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AAA Music | 24 April 2024

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Machinedrum – Live @ Lightbox

| On 28, Nov 2012

London, 23th November.

Travis ‘Machinedrum’ Stewart is one of the finest producers working in intelligent dance music today. But production talent doesn’t always translate to live skills. Just look at Four Tet – a fabulous producer, but mediocre DJ. This is not in anyway the case with Machinedrum, who – like Flying Lotus – tends to overlook his own world-class productions in favour of creating pitch-perfect party sets.

First: a word about the setting. The Lightbox in Vauxhall is without doubt the most uniquely mental London venue I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. And I say experiencing, because the intimate venue is an experience in itself. The walls and ceiling are covered in little LED lights that create a bright and colourful visual show, and one that feels separate to the performance. Yet, rather than ever acting as a distraction from the artist and show, it compliments it – creating an oddly agreeable atmosphere of futuristic hedonism. In stark contrast, however, are the piercing lasers fired out from above the decks and into the centre of the dance floor. To position oneself in front of the lasers is to risk alienation from the music, from the club, heck, from reality, and to temporarily experience the fantastical world of Tron – until someone shakes you out of the intense, otherworldly, light beam-induced trance. Or maybe that’s just me?

Before Machinedrum, Chilean fLako commands the club with his high-octane mixture of soulful beats and heavy, slow-burning bass music. A fast rising star, and already highly respected in the producer community, his latest EP ‘Eclosure’ is well worth checking out.

Travis Stewart is a strange looking fella, having been sporting a creepy non-Movember moustache for some time now. But his compelling performes of IDM are not down to his eccentric look, but thanks to his appealing energy. Whether he is jumping, dancing, shouting or fiercely focused on his equipment, you can sense his excitement in playing music live, and comprehend his dedication to pushing the limits of both music, music listeners and club floor dancers. Weaving between balls-out dubstep, erratic jungle-influenced IDM, melodic techno and RnB flavoured hiphop, Machinedrum’s glitchy sounds are always both progressive and rhythmic. Tonight’s set is just as hectic and varied and his recorded output, but in the live environment – in particular, this colourful, light-filled live environment – his music sounds particularly vibrant. Stewart’s performance may not match the heights of his (arguably) career-best Worldwide Festival 2012 show in Sete, France, earlier this year, but it nonetheless s**ts over most live electronic sets.

The night is closed (at least for this writer) with a bass-heavy live set by Memory9, who plays with respectable precision despite lacking the obvious virtuosity of Travis Stewart.

Unique venue. Fantastic support. Remarkable headline show by an IDM scene-leader. Perfection. Thank you Soundcrash.


Clive Rozario