift between the virtual and the physical, cold wastelands of discarded monitors and slick mud present stylised footage of human performers misshapen with silicon garments, meme sweatshirts, silver jewelry and algorithmically-induced glitch, as hollowed-out avatars, far-future shells of the community shown crafting, and crafted by, the world of MUSH, drift by oblivious.

“MUSH is interested in the arcane, encrypted cultures flourishing among the recesses of an online megalopolis and reinforced by offline organisation and social balkanization,” continues Sutherland. “Maintaining fragile communities in platform-mediated circumstances means navigating fluidly draconian terms and conditions, gamified feedcrafting algorithms, algorithmic populism, misinformation, reality entrepreneurs, meme inception and punitive control such as shadow-banning. While offline, the closure of many struggling urban venues as apparatuses of diverse community-building and public discourse, as well as the emergence of phenomena such as ‘astroturfing’, means that many communities seek and embrace alternative, private, or ‘off-grid’ spaces. From trust-based cryptoraves to sub rosa chat servers. The combined hardwiring of possessive individualism and tacit online communication protocols has mutated popular discourse: militantly aggressive filter bubbles vying to signal-boost their home baked ‘truths’ and jury-rigged reality-models. The result is a swamp-like, inextricably entangled, adversarial Mixed Reality system: a bazaar of amateur heresies, microworld-building protocols, and dog-whistle memetics. Systemic ideological segregation and quarantine thus ferments a long-tail of forking realities.” Real-world dramaturgy sparks up against digital sigils and mutant glyphs that gesture towards the new kinds of consciousness born in the mixed-media sludge, as the disembodied narrators declaim, “a deep fried conlang of survival and of cheat-code elementalism.” Tattooed flesh dissolves in crude acrylic and harsh light, each a new texture within the same ecosystem.

What emerges from the swamp are world-specific exchanges, gestures developing into rituals developing into group practices, the back-and-forth of the group chat manifested in mixed reality, slurred together in the dissociative logic of a k-hole. Within their shared hallucination, the borders between environment and organism, between intimate gesture and implicit protocol, dissolve within shared space, self-contained artworks are opened out into the malleable, fertile density of the world, which in turn is defined by the oscillation between presence and withdrawal of these artworks experienced as a result of Sutherland’s direction and curation. The film’s climactic image embodies both the distance and the resonances his practice has from and with the history of curation: a GAN-altered, post-apocalyptic Ophelia, laid out in sludge and draped in sheet plastic, heaving shallow breaths, Sir John Everett Millais reimagined as a cyber goth. It’s in this way that the graphics of Stephen McLaughlin, the digital installations and world design of Joey Holder and Samuel Capps, the collages of Lou Shafer, the Blender animations and design of Aquabubz and Tissue Hunter, the graphics and typography of Post Cyberparamo, the 3D character design of Oliva Svetlanova, the silicon garments of vvxxii and Johanna Invrea, the apparel of Iain Ball and Timothy Gasparro, the sculpture of Hannah Rose Stewart, Agnieszka Szostek, Yiming Yang, Sian Fan and Laura Costas, the illustration of Matt Cangiano, the choreography of Laila Majid, the performance of V Shetsova, Luke Magill, Furi, Lora Angelova and Susanna Husebø, the camera of Julia Brown, the writing of Dane Sutherland and the music of FRKTL fills out and terraforms the world as one entity, a shared hallucination, a most dismal swamp.

For more information about Most Dismal Swamp you can follow the project on Instagram and visit the Most Dismal Swamp website.

MUSH Credits:

Curated and Directed – Most Dismal Swamp
Edit and FX – Most Dismal Swamp, Stephen McLaughlin
‘Semelparous’ Installation – Joey Holder
Unreal Engine 5 World and ‘Exudater’ Installation – Samuel Capps
MUSH Collages – Lou Shafer
Blender Animations – Aquabubz
Blender Wall Decal – Tissue Hunter
Additional 2D Graphics and Animated Typography – Post Cyberparamo
3D Animated Figures – Olia Svetlanova
Silicone Garments – vvxxii, Johanna Invrea
DOOBIE WEB 2009 Sweatshirts – Iain Ball
Jewellery – Timothy Gasbarro
Sculptures – Hannah Rose Stewart, Agnieszka Szostek, Yiming Yang, Sian Fan, Laura Costas
‘Spirit’s Gravity’ Illustration – Matt Cangiano
Choreography – Most Dismal Swamp, Laila Majid
Performers – V Shetsova, Luke Magill, Furi, Lora Angelova, Susanna Husebø
Camera – Julia Brown
Words – Most Dismal Swamp
Music – FRKTL

Watch next: Theo Triantafyllidis & Slugabed Present – Still Life With Platypus

Fact Mix 854: Authentically Plastic

Authentically Plastic glides through disparate sounds with grace and purpose, exorcising restlessness in service of “free form femme fuckery”.

Authentically Plastic describes their sound best themself: “free form femme fuckery.” As a selector, producer, visual artist, performer, organiser and a “quasi-Marxist drag queen,” they have fast become an essential figure within the underground dance music scene in Kampala, Uganda, arguably the most important node in electronic music within the last half decade. Their legendary ANTI-MASS parties, which they host alongside comrades Nsasi and Turkana, the latter of which delivered an absolutely killer Fact mix earlier this year, have fast become essential spaces for total freedom and queer expression, embodying a philosophy of variety in both sound and community, bringing together a diverse gathering of people of wildly different genders, sexual orientations and backgrounds to move and sweat together – all within a city infamous for its conservatism and increasingly draconian legislation. Expanding into a queer collective, ANTI-MASS applies the same approach to the sound it explores as it does the parties it throws, moving freely between classic dance music, the contemporary club zeitgeist and more regional forms, such as singeli, acholi, and kadodi. “It has nothing to do with merging, or combining, but gliding,” writes Authentically Plastic for Borshch Magazine, “drawing a line between the two that is an expression in its own right.”

In their Fact mix, Authentically Plastic glides breathlessly with restless energy. Vocal chops are deftly threaded through hiccuping percussion, vampy synth lines charged with sexual tension rise above hard and fast polyrhythms, enveloping genres effortlessly within constant forward momentum. “It’s recorded in my usual eclectic style of mixing, featuring polyrhythmic and hypnotic strains of techno and hard dance, chopped up and sped up genge-tone vocals, my new obsession since my residency at Santuri in Nairobi in February and March, gqom kicks and vocals superimposed on techno, like I’ve always done. For me the goal has always been to make these disparate connections between sounds, but to still do it with a kind of thematic and technical coherence.” To glide is to exorcise restlessness, to move through music at pace while simultaneously amplifying the cultural and political motivations for such speed. As Authentically Plastic has explained it: “it comes from an unrest of how things are. Taking these sounds that are traditional and accelerating them an manipulating them is political in itself. There is a dissatisfaction with how things are and what is on offer.”

You can hear this tension in the accelerated Jersey club bed spring squeaks in Wilhelmina’s ‘Respirator,’ or in the sliced and sped ballroom ‘Ha’ crashes of T5UMUT5UMU’s ‘What’s Outside The Simulation?,’ classic motifs from the queer history of dance music recontextualised for faster, tougher times. Likewise it’s impossible to hear the dread-drenched, stomach churn of Ole Mic Odd’s ‘Blood Is A Buisness’ and ‘Get The Fffuck Out’ in this context without feeling the lethal resonance of their doom-laden vocal samples. This is all part of the texture of Authentically Plastic’s sonic weaponry, a conflict-ready context that is entirely intentional. “If you’re sensing darkness there, then it’s probably coming from this angst I feel towards the state, towards all these familial modes of social control, towards Western capital.” Far from allowing this angst to overwhelm and consume, Authentically Plastic channels this tension into a potently disruptive and emancipatory sound, surging forward through difficulty, in service of both restlessness and clarity of expression.

You can find Authentically Plastic on Instagram, SoundCloud and at the ANTI-MASS Bandcamp, where you can also find the collective’s essential debut compilation, DOXA. Authentically Plastic also appears on one of the best releases of the year so far with the track ‘Strakka’, which appears on Youth’s Y16th alongside Emma DJ and Toma Kami’s ‘Julia Bashmore’.

Tracklist:

Wheez-ie – ‘OG Deth’
Lord Tusk – ‘Simon Says…’
robogeisha – ‘Asitilsalisilik asit’
DJ HEADWOUND – ‘GATEKEEPERS REMORSE’ 
DMORE X KAPPY XSESKA X PARROTY – ‘NYONYA’  
Bézier – ‘Laboratory’
Wilhelmina – ‘Respirator’
Lostsoundbytes – ‘Rusty Tractor’
Animistic Beliefs – ‘Margiela Face Mask’
Ole Mic Odd – ‘Blood Is A Business’
ETHIC – ‘FYEKA’ 
GG Lobster – ‘Stars of Turmoil’
TonePadron – ‘Fired’
Bézier – ‘Telomeres’
Color Plus – ‘Da Back’
Cuban Chamber Of Commerce – ‘Goofing Off’
James Bangura – ‘Bad Mon Narrative’
Ole Mic Odd – ‘Get The Fffuck Out’
T5UMUT5UMU – ‘What’s Outside The Simulation?’
102 INTERN — ‘BLEND’
Phelimuncasi – ‘Ungabom Themba Umunutu’ [Prod. DJ Scoturn]
Wheez-ie – ‘Bak It In’
Seven Orbits – ‘Mantis’ (Zaliva-D Remix)
DJ Loser Xiao Quan – ‘Kawasaki Outrun’
NKISI – ‘VI’

Listen next: Fact Mix 853 – Jamz Supernova

Fact Residency: Theo Triantafyllidis

In his exploration of social technologies and the communities they enable us to create, Theo Triantafyllidis rarely seeks to provide any answers. Instead, his work allows him to constantly consider exactly what questions he can ask.

Despite it not existing yet, Theo Triantafyllidis has been working in the metaverse for years. However, far from considering himself a pioneer, the artist is the first to point out that there are many, many others, across a multitude of online communities, that have been exploring the possibilities of three-dimensional, virtual spaces for close to two decades. “I’ve been looking at the example of VR Chat, how this exists in the legacy of Second Life, as well as more generally all these precursors to whatever insane vision of the metaverse Mark Zuckerberg has,” he explains. “These are things that have been developing for such a long time. There are communities that have been so deeply invested in these worlds for decades now and have been discovering all these things from inside.” For Triantafyllidis, these are the true pioneers of the metaverse and it is the novel forms of interaction and connectivity enabled by socially-focused game worlds, which range from the joyful and the horrendous all the way through to the chilling and the deranged, that inform and drive his work. “VR Chat was quite interesting because it gave almost total freedom for people to modify it,” he continues. “The actual game was completely open to people messing with its code. It had a tool for people to create their own character, not just a 3D model, but including all the interactions and things that the character can do, and upload it as an avatar. People started hacking that and piling up scripts and interactions and entire scenes within their character avatars as a way of Trojan horsing larger things into the world.”

“This was unfortunately hijacked by people who wanted to troll everything and they just started making horrible pop-up videos and harassing the community. It became a very toxic, strange space for a long time, which was quite an unexpected turn of events. For me, it’s interesting to see how, when given maximum freedom, the online tendency is to go for maximum trolling.” Clearly this kind of subversion, by which the very notion of representation and communications is hacked apart and retooled into something unpredictable and potentially dangerous, was not demonstrated during Zuckerberg’s Meta keynote, but this kind of mentality will become a fundamental quality to consider as the politics of the metaverse are developed over the coming years. It’s a preoccupation of Triantafyllidis’s, too, who in an upcoming project will seek to address the ways in which VR Chat’s premise was inherently corruptible, as well as ways it might be possible to incentivize kindness, as opposed to trolling. It’s also demonstrative of the interrogative mode of much of the artist’s work, “in my work I very rarely try to give any answers,” he admits. “It’s more about opening up new questions.”

