Gerry Carnelly exhibition / Algorave – Dubrek, Derby: Live Review

A computer and no instruments but >still< an amazing musical performance? There’s more to music than pale and stale indie bands as Dubrek hosts Derby’s first algorave alongside the opening of their Gerry Carnelly exhibition.

Algorave at Dubrek with art of Gerry Carnelly

Another joint event at Dubrek Studios and Café on Friday night, again merging an art exhibition launch with a unique gig (a concept we hope continues well into 2018). This month the art of Gerry Carnelly is on display. The overall theme of the collection is underwater creatures and studies, which isn’t the biggest shock to the system when you find out that he’s the owner of Octopus Tattoo in Derby and has been artistically active for well over twenty years. His work has appeared here subtly before, most recently in the form of the awesome limited edition slug prints created for the Cowtown/Pet Crow gig.

The images on display are joined by a solid theme of black backgrounds with very vivid colours launching the subject matter forwards. Translucent creatures, muscle and brain, are put forward in a very calm manner. Detail of an octopus, jellyfish in various stages of movement and other such images; at a glance you wonder if some are actually photos from the abyssopelagic zone, but further inspection shows them all to be consistent media. This is definitely worth coming to see.

On to the music and advertised as “Derby’s first Algorave” it is doubtful many would disagree given its emerging niche nature. The concept of music creation in this manner is simple enough; grab a laptop and a bunch of samples, open up a command box within a particular program that will live-execute code as you go, make it do noise things. But reduce anything down to an over-simplified level and it will sound trivial. I’ve seen the Krypton Factor so by rights I should be able to fly a plane.

Supercollider 3.8.0 and a Foxdot command box appear throughout the night, starting with the debut outing of Innocent. A projector shows us his laptop screen on the right hand side and you find yourself trying to work out what it all means. Some of it is as intuitive as you’d think as well, making you feel a little bit smug when you probably have no real clue. A familiar beat is initiated; echo scripting appears to create delays and over time a slow build is developed with each new layer and addition. The music is inherently electronic and like any performance you begin to identify elements of other songs that you are familiar with; Fischerspooner and mid-2000s Primal Scream. This is mainly groove based with no key changes but arpeggiated melodies appear and interest added with distortion and drive. Aggressive buzz synth lines begin clambering over everything else like a claymore being used to butter toast. A confident introduction to the night.

Littlelifeform starts from scratch using TidalCycles. Some dirty, nasty little echoes of an initial sonar line, bit-crushed and low-pass filtered down is launched to a rapt audience before snappy water droplet-esque tap dance rhythms appears on top, suddenly juxtaposed by a sledgehammer of a kick pattern. She’s fifteen lines of code in and seven of them are blank – such an assault in such a short time frame, its literally making my fillings wince. She introduces chord patterns, which is a welcome development and follows by adding a series of effects to the patterns including reverses, filters and digital scrubbing. There appears to be code in there altering the backing beats in regular but non-4 developments, keeping things irregularly fresh. Long synth lines with decays reduced down to stabs bring us to the end of a set that didn’t demand urgency but drew your attention throughout.

Digital Selves begins with dark, filtered white noise and an almost church like choir organ playing a discordant progression. A trippy beat is developed as the tempo increases and excessively aggressive resonant filter peaks are put in place. Largely soundscape in nature, the music paints a very grim landscape with techno thuds appearing later. The set has a feel of an Ultraviolence remix being played on 33rpm. It eventually relents into a floaty segue akin to something that Danny Lohner may have created if he had been tasked with creating the Fable II sound track.

Algorave

Headliners TYPE have a more interesting take and task ahead of them compared to the three previous acts. Each of them armed with some pre-planned coding, their three individual laptops are linked to each other and they are programming within the same command box. Their music kicks in with immediate infection which could be down to the larger preparation involved and we begin to see a fluid working relationship between all three of them onscreen. Vocal samples develop, synth lines and drums, reactive and symbiotic, akin to Radiohead’s more glitchy efforts. Rising chord patterns, a Prophet emulation, everything is moving wonderfully until the sabotage begins. They’ve not learned from Ghost Busters not to cross the streams and it appears that tonight’s set up really disagrees with sharing lines, or syntax errors… something is amiss and causes the audio to get stuck in a loop requiring a complete reboot. This doesn’t faze them, and they are much more jovial than the serious concentrated faces of the support acts.

They relaunch into a beautiful melody line which is violently pushed out of tune whilst a chilled beat is placed underneath. The conflict is difficult to listen to beyond watching the technical skill of what is playing out. Hints of Crystal Castles; it’s like Bowser and Sonic the Hedgehog giving it large in Magaluf.

It makes for utterly compelling viewing as they fight the system itself. Panic faces appear here and there as they rapidly delete code throughout to avoid things melting again followed by simultaneous additions being written. Each knows their role intimately. These three are great at what they do. We need more of this. Their edgy laughter inside the fear is infectious as they edit each other’s previous efforts. If you go to something like this in the future I dare you not to smile whilst you’re raving. I dare you.

 

Gerry Carnelly can be found:

More on Algorave can be found:

Digital Selves can be heard:

TYPE can be heard:

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