INTERVIEW: Algorave Newcastle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Tanja Busking

Coding has an image problem. Never mind that we live in a technological society, never mind that in the near future it’ll be a skill likely seen as essential as writing or numeracy, never mind that absolutely nothing that you use on a daily basis exists without it. The popular imagination, as it so often is, is stuck lagging firmly behind the reality.

Music of course is not exempt from the importance of recording. The occasional look-back bore who insists of the primacy of ‘real music’ aside – you know, the sort who thinks wiring up a tree and sticking some wire strings to it somehow constitutes authenticity but using a common, everyday tool like a laptop doesn’t – almost all music these days requires coding, be it to make the recording software or equipment used by virtually any working band or as an active part of the compositional or performance process itself.

Although the name itself began as something of a joke, the growing Algorave movement boasts a serious purpose to remove the barriers between performing, watching and programming and to acknowledge the necessity of all three working together in a live format to create remarkable music and nights. It’s a way to both tap into the inclusive, counter-cultural spirit of rave’s past whilst also finding a place to experiment and create new, alien, surprising sounds, with their live coding on environments like SuperCollider and TidalCycles and Gibber ensuring a constant feedback loop between the performer coding in real time and the audience hearing, watching and dancing to their work.

The open-ended nature of exactly what Algorave is and can be has rapidly made it a truly global movement, with Algorave events taking places in cities including Montreal, New York and Stockholm. The North East, however, has rapidly become a hub for artists making algorave music, and as such Newcastle University’s Culture Lab will host the fourth Algorave Newcastle on Saturday 13th May with a variety of brilliant local and national talent on the bill.

This year’s event also forms part of the Molecular Soundscapes project undertaken by algorithmic musician Shelley Knots and computational medicinal chemist (and VJ) Dr. Agnieszka Bronowska from Newcastle University. With the pair looking into ways convert ideas from molecular biology and drug design into sonic material, they’ll not only be performing a special collaboration as part of the event but also sharing their data with the wider Algorave community for further use and investigation.

There’s a whole host of other acts appearing on the night as well, including performances from Algorave founder Nick Collins (under the name Livedog Inc.), co¥ᄀpt, Calum Gunn, the duo ALGOBABEZ and Sheffield-based newcomers Heavy Lifting, as well as VJing work throughout the night from Birmingham artists Hellocatfood and Coral.

There’s a whole range of fascinating and innovative research, thought and practice behind the Algorave movement, but as anyone who’s ever encountered Algorave before (or who decides to check out this latest Algorave Newcastle event) can attest, at the forefront of everything is the spectacle and excitement of a room dancing to brilliant, exciting music.

Algorave Newcastle takes place at Culture Lab, Newcastle University on Saturday 13th May.

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