This can be attributed, in part, to how important teaching has become to his art practice, something that’s clear from the layout of his website, which offers a wellspring of syllabi, lecture notes and resources to anyone that wants them. “It gives me an incentive to keep digging around and starting new lines of personal research,” he says. “A lot of these classes are things that I personally pitched and constructed the syllabus from scratch, mostly in UCLA. I was very lucky that UCLA was open to me coming up with new classes and that they have the infrastructure for these special seminars that are different every quarter.” Faced with the “never-ending orgy” of the increasingly online can be an overwhelming experience at the best of times, so for Triantafyllidis, the necessity to parse through the disparate cloud of references he draws from has helped him figure out what questions he wants to ask. “Having to do all the primary research and present that to a student group, opening this up to all the wealth of information and feedback that the students have and seeing where they take these ideas, is a very interesting conversation,” he says. “I am not trying to give any sense of authority or direct knowledge, but just trying to push them in directions that they might find interesting. It’s also helped me structure what I’m trying to say with my work by having to communicate these things more clearly.”

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Radicalization Pipeline

Using surreal humour and an absurdist aesthetic sensibility inspired by high fantasy, classic science fiction, MMORPGs and niche online communities, Theo Triantafyllidis carries out a sustained critique of the tech industry and the wrestling of new technologies away from the benefit of the user and user-generated communities in the interests of corporate expansion, financial growth and the commodification of information. The way he achieves this can be understood in the interplay between two central aspects of his art practice, computational humour and AI improvisation. “I like computational humor as a concept because it is a very niche research objective within computer science that’s analyzing how the human brain responds to humor,” he says, “trying to create a mathematical formula for what is funny. In my work I generally like to have a humorous aspect because I think it’s something that has the capacity to break the audience’s defenses and be a first line of approachability in the work.” This comedic drive can be traced all the way back to one of his earliest simulation works, How To Everything, in which the artist attempted to create an algorithm that could, in theory, generate an infinite number of visually funny scenarios. In a gesture that bears contemporary resonance with the conspicuous barbecue sauce bottle placed in the background of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta keynote, these scenarios throw together precarious physics and random objects within different environments with what the artist describes as “empathy, effort and failure.”

Triantafyllidis’s work with live simulations comes to its most complete expression with Radicalization Pipeline, a RPG-inspired battle royale which renders online social platforms as literal zones of conflict whilst demonstrating the artist’s improvisational approach to A.I. “I feel the most interesting aspect of these live simulation works is the connection to theater and live performance, how you have these very simplistic AIs, that are usually used in games for enemies or player interactions, that can be directed in the same way a theater director would direct actors,” he explains. “By giving them simple instructions you can create a performance score that is producing an infinite variation of some specific situations and you are able to produce humorous results out of that.” Across a flat expanse of concrete, Triantafyllidis whips between different perspectives, flitting between a top down, god’s eye view reminiscent of table top strategy games and the shaky, NPC-locked perspective of a first-person action game. Under a sky burning orange, MAGA cap wearers brandishing claw hammers fight alongside hulking orks dragging battle clubs and flails. Special Ops teams in riot gear wield sci-fi swords and shields, sprinting into the fray while dodging Antifa super soldiers and independent militia members holding fascist presenting flags high above their heads. Furries batter Proud Boys, cyberpunk elves band together with crypto anarchists, each with their own intricately rendered weapons and armour.

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Ork Haus

“Imagine if you could be at the office without the commute,” enthused Mark Zuckerberg in the 2021 keynote announcing his company’s leap into the metaverse. “You would still have that sense of presence, shared physical space, those chance interactions that make your day, all accessible from anywhere.” In this vision of the future, virtual reality has been transformed into a fresh vector for data commodification and online shopping, a means of transcending the pesky limitations of physical objects and our corporeal forms from Meta’s infinite expansion into every facet of our lives. “The metaverse will remove many of the physical constraints we see on commerce today and make entirely new businesses possible,” he promises. Ork Haus is artist Theo Triantafyllidis‘s response to this promise, a nightmarish vision of the metaverse in which the truly monstrous aspects of working from home and the technology that continues to enable us to do so are the subject of a work that is part live simulation, part experimental theatre, drawing as much from The Sims as it does Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. “Whether we like it or not, being in the new media art scene you are very, very close to Silicon Valley culture,” asserts Triantafyllidis. “In some ways we are doomed as artists to be running behind whatever new platform Facebook decides to roll out. I’m trying to be critical of these technologies and expose both the nonsensicality and complete impracticality of some of these ideas. Being familiar with this technology for a few years now it was very transparent to me that a lot of the things that Mark Zuckerberg was presenting in the Meta presentation were very, very far from being realized, even with their resources.”

In Ork Haus, the titular ork family struggle through a Web3-enabled purgatory of their own making, driving each other mad in an eternal work-from-home nightmare that evokes all the pandemic neuroses and anxieties of the last two years. “The whole simulation is based on the logic of a Sims game,” explains Triantafyllidis. “Each of the characters has their own needs, like hunger, fun and bladder, that they have to respond to over time, but depending on which of the characters are next to them when they are doing these actions, the actions will be affected and they have to interact with the other characters. At the same time, conceptually this whole thing is a very horrifying version of the metaverse, where this entire family is working from home, in a forever locked-down situation. The dad is dabbling in some crypto investments and trying to run a small crypto rig in their bedroom, that’s also used for heating. They’re caught up in this hustler, entrepreneur, Web3 family life.” Randomly generated vignettes convey the comic tragedy of the ork family’s precarious situation, resulting in chance encounters from which it is possible to piece together a rough narrative. The Y-front sporting patriarch delivers brutal corporal punishment to an orkling as we see familiar weapons from Radicalization Pipeline hanging on a wall of the family home, a sly nod to the multi-platform gaming applications many cite as the primary use case for NFTs. The ork father warms himself by the flames of his overheating crypto rig as one of his orklings teaches themselves to code; the ork matriarch desperately attempts to meditate as her husband snores beside her; daddy ork gets lost in his VR headset as another orkling tries on a dress in the bathroom where, moments later, daddy ork sits weeping as the tap drips next to him.

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Anti-Gone

A playful strain of theatricality runs through all of Theo Triantafyllidis‘s work. Even his earliest works have the quality of carefully directed vignettes or sketches, turns of phrase, jokes and metaphors manifested visually within the design aesthetic of his complex interplay of objects and systems. As part of his 2018 series Role Play, he assumed the virtual costume of a gender bending, blue haired ork avatar to highlight the inherent performativity of his work both in and for digital spaces. In Radicalization Pipeline and Ork Haus, Triantafyllidis casts himself as both actor and dramaturge, using machine learning to enable an improvisational approach to live simulation while at the same time painstakingly designing and implementing intricate virtual stages upon which his simulations can run. Anti-Gone is the result of the artist bringing together all these aspects of his art practice on a physical, IRL stage. “I was already thinking a lot about performativity in VR and the relationship to avatars in my ork avatar series,” he explains. “All of that project was based on recording, rather than real time performance. I was starting to understand that there is so much potential in doing this in real time and having a game engine that allows for a world that is performing in real time and having performers that are interacting with it.” Based on Connor Willumsen’s graphic novel of the same name, Anti-Gone is a hybrid theatrical performance in which one actor wearing a motion capture suit faces out into the physical world, while the other stays in VR for the entire duration. A technicolor, post climate collapse, video game engine-generated world is projected on the stage behind and beneath them, a living, breathing ecosystem, brimming with apathetic people and toxic, tropical plant life which reacts and changes in response to Triantafyllidis’s prompts.

“I’m fascinated with theatre as a medium and the theatrical language,” says the artist. “In theatre there is this magical thing where a performer can say, ‘here’s a pen,’ and you don’t need to see the pen, you just know it’s there. It’s all based on make believe, theoretically you can create entire worlds with an empty stage and a few performers, asking the audience to imagine everything. There’s a big paradox in this entire project, whereby working with the game engine is this tedious process of planting every single tree and every single object in a very precise place in space, constructing this illusion in the exact opposite way, being very literal and very precise and having to construct everything from scratch.” Working live alongside a musician, a third performer, who performs and controls a host of secondary characters, both physically and with a controller and microphone, Triantafyllidis has complete control of the environment of the play using a game engine, with the ability to change the weather, the time of day, the traffic of the boats that navigate the flooded city where the play takes place, as well as behaviour of the NPCs that populate the world. “All together we are performing the world in real time,” he describes poetically. “I was very optimistic at the beginning of the project,” he continues. “The comic book has two characters and a few scenes so it seemed pretty manageable to make this game engine with the tools I had at the time, but this slowly snowballed into an entire long term theatrical production with a full video game production team working alongside and trying to have the two constantly in dialogue, making huge changes in one another. I felt like we were trying to discover a new language for performing and a new way of building a game world that is able to accommodate this type of situation.”

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Still Life With Platypus

Though Still Life With Platypus marks the first time artist Theo Triantafyllidis and Slugabed have collaborated, the London-based producer’s singular sound has influenced Triantafyllidis’s work from the beginning. “I love Slugabed’s music,” says Triantafyllidis, “it’s been a major influence for me that has in some ways made it into some of my works, even though we hadn’t collaborated before.” The multi-faceted work is the latest iteration of the artist’s ongoing experiments with real-time reactive visuals, as part of which he has collaborated with Sun Araw on Velocity Holomatrix Warp 7, a fully playable, interactive experience, as well as with Giant Claw, on the video for ‘Until Mirror’. “I had been developing this system for live audiovisual performances where I could have these scenes built in a game engine, as well as a MIDI input and an audio input that gets plugged into the engine, that can then control all these graphics,” he explains. “Together with some real time triggers and keys, I could be performing the graphics together with a musician. There is something interesting about making both these audiovisual performances and also stand alone videos where I don’t have complete control of how things are going, but it’s more like a collaboration with a system where we are both performing and the end result is more of a performance than it is a pre-recorded, very carefully timelined thing.” This newly commissioned version of Still Life With Platypus sees Triantafyllidis and Slugabed navigating a series of increasingly complex and surreal vanitases, ultra high detail assemblages of crab legs, apricot halves, intricate knight’s helmets, glowing mesh nets, ghostly arthropods, as well as the titular Platypus, revolving and reacting to Slugabed’s atmospheric score.

Triantafyllidis’s preoccupation with the vanitas can be traced back to a much earlier work, How To Everything, with which Still Life With Platypus shares some playful DNA. In that work the artist attempted to create an algorithm that could generate a theoretically infinite sequence of visually amusing arrangements, a technological inversion of an artistic form historically associated with more existential themes. “Traditionally used to refer to a type of still life painting popular in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century, the term ‘vanitas’ now describes art that meditates on the ephemeral character of earthly pleasures and worldly accomplishments, and highlights the fragility of our desires in the face of the inevitability of death,” writes Triantafyllidis in a text accompanying How To Everything. Rather than a sombre monument to the transience of life, How To Everything and Still Life With Platypus both represent the artist’s darkly funny vision of the flattened, technologically mediated, eternal expanse of the now, what he describes as “devices, animals and plants all connected. Always on, always augmented.” A constantly evolving contradiction made manifest, Still Life With Platypus subverts the traditional function of the vanitas and still life painting, eschewing the loaded symbolism of everyday objects contrasted with skulls and gold coins and instead demonstrating that, thought possibilities of computational art might be infinite, the freedom to create everything doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything. “Fragments of today’s internet culture are treated as archeological finds that are repurposed to fit the needs of artificial life,” writes Triantafyllidis. “YouTube ‘How To’ videos, trompe-l’œil, video game artifacts and computer graphic demos inform this new language of painting, hopping around the uncanny valley. The result is a never-ending orgy. Just like in real life.”

