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
Here’s a short video from the Saturday night
Thanks to Cator for the video
And one from the Sunday dawn
Thanks to Fred Organik for the video