Reshaping spaces and building shared creative connections are at the core of SP23. As well as the party nexus, the crew are engaged in a range of community based cultural projects, artistic exchanges and the open source development of ideas. This page will be a focal point for those currents and will be regularly updated as the networks multiply
SP23′s Music and Graphics Jam. Marseille.
It all started on Monday the 13th of May 2013. Participants arrived from Berlin, England, Poland, Switzerland and of course France.
For the last year SP23 has been involved in a European-wide skill sharing project which, to date has included two screen-printing events – one hosted by the Czentrifuga in Berlin, and the other by the Druckerei at Reitschule in Bern. This time round it was our turn to host the DIY event. Live electronic dance music and visuals is our specially – so we shared our skill sets – focusing on themes of connection and interaction.
On day one, Simon (aka Crystal Distortion); Seb (aka 69DB) and Toma (aka Tomagnetik) lead the ‘Capture’. Taking the fifteen-strong group of international artists to explore the narrow streets around the old port of Marseille. With audio recording equipment and cameras we captured slices of sound and images to use directly, or as inspiration in the following week of creative interactions.
To make it all happen we had organised four main bases across the city.
ArtSPace 1 was on Rue Estelle. A labyrinth of old government offices – reclaimed and occupied by a group of international arts activists as free social space and studios.
ArtSPace 2 was Casa Consolat, a cafe and community art centre run by a group of Italians. Crystal Distortion filled the house for three nights with interactive Ableton Live workshops which where geared to teach beginners ‘how to fly’.
ArtSPace 3 was 69DB’s apartment – turned ‘Intuitive Electronic Live Laboratory’. Here, Seb gave one to one tuition which concentrated on improvised music. After an hour of connecting minds to machinery and opening the library of captured sounds, each participant made arrangements and recordings of their electronic explorations.
ArtSPace 4 was a huge stone-built warehouse that had originally been used as a livery stable. Now it’s run by Mafalda Camara’s theartre company. Feenix 13 and myself (Stray Wayward), set up the graphics jam there, and on the final day (Friday) staged the Playback Event. This was where the recordings, images and artwork – which had been created across the week – were presented to the public. A traditional meal was cooked by our Polish contingent – washed down with local wine. The evening’s music was provided by Crystal Distortion.
Next up: SP23′s skill-share festival. This will be a small family friendly event which will, over several days, offer opportunities to others to come and join our skill-sharing community. Tickets will be limited. Watch this SPace for details…
Many thanks to all who participated – and all those behind the scenes who helped to make it happen.
MAY 2012 – NOISE CONTROL AUDIO TECHNICAL LABS – SOUTH WEST FRANCE – An idea begins to work its way through the circuitry and amplify. Steve and Tim, the creators of NCA are hatching a plan to take a huge sound system to the 2013 Teknival. None of us had been to a teknival in France for over a decade. But suddenly… it was all coming together for the 20th anniversary
Teknival may no longer be the idealistic, entirely free space that we helped found and develop in the 1990’s, and its relationship with authority is deeply uncomfortable, but as a soundclash, it is unparalleled. Nowhere else in Europe can sound systems thunder for 3 days outdoors with no noise limits whatsoever. It has developed into a friendly battle for the biggest systems, the most ambitious link ups and the most extraordinary walls of sound and has proved a fascinating evolution from the original Jamaican understanding of soundclash. The idea of Teknival itself has mutated.
Noise Control Audio design and build the highest quality sound systems. Founded by Tim of the Spiral Tribe Sound System and Steve of the Bedlam Sound System, they took all the expertise they had honed at the razor’s edge of all terrain operations within the rave scene and decided to professionalise it, building the finest systems they could imagine.
They rapidly developed a position of industry wide respect, equipping stages at Glastonbury and the Notting Hill Carnival as well as being brought in for major international events at Wembley Arena and huge reggae soundclashes at venues like the Roundhouse.
As they laid down their idea to get a system together for 20Tek, they were well aware of the support and logistics it would take to put a crew, an area and a vibe together. In the same way that they had taken their passions and their skills from the rave scene and built it into a profession, so too had many of the people they were now opening discussions with.