For more information about Theo Triantafyllidis and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website.

Watch next: Theo Triantafyllidis Presents – Still Life With Platypus

Theo Triantafyllidis & Slugabed Present: Still Life With Platypus

Still Life With Platypus, a Fact original commission, sees Theo Triantafyllidis and producer and sound artist Slugabed navigating a series of increasingly complex and surreal vanitases.

Though Still Life With Platypus marks the first time artist Theo Triantafyllidis and Slugabed have collaborated, the London-based producer’s singular sound has influenced Triantafyllidis’s work from the beginning. “I love Slugabed’s music,” says Triantafyllidis, “it’s been a major influence for me that has in some ways made it into some of my works, even though we hadn’t collaborated before.” The multi-faceted work is the latest iteration of the artist’s ongoing experiments with real-time reactive visuals, as part of which he has collaborated with Sun Araw on Velocity Holomatrix Warp 7, a fully playable, interactive experience, as well as with Giant Claw, on the video for ‘Until Mirror’. “I had been developing this system for live audiovisual performances where I could have these scenes built in a game engine, as well as a MIDI input and an audio input that gets plugged into the engine, that can then control all these graphics,” he explains. “Together with some real time triggers and keys, I could be performing the graphics together with a musician. There is something interesting about making both these audiovisual performances and also stand alone videos where I don’t have complete control of how things are going, but it’s more like a collaboration with a system where we are both performing and the end result is more of a performance than it is a pre-recorded, very carefully timelined thing.” This newly commissioned version of Still Life With Platypus sees Triantafyllidis and Slugabed navigating a series of increasingly complex and surreal vanitases, ultra high detail assemblages of crab legs, apricot halves, esoteric knight’s helmets, glowing mesh nets, lit cigarettes and tree trunks, as well as the titular Platypus, revolving and reacting to Slugabed’s atmospheric score.

Triantafyllidis’s preoccupation with the vanitas can be traced back to a much earlier work, How To Everything, with which Still Life With Platypus, which was originally commissioned by Amsterdam’s NXT Museum, shares some playful DNA. In that work the artist attempted to create an algorithm that could generate a theoretically infinite sequence of visually amusing arrangements, a technological inversion of an artistic form historically associated with more existential themes. “Traditionally used to refer to a type of still life painting popular in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century, the term ‘vanitas’ now describes art that meditates on the ephemeral character of earthly pleasures and worldly accomplishments, and highlights the fragility of our desires in the face of the inevitability of death,” writes Triantafyllidis in a text accompanying How To Everything. Rather than a sombre monument to the transience of life, How To Everything and Still Life With Platypus both represent the artist’s darkly funny vision of the flattened, technologically mediated, eternal expanse of the now, what he describes as “devices, animals and plants all connected. Always on, always augmented.” A constantly evolving contradiction made manifest, Still Life With Platypus subverts the traditional function of the vanitas and still life painting, eschewing the loaded symbolism of everyday objects contrasted with skulls and gold coins and instead demonstrating that, thought possibilities of computational art might be infinite, the freedom to create everything doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything. “Fragments of today’s internet culture are treated as archeological finds that are repurposed to fit the needs of artificial life,” writes Triantafyllidis. “YouTube ‘How To’ videos, trompe-l’œil, video game artifacts and computer graphic demos inform this new language of painting, hopping around the uncanny valley. The result is a never-ending orgy. Just like in real life.”

As with Triantafyllidis’s explorations with computational humour in his live simulation and performance works, Still Life With Platypus serves as sustained reflection on the complex nature of comedy and the difficulties computers have with analysing and generating things that are genuinely funny. “I’ve been spending a lot of time reading all these research papers about computer scientists trying to make a machine that tells a joke,” he says. “I’m trying to think about how they are trying to completely deconstruct humour. Humour is this bizarre thing that when you deconstruct it immediately stops being funny and stops being effective. This is an interesting paradox.” Rather than attempt to take it apart, Triantafyllidis stays tapped in to the never-ending orgy of life online, carefully arranging absurd assemblages highlighting the inherent, cosmic humour of internet aesthetics. Though a computer might not be able to make you laugh on purpose, watching it try is often even funnier. As Slugabed’s wonky synths lurch into motion and a ghostly arthropod glides overhead, Triantafyllidis’s techno-vanitases refuse to stay still. As snatches of modulated voices, detuned piano and squalls of noise announce themselves, a virtual garden of delicate flowers blooms amongst a suspension of purple gloop. The titular platypus springs forth, its slightly upturned beak flashing an approximation of a smile, a knowing, anthropomorphic grin directed at whoever might be trying to make any sense of its impossible surroundings. Better to relax into the somnambulant sounds of Slugabed, float free like the platypus you want to see in the (physical) world.

For more information about Theo Triantafyllidis and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website. You can find Slugabed on Bandcamp and on Instagram.

Watch next: Theo Triantafyllidis Presents – Anti-Gone

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Anti-Gone

Theo Triantafyllidis adapts Connor Willumsen‘s graphic novel Anti-Gone into an experimental work of hybrid theatre, performed with one foot in the physical world and the other in the virtual.

A playful strain of theatricality runs through all of Theo Triantafyllidis‘s work. Even his earliest works have the quality of carefully directed vignettes or sketches, turns of phrase, jokes and metaphors manifested visually within the design aesthetic of his complex interplay of objects and systems. As part of his 2018 series Role Play, he assumed the virtual costume of a non-binary, blue haired ork avatar to highlight the inherent performativity of his work both in and for digital spaces. In Radicalization Pipeline and Ork Haus, Triantafyllidis casts himself as both actor and dramaturge, using machine learning to enable an improvisational approach to live simulation while at the same time painstakingly designing and implementing intricate virtual stages upon which his simulations can run. Anti-Gone is the result of the artist bringing together all these aspects of his art practice on a physical, IRL stage. “I was already thinking a lot about performativity in VR and the relationship to avatars in my ork avatar series,” he explains. “All of that project was based on recording, rather than real time performance. I was starting to understand that there is so much potential in doing this in real time and having a game engine that allows for a world that is performing in real time and having performers that are interacting with it.” Based on Connor Willumsen’s graphic novel of the same name, Anti-Gone is a hybrid theatrical performance in which one actor wearing a motion capture suit faces out into the physical world, while the other stays in VR for the entire duration. A technicolour, post climate collapse, video game engine-generated world is projected on the stage behind and beneath them, a living, breathing ecosystem, brimming with apathetic people and toxic, tropical plant life which reacts and changes in response to Triantafyllidis’s prompts.

“I’m fascinated with theatre as a medium and the theatrical language,” says the artist. “In theatre there is this magical thing where a performer can say, ‘here’s a pen,’ and you don’t need to see the pen, you just know it’s there. It’s all based on make believe, theoretically you can create entire worlds with an empty stage and a few performers, asking the audience to imagine everything. There’s a big paradox in this entire project, whereby working with the game engine is this tedious process of planting every single tree and every single object in a very precise place in space, constructing this illusion in the exact opposite way, being very literal and very precise and having to construct everything from scratch.” Working live alongside a musician, a third performer, who performs and controls a host of secondary characters, both physically and with a controller and microphone, Triantafyllidis has complete control of the environment of the play using a game engine, with the ability to change the weather, the time of day, the traffic of the boats that navigate the flooded city where the play takes place, as well as behaviour of the NPCs that populate the world. “All together we are performing the world in real time,” he describes poetically. “I was very optimistic at the beginning of the project,” he continues. “The comic book has two characters and a few scenes so it seemed pretty manageable to make this game engine with the tools I had at the time, but this slowly snowballed into an entire long term theatrical production with a full video game production team working alongside and trying to have the two constantly in dialogue, making huge changes in one another. I felt like we were trying to discover a new language for performing and a new way of building a game world that is able to accommodate this type of situation.”

Anti-Gone follows a dysfunctional sci-fi hipster couple, Spyda and Lynxa, as they persistently ignore the catastrophe that surrounds them to play out the mundane conflict of their failing relationship. Disconnected from themselves, each other and the world around them, they argue, fuck, score drugs and go to the cinema, completely immersed in a miraculously persistent swell of consumerism and neoliberal, anhedonic pleasure seeking. Read as contemporary homage to the dissociation felt by many in the face of the breadth of adversity experienced the world over during the pandemic, the story of Anti-Gone, which was published in 2017, has renewed resonance. Though it is clear the world around them is broken, Spyda and Lynxa’s capacity for emotional response to the situation has atrophied, shrunk in the salt water of rising sea levels. Rather than concern themselves with looking outward, they find solace in a reality of their own making, in the altered states achievable through the drugs they self medicate with and in the turbulent currents of their own domesticity. This turbulence is reflected in the infrastructure of the play itself. “The female protagonist and performer is much more grounded in the base reality and the stage she has, she can directly interact with the audience and break the fourth wall,” explains Triantafyllidis. “The guy is just completely immersed in the virtual environment, he cannot see the audience and can barely see where the other performer is. There is this kind of disconnect between the two, through this extremely complicated set up they have to interact with each other.” By synthesising the emotional disconnection of the play’s narrative and the physical disconnection of the play’s form, Triantafyllidis achieves a fully realised vision of technologically augmented improvisation.

“The whole performance is based on the two lead performers acting more as players within this game, with us on the other side putting up challenges for them to overcome,” he explains. “A big part of this is improvised, they have to quickly respond to what is happening while following the core storyline of the script.” By replacing the bots of Radicalization Pipeline and Ork Haus with living, breathing participants, the artist emphasises the potential for unique forms of communications and interactivity achievable through hybrid applications of AR and XR technology. For Triantafyllidis, the metaverse isn’t the means to remove the physical restraints on commerce, but a collection of tools by which it might be possible to create entirely new forms of art. In the case of Anti-Gone, this might be an entirely new form of public theatre. The initial run of performances of the play took place before the pandemic, an early, proof-of-concept at Human Resources in Los Angeles, followed by a fully fledged premiere at Sundance in 2020. Covid-19 forced the production team to adapt the show for an online audience, which was shown as a livestream performance at a few online festivals during the darkest days of the pandemic. “We made this decision to cut the stage and put it completely behind the scenes and only livestream the game engine side of the project,” the artist explains. “It became this very bizarre puppet theater animated film with the livestream chat happening on the side and the performers being able to see that chat and interface with it. There was this very uncanny and unsettling sensation where you felt like you were watching a 3D animated film that was responding to what you were saying, but the whole machine of how this was working was not transparent.” The experience opened the Triantafydillis’s eyes to the collaborative, crowd-sourced potential of these experimental livestream performances, which allow for the possibility of real time, communal improvisation.

