:zoviet*france: / Ryoji Ikeda

Kendal Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal - 22 January 2000

"I was hypnotised, stunned"

Kendal. Not a place you expect cutting edge audio/visual live shows, though the Brewery certainly has an eclectic booking agent! The show was split into 3 sections - roughly an hour each, firstly Ryoji Ikeda, then :zoviet*france: then a short joint encore.

Ryoji Ikeda

I had no previous warning of what to expect from Ryoji Ikeda, what I got was mind-blowing synchronised audio and visuals. Ultra minimalist sounds built from sine tones and radio static. Minimal, beautiful, powerful and executed at a volume to shake your teeth. The visuals were superb, locked perfectly to the music. People left. Lots of people left. I was hypnotised, stunned. Ranging from humming ambience to almost powernoise and back. Ikeda and the visuals guy operated the whole thing form several computers behind the mixer with the visuals serving as the viewable performance. I've often felt at "industrial" shows that the musicians try to hard to make some kind of conventional rock spectacle. This just went totally in the opposite direction. Moving beyond a performance to create something entirely different.


A short break then into :zoviet*france:. They also used filmed visuals during parts of their set and at certain points when what they were doing became dominated by the more electronic sound sources, they sound fused with what looked like out takes from the subway driving scenes form the movie Solaris.  I found :zoviet*france: a little more hit and miss... improvised music is a risk, when it clicks it's stunning when it doesn't it meanders aimlessly and I felt certain parts of their set did that. Or maybe compared to the digital regimentation of Ryoji Ikeda it just seemed that way. Another very short break then :zoviet*france: improvised over a Ryoji Ikeda piece. Fascinating to see how two very different musical directions could interact. I haven't been so thoroughly awed or impressed by something so unexpected in a long time. If you didn't see any of the UK shows, you missed something significant.

Jonathan Sharp