Marc, formerly of Teknokrates sound system who had developed his Wavefarm project and was now an events manager for major international acts. Ourselves as a creative collective who performed regularly across Europe. And Wango Riley’s travelling stage – an iconic symbol of UK festival folklore.
There was no question. We were all in. As time ticked towards May and Noise Control worked tirelessly to slide every last element into place, a core team of motivated, skilled and spirited volunteers came aboard. And the next thing we knew we were pulling onto a runway at the Cambrai military airbase.
As we took our area, Steve measured off a defined space to lock the dancefloor into a quadraphonic setup of 123 kw of sound. Teknivals had become renowned for exponentially increasing walls of speakers, and instantly, the knowledge that we wouldn’t be going down that road but concentrating on shaping a space through sound inspired us.
Tim and Marc hoisted the structure that Marc had built and designed himself, that would both house the bar and provide shade if we were lucky with the weather. Matt green speaker boxes slid out of an Arctic lorry that seemed almost like a Tardis at times as the bass bins kept emerging.
As the four corner stacks were mounted like primal stones, the amp racks were heaved onto Wango’s stage and the gorgeously thick cabling snaked across steel. Monumental in its green camouflage – there was only one word for it – Heavyweight.
We looked on at this with a wellspring of emotion. It had been many years since we had an actual sound system. We had performed as individual artists and as a collective on hundreds, but the profound rush of being part of a real, physical sound system again, with all the blood, sweat, tears, and perpetual laughter was overwhelming. And not just any sound system.
We were reunited as a family once more, working towards the same goal. It was the same crew as it had been all those years ago, but this time the sound system wasn’t 4 k and held together by love and gaffa tape. No, this time the sound system was of awesome quality and every last speaker box had been hand built by Tim. We were back in the area.
Slideshow of images
Thanks to Cara Smyth, Fubar Sounds, Veephoto and le 3è Oeil for some of the images
And here’s a short video from the Saturday night
Thanks to Cator for the video
SP23 London – Setting the night alight
Village Underground – 19 April 2013
It was going to be a long thirteen hour shift – even before the party started. At 9am sharp the truck delivering the lights arrived. Julian (SP23′s lighting engineer) had an epic vision: a dance of light; the high warehouse space shot-through with threads of piercing energy; the air woven and sliced with beams of living colour.
It took a full half hour for us to unload and wheel in the flight cased lighting equipment and all day to rig the show: two fully loaded trusses above the stage and one forming a spine that ran the entire length of the building.
As the clock ticked, it was all hands on deck to transform the Victorian freight warehouse and railway arches into SP23′s inter-dimensional dance zone.
Directed by Julian; 69DB, Meltdown Mickey, Jeff23 and Sirius got on with bolting lights to the trusses, while Feenix 13 and myself (Stray Wayward) unfurled our latest creations: long black banners painted with shape-shifting totemic characters.
In the afternoon more of our crew arrived, Tim (Noise Control Audio) and Mickey, constructed the wooded frames to carry the stage flats: three large screens emblazoned with the SP23 circuitry motif. Bad Girlz, Ixy and Sim, helped stretch the fabric across the frames while the artwork was stapled into position.
By early evening the décor was in position and we were ready to test-fire the light show and do the sound checks.
22:00. The doors cracked open, the night flooded in and the energy began to crackle
Welcoming in the early streams of people were the Bad Girlz – twinkling cheekily through an energizing repertoire of upbeat lyrical gems. From Ixindamix’s trumpet solos to Sim Simmer’s rousing vocal incantations, the floor began to take shape as long lost friends reconnected in the half light and new faces gazed up at the trusses and the vaulted brickwork. Meltdown Mickey was next up, taking things deep and rolling as he wove a hypnotic groove through the dancefloor. Building up a rippling unity with a pure techno selection, he had laid the charges for what we felt was a very special night.