“Because it was being performed in real time and because it was so responsive, it gave the audience a feeling of togetherness,” he explains. “The sense that this was a unique moment in time, that we’re all going through together, a performance that is happening for us right now and that we have the privilege of seeing it as it’s happening.” It can at times be hard to see the good in the slow but sure osmosis of public space by corporate expansion, something that challenges the role of the artist and gives rise to the obsessive refinement of artworks into capital we have seen proliferate across the NFT space over the last few years. But in Triantafyllidis’s exploration of possible bridges between the virtual and the physical he finds optimism in online art spaces. Anti-Gone, in its physical and online iterations, points towards the kind of things we might be able to say to each other and the kind of interactions we might be able to have when we are able to integrate this technology into an intrinsically communal, collaborative art practice.

For more information about Theo Triantafyllidis and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website.

Anti-Gone Credits:

A Performance in Mixed Reality by Theo Triantafyllidis
Commissioned and Produced by Onassis Culture

Writer (Original Comic Book) – Connor Willumsen
Key Collaborator – Matthew Doyle
Production Manager, Set and Costume Design – Polina Miliou
Curator – Mari Spirito
Cast – Lindsey Normington, Zana Gankhuyag, Matthew Doyle
Composer and Live Music Performance – Cameron Stallones
Lighting Engineer – Connor Childs
Motion Capture and Movement Coach – Rachel Ho
Lead Programmer – Stalgia Grigg
Lead 3D Character Designer – Joseph Melhuish
3D Artists – Sara Drake, Ryan Decker, Siyao Zheng
Documentation Video – Nina Sarnelle, Brian Echon
Motion Capture technology provided by Noitom MoCap

Watch next: Theo Triantafyllidis Presents – Ork Haus

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Ork Haus

Theo Triantafyllidis presents a nightmarish vision of the metaverse that is part live simulation, part experimental theatre, drawing as much from The Sims as it does Lars Von Trier’s Dogville.

“Imagine if you could be at the office without the commute,” enthused Mark Zuckerberg in the 2021 keynote announcing his company’s leap into the metaverse. “You would still have that sense of presence, shared physical space, those chance interactions that make your day, all accessible from anywhere.” In this vision of the future, virtual reality has been transformed into a fresh vector for data commodification and online shopping, a means of transcending the pesky limitations of physical objects and our corporeal forms from Meta’s infinite expansion into every facet of our lives. “The metaverse will remove many of the physical constraints we see on commerce today and make entirely new businesses possible,” he promises. Ork Haus is artist Theo Triantafyllidis‘s response to this promise, a nightmarish vision of the metaverse in which the truly monstrous aspects of working from home and the technology that continues to enable us to do so are the subject of a work that is part live simulation, part experimental theatre, drawing as much from The Sims as it does Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. “Whether we like it or not, being in the new media art scene you are very, very close to Silicon Valley culture,” asserts Triantafyllidis. “In some ways we are doomed as artists to be running behind whatever new platform Facebook decides to roll out. I’m trying to be critical of these technologies and expose both the nonsensicality and complete impracticality of some of these ideas. Being familiar with this technology for a few years now it was very transparent to me that a lot of the things that Mark Zuckerberg was presenting in the Meta presentation were very, very far from being realized, even with their resources.”

In Ork Haus, the titular ork family struggle through a Web3-enabled purgatory of their own making, driving each other mad in an eternal work-from-home nightmare that evokes all the pandemic neuroses and anxieties of the last two years. “The whole simulation is based on the logic of a Sims game,” explains Triantafyllidis. “Each of the characters has their own needs, like hunger, fun and bladder, that they have to respond to over time, but depending on which of the characters are next to them when they are doing these actions, the actions will be affected and they have to interact with the other characters. At the same time, conceptually this whole thing is a very horrifying version of the metaverse, where this entire family is working from home, in a forever locked-down situation. The dad is dabbling in some crypto investments and trying to run a small crypto rig in their bedroom, that’s also used for heating. They’re caught up in this hustler, entrepreneur, Web3 family life.” Randomly generated vignettes convey the comic tragedy of the ork family’s precarious situation, resulting in chance encounters from which it is possible to piece together a rough narrative. The Y-front sporting patriarch delivers brutal corporal punishment to an orkling as we see familiar weapons from Radicalization Pipeline hanging on a wall of the family home, a sly nod to the multi-platform gaming applications many cite as the primary use case for NFTs. The ork father warms himself by the flames of his overheating crypto rig as one of his orklings teaches themselves to code; the ork matriarch desperately attempts to meditate as her husband snores beside her; daddy ork gets lost in his VR headset as another orkling tries on a dress in the bathroom where, moments later, daddy ork sits weeping as the tap drips next to him.

These moments of technologically mediated ork domesticity, though in many ways mundane, are elevated in their monstrousness to symbols of the contemporary human condition, experiences that are just as sisyphean as the eternal war of Radicalization Pipeline, but brought much closer to home via shared metaversal truth. Though voiced with crude grunts and snarls, each of the orks is capable of subtitled human speech via banks of quotes compiled by the artist and distributed between the family as part of a rudimentary dialogue system. Partially written by Triantafyllidis himself, partially cribbed, fittingly, from Zuckerberg’s Meta keynote and partially generated using the GPT-3 neural net language model, which was fed a selection of academic white papers and sitcom scripts, the dialogue of Ork Haus phases in and out of intelligibility, occasionally cohereing into an exchange resembling an irate family dispute, before falling back into nonsense, the parroted maxims of tech press releases and cryptocurrency forum dwellers. “Monster Theory is an interesting way of trying to understand the human condition and psyche through exaggeration, seeing how you can use physical appearance as a way to communicate interior feelings, finding these vectors and extrapolating them to the extreme,” says Triantafyllidis. “For me, it’s a more scientific method of examining things, where by extrapolating and exaggerating you can get deeper into understanding some things.” In Ork Haus, the monstrous is the mundane, the intensely dysfunctional family dynamics and their torturous living situation transcending their ork flesh into something profoundly relatable. “I guess it’s similar to the Simpsons in some way,” suggests Triantafyllidis. “You make a cartoonized, exaggerated character and then it somehow becomes more relatable than making a specific decision about body type or race, making the situation more universal, oddly enough.” 

However it is the emotional and, in some instances, racial stereotypes that orks have represented historically that drew Triantafyllidis to the characters in the first place. “Orks have specifically been very fascinating for me,” he explains. “They were definitely popularized by the fantasy genre and it’s interesting that they have been used as this default enemy, cannon fodder thing in Lord Of The Rings, but in World Of Warcraft and Warhammer there are a huge amount of players that actually prefer being orks. There’s this interesting shift in the perception of them, so it’s interesting to try to play with this misconception. Lord Of The Rings presents them as the enemy in a very racist way and their aesthetic treatment in Warhammer is still pretty racist, but in Warcraft and in later games the popular understanding of them is starting to shift and we’re starting to see them having a more developed culture of their own.” This development can be observed in relation to Radicalization Pipeline. While Ork Haus features familiar weapons and some shared combat animations, rather than pure aggression we see instances of laziness, vanity, frustration and joy as the family goes about its day, a more complex, though ultimately just as horrific, infinitely repeating routine as those embroiled in an eternal war. Another radicalization pipeline, just by a different name. “I like to examine where this ork culture is coming from and what it’s referencing in terms of real life cultures,” continues Triantafyllidis. “One thing I truly relate with them on is that they’re always presented as making these very crude but efficient war machines, which is related to this idea in modernist architecture of form following function. This is a pretty common trope in design, but seeing how the interpretation of this by orks comes with these very funny results makes it much more relatable.” 

It was this common ground that, in 2018, led Triantafyllidis to choose an ork as his artistic alter ego. “I spent quite a few months in virtual reality, looking at myself in the virtual mirror, looking down at my body and really trying to become this character, to change my movement, my speech, the way I was thinking, to see how that would mess up with my perception of self and the perception of my body, and how that would then, in turn, affect the type of work that I was making,” he describes. In a self-described effort to queer the ork aesthetic, Triantafyllidis’s avatar is a butch-femme ork with blue hair and aggressive pretensions of grandeur, whose testosterone-fuelled art practice is underlined by very literal heavy lifting. In Painting, the artist’s ork avatar creates a painting in virtual reality with digital paint splatters, scribbles and bold, violent lines, a painting that was reproduced physically for his show Role Play, which took place in 2018 at the Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York City. In the same series, the ork avatar constructs a statue to the ancient greek goddess of victory, Nike, out of sci-fi junk in the middle of a virtual studio, filled with digital objects painstakingly designed by Triantafyllidis. This dichotomy, between the very real work of making digital objects using design software, and the performance of virtual work carried out by Triantafyllidis’s ork avatar, is borne out in Ork Haus, where the notion of physical labour is subverted not only in the online entrepreneurial drive of the ork family, but in the form of the live simulation, in which, through the application of formidable technical skill, Triantafyllidis can sit back and let his work simulation as artwork run for as long as the computer has electricity. It’s a hilarious interrogation of the realities of what Mark Zuckerberg describes as an “embodied internet,” as well as an incisive critique of the monstrous potential of what the Meta CEO describes as “the creative economy we’ll all build.”

For more information about Theo Triantafyllidis and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website.

Ork Haus Credits:

Live Simulation – Theo Triantafyllidis
Motion Capture Performance – Rachel Ho

Watch next: Theo Triantafyllidis Presents – Radicalization Pipeline

Theo Triantafyllidis Presents: Radicalization Pipeline

Using surreal humour and an absurdist aesthetic sensibility inspired by high fantasy, classic science fiction, MMORPGs and niche online communities, Theo Triantafyllidis builds immersive worlds that pry at the wider capabilities and broader ethics of the technology used in their creation.

Theo Triantafyllidis was making art in the metaverse years before Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of his company with the promise of a new, immersive, “embodied internet.” Before Meta had revealed its vision of a virtual world with the expansiveness and interactivity of Ready Player One and the expensively rendered digital architecture of a particularly luxurious WeWork, Triantafyllidis was spending months in his virtual art studio, building digital sculptures in virtual reality. During this time the only discernible difference between his virtual and IRL practice was that, for this project, the artist assumed the role of a muscular ork, an avatar he has used across a series of works probing the limits of what a virtual art practice might look like. Even before he had made the transition from architect to artist, Triantafyllidis was acutely aware of how physical public spaces were fast becoming a thing of the past. “I felt like making traditional buildings was somehow irrelevant to my thinking, because the spaces we are cohabitating are becoming increasingly online”, he explains. “I was very drawn to becoming more of an architect of the metaverse and trying to think what that means for the architectural profession: how do you translate this very old history and tradition of making buildings into this new medium? How can this knowledge be transferred? How can we make online community spaces that are interesting in the way that they’re structured and the way that they can enable new kinds of interactions?” 

Triantafyllidis graduated from architecture school in Athens just as the 2008 financial crisis was hitting its peak, throwing the global architecture and construction business into freefall. After relocating to Beijing he became involved with an active community of artists making work that foregrounded the internet as a medium, projects that took the legacy of Net Art and Post-Internet Art and refocused those references through an architectural lens, inspired, in part, by the monolithic skyscrapers and entertainment malls that Triantafyllidis was working on at the time. It was at UCLA, where he enrolled to complete his Master’s degree, that the then architect was introduced to the game engine softwares that would open up a completely new way of conceiving of space and become instrumental in his art practice. In the years since Triantafyllidis has developed a highly technical, uniquely acerbic and deeply multidisciplinary approach to making work, using interactive experiences, mixed-media installations, extended reality and live stream performances, as well as live simulations to build immersive worlds that pry at the wider capabilities and broader ethics of the technology used in their creation.

