And rabbit suits. The molecular gastronomists of modern dance music, at SONAR earlier this summer.

And rabbit suits. The molecular gastronomists of modern dance music, at SONAR earlier this summer. Photo by Diego Bustamante; courtesy the artists.

For all the years of “classical” electronic music performance from academia, the experience of entering a club or dance music program can be awfully avant garde and surreal. There’s a barrage of sensory input – flashing lights, strange, repetitive sounds.

The Spanish/British duo Roc Jiménez de Cisneros and Stephen Sharp, aka EVOL, have taken that feeling to its extreme. And the results are weird, wonderful fun.

(The two play Berlin Thursday night at N.K. on a diverse program including Chris Douglas and Bill Kouligas; N.K. is one of Europe’s most consistent venues for electronic experimentalism, and somehow will keep feeding Berlin in case six days of Atonal weren’t enough. See the Facebook event. I hope to catch up more with all these artists then.)

You never know quite what you’ll get from EVOL – which is how we’re able to share “acid” experiences in both meanings, both trippy AV constructions and acid techno mixtapes.

Acid techno mixtape? Think three hundred three tracks, all condensed into a few seconds’ clip each (oddly hypnotic, that – it all works, somehow):

At SONAR this year, for instance, they produced a whimsical feast of blinking lights and comical, game-like sonic reductions of squelchy timbres:

Sounds are stretched to their breaking point; visuals are an assault. As the group self-describes their genre/oeuvre, they are “rave, mereology, elasticity, time dilation, chronesthesia, goo, hoover-stretching, slime.”

At Sala Moog in 2011, this … happened (warning – turn your sound down before hitting the play button):

At the same performance, they turned the tempo on acid techno all the way down, as a freeform bassline plays out in slow motion, a lonely bass meditation.

Slow acid trax from ¯–_ on Vimeo.

Not all of the work they do goes in that direction; in a six-channel installation for New York’s Sound Spill gallery, they “exploded” a drum machine in space, creating environmental beats:

‘Continuum, Expanded’ for drum machine from ¯–_ on Vimeo.

You’ll find releases like the terrifying, unstable oscillators of Hyperobject-1. (People will run screaming if you play this. Maybe in a good way? The print, below, is pretty.)

Hyperobjects

Hyperobject-1, the print.

Hyperobject-1, the print.

What can save all of this from becoming merely academic, “deconstruction” for the sake of it, is the attention to the experience of sensation in the works. They’re playful – and, if you get the sense of humor, witty. The two are producing a musical analog to molecular gastronomy, pulling out elements in minimal form in a way that exposes them and delights the palette – so long as you can take it. (It’s perhaps no coincidence that this duo bridges the UK and Spain, where that technique in cooking took hold.)

Maybe we need artists like this. Dance music can become as predictable as a club’s bland long drinks – the same ingredient, the same product, in the same bottles. With those bottles shattered, what’s left is just the sound itself, the experience of the bare timbre.

EVOL’s experiments are extreme, but they’re a reminder that constraints in music are up to the imagination of the creator. And the structure musicians devise can be, truly, anything.

You can navigate through more of the project, including plenty of additional free releases and mix tapes, on their site:
http://vivapunani.org/

And for those of you near Berlin tomorrow:
www.nkprojekt.de/evol-bill-kouligas-chris-douglas/

  • mo_seph

    Continuum Expanded makes me think of Cevdet Erek’s beautiful piece at Documenta13, where he took a whole floor and deconstructed techno around it. Quite experiential, so the video doesn’t really do it justice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9O0f1mXzFcQ&t=67

    I remember it feeling like the residual echo of clubs, the distilled spirit of cavernous loud spaces. Strangely haunting!

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Loved this post. The sonar clip in particular. Any recommendations for similar tracks/artists where beats are given room to wander?

    I have a tendency to look for patterns and find it rewarding when it takes a bit of work.

  • seoguru

    blog is very nice

    lampsofindia

  • Land

    we were at Sonar and the show with the rabbit and the amazing music really made my day. truthfully, among the best moments of the whole festival.

  • Simon P

    WEIRD doesnt even begin to describe these guys. the records are utterly outlandish. the recent album on Mego is just monumental, as is ‘Rave Slime’ from years ago. would love to catch a live show some time.