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02.07 -

Dystopian Thinking

is No Longer


Nexcyia  Lonely Room in My Head  [new work - a VIRTUALLYREALITY commission]

Rowland Hill  Do you think you're better off alone?

Transcultural Music Technologies     Khyam Allami in conversation with Sam Salem and Sarah Badr (FRKTL)

Emmett Williams  Cellar Song for Five Voices     reinterpretation by SHOAL and Laura Ibáñez
  a letter to the spirits

The future must not be in ruins. If we listen and learn from the hauntings of the past, we can change our course of direction and live on new terrains. Utopian thinking and speculative futurism - particularly in club spaces - play vital roles in antagonising the present and building triumphant futures.


Utopias often exist tantalisingly outside of our own time. Nexcyia's Afrofuturist suboceanics ring out in a new audiovisual work for VIRTUALLYREALITY resurrecting family memories and times-that-were. Reaching into club music history is Rowland Hill in her performative DJ-lecture ‘Do you think you're better off alone?’, bringing fervently into focus the political hedonism of the 90s in stark relation to the current post-Brexit UK/EU landscape.


image by Rowland Hill

Space must be carved out for utopias to take form. The workstations of electronic music have often been coded in the benefit of Western music tuning systems. As counteraction, Khyam Allami presents his browser-based tools Leimma and Apotome, pointing towards transcultural music technologies in conversation with composer and co-director of ensemble Distractfold Sam Salem and interdisciplinary artist and musician Sarah Badr (FRKTL).

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still from Odete's 'a letter to the spirits'

Thinking utopias equals thinking freedom - boundlessness and security. Odete’s audiovisual mixtape ‘a letter to the spirits’, sees her crafting her own rave-adjacent mythos in a transportative, nurturing wasteland. Manchester ensemble and VIRTUALLYREALITY mainstays SHOAL prepare a new video version of a classic Emmett Williams text-score, 'Cellar Song for Five Voices'. With AI-developer Laura Ibáñez, SHOAL give the dystopian dataset-like poem new life free from language, place and bodies.



Khyam Allami (born in Damascus 1981) is an Iraqi-British multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, researcher and founder of Nawa Recordings. He holds a BA and Masters in Ethnomusicology from SOAS, University of London and is currently completing an M4C/AHRC funded PhD in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University.



Sarah Badr (FRKTL) is a British-Egyptian interdisciplinary artist. A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, she works with live sampling and improvisation, vocal manipulation, field recordings and generative rhythms to compose intensely emotive and immersive explorations of sound. Her compositional approach blends disparate styles seamlessly, challenging preconceptions of both musical traditions and geography.


Rowland Hill is an artist based in Manchester. She makes films, performances, live events and sound based work. In 2018 she graduated from The Slade School of Fine Art, where she received the Clare Winsten Memorial Award. She has presented and performed work at spaces and platforms such as Videographé (Montreal), Copenhagen Contemporary Art Centre, The Room Projects (Paris), Splendor (Amsterdam), Organon (Odense), Flux Factory (New York City), ICA (London), Post Paradise (Birmingham) and Aldeburgh Music.


Laura Ibáñez is a graduate in Electronics Engineering (UPC) and Music (ESMUC), currently working as a Machine Learning Engineer in the Berlin music tech startup Pixtunes. She is specializing in Machine Learning with a special focus on Sound and Visual Arts, and has participated in related activities such as the Ars Electronica 2020 AlxMusic Online Hackathod and developed projects with artists and collectives as well as her own.


Nexciya is an African-American/French sound artist and experimental ambient musician based in London and Paris. Working with found sound, Nexcyia weaves together harsh sound design and swooping soundscapes into works that bridge many moods, emotions and places through noise, granular synthesis, textures and rhythms. His fine art practice focuses on the notions of alienation and otherness in the African-American experience and explores this through sculpture, installation, painting, sound and moving image.



Sam Salem is a British / Jordanian composer who creates works for performers, electronics & video. He is a founding member and co-artistic director of Distractfold Ensemble and is currently PRiSM Lecturer in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music. He was once described by the New York Times as “young”. 



SHOAL are a physical performance, new music, multimedia and experimental ensemble who specialise in creating immersive experiences. With a particular interest in improvisation and interdisciplinary collaboration, SHOAL work with a variety of artists to commission and develop new works experimenting with sound, electronics, digital technology, light, space and movement.



Odete works between the field of writing, music, performance and visual arts - her work is explicitly autobiographic, making clear the border between the personal and politics. She describes her music as a sensorial theory for a weary girlhood - a ghost warrior that becomes visible through mixing. Through transitioning.



Emmett Williams (4 April 1925 – 14 February 2007) was an American poet and visual artist.

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