Supersonic 2012 – Here’s To Another 10 Years!

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It’s hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since we were all frantically rushing around the Custard Factory, putting the final touches to the various wild man posters around the site and screwing in the last few records to the Vinyl Rally’s MDF floor before hordes of music fans rushed in to bask in the eclectic and adventurous sounds that Capsule had loving curated this year – and what a lineup it was! There was truly something for everyone, as Friday ran the gamut between JK Flesh’s absolutely punishing industrial dub, the surreal electronica of the Small But Hard showcase, the free-wheeling cosmic riffery of Hey Colossus, the toy tinkering soundscapes of Modified Toy Orchestra, and of course, the triumphant return of drum’n’bass dark lords PCM to the Supersonic stage.

Saturday brought even more surprises, from the gentle folk strains of Dylan Carlson’s new material to the unholy combination of Merzbow and Oxbow’s Eugene and Niko, a full-on audio explosion that wiped clean the mental state of everyone in attendance. I also have to give praise to the incredible drummer that accompanied Masami Akita’s astonishing feedback theatrics, augmenting the sonic devastation with some jazzy splashes, tribal belligerence and even some well timed blastbeats without ever failing by the wayside of Akita’s incendiary slabs of twsited sonic debri, which is no mean feat! A rare UK showing from Bohren & der Club of Gore was utterly captivating, enveloping the Boxxed venue in a dense, melancholy atmosphere and transporting the audience into the starkest of film noir settings for the entire duration of their set.

Meanwhile, Drunk In Hell’s molasses thick sludge onslaught and Zeni Geva’s vitally intricate sonic attack provided a satisfying ammount of musical filth to wallow in, forcing heads to bang and mosh pits to errupt. Zeni Geva may only exist as a two-piece now, but that hasn’t hindered KK Null and Yoshida’s fury at all, with Null especially firing off an arsenal of bewildering noise outbursts alongside his standard riff warfare via a series of baffling pedals. The icing on the cake was undoubtedly the astonishing avant-electronica of Hype Williams; bathing the entire Warehouse in a thick, eerie fog, the enigmatic duo proceeded to fuse together dub, noise, jazz, musique concrete, electro and garage influences into an uncategorizable and unforgettable performance. As Copeland’s beautiful tones danced across the bizarre volley of sounds emanating from Blunt’s corner of the stage, in which gullet-rattling dub basslines collided with squealing trumpets and reverb drenched car alarms, it was hard to shake the feeling that we were witnessing something of a musical revolution!

In keeping with Supersonic’s inclusive ethos, even youngsters were catered for with this year’s kid’s gigs, in which we bore witness to the heartwarming sight of a room full of children grooving along to the expansive psych voyages of Flower/Corsano Duo – and who knows? In 10 years time, some of these children may be taking to our stages themselves to blow your mind with their sonic wares…

Sunday boasted perhaps one of the most spectacular running orders in Supersonic’s illustrious history, with all manner of heavy weights awaiting today’s eager audience. Gnod’s triumphant set in Boxxed was astonishing, the over-powering throb of their sublimely heavy krautrock-isms gradually reconfiguring the pulse of each listener, unwittingly tuning into their psyche and forcing them headfirst into a cosmic thrill ride the likes of which would make even Timothy Leary baulk at the sheer intensity of it all. Elsewhere, Justice Yeldham revealed to us all the mind mangling sounds that lay dormant in a single piece of glass, Lash Frenzy created an imposing and lucid arena in which achieve total sensory overload, and the mighty Ufomammut invited us to accompany them on a voyage deep into the heart of their latest two-record opus, ‘ORO’. Once these guys peak there’s no force in the universe that can restrain them, and the riffs are flowing thick and fast (or should that be slow?) tonight. Whilst both the ‘ORO’ records are impressive in their own right, combined they are a true force to behold, and to witness this incredible odyssey in the flesh is an awesome experience!

A tough act to follow indeed, but mysterious Swedish voodoo merchants Goat were more than up to the challenge. Taking to the stage in colourful robes, ritualistic gaments and erm, a golden robot mask, the band’s vibrant psych-rock/afro-beat concoction instantly whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Racing through all of their ‘World Music’ debut (including instant classics like ‘Goatman’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Run To Your Mama’) but allowing their songs a bit more room to breathe, the Swedes kicked out the jams with an infectious energy and by the time the extended version of ‘Det som aldrig förändras / Diarabi’ brought their revelatory set to a close, you’d be hard pushed to find a single member of the audience who wasn’t sporting an enormous ear-to-ear grin. Incredible!

Finally, the Oxbow Orchestra provided an enthralling end to this year’s celebrations, reinterpreting some of their classic songs and even treating us to some choice cuts from their upcoming full-length ‘The Thin Black Duke’. Their performance was at once intimate and gripping, but without losing any of the potent intensity that has made the band such a force to be reckoned with over the years. This was due to be Supersonic 2012’s final performance, but it seems you, the audience, had other ideas, as an impromptu and sublimely hypnotic drum circle erupted in the beer tent just outside. As the ringing in our ears began to subside, the communal and strangely rhythmic clinking of pint glasses against benches and a sea of warm smiles was a perfect finish to this year’s festival.

Of course, I’m only scratching the surface of Supersonic 2012 here; beyond the numerous delights of this year’s musical lineup, there was a whole plethora of extra-curricular activities. The sight of a fresh-faced individual feverishly clutching at a copy of their own recently pressed Kim Gordon collab on their way back from the Reverse Karaoke installation become a pleasingly common sight over the weekend, and the procession of startingly costumed members of the Outcrowd throughout the festival site on Sunday was a source of much ceremonial excitement. The ear mutilating sounds of Lucas Abela’s Vinyl Rally were a definite highlight, featuring one of Lucas’ most ambitious track layouts to date. Volunteers hastily scrambled alongside the track as Lucas himself sat within the makeshift nerve centre of the rally, tinkering away whilst the assembled throng routinely found themselves astonished by the sheer spectacle of it all.

And of course, there’s the massive contribution that you yourselves paid to the festival, by arriving in your dozens and flooding the Custard Factory with enthusiasm, joy and good vibes. This year’s edition of the festival was one of the finest of the past 10 years, a truly excellent way to celebrate a decade of passionate experimental arts programming – here’s to another ten years!

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The Vinyl Rally: Behind The Scenes Timelapse!

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With Supersonic Festival well under way, most of you will already be familair with Lucas Abela’s (AKA Justice Yeldham) fantastic Vinyl Rally, which is currently kicking out all manner of filthy vinyl destroying noise in Digbeth’s Custard Factory. For those of you are curious about how this incredible installation was constructed, Cathy Soreny has documented the Rally’s construction with this awesome time lapse… Enjoy!

Vinyl Rally build timelapse – rough edit from Tinnitus Jukebox on Vimeo.

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The Vinyl Rally Is Almost Up And Running!

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Lucas Abela’s (AKA Justice Yeldham) Vinyl Rally has come on in leaps and bounds since yesterday; the track has been fully constructed (including an all-new underpass and multi-tiered section that Lucas has lovingly nick-named the “Wheel of Death”), the records have been fixed onto it and the remote controlled cars are ready and raring to go!

The Rally is gearing up to be something truly spectacular, and no visit to the festival this year will be complete without racing a few laps around this fully interactive installation. If you don’t believe us, just feast your eyes on the images below and try and contain your excitement!

The Vinyl Rally will be on show this weekend at Supersonic festival, and Justice Yeldham will perform on Sunday 21st October at 19:30.

Photos by Eduardo Pinto.

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The Vinyl Rally Takes Shape…

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Construction is well under way for Lucas Abela’s (AKA Justice Yeldham) Vinyl Rally, a large-scale installation combining sound art, video art and kinetic sculpture into every kid and kidult’s dream-hybrid; an immersive participatory play-set playing off vinyl fetishism, video arcade mystique and the machismo of motor sports in a video game played within a real world setting!

The structure of this particular rally is one of Lucas’ most ambitious yet, and as you can see from the photos below, it looks like it’s shaping up to be one of this year’s festival highlights!

The Vinyl Rally will be on show this weekend at Supersonic festival, and Justice Yeldham will perform on Sunday 21st October at 19:30.

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The Art Of Listening – An Exploration Of Artistic Presentation

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In addition to blasting your eardrums with some of the finest sounds imaginable, Supersonic also aims to educate and enlighten in a myriad of other ways too. The decision to embrace other forms of art aside from solely music has been universally praised, and the festival has also found new ways to present these artforms, whether as part of exhibitions, installations, or even incorporating them into bands’ performances, and this year sees some of the most elaborate and spectacular artistic endeavours yet.

Starting things off at the Birmingham City University at 1:30PM on the first day of the festival, ‘Counting In’ is an extended panel discussion focusing on the presentation of sound works, installations, performances and audio art, and exploring how context can affect our approaches to listening. If you’ve ever wondered about the best ways to stage a work of experimental art, how audiences can be best encouraged to enjoy it, or even how to become a better listener yourself, then this promises to be an extremely illuminating discussion (not to mention a great networking opportunity).

