Futuresonic <96>

17 September 1996, backtobasics, Leeds, UK

The first full Futuresonic festival in September 1996 was a defining event for the field, and its format has influenced events internationally. It featured adventures in sound and vision, experimental sounds & eclectic beats in a networked environment, mutant music machines, and digital demos and jamming sessions. Artists included Cristian Vogel, Andrew Weatherall, Autechre, The Wire Sound System, Kaffe Matthews, Matt Black, Sprawl, Alexi Blinov, Soundbeam, SSEYO koan, Header, Locust, Osymyso, Nine Bar ft Cujo, Sureshot, Resonator & Flavanaughts, Simon Mu, Talvin Singh, Matt Ducasse (Skylab), si/(cut).db, bitTonic, Pete Lawrence, Paul Thomas and Drew Hemment.

Futuresonic was founded in 1995 as an open forum exploring music and digital art, featuring live events, discussion, technical experimentation and sonic exchange. It brings together leading figures from a variety of artforms and disciplines to explore the convergence of media, the collision of sound art and the tradition of popular electronic dance music that began with Jamaican dub, and the interface between music, visual art and media arts.

Futuresonic <96> - festival programme

adventures in sound and vision
pas & multi-media performances ft.
locust - icons of the 2oth century: visual breakbeats and aural montage
nine bar drum&bass showcase - with cujo, sureshot, resonator, flavanaughts

experimental sounds & eclectic beats in a networked environment
simon mu
paul thomas
talvin singh
sprawl club
matt ducasse (skylab)
the wire sound system
mat consume
magic violin - live sampling performance by kaffe matthews
in association with sprawl and cyberia

mutant music machines - demos and jamming sessions
laboratories of art technology/alexi blinov - opto-electronic instruments
soundbeam - ultra-sonic interactive installation
SSEYO koan - generative music
cristian vogel - sonic feedback instrument
dave bernard - electro-acoustic recycled digital instruments
sound recording workshop - by spirit studio/paul carnac
photographic exhibition (mell ericsson)
header CDrom
and various other technical presentations

haywire club night
andrew weatherall
cristian vogel
daz quayle
video mixing by atmospheric spectra
plus atmospheric spectra sound and vision installation
with live internet broadcast

Futuresonic <96> - discussions & debate

technologies of sound - presentations
j bedworth & j auer: new metaphors for computer assisted composition - exploring horizons beyond the linear interface of existing musical authoring software. kaffe matthews: the instrument in the age of digital reproducibility - new forms of instrumentality and the live sampling of ambient sonic matter. rob chapman: sonic trespass and audio mayhem: beyond ambience - sonic pretensions chewed up and spat out in the direction of an avant garde populism

cultures of music and dance
panel discussion (mod. drew hemment). pete lawrence (big chill & global headz), dave beer (backtobasics), martin watson (time recordings, a&r at arista), simon mu (sense internet)

future directions in music
panel discussion (mod. moose). talvin singh, matt black (via internet), paul thomas (kiss fm), rob young (the wire) , cristian vogel, rob gawthrop (hull time based arts),

Futuresonic <96> - quotes & comments

"The music at the end of the night was some of the most exciting live music I’ve seen all year. The climate that emerged at the evening’s end seemed to lead to some genuinely adventurous methods and impromptu partnerships - particularly the Sprawl’s MIDI jam session and Cristian Vogel’s intense, galvanising Techno in the basement. It left me with renewed excitement about the unpredictable shapes which electronic music seems so capable of throwing at the moment.”
Rob Young, editor of The Wire magazine

“Successful and stimulating meeting of minds from various hybrids of today’s cutting edge music scene, constantly surprising and inspiring at the same time.”
Douglas Benford, The Sprawl

“futuresonic is an initiative well past its time but all the more vital for that. It is an essential act of (post) modernisation trying to make amends for the almost obscene time lapse between the emergence of the new electronic musics and adequate theoretical or critical responses. Is not the continued neglect of the discussion and theorisation of sound in favour of more abstract, less dangerously sensual aspects of cyberculture a typically perverse example of British puritanism? On the continent the indispensibility of such discussion has long been acknowledged and acted upon. Here, as ever, we are just catching up; events such as this represent an urgent attempt to grasp the nettle and match the innovativeness and quality of “our” sonic productions with adequate conceptual responses. The time is now.”
Alexi Monroe, theorist and musician

“The idea of theory and ‘practice’ going on under one roof was good. You could move through diverse environments, listen to music, feed your head, play an instrument. There were interesting nuggets (eg. Cristian Vogel: ‘trance is like Rachmaninov’) and I don’t think the idea should be abandoned.”
Jon Bedworth, Centre for Advanced Inquiry into the Interactive Arts

Futuresonic <96> - areas of interest

technologies of sound
With the rise of electronic music and digital editing techniques, technology has attained unprecedented influence and visibility. The evolving relationship between artist and technology, and between art and technique is to be examined, and the significance and potential of contemporary technologies assessed. Particular interests are the human-machine interface, the supersession of instrumental parameters, the decomposition of the sound object, and the convergence of media.

cultures of music and dance
Music impacts upon culture and upon the body in numerous ways. Throughout history it has played roles as diverse as the simulacrum of order, the soundtrack to everyday life, a medium of avant-garde expression, and a cultural weapon in the service of marginality. The functionality of music will be explored in terms of its shifting cultural impact and theoretical significance. The dynamics of acoustic space, modes of sonic engagement, and environments of musical reception are topics to be considered.

horizons in sound
Musical perception has evolved with changes in both culture and technology. And just as our understanding of music has changed, so have the demands we place upon it. In an age when notions of progression and development have been problematised by non-Western sensibilities, and when the experimentation of the avant-garde is often supplanted by the pragmatics of the dancefloor, the question arises, what are music’s frontiers today?