Friday Fives: Cutting Edge Live Acts

There’s nothing quite like the the experience of attending a live concert, but in the often obtrusive world of electronic music a lot of producers who perform live today are inclined to hide behind their laptops. A set up that is quickly becoming stale, laptop performance often ignores  the multitude of other possibilities out there for those willing to take a risk. The live format provides musicians with an opportunity to showcase personality, keep things tangible and take things to the next level.

This Friday we’ve chosen especially for you five of what we consider to be some of the most cutting-edge live performances out there today from musicians who are pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new dimensions in sound. Make it your business to see catch them this summer if you get the chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Jeff Mills

A luminaire by trade, Jeff Mills (aka The Wizard) is one of the biggest names in Techno. Ae has pioneered into the deepest, darkest uncharted territories of sound over the past 20 years. His knowledge of music is awe-inspiring and fascinated by space, science-fiction and the future his constant goal is to explore new abstract art forms while maintaining a stripped-back sound.

Having recently seen his live audio-visual project ‘The Trip’ for the first time at London’s Southbank centre last month I realised that physicality has a huge part to play in what he does on stage. The raw, unadulterated energy that this man is capable of channeling using a 909 is nothing short of phenomenal. He had a whole auditorium of people standing in their seats, whooping and begging for more…


For a full list of Jeff Mills tour dates over the coming months see here.

Conor McTernan


Though it may not be the most elaborate setup, Machinedrum’s Vapour City live A/V show merges live musicianship and electronic manipulation to magnificent effect. Utilising a midi controller, synth, drum machine, a guitar and live vocals, Travis Stewart fuses elements and loops of original recordings with the spontaneity and freedom of live instrumentation. Describing the experience as a ‘powerful’ one, the album is replayed live with elements fused in an original form, to create a unique performance each time. Apt Vapour City visuals by Weirdcore contribute to the imaginative atmosphere, recreating Vapour City districts with exaggerated specificity and decorative detail.

What’s most impressive about the live A/V show is the unnamed never-tiring drummer. The incredibly skilled performer syncopates with and drives unimaginably complex Jungle and Juke rhythms, adding propulsion and a general sense of awe to proceedings. The allure is provided by the human connection between the two performers. Amongst the machinery the musicians display a distinctly human side by incorporating live instrumentation through traditional instruments.


For a full list of upcoming Machinedrum shows, click here.


The almost impossible not to feature hardware setup of Karenn has been admired since their UK debut at Fabric back in October of 2012. The complex studio setup is a logical result of the duo recording all of their music live in the studio. A majoritively improvised performance from Blawan and Pariah subscribes to the ethos of embracing mistakes which produces an original performance for each live show.

The extensive equipment list includes a Roland 909, Domino Synthesiser, Tempest Drum Machine as well as a full mixing desk. Although the idea has been around for years, the pair seem to have facilitated the revival of the live hardware ethos in Techno, as many collaborators seem set to follow (see as Truss and Tessela as TR\\ER and AnD). The visceral energy and the raw enthusiasm displayed by these two adept performers translates perfectly to the club environment. Each improvised set delivers a unique take on Industrial British Techno.


For a full list of upcoming Karenn shows, click here

Manveer Roda

Magic Mountain High

The very antithesis of laptop DJ’ing, Magic Mountain High is the collaborative moniker of German Deep House veteran Move D and Dutch sonic explorers Juju and Jordash. Although two high quality 12”s have been released so far, MMH is primarily a live project designed at exploring the creative possibilities of wholly improvised club music. No show sounds the same as the last, and their recorded sets have seen them taking a minimalist approach to exploring proto-Techno, Acid, dissonant electronic Jazz and the furthest reaches of Psychedelica, although these dalliances with genre are all delivered in abstractions rather than as absolutes.

An experimental project performed on enough hardware to make even the most jaded synth geek fawn, you could be forgiven for assuming that MMH live would be a rather navel gazing affair-but the reality is quite the opposite. The inherent spontanaeity in their mission statement and modus operani renders them visceral in a way that evokes the primal thrill of early rave, and crowds have responded appropriately, making watching them an experience that is both engrossing and highly danceable.


For a list of upcoming Magic Mountain High shows, click here

Christian Murphy


There’s something in the water in Shaftesbury, a quaint Dorset town in the South West of England that has a whole army of talented music types that call it home. A member of Dark Sky, the young wizard iglooghost and many more. One of its key exports is William Yates, more widely known as multi-instrumentalist and producer Memotone. His music is a synthesis of experimental classical music and the kind of bass-heavy, modern sound system music that the UK does best. Anyone hearing this name for the first time would be advised to take a look back at his his previous four releases for Black Acre, especially his debut album ‘A Sleep. At Waking’, a true immersive listening experience.

His music comes to life on the live stage with an infatuating concoction of live instrumentation including piano, keyboard, clarinet, trumpet, zither, guitar, bass, drums, glockenspiel, organ, melodica and toy instruments looped on a Boss RC-50 loop pedal with live audio effected from a Kaoss Pad 3 and samples triggered from an MPC 1000. Throughout his performances Yates jumps from instrument to instrument, from sampler to keys and pedal to pedal, all the time building a wall sound. There are an abundance of videos of his live performances over on his YouTube that come highly recommended.


For more information about Memotone see here.

Josh Thomas

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