Tripped-out techno innovator Spekki Webu and visual artist Matti Vilho explore cycles of death and rebirth in a hallucinatory vision of infinite reincarnation and emotional transformation.
Spekki Webu has been transporting the Dutch underground electronic music scene to alternate dimensions for over 15 years. Probing the lysergic spaces in-between techno, trance and ambient, the DJ and producer conjures immersive sonic worlds with a preternatural ear for dense, narcotic compositions drenched with propulsive tension and extraterrestrial atmosphere. Between his legendary sets, his own productions and his influential label, Mirror Zone, Spekki Webu has demonstrated a direct line of contact with these worlds, enabling audiences to tune in to their strange frequencies and share in their transformative potential. With Optic Portal, a multidisciplinary imprint refracted straight from the Mirror Zone, he seeks to shed light on these exploratory transmissions, working with audiovisual artists to make these sounds visible. It’s this urge that lies of the heart of Signal Transmutations, a collaboration with visual artist Matti Vilho, orchestrated by Joni Stanley of Veli Studio, one of the co-founders of Post Bar and one of the minds behind Solstice Festival, where Spekki Webu played live for the very first time. “I’m fascinated about the interconnectedness of audio signals and digital real-time image generation,” explains Matti Vilho. “Signal Transmutations for me is about the birth, death and rebirth of digital signals affecting each other with every cycle. It’s like a metaphor for our lives.” In the excerpt presented above, Spekki Webu and Matti Vilho give us a glimpse of their new, live AV show, which they will be debuting later this year.
“When the time has come to go for us humans and we have learned enough over the course of life, we join the new dimension and enter the light. Signal Transmutations is our perspective on this take,” adds Spekki Webu. “I see the experience of Signal Transmutations as a meditative journey which you can dive deep into and zone out. You don’t need to understand everything, the emotions that arise are most important,” continues Matti Vilho. Spekki Webu spirals through an atmospheric assemblage of gas leak ambience, submerged skitter and possessed drum programming, swirling viscous globules of reverb through oozing loops of found sound, riding a constant creeping tension between organic and synthetic textures that is reflected back in Matti Vilho’s cyclical landscape, the rebirth loop manifested in the time signatures of the music and the space of the virtual world. Screens are submerged in swamp water as far future technological interfaces hover and rotate, glowing fiberoptic cables drape from an enormous cluster of fungus, wires wound tightly into its mycelium. “The combination of alien and mundane has always been present in my work,” says Matti Vilho. “The giant fungus-like tree is an abstraction of the Tree of Life, connecting the past and present in a continuous fluid cycle.” Trance-inducing sound flows between smudges of hallucinogenic colour, organic matter and alien hardware, all captured through the imprint’s namesake ‘optic portal’. “The fun thing is that Matti hasn’t been sending out any visuals to get my music going,” notes Spekki Webu. “I started developing sketches of sound and shared this with him. The visual world building took off organically from there. It’s a mutual bond of trust we built over time.”
“When performing my music, I am always trying to transmit a set of emotions,” he continues. “This live performance is a journey into the next realm, balancing in between the various stages of life and death.” As is evidenced in his mind-expanding Fact mix, which saw the artist utilising a hybrid live set up, allowing him to layer rhythms, ambience and sound design on the fly, Spekki Webu’s approach to live performance allows him the freedom to delve deeper into the Mirror Zone, to coax out irresistible groove and vertigo-inducing depth. “Going live allows me to take full control of the audience,” he expands. “I can narrate my story down to perfection and translate every detail, taking people along on this introspective journey. I have always been a keen listener of ambient, experimental electronics, noise, and avant-garde music. Signal Transmutations is a spiritual approach on these types of music, it really feels like I am entering a next step within my career as an artist.” This renewed focus on the more esoteric corners of his sonic vocabulary serves as the impetus for Matti Vilho’s visual response, as he accentuates its intoxicating blend of technicality and spirituality. “The music of Spekki Webu is so much aligned with my taste that it was really natural right from the beginning to explore the ideas together,” he concludes. “The whole technical aspect is also in the theme of the show: cycle and rebirth. Each software we use discusses with each other and affects each other.” Whether spiralling through Spekki Webu’s sound or Matti Vilho’s images, Signal Transmutations marks a jumping off point for Optic Portal, the start of a deeper dive through both artist’s transportive practices, as well as a state of transition, as we phase from our world to the mirror zone.
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