Daniel Hignell from Rachel James on Vimeo.
On Saturday May 30th, some hackers impose themselves on St. Mary’s Church in Kemptown for a day of code-breaking, patch-sharing, idea swapping and tubthumping. Afterwards, something skin-sploshing and nerve-tingling happens. This is NOT how it happens:
“Hello Vicar, do you want to raise some money towards fixing this leaky old roof?”
“Well yes boys, of course!”
“How about letting us put on an experimental electronic noise gig?”
“Oh yes, we’re very progressive here in Brighton, that sounds wonderful. I love a bit of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.”
“Well it won’t be quite like…”
“Phillip Glass then.”
“Oh nevermind. Perhaps also mention to the congregation that we’re gonna be projecting trippy videos of moths being electrocuted or some other cool shit over the stained glass windows. It’s gonna be a blast.”
Now I don’t spend as much time hanging out in churches as my recent photos might suggest, but it does seem that a broader variety of secular events are infiltrating religious spaces, so I might start. Where once upon a time the church dictated that all art and music produced in society expressed ‘the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen’, now we the people are holding the church to ransom in reverse: if you want new footfall, you need a new story.
Daniel Hignell (video above) appears to have taken the old story of musical composition, deconstructed it, rebuilt it, repeated the process a few thousand times at various different angles and produced a ‘new thing’; sophisticated nostalgia hammered into the walls by industrial threat. Or if you prefer: Dan appears to be a young male angel trapped in the belly of a steelworks, crying at God for as long as it takes the acid rain of the future to erode the building and set him free. I highly recommend trying to catch a glimpse of his work as medicine: it’ll temporarily help you transcend earth’s density.
I’m regularly singing the praises of Joe Watson who, with Dan Hignell, co-organised and sound-desked at the Church of Modular gig, but I have to find leftfield ways of doing it since he uses no instruments recognisable to me and doesn’t sound quite like any other electronica I’ve come across. I have found that this kind of music produces pleasurable symptoms similar to mild synaesthesia when experienced live. So, try this as an explanation; a stream of consciousness ramble typed into my phone without allowing reflexive thought for the duration of Joe’s set:
Pink water swilling at the dentist, birds getting mashed in the blades of a helicopter, fire hydrant exploding, furbys tweeting to one another, saliva suction vacuum, empty nitrous oxide canister pressed, clapper board, dentist drill touched on nerve, tin foil of filling, spitting cotton wool balls into the sink, angle grinder on breast plate, rewind replay regenerate face sucking knitting needles, Jeff Goldblum in the fly, jungle predator monster love making a dewy drop falls from leaf tip to tongue, suck it down, distance river threat, submariner radio alert, white blast noise, The Thing, ice-drill soak mush drench, corpse attempted reanimate, lick and slurp to life, AI, hot pain to skin tingles gentle electricity, machine caress, warm sewage pipe dump under tube tunnels, deeper, Earths core explode geology, top end television recount 70’s science programme, UFO shaky camera news, spit, bodysuck, lick finger, panting, breath heavy pulse increase heart rate, screw face, dog fuck, tin drum, pipe pipe, stroke, sweaty disgusting delicious uncomfortable, scratch phlegm, shuffle transform infiltrate pitch shift and diabolical, its beating wings brush grey sooty muck city sticky trodden in, birds still live still crawing for fresh breath, throaty sore dry desert hack, flush whisper hide, hide, hide reduce salty saline crystalline, diminish, beat slam trodden upon, end.
Yeah, I’ve just read that back and it’s given me the bug for sharing. I did the same thing for the next performer but I didn’t like his stuff as much, it was a bit more…
Cartoon colours smashing into one another, dread mouse black stamp dry hump suicide graphic novel engine spinning spliff, flap dragon vampire guns pump. Grime speedy Berlin techno moth trapped in electrocution chamber flap shudder death Mickey Mouse sucked down into the netherworld clashing neon strip light car park, irreversible, sex attack, sharp pencil graphite and glue. Smells of eraser grubby white dirty fingernails.
…you know, it just sounded a bit more beaty and generic and like something I might have heard before through the haze of a drug-fuelled snooze outside some concrete warehouse a decade ago.
And then the same thing happened for the forth performer, but it was slightly earlier sounding and took me to some places I wanted to escape from:
Michael Jackson moonwalker, sprinkled iron filings grind screwdriver head metal shavings engulfing factory noise heavy machinery, industrial revolution London dirty smog cloud, Thames shipping grid, green focus pop pop red sips slipping slide on floor mat broken tile, turbine hall, under pyramid, sarcophagus, Indiana Jones, draw slab haul, rinse plunge, money, money, industry, plunder, rivet, destroy build base metal, crunch, sliver, hammer beaten earsplitting giant 50ft woman, Godzilla, god I’ve had enough now, yawning chasm of consciousness, gorilla, sci-trance, future hippy drugs fiend. Rumbles on…
Further appreciation for the whole gig came from wandering off to a party straight afterwards. There I was pummelled by horrible 80’s ‘classics’ such as ‘Owner Of a Lonely Heart’. There is definitely such a thing as ‘too much fun’.
By Rachel James