The key to any good panel discussion is an interesting and diverse set of panellists, something that ‘Counting In’ delivers quite generously. You may have seen multi-disciplinary artist Lucas Abela (aka Justice Yeldham) performing a set filled with blood, sweat and tears using amplified shards of glass at last year’s festival, and his Vinyl Rally is also due to be exhibited this year – an ingenious fusion of vinyl fetishism, arcade game kitsch, audio collage and pure noise fury that has to be seen to be believed! Joining Lucas will be Frances Morgan (deputy editor of The Wire magazine), composer Simon Hall (Assistant Head of Music Technology at Birmingham Conservatoire) and Irene Revell (Director of Electra, an organisation that curates, commissions and produces projects by artists working across sound, moving image, performance and the visual arts). Revell will be using Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and Jutta Koether’s ‘Reverse Karaoke’ installation (also on show over the weekend!) as a case study, evaluating how the project entices and engages listeners and the means in which it does so.

This panel is presented in conjunction with Sound and Music, and supported by Birmingham City University.

Tickets are FREE to weekend ticket holders (places are limited and booking in advance is essential via [email protected] with ‘LISTENING’ in the title) or £10 https://www.theticketsellers.co.uk

Speaking of ‘Reverse Karaoke’, this piece is one of the most wonderfully participatory installations to ever be shown at the festival, beckoning participants into a lavishly painted Yurt, where a a lo-fi rehearsal set-up (complete with guitar, microphone, bass, and drums and a basic PA system) awaits them. Once inside, the participant can play these instruments and record their own song along with a pre-recorded vocal track of Kim Gordon’s voice. A live sound engineer ensures you’ll have a good tone, and burns the track onto two CDs – one for you, and one to remain in a record box as part of the piece itself! Since being commissioned by Electra back in 2005, the work has toured Europe extensively and been exhibited at Magasin-CNAC, Grenoble, France; MAK, Vienna, Austria and Wysing Arts Centre, Camrbidge, as well as being included in the major touring exhibition ‘Sonic Youth Etc.: Sensational Fix’, but this is the first time the piece has been shown in Birmingham. You’d be mad to miss out!

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Justice Yeldham

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What’s been described as “a trumpet player trapped in a two dimensional universe” is in fact the unique audio work of Justice Yeldham, a maverick musician with an unhealthy obsession with sheets of broken glass. By pressing his face and lips against the glass whist employing various vocal techniques ranging from throat singing to raspberries, he turns disguarded household windows into crude musical instruments. Resulting in a wide variety of cacophonous noises that are strangely controlled and oddly musical.

Justice Yeldham is the alter-ego of Australian sound performer Lucas Abela, whose past sonic experiments were conducted under monikers like A Kombi, DJ Smallcock & Peeled Hearts Paste.

http://www.myspace.com/justiceyeldham

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Counting In: The Art of Listening

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Friday 19 October
Birmingham City University, Margaret Street Fine Art Building, Birmingham, B3 3BX
1.30pm – 6.00pm

Supersonic Festival with Sound and Music present a half-day extended panel discussion exploring contexts for the presentation of sound works and performances and approaches to listening. Bringing together artists, academics and industry professionals this event is an opportunity for discussion of how artists and producers can best stage work, how audiences can be best encouraged to enjoy it and how we can all become better listeners. Counting In also acts as an informal networking opportunity for artists and producers.

Hosted by Birmingham Institute of Art & Design
This event is supported by Birmingham City University.

Participants in this panel discussion include:

Artist Lucas Abela (aka Justice Yeldman) is notorious for his bloody sonic actions using amplified shards of glass. Lucas will be discussing the balance of sonic and visual elements in his work and his concerns with allowing sound to shine through his visceral performances.

Frances Morgan is deputy editor at The Wire magazine and a writer on music and film. Frances will discuss the different ways in which we experience ‘live’ music and sound, the challenges for journalists writing about it now, and how audience expectations are shaped by context.

Irene Revell
is the Director of Electra, an organisation that curates, commissions and produces projects by artists working across sound, moving image, performance and the visual arts. Irene’s contribution to the panel will focus on Kim Gordon and Jutta Koether’s ‘Reverse Karaoke’, an installation that has toured European galleries during the last seven years and is on show at Eastside Projects as part of Supersonic 2012.

Simon Hall
is a composer, sound engineer trombonist and Assistant Head of Music Technology at Birmingham Conservatoire, UK. Simon will be discussing modes of listening and the cultural deafness resulting from the sonic overload of our contemporary lives.

Tickets are FREE to weekend ticket holders (places are limited and booking in advance is essential via [email protected] with ‘LISTENING’ in the title) or £10 https://www.theticketsellers.co.uk

Art of Listening flyer

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