Tyondai Braxton at Oval Space
Brace yourselves, we now have proof that aliens have come to Earth. Yes, they are here among us! They have the features of Tyondai Braxton and his accompanying performers, and last night they put on a rave.
HIVE is one of the many projects that Battles’ former singer and guitarist Braxton has come up with in recent years. The audio-visual performance hasn’t had an extensive tour yet but it has touched a few prestigious venues around the world: yesterday it landed in London for a one-off show at the Oval Space, which couldn’t have been a better suited location to host Braxton’s experimental concert.
Two modular synthesiser players and three percussionists, each sitting on a perforated metal pod containing strobe lights, painted the white ceiling with ever-changing colours and filled the room with a cascade of sounds. Ranging from robot and 80s videogame-like sounds, to tweeting to roadwork noises, to distorted notes that echoed distant galaxies, they poured down the audience in a chaotic flow that only seldom acquired a more patterned rhythm, and only then managed to entertain.
Some people slowly started nodding along and ended up moving frantically as if in a trance. As said before, this was close to what it looks and feels like when at a rave. Many of the preconditions were present: the crowd gathered in a place that was a bit hard to find, secluded in an area that looked abandoned enough to be emblematic. The electronic music was more a jumble of beats and sounds that resembled the genres typically played such as techno or house and there were flashing lights. It could have been somehow evocative but the event kind of got stuck in between a rave wannabe and an actual, legitimate gig that people paid for. The crowd was heterogeneous and more curious, more conscious than a swarm of people nearly unaware of whatever happens around them because they are under the effects of alcohol and drugs, only wanting to experience some kind of inducted release from everyday life.
HIVE involved DJs playing what mostly seemed like sound effects suitable for movies and which, in a way, could be deemed avant-garde (as it was sponsored by the Barbican). It was an event that predictably remained very exclusive regardless of the people attending, which was not enough to redeem it.
For further information and future events visit Tyondai Braxton’s website here.
Watch the video for Dead Strings here: