Back in 2013 multimedia artist Doug Aitken took a train full of artists and musicians across America (then made a film about it). This week he pulls in to the Barbican for a month-long UK leg of Station to Station: a festival billed as a ‘30-Day Happening’. Alongside loads of cool visual and performance art, Aitken and the Barbican team have booked a series of exciting musical events and residencies – many of them free. There’s so much going on that it’s tough to know what to catch, so here are our nine top picks from the S2S musical programme. Get on board!
1. The cymbal orchestra.
Japanese band Boredoms have been making bizarre, brilliant and totally unpredictable music for three whole decades, and have a history of volatile live shows to prove it. Their gig at the series’s opening weekend – complete with 80 cymbal players recruited from around London, and an eight-person Guitar Orchestra – will be incredible. June 27
2. The sound sculptor.
London artist Haroon Mirza cobbles together household objects and found footage into his audiovisual sculptures and installations. For Station to Station he’ll be in residence with ace techno trio Factory Floor, writing and recording a new album and putting together a site-specific version of his piece ‘The Calling’. June 29 - July 3
3. The psychedelic soundtrack.
Shot with a handheld camera in 1973, William Eggleston’s film ‘Stranded in Canton’ documented the weirder corners of the music and culture of the Deep South. For Station to Station, cosmic rock psychonaut J Spaceman (of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3) will be playing a part-improvised live score for the film to accompany a screening in the Barbican Gallery: a weird trip in more senses than one. July 4
4. The virtual reality electro installation.
© Leif Shackelford
Glitch-tastic American singer EMA continues her dystopian scoping, bringing an immersive ‘living room’ set to the Barbican. Audience members can explore the space using an Oculus Rift VR headset during her performance, which is called ‘I Wanna Destroy’. Plug in for some future-shock therapy. July 5 - 7
5. The brutalist funk poem.
One-woman punk-funk machine Lonelady will be resident in the glass-walled Barbican Gallery recording studio for a week, putting together an original EP inspired by the brutalist structures of the Barbican complex. Make ‘dancing about architecture’ a reality. July 6 - 10
6. The electro-punk ritual.
Sampled by MIA and covered by Springsteen, American synth-punk duo Suicide have had an influence way beyond electronic music. Their Station to Station show with guest collaborators is called ‘A Punk Mass’: a revisitation of their twisted and violent early shows in the lofts of the downtown New York scene. July 9
7. The minimal music guru.
Alongside Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Terry Riley is one of the three giants of contemporary classical music. He’ll be working on a brand new piece in residency at Station to Station, with a children’s choir, brass, toy pianos and percussion. A rare insight into how a musical master works. July 13 - 18
8. The vintage synth experiment.
© Steven Légère
Once known for defining quirk-pop with Micachu And The Shapes, but just as famous now for her awesome soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer’s film ‘Under the Skin’, Mica Levi will be spending two days at the Barbican creating a new piece using a monstrous Moog 55 synthesizer from 1974. Watch her at work in the studio during the day, or hear the finished piece on Saturday evening. July 17 and 18
9. The noise-rock sensory overload.
© Misha Vladimirskiy
Two years on from their Mercury-nominated debut album ‘Silence Yourself’, Savages are descending on the Barbican for two immersive live evenings. The blistering London post-punk band will collaborate with Australian minimal rock duo A Dead Forest Index and choreographer Fernanda Muñoz-Newsome, filling part of the Barbican Gallery with an audiovisual storm of guitar noise, intense lighting and movement. Sonic adventurers, step up. July 24 and 25
Find out more about Station to Station