The year is 2018 and it is being claimed that like it or not, we are all accelerationists. For those unfamiliar with the term, consider it “the idea that the prevailing system of capitalism, or certain technosocial processes that have historically characterised it, should be expanded, repurposed, or accelerated in order to generate radical social change.” This, sadly, is the plainest way to put it, yet in the context of Futureshock, an experimental club experience developed by young collective EditedArts and designed to explore this idea, accelerationism’s applications become not just apparent, but exciting.
Not immediately, though. The first live set is running 30 minutes behind, and attendees resort to entertaining themselves with New River Studios’ pizza menu, a renegade VR headset being passed around the bar area, and a DJ set in the same room courtesy of Giedre Juzenaite. Her selections shrug off genre with a roll of the eyes as she chooses instead to limit herself only to music from Japan. Working within this confine makes for a fascinating blend, unsettling in its eclecticism. My turn with the VR headset arrives at the same time as the news that the performances are about to begin.
Enter Joel McMordie. Over from Belfast, his intricate interactions with analogue and digital create complex and immersive feedback loops, the parameters of which are manipulated by a Fisher Price amp aimed at kids a little younger than Joel, shall we say. The effect is the best kind of alienating. He flows from musique concrète to noise and back again in a matter of minutes, and his set’s roaring crescendo ends as quickly as it began, to the surprise of what is proving to be an attentive, respectful crowd. After, I’m immediately transfixed by an installation just outside the stark, intimidating main room. Assembled by startup Memorialise Me, seven faces are projected onto a wall, skewed by its contours, and asked by an uncanny, unseen voice about the handling of their social media channels after they die. Memorialise Me’s aim is to be responsible for this, and their installation reaffirms Futureshock’s assertion that society is changing frighteningly quickly.
Before I know it I’m accosted by a group of strangers insisting I head back in for Loraine James and Louis Shambles. The pair offer a compelling straddling of IDM’s technical flamboyance and thuggish, provocative functionalism. It’s state of the art, ergonomic dance music that would recall first-album Aphex Twin were it not for their love of ghostly, distant grime acapellas. These seem to transform their set into an exercise in temporality, inhabiting the intersection between the memory of raves gone by and the promise of raves to come.
Award-winning experimental turntablist Shiva Feshareki follows, and her set is a personal highlight. She deftly manipulates records live but her source material is practically unidentifiable, such is the ferocity with which she corrupts these records and forces their new versions screaming into life. Vinyl crackle becomes kick and snare, voice becomes bass, synth becomes some unearthly roar. It’s quite a statement that the only semblance of familiarity is the 200bpm< breaks she lets run for an intense climax.
Typeface’s performance sees a change of pace. Minimalism seems to be the focus, leaving nothing but an impression of rhythm, with no relief of intensity. The static drones he employs slowly develop into deafening roars of digital thunder, and a quick glance at the faces of the crowd reveals as many grimaces as grins. It’s certainly an unusual placement for this time of night, given the frenzied finale to Feshareki’s set. I later realise, however, that to expect a night of meticulously constructed mixtape-smooth bookings would be to miss the point of Futureshock, ‘shock’ being the operative syllable. Typeface evidently doesn’t care for any performative notion attached to live music. He strips dance music down to its skeleton, leaving its grotesque interior exposed.
Structure Recordings founder Shelley Parker concludes proceedings with a dark, dub-inflected exploration into the world that more drum n bass ought to occupy. Immediate comparisons are to the murky aesthetics of early releases by Skeptical (think Dream Police or Cold One), yet abide by genre convention Parker does not. Her performance sounds caked in dust and ash; some anonymous artefact hauled one hundred years from now from the rubble of techno and jungle. Cavernous drums hammer like anvils beneath layers upon layers of world-building atmosphere, bringing Futureshock’s live performances to a danceable but introspective conclusion that feels wholly satisfying.
It isn’t difficult to work out why Futureshock felt vital. If you take a handful of exciting performers from a variety of backgrounds and ask them to all address the same issues concerning humanity’s relationship with technology in an unconventional space, the chances are something pretty interesting will happen. But, the combination of canny bookings, thought-provoking installations and an open-minded crowd made Futureshock feel utterly essential and, in spite of its name, a reflection of the modern day. I left with a hunch that 2018 will host many more nights like this, and I’m excited.
Images: Rodrigo Vargas