The most recent installment of the Millennium Gallery’s’ Live Late series saw them open their doors to the Moog Sound Lab for an ambitious evening of sonic experimentation. The night saw Sheffield’s own Blood Sport kick off the audio exploration on the Moog Sound Lab followed by Ayse and Fay of the Mercury-nominated Savages, teamed up with Circle Sky’s Martin Dubka. The Moog Sound Lab itself, a monstrous world-travelling synth wonder, enjoying its Sheffield debut.
The crowd, drawn in by the hype of the never-to-be-recreated sonic adventure the sound lab would provide, were welcomed by bright and jarring visuals projected seemingly haphazardly upon the gallery walls.
As Blood Sport kicked off the night it became disappointingly apparent that their suspiciously long sound check was in fact, the performance itself. Although I understood that the nature of the sound lab is to experiment and see what can be produced, I had nonetheless made the error of assuming that the artists were given enough practice time with it before the show to create something that at least resembled music. Or, at the very least, didn’t genuinely induce a small migraine. It was a shame to see the talents of a respected and experimental band produce what can only be likened to intergalactic diarrhea, a computer being sick, or just a very public ‘messing about’ with a shiny new musical toy.
The real shame of the evening was the number of crowd members who left, albeit understandably, after the cacophony of alien screams had ceased. As Ayse, Fay and Martin’s subtler approach spotlighted the real potential the sound lab has to root itself in progressive music making. The sound they created was an intriguing and enjoyable mixture of sombre funk, disco, and dread. Imagine the sort of music Jamiroquai might write if Jay Kays favourite cat ran away. Where Blood Sport’s instrumentals often drowned under the might of the Sound Lab, this trio used the equipment to add layer and emphasis to their instrumentals. This more conservative approach, of testing the limits of the Sound Lab alongside their instruments and vocals lead to a sound that wasn’t just something palatable, it was something good. The artists’ methodical approach had lead to a more controlled result, something meaningful, exploratory and unquestionably musical.
What the night also highlighted was how well the space lends itself to live music events and alongside other creative events that Millennium Gallery has hosted over the year I look forward to seeing what it will open it’s doors to next.