The last time I saw Ryoji Ikeda was at the Brighton Dome. Not to slur the venue too much (I quite like it) but it is generally more inclined towards musicals, soft rock and stand up comedians. Although it was a little odd being in a club in the early evening as opposed to sloshing Jaegerbombs around at 4am, by comparison Village Underground’s lofty warehouse setting combined with the venue’s collosal soundsystem made a far more appropriate setting for the Paris-based sound-artist.
Across his rather lengthy career, Ikeda has become a staple of the Raster Noton label, performing and orchestrating installations at reknowned arts venues including MoMA and even gaining himself a residency at CERN, the European centre for nuclear research. In doing so Ikeda has also earnt himself a place amongst the rare few electronic musicians to be adorned in both music scenes and the wider, more discerning world of modern arts. In this instance his visit to the capital occured as Ikeda tours ‘Supercodex’; an performance using mathematical models and raw data sets to generate both music and visuals.
Having missed the first round of tickets, I was delighted to nab a space after a further performance was announced due to ‘popular demand’. Testament to the show’s demand was the number in attendance for the second viewing - I had expected its late announcement to result in rather few numbers on the ground, however VU saw queues stretch right round the corner.
After a lengthy wait, Ikeda materialised from the back rooms abruptly and the crowd fell to silence. Perhaps what was most engaging about his set was the careful mix between textures; some barely audible, but others played with such force they could be felt physically. Stuttering clicks and glitches danced between each other, steadily swarming into distorted cyclones of noise, tremor inducing low-end stabbing through clear and precise. Broken poly-rhythms would falter into moments of silence, leaving the audience unsure whether to applaud or wait for the next development.
The performance culminated with one final frantic assault of breakbeat-paced glitch and blinding strobes, the flashes almost appearing to mesh together into a single, warping image as your eyes struggle to keep focus. Just as unexpectedly as the show had started, the screen cut to black and Ikeda swiftly departed from the stage with not so much as a word or even an acknowledgement that anyone else had been in the room at all.