Ecstatic Material review – jamming with play-dough and Angel Delight

Caustic Coastal, Salford
In this collaboration between musician Beatrice Dillon and artist Keith Harrison, sound directs all manner of gloop and goo

This collaboration between experimental electronic musician Beatrice Dillon and artist Keith Harrison – presented by Outlands, a new national experimental music touring network – brings a warehouse space in Salford rumbling to life with an interweaving collision of sound and vision. Speakers circle the room, and in the middle, varying sizes of speaker cones are built into plastic crates with strip lighting scattered throughout. Within the cones are a variety of materials from fluffy powders to sugar-like granules, coloured liquids and not-yet-firm homemade play-dough. As Dillon begins playing through the multi-channel system, the speaker cones reverberate and bounce, interacting with the materials and sending mini powder-bursts rocketing or creating rippling and immersive shapes that move from fluid patterns to gooey pulses.

Rippling and immersive shapes ... Ecstatic Material.
Rippling and immersive shapes ... Ecstatic Material. Photograph: Dean Brierley / Caustic Coastal

It’s a performance that explores both interaction and misdirection. The buzzing clatter of the speaker cones firing white powder into the air pulls the eyes one way, while the multi-speaker set-up that plays a deft yet dancing composition – all flickers of rhythm, ambient clacks, industrial bleeps and bass booms – arrests the ears. People walk around the room, spending a few moments hypnotised by what looks like pink Angel Delight coalescing in dreamy, satisfying flows, before moving on to risk getting a nose full of chalky powder sent whizzing from a gargling bass rumble. Tonally, the music switches between deconstructed club music and unpredictable ambient; yet despite the busyness, it’s never overwhelming or superfluously theatrical. Instead, the focus is honed to a pleasing asymmetry that sees the overlap between animating materials to create sound, and creating sounds to animate materials.

• At Cambridge Junction, tonight; then at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 13 February; South London Gallery, London, 14 February; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, 15 February


Daniel Dylan Wray

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ryoji Ikeda review – techno data storm assaults the senses
The Japanese composer and visual artist’s polyrhythmic techno confronts our digital dystopia

Al Horner

01, Oct, 2018 @10:15 AM

Article image
Prawn sex … and other future sounds of Russia
Bankrolled by an oligarch and staged in a derelict power station near Red Square, the Geometry of Now festival aims to bring Russia back to the heart of the avant-garde – with neon raves, black-robed gurus and bone-chilling industrial noise

Alex Needham

13, Mar, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Play what you see: how graphic scores can unleash your inner musical genius
When musical notation failed the great avant garde composers, they drew a picture instead. Now, a new project hopes everyone else will follow in their footsteps

Phil Hebblethwaite

30, Aug, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Public house music: Mark Fell on making art in a derelict boozer
In the dark days of the 1980s, ravers in Sheffield discovered politics, pirate radio and MDMA. Mark Fell explains why he’s channelling Heidegger for his installation on an infamous Sheffield estate

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

27, Apr, 2016 @6:00 AM

Article image
Ellen Fullman: how to play a 100ft stringed instrument
It’s got 56 strings, takes five days to install, and sounds like a prairie wind. Artist Ellen Fullman talks about why the last skirt she wore was made of metal – and how she negotiates the baggage carousel when she takes her ‘absurd’ instrument on tour

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

01, Mar, 2016 @7:30 AM

Article image
Beatrice Dillon: Workaround review – a global future-folk manifesto
These exuberant electronic experiments in mixing 150bpm dub-techno with live instrumentation fizz with the joy of artistic creation

Tayyab Amin

07, Feb, 2020 @9:30 AM

Article image
The big bangers: grime smashes into the Hadron Collider
They rapped in its tunnels and played instruments made out of old science equipment. Could this be Cern’s most amazing experiment yet?

Tara Joshi

22, May, 2018 @4:44 PM

Article image
Auf wiedersehen, techno: Berlin's banging Berghain club reborn as a gallery
With nightlife in limbo due to Covid-19, the legendary temple of techno has reinvented itself as art gallery – with works by Tacita Dean, Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans and more

Philip Oltermann

08, Sep, 2020 @1:58 PM

Article image
'We're all Earthlings': the scientists using art to explore the cosmos
Can art advance science? Researchers on the hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence are using videos, music and more to go beyond the final frontier

Melissa Locker

21, Nov, 2019 @5:01 PM

Article image
Croaks, squelches, waterfalls: the visionaries bringing the jungle to your headphones
We can’t experience nature in lockdown – but a new breed of field recorders have captured the sounds of the great outdoors in all their crashing, squawking glory

Harley Brown

21, Apr, 2020 @2:22 PM