By 12:30 – it was rammed. The lights seemed to be piercing raw space from every angle – at once disorientating and yet vividly lucid. There was an unmistakable edge on the night already – love and unity laced with a sense of something intangible shooting through the prisms. By the time I’d finished playing a cocktail of party tunes, the sound system was firmly hitting the sweet spot and the momentum was rising. 69db stepped up and slammed down a journey through improvised acid techno. Tribal rhythms rode fat n funky basslines as abstraction flashed through the frequencies and acid lines ripped through the shards of light, pushing the warehouse deeper into the moment.
As Crystal Distortion plugged himself into the matrix, harnessed chaos was unleashed. Electricity erupted through the dancefloor as he swept into a coruscating flow. Oscillating between psychedelic glimpses and ruthless urban assaults, he charged the atmosphere with a steely euphoria and handed over to Ixindamix. She instantly sent deep acid screaming through the system, stripping back the beats early and rolling warm uplifting basslines through the subs. Building up to a liquid crescendo, she spiked her set with quirky flashes and a dynamic intensity as the crowd heaved and the video mapped walls burst with movement.
A laser traced the back wall with esoteric patterns as the totems anchored the space into Jeff 23’s dark tribal waves. Mixing up 4 tunes at once, Jeff tore through the line between experimental and primal with a unique take on new wave techno. Sending mesmerising frequencies hurtling though lockdown, he was just taking things to a final peak when all too quickly – it was over. At least until the next time.
We would like to thank everyone at the Village Underground, everyone involved in whatever capacity, and above all – everyone who came to the night. Thank you all so much for you support and energy. It was a very special night for us and we really hope it was for you too. Thank you
Here’s a short snapshot caught on Rach Speakeasy’s phone – a full HD video will follow
Interview with Mark Harrison
Rupert Callender interviews Mark Harrison on Soundart Radio. Broadcast live on 18th March 2013, 17:00 – 18:00.
A discussion that explores some of the secret history of Spiral Tribe, rave culture and the origins of SP23
Mark Harrison larges SP23
artSPace 23 Exhibition – Marseille
Video from the recent artSPace exhibition in Marseille
Video by Crystal Distortion
Birth of the Cyberpunks
The 1980’s witnessed the birth of the cyberpunk, as science fiction shot a current through technology’s next horizon and society’s next dystopian warp. But it was the 1990’s that saw a multi polar shift into that matrix. Electronic music not only revolutionized the relationship between music and technology, but set the template for a new breed of musician – a new breed of activist and a new catalyst for a radically changing reality.
As the computer wave began to swell exponentially and the internet zygote multiplied, a soundtrack was born from the very circuits that were changing every aspect of modern life. Electronic music. And yet it was not just the futuristic bleeps and all enveloping basses of manipulated frequency that were so synchronicitous, but the patterns that were building around them.
Unifying ultra modern abstractions with primal rhythms, electronic dance music crossed over from aural pleasure to absolute immersion. A new culture of DIY was building around musical access while a new spirit of self organisation swept through a disaffected generation alienated by the naked individualism of laissez faire capitalism.
The geometry of chaos theory wove its way through traditional social structures. People from all over the country congregated at celebrations infused by both the electronic sound and the new strange attractors. The infancy of mobile communication was instantly harnessed to create new systems of assembly, and hierarchy was broken down into new dynamics of community and contribution that mirrored the development of online networks.
Acid house, rave and free festivals were at the forefront of this profound social change. Building from outside the barriers of conventional models, they opened up the Pandora’s Box of open source flux. Reclaiming a public space, tuning into the new frequencies, and letting the wave develop its’ own momentum, a subculture developed at an astonishing pace. People from all walks of life celebrated unlicensed freedom as they danced under a night sky.
The new cyberpunks had staged a jailbreak from the pages of science fiction. Working off an open source operating system and hacking emergent technologies into new spheres of expression and organisation, a new paradigm danced to its’ own rebellious tune.
Today, electronic music is wrestling with the sterilising forces of commercialism and the shape shifting impact of the digital landscape. The internet and the networks of complex chaos that formed it are being relentlessly attacked by governments and corporate interest in a bid to reassert authority and control.
Self proclaimed dogma in some quarters is being superseeded by raids on new territory, new methods of organisation and new systems of creative expression. In an increasingly connected world, the opportunities and possibilities for open source subculture are greater than ever.