It’s a strange thing to see a club you frequent repurposed for something different, something more intimate and cosier. In tandem with Astral Industries, roaming Dutch promoter ISOTOOP gave The Pickle Factory an ambient makeover, bringing Deepchord and The Chi Factory to London for the second leg of their European tour.
The sweatbox rave room was transformed into a chamber of deep sonic exploration and relaxation; beanbags strewn across the floor with visuals by Hanzo — reminiscent of natural scenes such as ripples, and fragments of light beaming through the surface of the ocean — cascading over walls.
ISOTOOP founder Van Anh warmed up the room with a varied selection of soft and hypnotic ambient and rolling downtempo. All tracks shared a nurturing, organic sensation that sat heavy in the air over the course of her two-hour set, sedatory and soporific.
Hanyo von Oosterom (AKA Chi, the remaining half of The Chi Factory) took to the microphone to introduce this special collaborative project together with Deepchord providing his idiosyncratic spacial ambience as a canvas for Chi’s multi-instrumental live improvisation.
909’s pulse within in a glacial fog as layers of fragmented and scattered percussive elements collide with one another, forging grooves that range from as deep as they come to as thin as sprites. Chi augments this with live bass and percussion, rotating between these (and his glass of wine) in cycles, occasionally pausing at the microphone for a few sentences of immaterial prose, illusory yet familiar.
The most salient aspect of their collaboration is the manner in which each artist augments the other’s performance. Chi’s bass playing is not to fill a void of that frequency, but to supplement Deepchord’s cavernous productions; his live drums add to the bewildering outpouring from the synthesised counterpart.
The pair finish off with a thank you to the attendants, and the organisers, and also a promise of recorded music from the pair. This is more than an interesting idea for a record — The Chi Factory’s second member, Jacobus Derwort, recently passed away. The rebirth of The Chi Factory with fellow Astral Industries alumni Deepchord is a fitting next step.
Nathalia, the London-based ambient maestro heading up Experiment Intrinsic, stepped up next delivering flawless ambient mixing: slow shifts towards an end goal were subtly and carefully approached, with great care and effort in arranging each overlapping frequency, each step forward. With the remaining audience pole-axed, reclined on the beanbags, drifting in and out of consciousness – Nathalia wove a web of jaw-dropping ambient, mysterious and enigmatic.
Electronic music appears to be shining at the extremes lately. There’s a wealth of incredible music pouring out from the producers of more hardcore strains, but also from those with their ears trained to the deeper sounds. Nevertheless it is strange that despite the attention ambient is receiving, it seems to be reserved for side rooms and small spaces, moments snatched here and there between louder and evermore energetic sets, and rarely at a club night. What this event displayed — emphatically — was that this trend should be put to bed.
Deepchord and The Chi Factory perform next in Brussels (11 August) and Amsterdam (18 August). In September ISOTOOP & Tikita present Under The Desert Stars with Ario, Don’t DJ, Jane Fitz, Kangding Ray, Marco Shuttle, taking place in the desert outside of Marrakesh between 29-29 September.