Londonist is working with Sound and Music, the national agency for new music, to introduce you to some intriguing sound experiences.
Continuing on our quest to have Londonist readers sample new music experiences and report back, three adventurous volunteers went to King's Place to experience Space F1ght's Sci-Fi Tour at King's Place at tea time on a Sunday.
Space Fight are an “audio-visual live band” comprising saxophone, electric guitar and electronic hardware. Their set is inspired by sci-fi novels by P.K. Dick and S. Lem and one piece uses satellite ozone data from NASA and the Stockholm Environment Institute to control the improvisation and visuals. The performance was part of King's Place's Out Hear series, which is a "blank canvas for open-minded programming in experimental and multimedia performance". Here's what our samplers thought of it.
How did you feel before the performance – what did you expect?
Lindsey: I was intrigued by the concept - sounds inspired by data from space and interaction between sound and data and visuals - but when I entered the hall, the formal setting and hushed audience made me nervous. I didn't know what to expect but I did like the pyramid structure suspended on the stage.
Joel: Having seen some similar experimental performances recently, I had some idea. I found the description of the visuals very enticing and wasn't quite sure what to expect entirely, which was exciting. Overall, I was looking forward to it quite a lot.
Elisabetta: I didn't know what to expect. I suppose I thought it'd be very atmospheric, maybe majestic.
How did the performance make you feel? What did you make of it?
Lindsey: I was constantly trying to work out what was going on and see how the data, sound and visuals were related. When I couldn't make a connection I tried to stop thinking and just experience it but it was difficult to relax because the sound was unpredictable, veering between jazzy improvisation and heavy beats, not settling anywhere particularly comfortable in between. It confused me but I was engaged with it all the way through and when the visuals and sound matched intensely it was intermittently thrilling.
Joel: I felt it was a bit 'because we can' in three different directions at times, which occasionally left me disinterested. I'm not sure if it was intentional, to create troughs for peaks, but when they became more cohesive and moved musically with the visuals it made up for it and really made me forget where I was. I'd have liked to have seen what the electronic musician was actually doing, as I felt a little isolated. Overall, a mixed bag, but with some great moments.
Elisabetta: I'm not sure what I made of the performance. I kept wondering what it was all about and if it had a point.
Was it accessible? Did you need specialist knowledge to enjoy it?
Lindsey: At times the sound was like club music with a DJ wizard at the centre, and snatches of the guitar and sax were enjoyable. The visualisations and musicians together were interesting to watch but potentially bemusing. It might have been more comfortable experienced in a less formal setting (cosy pub room after dark with beer) and more pre & post atmosphere.
Joel: The venue wasn't particularly accessible if you didn't know about it, but then neither is the music. Both are niche and this probably works in their favour. At the same time, anyone with an open mind could surely find great moments in it.
Elisabetta: I'm also not sure if any specialist knowledge would make a difference as to enjoyment. I don't think a concert setting is appropriate for it. There was hardly any of what I would expect in a concert (i.e.: music). There was noise with some guitar and sax mixed in now and again, but mainly random sounds and visuals. It reminded me of what I can see at home if I play a CD on my computer with the visualiser on.
Would you recommend the experience to your friends?
Lindsey: I'd recommend trying the OutHear performances - I like the idea of trying something new on a Sunday afternoon. I'll definitely talk to my friends about Space F!ght but I don't know if I'd recommend them.
Joel: Certainly! At least the ones that don't listen to Katy Perry or actually pay for front row U2 tickets. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I went.
Elisabetta: It was pleasant, but not what I'd want to see in a live setting. It would be ok as a background in a club, or venue where you go for some other reason, but I would not recommend it as a standalone experience.
Many thanks to our samplers Lindsey, Joel and Elisabetta. Plus many thanks to Sound and Music composer Matthias Kispert, our expert for the concert, who reminded us that new music needs places to experiment and be heard and that ten years down the line, who knows what Space F1ght will be doing or how electronic music will have evolved. Intrigued? Here's a taster of what they do:
Interested in more events like these? Browse listings in The Sampler.
See what our samplers made of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment's Night Shift, London Sinfonietta playing Stockhausen, and the contemporary classical club nights Nonclassical and Blank Canvas.