Using surreal humour and an absurdist aesthetic sensibility inspired by high fantasy, classic science fiction, MMORPGs and niche online communities, Triantafyllidis carries out a sustained critique of the tech industry and the wrestling of new technologies away from the benefit of the user and user-generated communities in the interests of corporate expansion, financial growth and the commodification of information. The way he achieves this can be understood in the interplay between two central aspects of his art practice, computational humour and AI improvisation. “I like computational humor as a concept because it is a very niche research objective within computer science that’s analyzing how the human brain responds to humor,” he says, “trying to create a mathematical formula for what is funny. In my work I generally like to have a humorous aspect because I think it’s something that has the capacity to break the audience’s defenses and be a first line of approachability in the work.” This comedic drive can be traced all the way back to one of his earliest simulation works, How To Everything, in which the artist attempted to create an algorithm that could, in theory, generate an infinite number of visually funny scenarios. In a gesture that bears contemporary resonance with the conspicuous barbecue sauce bottle placed in the background of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta keynote, these scenarios throw together precarious physics and random objects within different environments with what the artist describes as “empathy, effort and failure.”

Triantafyllidis’s work with live simulations comes to its most complete expression with Radicalization Pipeline, a RPG-inspired battle royale which renders online social platforms as literal zones of conflict whilst demonstrating the artist’s improvisational approach to A.I. “I feel the most interesting aspect of these live simulation works is the connection to theater and live performance, how you have these very simplistic AIs, that are usually used in games for enemies or player interactions, that can be directed in the same way a theater director would direct actors,” he explains. “By giving them simple instructions you can create a performance score that is producing an infinite variation of some specific situations and you are able to produce humorous results out of that.” Across a flat expanse of concrete, Triantafyllidis whips between different perspectives, flitting between a top down, god’s eye view reminiscent of table top strategy games and the shaky, NPC-locked perspective of a first-person action game. Under a sky burning orange, MAGA cap wearers brandishing claw hammers fight alongside hulking orks dragging battle clubs and flails. Special Ops teams in riot gear wield sci-fi swords and shields, sprinting into the fray while dodging Antifa super soldiers and independent militia members holding fascist presenting flags high above their heads. Furries batter Proud Boys, cyberpunk elves band together with crypto anarchists, each with their own intricately rendered weapons and armour.

“With Radicalization Pipeline a few of my ideas about live simulation have started to crystallize,” says Triantafyllidis. “It’s more transparent to people that this is happening right now, it’s easier to point out that all these characters are in there and are, frame by frame, second by second, making small decisions on what to do based on who is around them, where they are right now, the friends and foes that surround them.” Programming each type of character with differing stats cribbed from RPG systems, such as health points, speed and strength, the artist adapts the concept of ‘boids,’ a classic artificial life simulation model within computer science created in 1986 by Craig Reynolds, to create infinitely repeating iterations of hostile crowd dynamics, where friends will join together to defeat foes and search for weaker enemies. As each of the characters is killed, they fall through the floor, only to be resurrected moments later to rejoin the battle. “For me, live simulations and the infinity that they can produce is closely related to the myth of Sisyphus,” continues Triantafyllidis, “how all these characters are really trapped inside the simulation and have to repeat these actions over and over.” The futile skirmishes that make up Radicalization Pipeline serve as a hilarious and poetic response to the synthetic approximations of person to person proximity that social media platforms take as their ground zero. “This idea of proximity is quite paradoxical,” notes Triantafyllidis.

“The internet is all about dispersing and cutting down on distance between people, but I think that our brains are somehow hardwired and excited by this idea of proximity and being able to represent that in virtual spaces has been around in video games and online multiplayer worlds for forever.” Without some careful curation of each group’s behaviours and allegiances, Triantafyllidis admits that early versions of the simulation resulted in even more chaos, with all the characters piling into a huge sphere of death. This is where the artist’s conception of programmer-as-dramaturge is manifested most clearly, as he describes: “the thing I spent most time on developing this work was fine tuning all these values and the range of these values so that the overall choreography of the crowd would always feel dynamic and evolving in some way.” The practice of crowd curation within the virtual space of Radicalization Pipeline is resonant with Triantafyllidis’s wider thoughts of how the virtual spaces of social media platforms, as well as their respective radicalization pipelines, function less as spaces for communication and connectivity and more as enclosed sites of conflict. “Now we have come to a point where everything is so walled in by social media platforms. There’s still the excitement of discovering new accounts, or new people, but I personally find that this feeling of excitement, of browsing through an expanding field, has now become a feeling of anger and dopamine hunting through the linear feed situation.”

“The incentive to discover new things has now been offloaded to the algorithm, where we are now being told to let the algorithm tell you what you like and what you want to explore and give you the new things you want to see. It even feels like random encounters are not really random anymore, it’s always within the bubble you are presented.” Radicalization Pipeline is one such bubble, where encounters are random, yet dictated by highly focused algorithms to guide behaviour and movement. Yet within the concept of boids, a decades-old precursor to the kinds of live simulations that Triantafyllidis works on, the artist finds the potential for a more community-oriented model for the ways in which we will exist online in the very near future, within and without Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. “I am personally interested in the spatial quality of communication in a more 3D-based Web3,” he says, “where instead of hearing all the voices together from the entirety of the internet, you need to be physically close to a group that is online to listen to their voice and exchange information. These smaller groups are perhaps more meaningful, as they can incentivize chat and friendly interactions.” Far from the sisyphean hellscape of Radicalization Pipeline, free from the walled gardens of social media platforms, for Triantafyllidis, Web3 offers the potential for staying clear of the pipeline, granting us a space where it is possible to lean in close to listen.

For more information about Theo Triantafyllidis and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website. Radicalization Pipeline is currently on show at Among the Machines, a group show at the Zabludowicz Collection.

Radicalization Pipeline Credits:

Live Simulation – Theo Triantafyllidis
Sound Design – Diego Navarro

Watch next: Stephen McLaughlin & Maxwell Sterling summon images from the digital void in Decay Time

Fact Mix 853: Jamz Supernova

A 3am club mix full of inspired blends from one of the UK’s favourite DJs and presenters.

Over the past decade, Jamz Supernova has grown to become one of the UK’s most multi-talented dance music figureheads. As a DJ, she regularly plays to main stage festival crowds and holds down the club with sets that explore global club sounds, broken beat and UK funky. On radio, she is a familiar voice on BBC Radio 1Xtra and also on BBC 6 Music, where her Saturday afternoon slot has become one of the station’s must-hear shows. With her label, Future Bounce, she helps to incubate rising and established talent.

The common thread that runs through Jamz’s career is the genuine excitement of bringing new music and older gems to her audience, no matter where she’s playing. It’s the same exhilaration that runs through her Fact Mix, which begins with ROSALÍA’s ‘CUUUUuuuuuute’ and continues at lightspeed with productions from Chloe Robinson X ADHD, Mella Dee, Joy Orbison and Floating Points, and is filled with the kind of inspired blends that are likely to make fellow DJs envious.

“The theme of the mix is it’s 3am somewhere,” Jamz says. “I wanted to capture the rawness of DJing in a club at 3am and feeling like you can mix anything! It’s raw and energetic <3”.

Follow Jamz Supernova on Instagram. You can also listen to her podcast, DIY Handbook on Apple and Spotify – it returns with a second season soon with guests including Conducta and Sam Interface. Jamz will also play at Brighton’s Patterns this summer, as well as festivals including Love Saves The Day, Kala, Sónar and We Out Here.

Tracklist:

ROSALÍA – ‘CUUUUuuuuuute’
Bianca Oblivion – ‘Selecta’ 
Daddy Yankee – ‘Machucando’ (Nick León Bubbling Mix)
Villager – ‘Rave Bender’ 
Protect Ryan – ‘DJ Weddings & Receptions’
Chloe Robinson X ADHD – ‘Redbull’
Mani Festo – ‘Leviathan’
Danny Goliger & Justin Jay – ‘Sticky Rice’
Joy Orbison – ‘Pinky Ring’
Floating Points – ‘Vocoder’ 
BIG DOPE P feat. DJ SLUGO – ‘Work Move Shake’ (LAUREN FLAX Midwest Jacker Remix)
LSDXOXO – ‘The Devil’ (Tygapaw Remix)
Mella Dee – ‘Ridgewood’ 
Asna, anyoneID – ‘Abissa’ 
Dismantle – ‘Hammertime’ 
Busy Twist – ‘Yagga Skank’ 
Sam Binga x Foreign Concept – ‘BAMF’
Sister Zo – ‘Don’t Test Me’
Bodhi – ‘Drop One’

Listen next: Fact Mix 852: Nene H 

Heinali performs live from a bomb shelter in Lviv, Ukraine

The composer, sound artist and modular synthesist will perform new material based loosely on the on 12th century organa of the Notre-Dame school, which is taken from a new album he was unable to finish due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Heinali is the musical moniker of Oleh Shpudeiko, a composer, sound artist and modular synthesist from Ukraine, who back in 2021 featured as part of Patch Notes, our ongoing series exploring modular synthesisers and the art of making electronic music with hardware. On Saturday, April 2, at 17:00 GMT / 19:00 EEST, Heinali will livestream from a bomb shelter in Lviv, a city in west Ukraine where the musician is currently based.

He will perform new material loosely based on the 12th century polyphonic organa of the Notre-Dame school and earlier medieval polyphony, on his modular system that he was able to save in his relocation to Lviv. The new material is the foundation of his new album, Organa, which he has not been able to complete due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The performance is part of Live from Ukraine, a series of live-streamed concerts featuring Ukrainian musicians performing works of Ukrainian and foreign composers. Set up by Shpudeiko, alongside Alexey Shmurak, Michael Balog and Ivan Kostyk, Live from Ukraine is described as “a wartime statement on the subjectivity, vitality and resilience of the Ukrainian musical communities.”

You can find Heinali on Bandcamp, Instagram, Twitter and at his website. For more information on how you can support the people of Ukraine, check out Crack’s invaluable list of resources.

Fact Mix 848: Bored Lord

Bored Lord drops us right in the middle of the party we all desperately want to be at in this week’s Fact mix.

Over the years Daria Lourd’s singular approach to dance music has remained consistently exploratory, irresistible and heart-wrenching. Cutting her teeth within the fiercely creative Oakland DIY scene while making art and music as part of the digital collective Rare Nnudes, Bored Lord found a home at underground club imprint Knightwerk before more recently joining kindred spirits Eris Drew and Octo Octa on their label, T4T LUV NRG. Her sound is in constant oscillation, pinging between toothsome hardware jams, joyous pop edits, queasy bass euphoria, pleasure-center inflaming hardcore and amorous, banging breaks, all channeled towards a dancefloor philosophy that is, to use the words of Eris Drew and Octo Octa, “pressed loud and built out of love between queer and trans people…the same love we use to survive.”

Like her labelmates at T4T LUV NRG, Bored Lord demonstrates how propulsive energy and ecstatic sound can serve as both a celebration of the queer and trans people that have pioneered, make, play and dance to this music, as well as a vital space for queer and trans resistance. Across a series of essential releases, including the impeccably titled Transexual Rave Anthems, delusional breaks, T-Groove and The Last Illusion, as well as two edit compilations, instinctual, liberated physicality has remained Lourd’s resolute focus. These are tracks for bodies and souls, music for hearts and minds. “This mix is a good reflection of what I’ve been playing at gigs recently,” explains Lourd. “A lot of breaks and basslines and drumwork lead the way with a mix of modern tracks and classic throwbacks.”

