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Koreless's light laboratory

How Koreless and collaborator Emmanuel Baird combined a giant laser and a Russian choir to shake up the idea of a live show

Koreless is an explorer. A marine-engioneering student turned beatmaker turned composer, at 23, and with co-signs from Hans Obrist and Young Turks equally he's one of the country's most disctinctive and adventourous post-dance producers. In November last year, for the Moscow leg of Manchester's superlative FutureEverything festival and supported by the British Council, he put on a show with a Russian Orthodox choir, accompanied by some of the most astounding visuals we have yet seen. In a set-up designed by Emmanuel Baird, The Well was a compositon made for laptop, voice and laser, with five singers stood around a colossal mirror, vibrating in time with the distinctive bass notes of the Eastern Church and Koreless's weightless post-dubstep music. 

The Well's second performance is tonight, this time at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music. Part of Future Everything's laboratory-styled experimental programme, he will be joined again by his Russian choir, who he'll conduct as Emmanuel directs the laser to the heavens. It's hard to quite convey how extraordinary this show is – part of the performance's lab stylings is the tight lock on video materials – but, below, Koreless explains the strange story behind his performance. 

Plans 

I had been in contact with Emmanuel Baird for years, through the guys who throw the Hoya Hoya night in Manchester, because he does the visuals there, and we’d meant to work on something for years. We had ridiculously extravagant plans that never really see the light of day and this is just one of the ones that finally have. 

I really love Emmanuel: I think he’s one of the best there is really, one of the most interesting people to talk to about stuff, not even music related stuff, just he has these, he just has good views on things, he’s not at all, he hates the word artist or anything so if you call him that he’ll be like, “no, fuck you man.” He’s a kind of geeky nerd basically and I really like it, he comes at it from the same angle as me. 

A laser 

There’s basically a mirror that you point the laser at, the laser moves and it makes a big tunnel of light through the smoke, it’s quite impressive to see the pictures of it. 

The mirror 

Emmanuel was controlling the light entirely and I was controlling the sound entirely and there was no interaction. So anytime the actual laser moved or changes pattern, that’s him, and when it from the mirror itself shook fast that was me with all of the choir. How we tie the music and the visuals together is all based on this really simple, elegant mathematical equation built into our computers. 

The singers

In Manchester for an earlier Future Everything, we used the mirror, and shook it used a normal bassline. Then, in the pub afterwards, we decided that it would’ve been really amazing to get singers to make the mirror shake instead of synths. We were going over to Russia anyway for the Future Everything leg in Moscow, which happened a few months ago. I’m quite into some Russian orthodox music like Chesnokov, whose bass tones are unlike anything else on earth, and I thought that’d be quite cool to try and source some of those guys in Moscow that have all these really low voices and to try and use them to shake the mirror. 

I’m basically playing them as an instrument, so I have control of how, of their enveloped of their singing via the lightbulbs around the space, so I can make them play long sustained notes or short sharp ones, I have control of the phase time which is the amount of pulses it all takes to come back into phase, so I can put a really long number in and it’ll take ages then I can bring that number back into phase, I control the actual tempo of the, the relevant tempo of the pulses, control of their pitch individually, so I can actually play different chords, and then the ear pieces, will, each individually a piece will move to match that. So basically I have full control of them. I can improvise the whole thing. They’re an instrument, basically. 

The music

As well as doing some of my songs, one of the other things that I’m trying out there is a pendulum-phasing thing I’ve been working on. It’s everyone’s doing a pulse, a constant pulse, they’re all pulsing at different speeds and the speeds are all related, some slightly slower than the next one, then slightly slower than the next one, so the all start together on one unanimous pulse then you get like a wave which goes “bprrrm” and then you get another wave that’s like “dut, dut dut, dut” and the tail end catches up and you sort of have two waves going at once. Eventually it just sounds like random pulses and there’s a couple of discernable patterns in there, and then, after a while, the randomness comes back and you start hear it becoming a wave again slowly. Then the wave kind of smooths out, and you get eventually one big unison pulse again, like “PAH”. It’s really quite an exciting moment when it all comes back together.

 

Culture Clash 

Two of them spoke English at the time in Moscow. So they were really sweet guys, really cool. I think they’re not used to this sort of thing, they play pretty straight up stuff usually so I think they were a bit freaked out by the dark club environment. They were all very sweet. Talking to one of them at the club, which is usually kind of filled with horrible hedonistic stories and he was just talking about how he wanted to come to London, to Westminster Children’s Choir – it was his dream. 

It’s quite interesting actually that they do normally specialise in orthodox music kind of for God, you know, away from this world: it’s not music for music’s sake it’s music for God’s sake, that’s interesting. 

The approach to visuals 

That whole visual thing, a lot of the time, is done for the sake of having visuals. It’s kind of obsolete: it doesn’t really match. But this is such a marriage, rather than “Here’s some music, and then just add the visuals to the outside of it”. It’s all intrinsically locked and it’s all one and the same. 

The Well is part of the FutureEverything festival, supported by the British Council.