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Ryoji Ikeda pictured against a dark background

Formula [ver 1.1]

Formula [ver 1.1]

When +/- was released in 1996 it signalled a new era in electronic music: nobody before had operated in such a precise and spartan digital landscape. Since then artists like Autechre and Pan Sonic have made maths foxy with electro kids but Ryoji keeps innovating. This, his first UK gig for 3 years is a breathtaking interplay between punk sinewave aggression, high-speed video sequences and stroboscopic lighting: it should be quite overwhelming [and loud].


Ikeda’s latest release, Matrix is the final element in a trilogy of CDs that began with +/-in 1996. When it was first released, +/-came like a bolt out of the white. Nobody had used digital recording processes to produce sound as pure, as intense and as exhilarating. Since releasing 0° in 1998, Ryoji Ikeda has progressively refined and enhanced the distinctive sonic fields and micro sounds that have strongly influenced post-digital composition, creating sculptural compositions that probe deeply our relationships to time and space, sound and light.

Ikeda’s work is fundamentally about perception. The layers of sound that make up Matrix [for rooms]transform both the listener and the listening environment into another dimension. The dimensions change as you move about the space, or simply turn your head around the sound, like surveying the angles of a building. Ikeda states that the sound “forms an invisible pattern which fills the listening space,” whereby “the listener’s movement transforms the phenomenon into his/her intrapersonal music.” Ikeda has created an undeniable soundspace that one can walk right through and get lost in.

In January 2000, Ryoji Ikeda created an untitled 30-minute performance that toured the UK, selling out at all 5 venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and Contact Theatre in Manchester. In live performance, Ikeda combined his high impact sound with video projections synched perfectly to the music by use of time code. Digitally generated graphics, high-speed video sequences and stroboscopic lighting connected with the sound to create a spectacular yet intimate experience for the viewer. The Wire wrote:

“He began with Headphonics, a piece he started working on in 1995. It’s perhaps the purest example of his work: constructed from very simple tones, some at the extremes of audible range and beyond, with loops of great simplicity laid over each other to create an extremely affecting interlocked mesh of machine noises…. The video for this opening section was correspondingly simple: X and Y axes flashing across a huge dark screen with a pulsing point at its centre. It was utterly mesmeric.

“Ikeda then moved into +/-. Images of digits ticking around shot up the screen like a waterfall of numbers in reverse. The passage between musical episodes was marked by intense white flashes that lit up the auditorium. The link between images and music was close and intelligent – as the range of reference in the music grew wider, so the visuals began to depart from abstraction and include fleeting images. It was a powerfully physical event, probing the effect on the body of visual and sonic repetition and sucking the spectator into a vibrant monotone world. While this aspect of the show was intensely private, the feeling of exposure to such large sounds and images gave the music a sense of group involvement. It was more a collective experience than is usually possible in such an auditorium.” – Will Montgomery

These performances were commissioned and produced by David Metcalfe Associates, with the visuals being developed through collaboration between Ikeda and other members of the Dumb Type art group, Shiro Takatani , Hiromasa Tomari and Takayuki Fujimoto [lighting].

We started documenting our events in 2003 so unfortunately there is no video or audio documentation of this performance. If you have a bootleg or any photos you’d like to share with us, we would love to see them: get in touch with us here.