We run down the must-see shows of the next few months at London’s cultural gem, the Barbican Centre.
Photo: Max Colson
Every time you venture into the brutalist shell of the Barbican Centre, it’s as if you have stepped into an alternative universe where 2001: A Space Odyssey is a reality and we all live in bio-pods with servant robots with names like Steven and Harold. Whilst our real world may have advanced in a very different direction, the Barbican continues to push us forward with its contemporary music programming. This winter is no different, with the calendar bringing together music’s disruptors from every shade of the spectrum; from jazz innovation to audio visual experimentation. Here’s our top selects for the Barbican’s winter season of contemporary music shows.
In the world of 80’s minimalism and ambient music, a world filled with western male artists (Eno, Reich, Glass), Takada was a Japanese female composer with a penchant for Asian and African percussion. Her solo album Through The Looking Glass (1983) was heralded as a minimal masterpiece and has since gained such a cult following that a copy of the original vinyl is worth its weight in gold. Recorded in just two days, Takada explored all wonders of instruments, layering them over herself as she recorded. Interweaving rolling wooden percussion with ethereal recorders, cowbells and bird calls, she paints an enveloping universe of serenity and drama. After seeing a repressing to vinyl earlier this year, the album has once again been made available for more to discover. As part of the Barbican’s Transcender 2017 series, Takada will grace the Milton Hall for a live performance.
Another ambient pioneer graces the Barbican Hall in October, this time from the 90’s; Wolfgang Voigt’s legendary GAS project. Voigt’s first 4 albums carved out his inimitable style, blending the tessellating rhythms of minimal techno with misty soundscapes as eerie as the Königsforst woods of Cologne that inspired them. From such ominous chords, GAS builds something undeniably organic in its presence. Even now, some 20 years later, GAS has lost none of its resonance. Celebrating two decades of the project, Voigt released a new album, Narkopop, earlier this year and returns to London for the first time in 8 years on the 8th of October. To top it off he is supported by the brilliant Huerco S, whose 2016 album For Those Of You Who Have Never was one of the best ambient albums of recent years.
Berlin-based techno experimentalist Dasha Rush debuts a new immersive live audio visual experience entitled Antarctic Takt. The collaboration with Russian VFX producer Stanislav Glazov will explore the desolate and chilling landscapes of the southernmost continent in a CGI world. All this soundtracked by the icy, vaporous techno undulations of Rush. Bring a scarf.
Looking further ahead to the start of 2018 and February sees the ‘neo-classical’ composer and pianist prodigy Nils Frahm return to the Barbican. His gift for reworking classical sensibilities for the dance music generation has seen him achieve deity status with both acoustic and electronic music communities. His live performances dance between elements of freeform jazz, progressive minimalism and the mesmerising techno rhythms of his home in Berlin. Frahm returns for 3 dates from the 21st February.
Words by David March.