Oneohtrix Point Never and Carlos Giffoni at The Grosvenor, 18/3/10

Oneohtrix Point Never

This really was a journey back in time. I hadn’t been south of the river (well, beyond the South Bank) for a while. I certainly hadn’t been to the stretch of SW9 between Brixton and Stockwell stations for about 4 years (I have distinct memories of there being quite an atmosphere the night Portugal beat England in the 2006 World Cup). But the synth-driven events taking place in the packed back room of the Grosvenor, an unprepossessing pub just off Stockwell Road, were to take me back decades.

No Fun Acid

When I first heard about Carlos Giffoni’s No Fun Acid project, I kind of assumed it would be some evil bastard synthesis of his signature noise work and acid house; ferocious improvisations using distorted 303s and drum machines perhaps. After all, his recent Techno 12″ (the split with Keith Fullerton Whitman) could hardly be described as “techno”, with its violent smears of noise and static over a sparse electro backdrop. I could hardly have been more wrong: this was a surprisingly straight-ahead acid set from Giffoni, all squelch and squiggle, unashamedly transporting us back to the late 80s, when they had full on raves in the back of Stockwell pubs ALL THE TIME. Probably. As fractals and colourful shapes danced hyperactively on the screen behind, a bunch of young people in baseball caps shuffled to the front to throw gawky shapes under Giffoni’s nose. It looked like the grinning Giffoni too was having himself a good time; it was hard not to – although it was equally hard to escape the feeling that I’d have preferred something a little more challenging, something that pushed at some very well-established boundaries. Only the encore piece, with shifted into a juddering helicopter-like pulse, truly threatened lift-off.

Daniel Lopatin

But it probably wasn’t Giffoni most people were hear to see. The deserved acclaim heaped on Oneohtrix Point Never’s Rifts album on the No Fun label last year lifted Daniel Lopatin into another league altogether. The individual releases which were ultimately combined into the Rifts set married the hypnagogic and hauntological, veering from blissful Emeralds-like synth drone to more melodic pieces which invoked 80s theme tunes and computer games. Tonight he played some long dreamy pieces which built from huge echoing waves of synth and vocals, getting increasingly dense by the end of the evening. Lopatin would add to this by tapping out some wonky high-pitched melodies on the black keys of his Juno-60, and by unleashing a flurry of effects, including one which sounded like a giant flock of seagulls was streaming from the speakers. Every little detail evoked vivid memories of an epic past, from the hypnotic pulsation and haunting textures right down to the Casio calculator watch he was wearing, the one in the photo above. I swear I got that very watch as a christmas present in about 1983, and at that time I thought it was one of the greatest things ever. Lopatin’s music left me with a similar euphoric feelings; at the end of the set I joined everyone else in bellowing for more. Someone in the crowd asked for an encore of “Physical Memories”. Someone else simply demanded “MORE SEAGULLS”. In all my days I can’t remember having been to a gig which ended quite like that.

Thanks to the lovely @MandrewB for taking some great photos. You can see bigger versions at his Flickr.

3 thoughts on “Oneohtrix Point Never and Carlos Giffoni at The Grosvenor, 18/3/10

  1. Haha, I remember having one of those calculator watches in primary school and convincing kids in the year below – whilst in the lunch queue – that it was in fact a phone. Like you, I loved that watch so I can’t blame him for still wearing one.

    Glad the show was as good as the line-up promised.

  2. I have to say, I thought Oneohtrix Point Never was amazing. Layer upon layer of synth pads, effects and vocals which you could really get lost in. It was very textural – more along the lines of “Russian Mind” than say “Zones Without People” which was more reliant on synth arpeggiation – which is a good thing! Definitely looking forward to future material from this guy.

    I agree with what you say on No Fun Acid. I was hoping that he would incorporate noise textures and acid house influences to create something genuinely unique. I like some of Giffoni’s other stuff, but this felt quite simplistic and undeveloped, and kinda like the sound of someone who hasn’t actually heard a lot of acid. Disappointing.

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