Progress Bar Mix 01, by Daniel W J Mackenzie
Progress Bar Mix 01, by Daniel W J Mackenzie

PROGRESS BAR MIX 01


09 June 2015

We're very excited to release a special glimpse of what local sound artist and musician Daniel W J Mackenzie will be playing tonight at Progress Bar.

Musician and artist TCF at Lighthouse's first Progress Bar
Musician and artist TCF at Lighthouse's first Progress Bar

Tonight sees the launch of Lighthouse’s first Progress Bar. From vanguard filmmakers and musicians to trending artists and activists, the Progress Bar is an ear-to-the-ground evening to discover new art, hear new music, and make new friends.

The evening aims each time to support a local DJ/producer, and tonight we kick off with musician, sound artist and curator Daniel W J Mackenzie. His mix, the first in our new Progress Bar series, gives a glimpse of what you can expect to hear later on. Below is an interview he did with Lighthouse’s Jenny Lindop.

Please could you describe the mix?

Well it’s clearly pretty eclectic and all over the place, but I really do find it interesting and satisfying to draw a thread through music and sound that, on the surface, does not seem to sit right together. On ‘Live Under Sea’, Otohime has created her mysterious, childlike pop thing; on the other hand there’s a significant nod towards morose, classically informed work and some noise and shadowy weirdness – I find it hard not to include Coil in my choices. I see each track as part of a whole piece with movements and interludes. It’s actually quite a complex mix with I think up to four tracks playing at once in a few sections, so I suppose it’s almost like using them as compositional tools as opposed to parts of an unimaginatively ordered sequence.

It’s probably clear that I’m favouring darkness, abrasion, something exotic or ritualistic and of course a fair amount of drama here – it’s true to say this is related to my own attitudes towards writing music and using sounds in my own work. I’m especially drawn towards the section with the emptyset and Shelly Parker noisy tracks, and the ethereal material mixed in over the top. It’s one of the most brilliant things about arranging a mix as opposed to simply sequencing one, you can really play around with the nature and flow of it with some smart editing.

What kind of music do you produce?

There isn’t really a simple answer for this question. Throughout my history of releases there is a strong emphasis on evocative composition, atmosphere and rousing dynamics, but the methods that allow for these things can differ strongly. Under my actual name I suppose you could call it conceptual composition, especially with my semi-aleatoric and installation work, and that which investigates the physical and technological manipulations of acoustic instruments. Ekca Liena is effectively a project that uses ambient and noise as its compass points. Both are very musical but there is strong emphasis on sound, and the importance of sound (as a different entity to music) in creating emotionally driven material. But it’s all just varying forms of sonic expression; the categorisation is sideline and comes after the inception.

What do you think about the scene in Brighton?

There is potential for it to achieve what I think many people believe has already been achieved. I’m not so sure – I think there are problems here, fakers, people who have all these plans but not the understanding that it requires work to see them through. It pleases me to say I’m fortunate enough to know plenty of people around here who get the hardships of working with DIY roots, yet also actually care about the quality of what they are doing – it’s also about having a little self-respect, you know? My wonderful team, Lost Property, are some of the most passionately right-on figures around here and it’s a real pleasure to be running our arts collective together. If that and the sea didn’t exist I’d probably just sod off.

Sadly this group of magical, communal and fair souls is joined by vacuous, trend-driven individuals out to push their self-serving egos in the name of art and expression. I’m not sure if this can be said to be something about Brighton, England or the West or whatever, but they are out there and in their faces the truest of us must resist and work together. And work really is the right word. Understanding that you might have to put real time and effort into making a project work is just realistic.

Above this though, the experimental / avant-garde of music and visual / performance art seems to have been thriving the whole time I have lived here. In recent months or perhaps the last year some new faces have emerged, both sides of the divide between artist and observer. That is really great to see and I hope it continues. For my own work I tend not to consider it or myself Brighton-centric; more so part of an international community. It’s a shame that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious place to play as a oversees touring musician in anything particularly underground. Sure you get acts coming through but it’s often a struggle to make the events work. That’s something that needs looking at.

What are you planning to do this Thursday?

I will wake up relatively late, eat something and then probably go to A&E. After what I hope to be a productive afternoon of creative admin and related tasks, I’ll make my way to Lighthouse. There, between enjoying other parts of the programme, I’ll attempt to confound and elevate those in attendance to an awkward and beautiful audio nirvana.

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Thank you to Daniel for playing this evening. If you would like to play at the next Progress Bar, please contact Jenny on jenny@lighthouse.org.uk


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