Amongst the pillows and mattresses on the ground in Magnet’s Spatial Studio, I laid back and made myself comfortable for the night of experimental, ambient and drone music to come.
Larm Zu Machen set the tone for the night with a gradual build in droney, ambient modular synth, which as it grew made me feel like I was moving between the different clouds of a thunderstorm; each dark sky puff containing its own unique timbre and intensity. It wasn’t long before I was reminded of the sampled voice excerpt from the start of their set – “everything is going to be allllriiiiight” – this initial consolation later providing a strange sense of peace amidst the tension of dissonant hum that carried me through the clouds above an alien world.
NGC 1275 kept imaginations running, delivering layers of eery, atmospheric drone created with vocals running through what looked like a spaceship control panel of pedals and effects. It was mystifying to watch human voice breathed and “sung” into a headset mic, only to return through the PA as something so distorted from its origins. It was like standing in front of a screaming cave, and when remnants of recognisable human voice occasionally surfaced, the moans told a story of the electronic hell they had been through to create the dark soundscapes.
Golden Oak offered a break from the tense dissonance of the previous two acts, refreshing earholes and minds eyes with slow, glowing ambience. Smooth, wavering synth hovered about the room while the bouncing of a delayed drum guided me through a relaxed trance. As this delay changed its pitch and movement it gave the impression of spatial context inside an endless soundscape, while I followed the warping of the beat.
Finally, couches were full, cushions were all taken, and The Convoy were up, mesmerising us with experimental, ambient noise. The build of rolling tom drums and cymbals with atmospheric guitar drone was in every moment captivating, the immersion of each instant greater than any anticipation of how the piece was evolving. It was like hearing a single, fleeting second stretched out and unravelling in slow motion, but experienced in real time – all of which made even more hypnotising by the rocking motion of silhouettes against a backlit, factory wall. Quieter, more intimate moments brought forward a third element of their act: a mechanical contraption that pitter-pattered clicks and ticks like a stuttering windchime – while flashing strobes accompanied distorted guitars and crashing cymbals at a chaotic climax.
As the night finished and the last applause sounded out, I overheard people sharing their journeys and experiences – an eclectic crowd discussing the results of another successful experiment hosted in Magnet’s Spatial studio.
Words by Will Tremain