Last Updated on August 19, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 8
This was the second in a series of monthly electronica nights at the St. Nicolas Centre in Ipswich, and at only 3 pounds entry for a night that runs from 6pm till 1am I couldn’t justify not going down to check it out.
So, arriving early and blagging it in the back door due to a fortunate chance meeting with ASTROBOY on the way to the venue I was instantly hit by the beauty of the church hall that was to play host to all manner of ungodly terror and noise. Ipswich has long been calling out for a venue like the arts centre in Colchester and it seems that in the St. Nicolas Centre, we finally have one. The acoustics are amazing and the whole place definitely creates an atmosphere I’m not used to at gigs round these parts.
After mooching around and grumbling about the poor and over-priced selection on the bar, I sat myself down to watch the first set of the night, a quite varied mix of experimental noise, industrial and more song-like pieces by AM NOT. The visual accompaniment (on a really quite large projector) from the film tetsuo: the iron man was perfectly suited to the early industrial influenced aural punishment that was on offer. What spearates AM NOT from similar efforts I’ve seen though, is the way the set progressed into something altogether more pleasant, finishing with a much more melodic feel (with vocals and everything!), kind of like WIRE, JOY DIVISION etc. Well worth checking out.
After that I knew I was in for an interesting night and with a couple of drinks in me I satrted soaking up the friendly atmosphere and got chatting to people as I wandered round, the general feeling was the same, a collective cry of “it’s about fucking time!”.
The next set was a new side project from the London/Ipswich based Ryan Jordan (zero point energy), which see’s him taking his wearable computing style a step further with the addition of a performance artist named Claire, adding a visual element to the act which makes the gutteral electronic noise a hell of a lot more palatable. The project is called HAC_B (Human Augmentation and Computational Bodies) and uses technology of Mr. Jordan’s own design which fits onto the arms and head of the performer and translates bodily movements into sounds which are then processed via laptop.
Mumbo Jumbo aside, what you actually see and hear is really quite disturbing. The room is in complete darkness, save for a strobe rythmically flasing upon the stage, illuminating a girl who stands perfectly still with her head tilted back.
This goes on for about a minute until she suddenly begins to contort herself, flooding the stage with light and filling the air with floods of brain destroying noise. Her movements are unnatural, as though controlled, an effect which I for one found quite unnerving. You really do have to see this to appreciate it, but I strongly recommend that you do.
As though right on que after the apocalyptic visions we’d just witnessed, Ipswich’s own ASTROBOY took to the stage and chilled things right out again with his BOARDS OF CANADA, PLAID and ambient drum n bass influenced IDM style, offering one of the only song based sets of the night. Things seemed considerably more upbeat tonight than other times I’ve seen this guy play and it definitely stands out as one of the better performances I’ve seen from him in recent months. He plays on a very regular basis so if you havn’t been and checked him out yet you defintely should.
Human beat boxing from local lad PIKEY ESQUIRE was up next and I fail to see how anyone could leave unimpressed with the range of sounds this guy can get using only his amplified vocal chords. From hip-hop to drum n bass, everything was done in a very convincing and confident way with beats and bass interspersed with spoken and sung parts. The set was met with an enthusiastic response from the audience, though his claim that “everyone loves Ipswich”, rather amusingly, was not.
CATS AGAINST THE BOMB played a mix of guitars and electronic beats next, but I was elsewhere having a cheeky toke at the time, so unfortunatly I cant say anything about it. It was good apparently!
By the time I got back, BIG IN ALBANIA was on stage, in costume, knocking out a mash-up of military themes, politics and cheesy dance tunes accompanied with similar visuals that I found quite hilarious but very professionally done. I’d heard a lot about him before but never had the chance to see him so I dont know how tonights set compared with other nights but I’d definitely watch him again.
After that things stepped up a gear with more dance orientated stuff from PARADROID (electro/breaks), PHUQ and STITCH (techno/beats), FSV (who I didnt watch), THE FEZ! and MACHINOCHRIST (both messed up breakcore sets). I didnt see a bad performance all night and it was really refreshing to see some of the local area’s best and most innovative artists all collected in one beautiful setting for such a ridiculously cheap price. Residents of Ipswich should definitely be keeping an eye out for future events at this venue, as I’m informed that there are many different styles of music planned for the future. All in all it seems that in terms of variety and innovation, the times are a-changing for the better around here. About time too!