“I also included some unreleased music that I’m testing out. I recorded this live on the full moon at Lower Grand Radio to give it that raw NRG feeling. Hope it makes you dance around and keep reaching to crank the volume knob.” Throwing together classic cuts from Zone, The Cotton Club and Kaotic Chemistry, contemporary anthems from AceMo, KW Griff and James Bangura, stand-out tracks from a host of rising producers such as OSSX and Nikki Nair, as well collaborations between Bored Lord herself and Bastiengoat and Introspekt, Lourd’s mix drops us right in the middle of the party we all desperately want to be at.

You can find Bored Lord on Instagram, SoundCloud and Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

Zone – ‘Eternal #2’
Ali Berger – ‘pod’
AceMo – ‘Strings of Time’
Russell E.L. Butler – ‘God Is Change’
Varda Hayes – ‘8888’
Bastiengoat x Bored Lord – ‘Thallium’
The Cotton Club – ‘Nu Jack’ 
DJ Mike B – ‘Feel The Energy’
RTCHRD – ‘FEEL THE MUSIC’
Fear E – ‘Principles’
OSSX – ‘Big Yawn’
Bored Lord – ‘Whatcha Lookin For’
Kaotic Chemistry – ‘Drumtrip’
KW Griff – ‘Phil Collins’
afterdark recordings – ‘Energizer #1B’
Ell Murphy & Stones Taro – ‘Hours’
Bored Lord – ‘and the DJ keeps it sincere’
James Bangura – ‘Pinky Ring’
Introspekt x Bored Lord – ‘Early Hours’
B Wen – ‘Zero In’
bastiengoat – ‘Page st’
Bored Lord – ‘Get Loose’
Nikki Nair – ‘Way of the Void’
Introspekt – ‘It’s Cold Up North’
Escaflowne – ‘Hard Playa’
SP*RIT – ‘AIR SUPPLY’
Bored Lord – ‘In Unison With Others’

Listen next: Fact Mix 847 – DJ Lyster

Azu Tiwaline & Defasten conjure audiovisual talismans, live at MIRA 2021

Adapted from a live performance at the 2021 edition of Barcelona’s foremost digital arts festival.

Azu Tiwaline translates the enveloping silence of the desert into atmospheric washes of polyrhythmic dub and techno, combining elements of Tunisian ritual trance music associated with stambali, a group healing rite of chanting and dance, with dense electronics. The artist’s moniker can be translated from Berber as “eyes of the wind,” an image that speaks to the organic textures of her sound, a sonic exploration of her roots in the Tunisian Sahara. When digital artist Patrick Doan, aka Defasten, was brought together with the producer for the 2021 edition of Barcelona’s foremost digital arts festival, MIRA, it was the rich history and invocation of space within Azu Tiwaline’s sound that he felt most drawn to.

“I settled on a visual language derived from talismans – timeless objects of religious and magical power of infinite designs that protect, heal or can cause harm to targeted individuals,” explains Defasten. “Another prominent visual feature is the inclusion of geometric symbols or icons that embody various significance related to geographic landmarks, the natural order and social codes. Together with the talismans, these objects of power exist in a landscape out of time, within a dimension outside of normal human perception.”

As impossible objects shift and spin around each other, Defasten allows us a glimpse of the crackling energy of their live performance, including holograms of Azu Tiwaline, captured using a Kinect camera, and a reconstructed, digital approximation of the MIRA stage. Meeting the organic textures of Azu Tiwaline’s sounds with intricately rendered virtual objects, Defasten draws out the magical potency of her sonic palette, extending the ritualistic qualities outward, folding the audience into the trance.

In his own words, Defasten has been making digital art “since the genesis of the internet age,” creating generative, audio-reactive systems with a singular, retro-futurist aesthetic. He has made music videos for Detroit Underground, Peter Kirn and B E N N. For more information about Patrick Doan and his work you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

You can find Azu Tiwaline on Bandcamp and Instagram.

Watch next: Mike Raymond puts a nightmarish spin on Norse mythology in Urðr

Fact Mix 847: DJ Lyster

The Manchester-based head of YOUTH draws us into a hazy interzone of gauzy electronics and downbeat techno.

Over the past decade, Andrew Lyster has quietly gained a reputation as one of Manchester’s most esteemed DJs and label owners. As one of the team behind the cult club night meandyou., Lyster was responsible for early UK bookings of cult artists such as Frak, Kassem Mosse and Rezzett, cultivating his own style as a selector that leans towards foggy techno, 5am ambient and abstract dub frequencies.

Since 2017, Lyster has been the driving force behind YOUTH, a label whose output of scuzzy electronics and downbeat techno sits in an alternate musical universe. It’s a zone where likeminded artists such as Sockethead, FUMU and Shamos exist alongside the Transatlantic experimentation of Sharp Veins, Georgia and Bryce Hackford, a place that’s refreshingly removed from prevailing trends.

Lyster’s DJ sets and occasional radio appearances share the same exploratory spirit, looking between the cracks for sounds, artists and moods that elude many other selectors. DJ Lyster’s Fact Mix, which was recorded “on a lazy afternoon at Soup, Manchester,” is a set that effortlessly shifts between texture and tempo, combining music from Turinn, Kelman Duran, Silvia Kastel, Sockethead, 1012 and more.

“[The mix includes] quite a few bits that are coming up on the label this year, and a few bits that ‘never leave the usb’ lol,” Lyster writes. “Enjoyed putting this together, finding nice layer combinations and interesting segues.” 

Find YOUTH’s catalogue on Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

Hajj – ‘Loosing U 4 Ever’ [Unreleased]
INFX – ‘Low Repeats’ [Klammklang]
Stonecirclesampler & Scott King – ‘Sheffield City Cuts’ (My Mind – Industrial Coast Mix) 
Silvia Kastel – ‘Mantide’ [Unreleased]
Turinn – ‘Untitled’ [Unreleased]
Ottoswed – ‘وناس تموت حلو’ [Unreleased]
Sockethead – ‘Sian’ [Unreleased]
La Union Metalurgica – ‘Hora De Trabajar’ [Forthcoming L.I.E.S.]
FUMU – ‘Right Future Bounce’ [Unreleased]
Hanah – ‘Ou7ro5p3c71on’ [High Digital]
Hajj – ‘Reverse Catharsis’ [Unreleased]
1012 – ‘Untitled’ [Unreleased]
FUMU – ‘Untitled’ [Unreleased]
Martin Hannett – ‘First Aspect Of The Same Thing’ [Factory Benelux]
Kelman Duran – ‘For Whitney’ – [Boomkat Editions]
J – ‘Yellow Leaf Flutters On A Nail’ (mu tate remix) [Daisart]
Wojciech Rusin feat. Eden Girma – ‘Glass Coil’ [AD93]
SALELE – ‘LELELE For Pitch Division’ [Ominira]

Listen next: Fact Mix 846: Ehua

Mike Raymond puts a nightmarish spin on Norse mythology in Urðr

Artist, director and animator Mike Raymond stares into the void and finds a Norse god.

Drawing inspiration from legendary anime director Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfathers, artist Mike Raymond proceeds to join the dots between the old Norse Edda, Chris Cunningham’s video for ‘Only You’ by Portishead and The Lord Of The Rings with Urðr, a nightmarish sequence of stunning, hand-painted CGI and foreboding sound design. Centering around a solitary old man, illuminated by a Victorian street light on a bench in the snow, the film follows his encounter with the tituar Urðr, one of the three Norns of Norse mythology, who draw from a scared well to tend to the world tree, Yggdrasil, while deciding upon the fates of human beings.

“In the last few years I have been thinking a lot about certain rules I like to aim for,” explains the artist. “With CG being so endless, sometimes it can just be too extreme. One of the big turning points was through a phase of watching a lot of stop motion. I was having issues with characters and scenes feeling too sterile and I knew I wanted to make emotionally real films, films that felt alive, as opposed to photorealism. Having super realistic human characters and accurate environments was actually part of the problem and in fact stripping things back improved things. I started animating at 10-15 frames per second, hand painting all the textures, particularly for characters skin. When setting up a scene I restricted myself to a certain size as if it was a stop motion set on a table or a sound stage.”

“A big part of my work is centred around this black void I have come to name the Rabbit Hole, a name which is tied to a bigger project that’s been stuck in my mind for a few years,” he continues. “This was probably born out of necessity and not having the budget to work on backgrounds, but is something I have completely fallen in love with. There is a certain lore that has slowly evolved over time and will continue to. It’s a place where you confront your demons, for better or worse. It can trap you, it is a force of its own but can also be used and sometimes can be a mode of transport, between worlds, time, reality and fantasy. It’s become a big part of my language.”

Raymond utilizes this Lynchian nightmare space to drift fluidly between a series of evocative images, from snow illuminated against the dark, grime smudged across the old man’s weather beaten face, the weird, folkloric eroticism of Urðr’s eerie dance, a luminous apparition evoking old trauma and the ominous symbolism of young saplings twisted into a living rune. “I’m not sure I actually remember how the story came about and how all this Norse mythology got tangled in, but I knew I wanted it to be about his past,” says Raymond. “I think it’s one of those ones that just come to you, maybe the Rabbit Hole sent it?”

For more information about Mike Raymond and his work you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

Watch next: Yoshi Sodeoka & Julian Zyklus wade into an ocean of sound with Waterpiano n.2

Fact Mix 846: Ehua

Ehua ventures further into the evocative expansiveness of her sound, exploring deconstructed and experimental soundscapes.

London-based, Italian-Ivorian artist, producer and DJ Ehua makes music that drifts irresistibly between shadow and sensuality, formed from dense swirls of carefully crafted sound design and lethal percussive gymnastics that permeate space and envelop bodies, precision-engineered for loose, instinctual movement. Between her always outstanding residency at Milanese online radio station Radio Raheem, during which she has invited singular talents such as Scratchclart, KG, TSVI and Air Max ’97 to share air time and a series of killer releases, including Diplozoon for femme culture and last year’s Aquamarine, for which the producer reconnected with the like minds at Nervous Horizon for six richly varied and intensely atmospheric tracks, it’s clear that Ehua is fast becoming one of the defining voices in contemporary dance music. Her role as part of the cultural collective GRIOT and co-editor of GRIOTmag, which celebrate and amplify art, music and fashion from Africa and the African diaspora, solidifies and emphasises the formidable scope of Ehua’s practice.

For her Fact mix, Ehua ventures further into the evocative expansiveness of her sound. “For this mix I wanted to explore deconstructed and experimental soundscapes, with each blend aiming at taking the listener to a new and different sonic place,” she explains. “I recorded it on my Pioneer XDJ-RX in the new studio I’ve just moved in to and it includes recent and unreleased tracks spanning across a wide range of genres and BPMs (90-180) that have accompanied me during this transitional period and that channel my chaotic energy at the moment, as well as the hectic dystopian flux that has now become our reality, which is both exciting and scary.” Acting as both guide and agitator, she winds through patches of eerily smudged and jaggedly chilly atmosphere from Dean Blunt and Josi Devil, sections of humid buzz and low end dread from Ylan, Xades and Seven Orbits, caverns of spacious swell from Toumba and SIM, thermometer-popping propulsion from TSVI, Klahrk and Griffit Vigo, whiplash-inducing pace from Amazondotcom, Soreab and Ouri, the disorientating liminal space between AYA, Little Dragon and Kelsey Lu, before finally leaving us helpless in a passage of unsettling radioactive ambient from Ehua herself.

You can find Ehua on Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Instagram. Tune in every month to her Radio Raheem residency and check out GRIOT’s website and Instagram.

