Prepare for some prime algopop! Ahead of their Liverpool Philharmonic performance on Wednesday, algoravers ALGOBABEZ have made us a special playlist of their favourite tracks: expect a heady mix of algorithmic music incorporating psych-punk, tap dancing, light sensors, and synths…
Look on the websites of live coders Shelly Knotts and Joanne Armitage, aka ALGOBABEZ, and you’ll find impressive line ups of gigs performed all over the world. At night, you can see ALGOBABEZ lighting up dancefloors at algorave festivals across Europe and the USA; applying SuperCollider to improv “wonky, noisy, thumping and sometimes danceable” music.
By day, both musicians are experts in their (speedily evolving) fields. Knotts is a Newcastle-based data musician studying for a PhD in Live Computer Music at Durham University, and has organised Network Music Festival since 2012. Armitage is a a creative technologist, and a New/Digital Media Tutor at the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds.
Here, they talk us through the tunes that have had the most impact on their careers thus far…
Joanne Armitage: “Heavy Lifting is a more recent addition to live coding crew, although she is already getting human bodies moving to algorithms in space.”
JA: “In this track, Dillon develops minimal structures full of movement and groove, beginning with the experimental sounds from which she originates and quickly verging towards the cluuub.”
Shelly Knotts: “I owe much of my current music activity to Oliveros. As a classically trained musician, I didn’t really learn to improvise until around 2010/2011 when I was part of BiLE (Birmingham Laptop Ensemble). We spent months together doing exercises to develop our listening and improvising skills drawing on Oliveros’ Deep Listening methods and her text scores during our sessions.”
JA: “Renick is a fellow Algoraver and recently released the algorithmic Empty Lake EP on UIQ written in Conductive.”
JA: “I have always been inspired by the work of Laurie Spiegel. Her thoughts around the place of tools, technology and automation reflects that of ALGOBABEZ. Sound is always the central issue in our work despite the ‘technical form’ that our performances take.”
SK:” Lappetites is a laptop band made up of women with established careers in various aspects of electronic music (Kaffe Matthews, AGF, Eliane Radigue, Ryoko Akama). I came across this album when researching laptop music bands — Lappetites were the only all female group I found –probably inspiring the formation of the groups I’m part of: ALGOBABEZ and OFFAL.
JA: “Algorave Grand Master Yaxu making TidalCycles scream.”
SK: “Egidija’s work uses weaving patterns mapped to sound parameters to make meditative instrumental textures. Her working methods echo those of algorithmic music making, and I see parallels between the musicians performing the algorithmically produced sound patterns and live coding.”
JA: “Greta Eacott explores many ideas that are aligned with the live coding in her percussion practice, but particularly in One Take Records where she releases and records (generally) improvised performances and delivers them in one take. This is a more recent collaboration of Greta’s where her percussion meets with Rudi Schmidt’s modular synthesis as VITAMIN D.”
JA: “AGF is an extraordinary musician. Sculpting the poetry of her vocal work with masterfully generated digitally manipulated sounds she frames powerful and pertinent messages exploring areas including technology and feminism. She makes sounds so intimate you feel them. When I saw her play Fuse, Bradford everyone was visibly moved and transformed by her set.
SK:” Occasional Algoraver xname makes noise out of experimental hardware, electromagnetic and light sensors and open source software. Here she teams up with generative IDM producer Alo Allik in a noise-techno set.”
SK: “Yeah You played a guest set at the Newcastle Algorave I organised in 2015, using hardware synthesisers and processed vocals.”
JA: “I saw Group A play at Golden Cabinet in Shipley last year, and it was my favorite gig of 2016. Their performance was intense — so physical and visual. 70+a is the only CD I have and I keep it in my stereo.”
JA: “Drummer, tap dancer and top pal Dan Jacobs (aka AEVA) is bringing strong rhythmic feels to lovely synths to make piatti bangers. Here is a remix he did of other pals Glad Hand.”
SK:” I’m a big fan of huge dense textures and slow moving harmonic structures. Eliane Radigue spent the majority of her life working with the ARP synthesiser. I admire this dedication to mastering your tools and hope ALGOBABEZ’s ‘wall of noise’ echoes something of the intensity of Radigue’s Triology des Mort.”
SK: “I first came across Myriam Bleau’s music when she performed with her Soft Revolver’s project at the Network Music Festival — which I used to run with mod synth expert and composer Charles Hutchins — in 2014. I love how she effortlessly blends influences from experimental and popular music.”
SK:” Long time algoravers and original members of the mexican live coding scene. I had the pleasure of touring with Mico Rex in 2013 and 2014, when I got to know their brand of live coded psychedelic-punk-electronica, and the joy of mezcal very well!”
JA: “Marlo hails from Baltimore, but we are currently blessed to enjoy her noisy and exuberant sounds, activism and research in Leeds. Here is the second part of a set she played at Chunk, Leeds last year. We have collaborated on a number of events and have a loose collaboration, cables.”
SK: “Worth including twice, Laurie Spiegel is a giant of electronic music history and had huge influence on the development of algorithmic music. Appalachian Grove 1, composed in the 1970s, was included in the 2012 release of The Expanding Universe and I include as I recently realised I use similar melodic motifs in my performances, so I suppose Spiegel has been an even greater influence on the development of my musical language than I realised!”
SK: “Kindohm is one of my favourite algorave performers, and the complexity he produces in live shows really blows my mind.”
Thom Isom and Laura Robertson
See ALGOBABEZ support Nik Colk Void and Klara Lewis at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room, Wednesday 1 February 2017 at 8pm — £10.50. Supported by Deep Hedonia and FACT Liverpool