Ladytron vs Tron

ICA, London - 22 February, 2002

"In concept the idea was attractive, in execution it simply didn't gel"

Tonight was something of a 'multimedia' event and sponsored by Sony Playstation among others. The night began with a screening of The Matrix which set the tone of the evening nicely. We then wandered into the ICA's bar area where Playstation 2 units had been set up on free play in some funky-looking cabinets. A couple of games of Wipeout Fusion under our belts, we headed into the main arena to witness Ladytron do battle with Tron.

[At home with Ladytron] "Ladytron vs Tron" was the official billing for tonight's event. I heard that the band would be playing along to a projection of Steven Lisberger's seminal CGI SF adventure. I didn't realise that this meant that the band would not be performing in a regular gig sense, but were only providing a new soundtrack as the film was projected. Okay, not what I was expecting but that was fine. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, the route they'd decided to take was not the most effective one. Instead of simply playing along to a projection of the film, as I thought they would, Ladytron had merely chosen to play over the parts of the film where Wendy Carlos' original soundtrack appears. So we had what was primarily a film screening with some added sound effects and a new score. Again, in theory this might sound fine, but the finished product was somewhat awkward and never entirely succeeded.

Instead of playing on stage as usual, with the film projected behind them, what we had instead was a night at home with Ladytron. The four black-clad members of the band sitting in their kitsch, 70s-vision-of-the-future orange furniture to one side of the stage, facing the screen with their analogue Korgs and laptops sitting on coffee tables in front of them. It was as though the audience had invaded the Ladytron lounge. This did look undeniably cool - as they always manage to do. However, not only were the bass frequencies of the film's soundtrack and Ladytron's live music too much for the ICA's in-house PA system - causing frequent, loud popping effects - but the way in which the film's soundtrack was abruptly 'switched off' and Ladytron's music jumped in was unsubtle to say the least. What's more the music added by Ladytron frequently didn't add much, if anything, over Carlos' original, and the additional 'bleeping' Korg sounds dropped in here and there as additional 'sound effects' were largely just plain cheesy. In concept the idea was an attractive one, in execution however, it simply didn't gel. Just stick to the regular live gigs for now, they are infinitely more rewarding.

Rob Dyer