Tracklist:

Dean Blunt – ‘Damaged’
Josi Devil – Unreleased
Forest Drive West – Unreleased
Yilan – ‘Static Void’
Xades – ‘Zins’ (Thodén Remix)
Seven Orbits – Unreleased
Toumba – ‘Floating on The Dead Sea’
SIM – ‘3oz of it’
Ehua – Unreleased
TSVI – Unreleased
McGregor – ‘Hare’
Klahrk – ‘MF.MT’
Griffit Vigo – ‘Phola’
Amazondotcom – ‘The Most Foreign Country’
Rose Bonica – ‘What You See Is Not What I See’
Soreab – ‘Serac Fall’
Ouri – ‘Chains’
AYA – ‘dis yacky’
Little Dragon – ‘Drifting Out’ (Kelsey Lu Remix)
Ehua – Unreleased

Listen next: Fact Mix 845 – Turkana

Yoshi Sodeoka & Julian Zyklus wade into an ocean of sound with Waterpiano n.2

Drawing inspiration from legendary experimental composer Luciano Berio’s Wasserklavier, Italian-born, Berlin-based musician Julian Zyklus melts lilting piano into flowing aquatic tones.

Julian Zyklus has been playing piano since he was five, but in recent years his attentions have been turned to the world of experimental electronics. On Waterpiano n. 2, the artist combines both facets of his musical practice into a gorgeous sequence of lilting piano and diaphanous sound design. “It basically blends my love for the piano and Impressionism period,with my endless interest for electronic music and technology and, in this specific case, for the delay,” he explains.

“I basically created from scratch several patches of digital and modular modulated delays I processed my piano with, trying to turn its keys into water notes. Conceptually speaking, it is strongly inspired by the masterpiece Wasserklavier (the German word for Water Piano) by the Italian Maestro Luciano Berio, but I developed that concept in a sound design dimension, reaching out for something pretty original in terms of sound research.” The weightless delicacy of Chopin, Bach, Debussy and Satie flows through Zyklus’s playing, augmented with his thrillingly tactile approach to sound design.

Multidisciplinary artist Yoshi Sodeoka lends his neo-psychedelic aesthetic to Zyklus’s sounds in the track’s visual, matching the irresistible physicality of his aquatic sound design with technicolour textures and hypnotic shimmer, illuminating his ocean of sound. “The collaboration with Yoshi was something totally unexpected for me,” explains Zyklus. “I was a huge fan of his art and I simply wrote him asking for a collaboration,” he admits.

‘Waterpiano n.2’ is one of four compositions that will be collected on a new EP from Zyklus for Hush Hush Records. You can find Julian Zylkus on Instagram.

For more information about Yoshi Sodeoka and his work you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

Watch next: Lyra Pramuk soundtracks a psychedelic healing ritual with Delta

Fact Mix 845: Turkana

A whirlwind set of hard dance from ANTI-MASS member Turkana.

Anita Kevin, who is part of the ANTI-MASS collective alongside fellow Uganda-based artists Authentically Plastic and Nsasi, didn’t necessarily expect to find herself drawn to DJing. After spending time as a curator who brought together female visual artists and performers, she was invited to join a DJ workshop organised by veteran Ugandan artist DJ Rachael’s Femme Electronic platform.

The experience inspired her to dig deeper, and she bought a DJ controller from her friend Catu Diosis. Kevin, who was born in South Sudan and grew up in a refugee camp near Lake Turkana in Kenya, adopted the artist name Turkana as a way of reclaiming the experience.

“I thought I should really use something that is connected to me,” she said in an interview with Subtile. “It’s reclaiming that whole experience of being in a refugee camp and overcoming it and being powerful, not being limited by what you’ve experienced.”

Since Turkana’s breakthrough performance at Nyege Nyege Festival in 2019, she has showcased her own take on hard dance globally at events including Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? and Berlin’s CTM Festival. As part of ANTI-MASS, “a series of roving, riotous, music happenings” based in Kampala, Turkana and her collaborators reclaim the dancefloor for queer and femme clubbers and other minorities, as well as “exploring new potentials for sound and artistic expression in an increasingly regressive social climate.” 

Turkana’s Fact Mix is a whirlwind trip through her frenetic style, featuring music from Nyege Nyege artists Slikback and Duma, as well as tracks from Badsista, Osheyack, SWAN MEAT and Gabber Modus Operandi. “The tracks selected were inspired from the past few months when I was touring, the feeling of seeing people back to enjoying music, dancing together and the emotions that came up,” Turkana says of the mix. “I think the dance floor is a liberating space, a place where we free ourselves with the safety of music. Some tracks represent the complicity and variations in the rhythms and sounds of African dance music and hard dance music from all over the globe blended with 808 percussion.

“The mix is an extension from the fun that I have playing and hope everyone can enjoy it.”

Follow Turkana on Instagram and SoundCloud.

Tracklist:

Osheyack – ‘Downwelling’
Tzusing – ‘Esther’ (Gabber Modus Operandi remix)
Scotch Rolex – ‘Tewari’
Badsista – ‘ZL CLUB MUSIC pt. II’
Faizal Mostrixx – ‘Kuhamahana’
Chrisman – ‘Hewa’
Scotch Rolex – ‘Juice’ (ft. MC Yallah)
Duma – ‘Omni’ (quest?onmarq bootleg)
SWAN MEAT – ‘SLUDGE’
Phelimuncasi – ‘Wazini Ngo Qoh’ (prod DJ MP3)
Slikback x Tzusing – ‘JAHAD’
Phelimuncasi – ‘Uyaphi WeNano’ (feat Mafethan, prod DJ Scoturn)
Gabber Modus Operandi – ‘Padang Galaxxx’ (Skyshaker Dusk Novox)
Biga Yut – ‘Walah’ 
Manuka Honey – ‘Pestañas’

Listen next: Fact Mix 844: A Psychic Yes

Lyra Pramuk soundtracks a psychedelic healing ritual with Delta

A collaboration with video artist Diego Barrera, featuring reworked versions of Lyra Pramuk’s music from Caterina Barbieri, Colin Self and Eris Drew and dedicated to the memory of Michel Beauvais (1982 – 2020).

Last year Lyra Pramuk revisited her essential debut album Fountain, a beguiling work of “futurist folk music” exploring themes of post-humanism and gender created entirely with her own voice and a virtuosic approach to electronics. Putting her own singular spin on the concept of the remix album, Delta brought together a community of some of the most thrilling musicians and producers from across four continents to bend, reshape and respond to her sound. Focusing on “transgenerational dialogue and global storytelling,” Pramuk enlisted the talents of Valgeir Sigurðsson, Colin Self, KMRU, Hudson Mohawke, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Caterina Barbieri, Vessel, Eris Drew, Ben Frost, Gabber Modus Operandi, Heaven In Stereo, Nailah Hunter and Tygapaw, projecting her voice across the breadth of emerging forms of electronic music.

Three of these responses, Caterina Barbieri’s take on ‘Tendril’, Colin Self’s rework of ‘Witness’ and Eris Drew’s ‘Everything Is Beautiful & Alive’, are included in this short film version of Delta. Directed by esoteric video artist and teacher Diego Barrera, who has collaborated closely with Laetitia Sadier, Julee Cruise, Jim Jarmusch and Xix Xiu, the film takes the form of a psychedelic healing ritual in three parts, “The Hanged Man”, “The Mandrake” and “The Butterfly”, each dedicated to the memory of Barrera’s late partner, Michel Beauvais. “Myth tells us that the mandrake is born from the blood and the semen of the hanged man, from the soil that absorbs his last strength, that post mortem ejaculation that William Burroughs talks about, which crystallizes the alchemical investigation of casting the human soul onto the earth,” writes Barrera in a statement that accompanies the short film.

“Understanding life as in Buddhism, earthly life as this hell where we come to see every loved one around us die, it is at that moment that you encounter death when you understand it as a lonely event. In that dizziness, in that confusion, in that chaos, in that rush, at that moment: WE SPEAK. Mappo, channeling you in this pataphysical act, I accompanied you here with the solar eclipse that you filmed, you used to tell us: let’s meet in the next eclipse. Your greatest joy, Cali, also accompanies you here, cats are wise creatures, they decide to accompany certain people. Burroughs also said this in his final writings of his diary before his death). The solar eclipse, where the moon occludes the sun, as another androgenization rite, another symbolic offering of masculinity represented by the solar star.”

“As Bataille tells us in “L’anus solaire”, the eroticism of the human being is nothing but a parody of the eroticism of nature, an evocation of the cyclical movement of continuity of life from death. We already have the cultivation medium for the butterfly to be born, the beautiful and the sublime of the gynandromorphic butterfly, the dual gender butterfly, another representation of the Alchemical Androgyne, another invocation of the Hyper-Androgynous, which seeks to concentrate the reactive forces of the self, but contradicting the phallocentric aspect of Nietzsche’s Übermensch / Superman.”

“Donna Haraway and you, Michel, taught me to cultivate the arts of living on a damaged planet, in a damaged country and now in a wounded soul, to work and play fiercely on it. To generate symbiosis with non-human beings (here I give you cats, fish, insects companions), a humanoid butterfly, with body modifications to extend sensitivities, putting into practice new genres, wings and horns that allow it to test signals diluted in the wind, in the water and in the depths. Using the chaos magic, where every being is a magician and there are no dogmas, to invoke the Vivian Girls, hermaphrodite warriors of Henry Darger and their secrets.”

“Secrets in the water, secrets that accompany the introspective modular synths of Caterina Barbieri, secrets that accompany the ritualistic sound of Colin Self, secrets that accompany the ecstatic healing of Eris Drew. Secrets in the fountain created by Lyra Pramuk.” Invoking early video artists Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren, Barrera imbues every frame of Delta with rich symbolism and queer energy, enacting simultaneously a homage to the generative, healing spirit of Lyra Pramuk’s music as well as a bright elegy to a lost love.

Delta is out now, on Bedroom Community. You can find Lyra Pramuk on Instagram. For more information about Diego Barrera and his work you can find him on Instagram.

Delta Credits:

Director / Writer / Art Direction – Diego Barrera
Starring – Mappo Ka, Cali
Assistant Director – Adria Ghiralt
Camera Operator – Diego Barrera
Film Editing – Diego Barrera
Costume Design – Camilo Serna
Makeup – Camilo Acosta

Music – Caterina Barbieri – ‘Tendril (Germinative Rework)’ [00:00 – 02:10], Colin Self – ‘Witness (Selfless Rework)’ [02:13 – 04:31], Eris Drew – ‘Everything is Beautiful & Alive’ [04:37 – 06:59]

Images from the solar eclipse in Chile 2020 – Michel Beauvais, Diego Figueroa Perez, Mappo
Ka

Thanks to Pedro Barrera, Elsa Lozada, David Barrera, J Triangular, Daniel Galvis, Luana
Dariel, Amanda Sommer, Juan David Torres

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

Patch Notes: Vicky Clarke

Musique concrète meets machine learning in this performance of AURA MACHINE from the Manchester sound artist, filmed at 180 Studios.

Vicky Clarke’s career in sound art began six years ago when the Manchester artist quit her job to begin an art foundation course. “I’d always been obsessed with sound, messing around with field recordings, playing instruments but hadn’t quite found my thing,” Clarke says. “Having time and space to work with materials, make sound sculptures and think about perception of sound in space was brilliant. Clarke then co-founded Noise Orchestra, a collaborative project based around DIY electronics that developed at residencies at events such as STEIM, CTM and Q02, doing workshops and then installations and sound walks.

