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Wigflex Presents – Kangding Ray (Live A/V Show) + Morris Cowan (Live) & Spam Chop – Soup Kitchen, Manchester

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Being in charge of both the audio and visual elements that are presented to an audience, places a hefty amount of control in the hands of the provider. It could be said that it allows the artist to translate the message of their music in the truest means possible – facilities permitting of course. You definitely got the sense this was the case with the grainy visuals projected behind the lone silhouette of Kangding Ray.

Having never seen a photo of the man, it was easy to place his hairless being to his music. He looks like a spaceman and makes astral sounding techno. Strangely, little was made of the fact this was his debut gig in Manchester, which actually says more about his predicted fan base.

They’re not the kind of people prone to endless sums of shallow hype. They’re open minded, yet know what they like. They’re dread-locked shape cutters and strong, silent types. However it’s debatable as to whether or not they like rhymes.

Stepping into the no frills basement of Soup Kitchen, expecting a live A/V performance from what is, a fairly serious electronic artist, and seeing a montage of cartoon clips from Nickleodeon shows enjoyed as children of the 90’s, it wouldn’t be wrong to think someone was taking the Michael. The guys at wigflex – who have long been dormant in the city they once thrived – don’t take life too seriously it seems.

Resident selector Spam Chop, kept the mood restrained during his opening set, playing atmospheric, melodically drifting tracks that kept from kicking too heavily. This was a clever way to lead in the night with not one, but two live acts to follow and Kangding Ray being best known for his engorging textures, rather than his pumping rhythms.

Morris Cowan’s live performance was full of airy pads, well spaced drums and trippy effects. It was a joy to witness and with some neat refinements, could take him further on his musical career.

The restrictions a pre-planned live performance can inject upon an atmosphere, often mean its not always going to transcend the same sort of reaction. Variables of time, sound and setting, mean that what is fully appreciated at an evening performance, played through a crisp surround sound system in a gallery space, isn’t necessarily going to evoke similar feelings in the small hours, of a basement club, from front facing speakers.

And so the prolonged, beatless element to Kangding Ray’s show – starting around 1:30 AM – bore unfavourably with select members of the crowd. One heavily intoxicated man decided that leaning on the speaker at a most awkward angle, was how he’d experience it all. Whether he enjoyed it however remains in question.

Around the hour mark the intensity began to grow, in both the industrial sounds – patiently layering in tremendously compressed kick drums – and in the happy accidents that occurred in the visuals. Shots of static swept the screen and the gritty nature of them would twist and fold at bizarre junctures, remaining positively grey throughout.

With the pumping club sounds came a rush of energy in the crowd. Suddenly heads rose, hands swayed in the air and whoops of adulation could be heard all around.

It’s in these moments that being in total control of the music, allows masters of the craft to ignite greatness. Trust is key and with it fine things can come into fruition.

For those of you not in Manchester to catch the German in action check out Kanding Ray’s set on the Boiler Room last year below: 

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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