Andrew Cowen previews an unusual performance in Digbeth next Saturday...
Those forever questing Capsule girls - Birmingham's most adventurous promoters - have arranged another excellent gig for next Saturday.
Radio Iacon's Golden Age of Static explores an escape from some of the traditional constraints that performers and audiences face alike.
Iacon will perform over the airwaves, transmitting to over 100 second-hand radios of different ages and design, ranging from modern to retro, resulting in differing degrees of tone, EQ, warmth and volume.
Not your usual gig then, and all the better for it.
Usually sound artists or musicians within a concert environment are bound by the performance norms of a PA with all the leads and wires that are necessary to support it. The PA produces sound from a single direction, or, at best, a two way stereo split, which Iacon consider a limitation on the audio experience of the audience.
The Golden Age of Static is a performance that stretches the audience's experience as well as the performers'.
Instead of the audience experience being non-interactive and docile, facing in a single direction for the whole event, audience members are invited to participate by bringing their own portable radios, engaging with the sound, while moving around the venue.
Hearing a wide variety of radio transmissions will alter the whole listening experience, they believe. The sound will evolve and mutate as you meander through the unfolding dynamic sonic adventure, they say.
The Golden Age of Static is not just a sonic experience.
As well as the aesthetic impact of a hundred radios, Radio Iacon are working with visual artists, animators, film makers and image manipulators, exploring the themes of radio, broadcast, interference and static. The sound performance will be enhanced by an installation of projections, old TVs, cameras and monitors.
Iacon was founded in its original format in 2001 by Lawrence Roper and Ben Javens, who were later joined by Simon Osgathorp.
Initially focussing on DJing, turntablism and processing sound with a multitude of effects, mainly to provide soundtracks to exhibitions and film club nights, these events steadily led Iacon towards the production of original event-specific pieces of work.
The introduction of Simon into the fold, whose previous output includes working within celebrated Birmingham experimentalists Dreams of Tall Buildings, helped confirm the Iacon sound and allowed for additional possibilities when performing live. Iacon are self-taught in all instruments and music tools played.
In late 2003, Iacon moved into a studio space in Digbeth. This provided a permanent space for experimentation and for new works to be developed and produced.
Over the past months, Iacon have drawn from improvisation and developed a multi-instrument approach to create a sound that can be played live.
In any song each member may play up to three instruments over the course of the track. In recent months, Iacon have begun readying this approach for their latest work Radio Iacon, Golden Age of Static.
Eye candy comes from Chris Plant who has been involved in live visuals since 1991. Starting out with handpainted slide and 16mm film loops, he soon incorporated video, creating and triggering loops initially from an Amiga 1200 using early VJ software called Video Tracker.
He has toured Europe and the US with a number of live artists, and has more recently started creating and licensing custom material for video projections as well as LED lighting effects for shows such as Later with Jools Holland, Top of the Pops, CD-UK, MTV Shakedown, The Empire Film Awards, amongst many others.
Recent work has included custom-built interactive applications using VVVV, an objectoriented programming environment.
Alongside Chris Plant, arty celluloid collective 7inch Cinema will be twiddling dials and wading through noise, on the hunt for clues to an on going affair between radio and film.
Through an 80-minute programme of clips, shorts and documentaries they will be playing tribute to local radiophonic pioneers like Charles Parker and Delia Derbyshire, exploring the world of pirate broadcasting, and reminding the audience how much cinema reaches us through the ears.
There will also be a chance to see Listen to Britain, a hugely influential film by Humphrey Jennings that uses sound to map the UK of 1942.
7inch Cinema is a roving outfit that specialise in creating fresh contexts for interesting work old and new, local and international. They are particularly interested in film beyond the realms of fixed seating and two-hour narrative features, and are currently planning their first festival.
* Radio Iacon: The Golden Age of Static. Saturday, September 24, Decoy, Green Street, Digbeth. 8pm. Performance at 9pm, followed by djs/films. Entry £5 (no advance tickets) £3 with radio. Info: www.capsule.org.uk...SUPL: