Russell Haswell shakes the De la Warr Pavillion, conjuring up a a chorus of jackhammers to inhabit the modernist structure while just outside crashing waves offer energetic competition as they rise to the occasion. It’s a windy day in Bexhill and the Editions Mego are celebrating their largest ever live showcase. My favourite kind of festival is the mini-slightly-unsuccessfully-marketed kind where a small group of followers come together like villagers at a weekday mass. There was plenty of space to wander around and between the two stages with no fear of getting stuck in line for three hours at the bar or toilets and even less risk of breaking into a sweat on the return midst a heaving myriad of body parts. In the dark void of the large vibrating live space as I slunk into a pool of warm sonic indulgence, allowing Haswell’s demons to possess first my ear drums and then every part of my quivering frame, I got to questioning, as I often do at live music events of this kind, what the point of the live event is -that is – why do it live? Couldn’t we just whack on the PA and experience it at home? Why the need to share this space with a “small group of followers”? And why the need to stand worshipping the stage where there is nothing happening for our benefit? Don’t get me wrong, the sounds were pumping!! Mark Fell’s industrial slick smacked me where I like it and Kevin Drumms’ dark pulsating noise shot through my core. BBBBBBBBut I still can’t quite put my finger on why this form of music event needs to imitate that of the band format or vocal act where there are more performative, gestural elements that go some way to connecting the audience to the liveness of the event. My conclusion though perhaps somewhat banal is that, beyond the obvious better quality of the sound systems, it’s a communal and ritualistic thing(?) We just like doing these things en masse (even little masses) and we like following these social codes of order such as arriving at certain times and facing a particular direction (where there is promise of an author??/authority???/authorship???) and consequently having a communal experience with a bunch of other like-minded/would-be strangers. Upstairs in the GRM room the atmosphere is a bit more chilled, like a sound story room where we sit cross legged on squares of carpet and are entertained by multi-channel installations. While Hecker’s crisp articulations are arresting, humerous and almost Tom-and-Jerry animated, I start to drift off during Ferrari’s ambient textural soundscapes. Somewhere in my half sleep between the feet of my fellow-followers and the murmuring streets of Paris I start to wonder -who are these people I am sharing this pilgrimage with? why is only one in twenty female? and have I fallen in with the Cult of the Dark Denim?
As Haswell’s FACTUAL joins my record collection I will be challenging my sound-system and testing for myself whether it lives up to, shortchanges or outshines the live attack!
Editions Mego 170 | De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. 11/5/2013
Rant by Agent Akhmatova