“I feel like I’m now finding my voice in terms of solo performance and work,” Clarke says. “I tend to make a lot of experiments into particular approaches or technologies through research like my project MATERIALITY making performance systems for sound sculpture and electronics and now my current artist residency AURA MACHINE exploring musique concrète and machine learning where I’m thinking much more about human-machine interaction and how we collaborate with these tools to reach different states and sonic materialities.”

Clarke’s primary inspirations are musique concrète and sample culture, as well as Russian 1920s sound artists and the aesthetics and theory of Constructivist art. “I’m endlessly fascinated by the transformative power of using electronic machines to manipulate sound into new forms and meanings,” Clarke says. “At the moment I’m reading more about technical philosophy and thinking about how our construction of reality is defined and mediated by our machines. For me working with field recordings and technology I love the ability to uncover sounds and forces we can’t see or hear  – to step outside our beliefs and tap into the electrical imaginary.”

For this episode of Patch Notes, we invited Clarke to 180 Studios for a special performance of her AURA MACHINE project, accompanied by visuals from her collaborator Sean Clarke.

“This piece started off as a 10-minute online AV piece for PRiSM’s Future Music #3 at Royal Northern College of Music last summer,” she explains. “I’ve been working with Sean Clarke since then to develop the work as a live AV performance with the challenge of how to perform and improvise with machine learning materials – hence the new foray into modular. I started with the Make Noise Morphagene and it is slowly growing from there. I aim to develop this as a performance system for sound sculpture – AI and electronics.”

AURA MACHINE, which is part of Clarke’s artistic residency with NOVARS, University of Manchester, takes the listener on a journey through what happens to the sound object when processed by a neural network. The piece sees Clarke perform with live objects including her AURA Sculpture #1 STEEL – a resonant AI generated transmutational object (representing the sound object in latent space), and a glass bong.

“I became interested in the potential for neural synthesis to generate new raw sound materials and wanted to explore these systems working with my own recordings and sculptures,” Clarke says. “I was interested in what the models would detect and predict from sound data, where the autonomy of the artist is and just what these neural materials sounded like. Could neural synthesis be a new tool for musique concrète? And what does it mean for sampling and composition, as both sound source and collaborator.

“I created a concrète music training dataset, a 90-minute collage of sound fragments and have been using the PRiSMSampleRNN model to train on this data working in collaboration with PRiSM at RNCM. I was listening for unique ‘blends’ and forms, this transmutation of matter from one state to another, some alchemy previously unheard.

“Working with neural synthesis you are working with a lot of output sampled material – I kept the output ML material quite raw as I wanted to show the true materiality of the sounds from the neural model. Some sounds are quite lofi, the experience of listening and producing with this material can be challenging as the output sounds were 16K, with lots of peaks, erratic events and insane architectures.  I embraced the lo-fi aesthetic to show the true state of these new materials and to see if a machine could generate its own authentic aura or voice.”

The orginal visuals for AURA MACHINE came from photographs of Manchester mills, webcam feedback made using Hydra (a platform for live coding networked visuals) and the AURA MACHINE icons. “I wanted to create a symbolic graphical system, or a visual abstract language for the piece to explore dimensionality and the sound object in latent space,” she says. “I became fascinated by these forms which feature both in the visuals and as physical sound sculptures within the set.”

“I wanted to create a visual narrative which reflected Vicky’s process, creating an immersive experience which plotted the transformational journey of the sounds by the aIgorithm,” Sean Clarke says of the visuals. “Utilising the symbolic content created by the AI, I was able to create a range of interactive scenes which transported the viewer from the material to the virtual world. 

“To achieve this, we explored the use of live camera feeds, generative/ audio-reactive visuals and the application of point clouds systems. Using a stencil of an AI shape, I was able to create a 3D model within Blender. Using Touchdesigner, It was then possible to convert the model into an animatable point cloud – showcased in the penultimate stages of the performance. The entire show was controlled live via Touchdesinger, allowing me to perform alongside Vicky in real time, and apply audio-reactive patches which drive the generative visuals.”

Vicky Clarke’s AURA MACHINE project continues throughout 2022 with a final sculpture currently being made. Clarke is also developing a music education project for young women around accessible sonic AI working with Brighter Sound. She plans to release the music from this research project towards the end of this year. “My debut EP Sleepstates will be self released this summer 2022 along with an accompanying net art piece,” Clarke says.

For more information on Vicky Clarke, visit her website and find her on Instagram. FInd out more about Sean Clarke’s audiovisual work at his website.

Watch next: Patch Notes: Qasim Naqvi

Fact Mix 844: A Psychic Yes

A Psychic Yes embarks on a winding trip through off-kilter sex grooves, humid shuffle and propulsive rattle.

“The name ’A Psychic Yes’ came about in 2018 when I met Rafael Gonzales-Posada, aka My Flower, at the club called Sounds on Zeigestrasse, Berlin,” explains Timothy Crombie, a London-based musician, carpenter and producer who has been making music forever, but only got around to releasing records over the last four years. “The name is lifted from a Jackie Wang poem, ‘I FOUND MY SOUL AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL,’ which still speaks volumes to me (it must be read aloud for full effect). We shared tunes and he proposed to release a record of mine, and thus I had to find a name fitting of the project.” The record in question not only inaugurated Gonzales-Posada’s reliably excellent and exceptionally named label, Tech Startup, but set the wheels in motion for Crombie’s two subsequent releases, Maze Dream for Kalahari Oyster Cult and That Swamp Feeling for Schloss, the label of DJ and producer Karima F and artist Ida Ekblad.

During that time Crombie’s singular sound has wormed its way into discerning ears, mixes and record collections all the way from Ladywell to Neukölln and beyond. “I am rhythm focused, he explains. “A lot of my tracks have live percussion takes on them, or use cut ups from drum recordings that I have made. In most of my compositions I am almost too loose with the structure, which is a strategy to come up with more interesting compositions, which tend to end up being A,B,C,D.” This percussive drive throbs through his Fact mix, a winding trip through off-kilter sex grooves, humid shuffle and propulsive rattle, interspersed with a truly lysergic passage of esoteric wigout in which he blurs together Scanner’s pioneering telephone surveillance cut-ups with the soundsystem séance of Laila Sakini’s haunting Princess Diana of Wales project. “I made the mix after going to a lot of parties in December and after New Year’s Day,” he explains “so it’s definitely inspired by clubs, with a few homage tracks, such as Aphex Twin’s ‘On’, which is a real teenage banger. I wanted to put in more nostalgic stuff, but I couldn’t get it in.” 

Taking a break from releases in 2021, A Psychic Yes hosts a bi-monthly radio show, The Oxbow Lake, on Lyl Radio. Stay tuned for new music in the coming months. You can find A Psychic Yes on Instagram and SoundCloud.

Tracklist:

Zone Motif – ‘1 4 7 6’ 
Mark Van Hoen – ‘It Is Called Peace’
Mappa Mundi – ‘Sexifari’
Cherry Bomb – ‘Trajectory’
Voices From the Lake – ‘Sentiero’
Ehua – ‘Silica’
Primal Code – ‘AI Calculator’ (Priori Remix)
Chekov (AKA Lara David) – ‘Math’ (Squared Mix)
Hannah Holland – ‘Sth London’
Ken Ishii – ‘Pneuma’
rRoxymore – ‘Forward Flamingo’ ( DJ Plead Remix)
Scanner – ‘Scanner 1’ (excerpt)
Princess Diana of Wales – ‘Cut’
Yolembi – ‘By The Sea’ (excerpt)
Aphex Twin – ‘On’
Ronan – ‘Abrazale’
PRIMITIVE – ‘Primitive Urges A1’
Carman Villain – ‘Observable Future ‘(Parris Remix)
Bambounou – ‘Hale’
Sputnik One – ‘Skindrum’
Human Resources – ‘Unreleased’ [Forthcoming Tech Startup]
Cherry Bomb – ‘Elastic’
The Business – ‘Unreleased’
Elmo Crumb – ‘I’m Still Dizzy’
Greetje Bijma & Oceanic – ‘Technicolour Memories’
Ehua – ‘Xantho’
Crystallmess – ‘Atalaku’
Cole Pulice – ‘Sleep Helix’
Olivia Block – ‘Axiolite’

Listen next: Fact Mix 843 – Emma dj

Fact Mix 843: Emma DJ

A hyper-accelerated mix from the outer margins of club music courtesy of the Finnish artist.

Across releases for Collapsing Market, L.I.E.S. and BFDM, Finnish native Emma DJ has cultivated a unique electronic signature that explores the extreme limits of experimental music. The Paris-based producer’s music combines intricate rhythms, abrasive textures and uneasy melodies, sitting somewhere on the precipice of ambient and club-ready styles.

In 2021, Emma DJ took another musical left turn with the release of Godrime on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label. Recorded in Paris in isolation while his ears turned to trap music, Emma DJ crossed rap production with his own distinct style and started to compile a series of one-shot iPhone recordings featuring collaborators such as Bambounou, Lemaire, Lily Standefer, Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Nono Ekichii, Swan Meat, Tmongo and Ivre Ciroc.

The LP, released as a full-length mixtape full of succinct tracks that swiftly move in tone and style, mirrors his collage-based DJ style, which skilfully layers textures and beats on top of one another. It’s a style that’s showcased in his hyper-accelerated Fact Mix, which begins with the serene tones of Oneohtrix Point Never’s classic ‘Still Life’ and moves through indefinable electronic sounds from M.E.S.H., Siete Catorce, De Grandi, Arca, Emily Glass, Hajj, Zuli and more. “This mix is a selection of current favorites that I’d love to play at club peak time if the world allowed us to,” Emma DJ says.

Godrime is available now on UIQ. You can follow Emma DJ on Instagram and SoundCloud, and find more of his music at Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘Still Life’ (In My Talons Edit Ft. Michael Jackson)
????
Glass – ‘Quantic Blunt’
Takeoff – ‘Last Memory Acapella’
M.E.S.H – ‘Coercer’
Taplah – ‘Insecurity’
Fumu – ‘4 Mika’
Dites Safran – ‘Boka’
Tibia – ‘Untitled II’
Arca – ‘Whip’ (Baile Edit)
Dweebonthebeat – ‘Plátano Bounce’
13 Block – ‘3h36’ (Modern Collapse Emotional Retake)
Luca Rain – ‘Perigo’
Siete Catorce – ‘Desesperacion’
????
Uan0001 – ‘Krakowian’
wagshopping (Sophie X Soulja Boy)
De Grandi – ‘Winamp Skin Test 3’
Emily Glass – ‘Scribble Machine’
Y Pree – ‘Ship Sket, Alza54’ (S280f Edit)
Lithe & Local Support – ‘Satisfy’
Fakethias & Lala8 – ‘Premium Defects’ (Instrumental)
Mdlw & Xza – Cardi B Remix
Lag Switch – ‘Lucerne’
????
Mori Mori – ‘Love Cut’
Hajj – ‘Rage Of Empire’
????
Net Gala – ‘Reclaim It’ (Zuli’s Shifting Weight At The Club Remix)
Hajj – ‘Heaven’s Calamity’
Qwqwqwqwa – ‘Angel Energy’
Eekomi & Gyur – ‘Terraform’
????
Ennio – ‘Memory Is Inherent Nature’
Lil Asaf – ‘Mbakal’
????
Paraadiso – ‘Berserk’
Karlae – ‘Slime Enough’
Yuri – ‘Triste Theme’
Modern Collapse – ‘Lets Lurk’
Anti Grav___ Nick Papi Flip
_ R _ _ _

Listen next: Fact Mix 842: Fiyahdred

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