East London synth-punk band Powerplant set out at dusk to shoot what they initially envisioned as a collection of images that would pay homage to Larry Sultan’s revered Evidence series. Instead, what they produced was nothing like Sultan’s work but rather a weird, joyful series entirely their own.
Shot by photographer Joe Smith, the black and white photographs capture the four members of the band playing together – swimming, climbing, covered in mud. It’s a photo story that documents what a good time looks like with Powerplant.
We asked Powerplant’s Theo Zhykharyevto give us an account of how the evening went. Here it is below:
We went out. A good day it was, in the woods that is. On a night like that you could hear the odd owl hoot and the the green bush shiver. There is a place we like to go by the water. There are many dogs there in the day. Good dogs. But now it’s night and the water is not so warm, but hell the fish sure gotta know a thing or two, so we went in. The water – cold. Our spirits – high. It’s good to hang out in a place where frogs reside. Green, sticky, big-eyed frogs. Not toads, no! The pylon gives us power. As my grandma used to say, ‘A minute with the pylon – an hour out of your sleep’.
Sometimes a mix comes along that stops you in your tracks. For us, this proffering by the faceless PARADISE is one such piece of work. Titled ‘HEART SWELLS’, this cinematic mix opens up drumless and with what its creator describes as “sunset preludes”. From there, it slides through galaxies where whole constellations and elements lurk. It asks you “How do you feel?” then melts away as you open your mouth to answer.
Before working on how to present this mix, we spent time talking with its creator. The question for us was how could we invite listeners into this mix of moments that together build a whole? How could we keep it accessible and give every listener what they needed. Together with PARADISE we blueprinted a road map for ‘HEART SWELLS’. This route planner, dreamt up by the DJ, draws out, timestamps and titles segments of his mix. These titles, plucked from PARADISE’s own mind, take the listener’s hand to guide them through the myriad of blown-out sounds, loving moments and fragments of revered tracks curated by a DJ who dotes on his work.
Here, ‘HEART SWELLS’’ originator presents an opportunity for you to consume his work as you will. Dip in or swallow it down whole.
The city’s lights are on fire and the sun retreats to wash the sky in a coarse black. There’s no longer a rusting sunset of burnt bronze and hazy gold. Like panicked embers, any glimmer of stars dim into unfamiliarity. Summer’s clammy warmth clings onto our shoulders like a cold, dead arm. It’s no longer welcome here. Absence descends upon the horizon and the fumes of dying roses suffocate the air. An anxious crack begins to part above us and the sound of what’s been ignored shrieks from muffled faintness into pristine sirens. Tonight is an invitation for help, and this is a story of what it could be.
00:00 – 10:55
I wrote this poem without any words I hope we speak the same language
When we first heard Martha Skye Murphy live it was in a dark basement. The room was enveloped in thick, heavy air; full of bodies and teenage couples whispering and holding each other’s clammy hands. The low purr from the ancient, ineffectual aircon unit merged with murmurs from the crowd merged to fill the space. We found a spot near the back and waited. When Martha began to sing, the background hum disappeared and the weight in the room lifted, dissipated by Martha’s crystalline voice. Each word, every note and the story behind her songs cut through the haze.
That’s why, when we came to work with Martha for Lucent, we wanted to create a space where our audience could meet the London-based artist through her voice first. We started to think about making a place that people could visit and lose time – somewhere that felt personal and handmade but was still accessible. We asked Martha to talk us through her songwriting process and, inspired by the artist’s own ideas of an online sound diary, we began to sketch a digital soundscape. Martha collected and recorded new work which she poured out in a kaleidoscope of sounds, visuals, scraps of writing, vocals and more to share with us. Then we began to build.
We took the sounds and photography and dropped them piece by piece into an online basin, working with Martha to refine the sound piece until the experience felt like a channel into her mind. A place where we could chase fleeting sounds and pictures but would never quite be able to capture them.
In this short, self-directed film Preston-born band Dream English Kid traverse between old and new homes. Opening in Manchester’s tumultuous Oxford Road station, where the three band members now live, Distant With You Always is a monochromatic rumination on the meaning of home.
This journey between the two cities is one Dream English Kid have taken many times before, both together and alone. The train ride has become a permanent fixture in the life of the band, fading into the background and becoming ordinary. As they worked on this project, however, the three began to think differently about these hours they’ve spent travelling between Manchester and Preston. The railway line, seen through this new lens, has transformed into a thread that keeps Dream English Kid connected to their roots.
The film is an invitation into Dream English Kid’s world. A way to meet them in a place of their own. The film sweeps through the North West, soundtracked by fragments of conversation captured on the train set atop an original piano piece the band wrote and recorded at home. Seen through the eyes of the three, the images passing the window feel faintly familiar. Tall concrete buildings give way to glimpses of fields, rivers and bridges before closing out gently in Preston.
It’s an ode, really, to the influence that the landscape of the North West has on Dream English Kid. A presence that bleeds out into all that they do, whether that’s the merging of dark electronic sounds with fey piano chords, photography or film work. “That’s what Preston is for us as a collective and as individuals,” they muse. “We’re not always there but it’s always with us.”
We’re excited to share the lineup for Lucent Edition 01. For our very first showcase, we’ve hand-picked four artists as part of our curated live event series designed to represent forward-looking UK music. For this first showcase, we’ve invited an apparition-esque DJ, a chilling songstress, a dream-inspired band and a chaos-loving performer to grace the stage.
Join us at The Pickle Factory on April 3 from 7.30 pm onwards for the sound of what’s to come.
Lucent Edition 01 Featuring:
MARTHA SKYE MURPHY
An ethereal songstress whose crystalline voice and use of otherworldly sounds sets her apart, London-based artist and musician Martha Skye Murphy is a sonic force not to be missed.
DREAM ENGLISH KID
This Manchester three piece mesh dark electronic sounds with reverie-tinged music and beautiful visuals to create a world entirely of their own. We’re excited for them to bring that world to us on April 3.
Nelson Beer speaks to chaos. A mutable, constantly shifting artist, their music snags on corners and drips off edges. Carrying entire ecosystems of sound, textures and visuals that spill out in the dervish-like performances which sit at the centre of their project, Nelson’s ethos is one that speaks to our own.
Capturing DJ PARADISE for Lucent was a must. A spectral presence on the UK’s musical landscape, this ghost collapses genres before rebuilding them into blown-out mixes that are the perfect soundtrack for escaping into three am reflection at any time.