Sunday, 12 September 2010

There's a way to be greeted when you arrive somewhere, and that way is in a vintage stretch Citroen with felt interior and hydraulic suspension, kindly chauffeured by the festival director Jan who led us through the psychgeography of the city, the absence of Phillips, the city's industrial heartbeat, former providers of employment and jobs and schools.

He took us directly to Strijp-S, the former manufacturing plant and laboratories of the company, now designated a zone for cultural regeneration and home to Flux/S, a four-day festival setting out to redraft the future, questioning ideas of successful failure through a series of stunning installations. Fearsome multi-monitor generative pieces, plant propulsion machines, speculative architectures, brick carpets, snare-drum klang installations, fantasy space narratives, even a rare vegetable expo, a monument to biodiversity with its rows of colour subsequent root vegetables.

We spent the afternoon enjoying the festival's amazing hospitality, producing the longest soundcheck of my career and Stephen and I battled the buildings eleven second reverb, before conceding defeat and deciding that it is what it is and it will be what it be. Often an issue at reclaimed industrial spaces turned round for art, the issue was whether to subvert, fight or acquiesce to the enormous structure.

Some more hospitality, several hundred stairs, a spectacular sunset, the arrival of a good friend, beautiful food, and it was eventually time to play. Stephen and I had developed a special set together, indeed the festival performance being the excuse to play the tour at all – we layered over and over guitar-lines and ranges of tape-static, Stephen delivering narratives of loss and learning while I drew echoes and traces with the sounds in an hour-long set that felt measured and right, not everything we expected, but genuine and responsive to the occasion, room and people. Many kind conversations afterwards, nice stories and dissections, hanging out with the crew and a tired taxi home to our insane hotel bar replete with nine-piece soul covers band, seemingly playing through the night for a collection of drunk, happy-faced solicitors and merchants. We forewent the frivolities, instead choosing comfortable silent beds, happily receiving the faded messages of sleep.

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