Andrew Weatherall/Noise of Art/Boom Room review – a celebration of bass and space

Village Underground, London
Noise of Art convert highly resonant buildings into vast echo chambers in a celebration of the power of reverb and dub

You’d imagine nobody, except perhaps Muse’s Matt Bellamy, has ever wanted to turn a nuclear aircraft hangar into a massive guitar amp. But that’s the plan behind Boom Room, a project by London’s 10-year-old Noise of Art digital music collective that aims to celebrate and explore the power of reverb.

They do so by transforming the UK’s most resonant buildings – aircraft hangars, distilleries and, tonight, Shoreditch’s cavernous Village Underground – into gargantuan echo chambers, designed to make the visitor feel like a grain of sand bouncing on a speaker cone.

This basically means putting a honking great PA in this arching vault of a room and turning the bass up to “kill medium-sized rodents” levels. Andrew Weatherall, a DJ, label boss and producer best known for his pioneering work on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and his Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen electronic projects, uses his hour-long DJ set to blast this architectural instrument with space dub reggae.

So subterranean bass quakes the skull and vibrates the bone marrow, ragga clicks snap like cane strokes on the eardrum and warped, cosmic-stoner echoes spark bouts of zombie trance-skanking among the crowd’s more suggestible elements. The rest of us bask in the narcotic washes, picking out hints of Black Beauty and Dr Who themes while saving a collective fortune on vibrotherapy bills.

Tonight’s live bands use the sonics of the space more effectively. Paris’s Saycet conjure enigmatic, glacial electronic textures as fragile as frost on a badger’s beard, and fit for soundtracking a Nordic noir crime series.

White Noise Sound arrive amid a storm of throbbing bass verging on the mythical brown sound and set about building edifices of churning atmospheric crypt rock that sound like a mummified Jesus & Mary Chain. Boom Room is a fascinating concept – let’s hope Noise of Art expand into the shoegazing genre. Finally we might be able to visit an actual cathedral of sound.


Mark Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

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