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Review: Experimental Electronica At a Bicycle Workshop With Sweets On Tap

13 October 19 words: Nick Strang
photos: Mikey from Little Wolf Parade #lwpdocuments

Nick Strang went along to one of the city’s more intriguing events, to watch local leftfield acts perform live at Nottingham Bikeworks.

Giant Head performing. Photo credit: Mikey from Little Wolf Parade #lwpdocuments

Cycling and experimental electronic music aren’t two things normally seen side by side, with the exception of German pioneers of the sound, Kraftwerk, and their obvious love of Tour De France. Whatever the case may be, we were excited at the prospect of witnessing these two fringes of unrelated culture colliding in art when local like-minded artists Daphnellc, Giant Head and Surfacing played an intimate gig at Nottingham Bikeworks this October.

It was refreshing to see the community bicycle workshop housing what geared up to be an interesting niche of leftfield electronic stuff – a vibe usually catered to at places like The Chameleon.

When arriving, guests walked through the shop itself, a proper ‘hip’ looking bike repair centre with all the usual fixings, before reaching a decent-sized open workshop space with a small PA system and lighting set up.

The room felt cosy, set out with glasses of orange squash, bowls of mints and sweets, and other elements of a party that had not been seen since your mate’s birthday at Laser Quest back in school; a feature that was very much welcomed.

At the end, we describe it to her as “Aphex Twin without the boring bits” and hope that she’s not insulted.

By the time the first tinny was sunk and last night’s hangover had subsided, the space plunged into darkness, before some subtle coloured lighting scanned across dark corners of the room.

The first act of the evening was Daphnellc -a criminally unsung creative force in the Nottingham scene. Daphnellc has been modestly working for years on her intriguing noise/ambient/techno cassette label, Larry Crywater, which has obtained a cult following around the world. Her opening set doesn’t bother building slowly and kicks straight into a groove of gritty techno drum tracks with obscure melodic patterns that never stand still too long.

Where live electronic music can often drift into synthy self-indulgence too easily, Daphnellc keeps bringing in new sounds, which demand our attention and maintain interest. She deserves to be slamming this out on a massive soundsystem.

At the end, we describe it to her as “Aphex Twin without the boring bits” and hope that she’s not insulted.

Next up was her long-time partner in crime, Giant Head, who has succeeded in having a fantastic stage name alongside an incredibly unique sound. His most recent release on Daphnellc’s label showcases his accomplishments to date in a fantastic cassette release entitled, Hold it with love in your hands.

This performance showcases a collection of warped and raw-sounding beats with a casual vocal style combining the best elements of hip-hop and spoken word in an unrecognisable form of UK rap.

The night ends with a trio called Surfacing, a Notts collective who simply claim to be, ‘filling the deadly silences’. This obscure combination of modular synths and a dramatic play about bees serves to spangle our heads a bit and at times was uncomfortable, but we assume that’s the point.

As we grab a handful of mint imperials and leave the venue (swiftly) it becomes apparent why these events are so important.

This city is bursting with amazing underground music waiting to be exposed, plenty of it is yet to be stumbled upon.

So, when you hear of a night of dance music in a bike shop (or elsewhere out of tahn)– we urge you all to go out and experience it.

Surfacing, Giant Head & Daphnellc took place at Nottingham Bikeworks on Saturday 5 October. Next up, Daphnellc and friends play live at The Chameleon, Friday 18 October, 8:00-11:00pm.

Info and tickets.

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