They say there’s nothing new under the sun, but next month you can hear something you’ve never heard before, underneath the streets of London. The London Contemporary Music Festival is back in town, and this year’s venue is the vast Ambika P3 gallery: a former concrete construction hall measuring 14,000 square feet and hidden beneath the University of Westminster near Baker Street. This cavernous space is the setting for some incredible sounds as part of the mindbogglingly eclectic LCMF line-up. Tickets are going fast, so here are six highlights to book for, pronto.
Dark and grimy electro
Growing up in south London, 25-year-old Louis Carnell absorbed the city’s underground sounds: bass, dubstep, grime and rave. Now he’s recombining those influences into something that’s all his own as Visionist. He performs a live AV set of jittery, fragmented electronic music on December 11, the opening night of LCMF. Check out his recent debut album ‘Safe’ for an exciting preview.
US avant garde pioneers
If the words ‘west coast’ make you think of Fleetwood Mac, ‘90210’ or David Cameron in a wetsuit, then you absolutely need to get down to LCMF on December 12. As part of ‘West Coast Night’, hear Morton Subotnick and Pauline Oliveros – two founders of the San Francisco Tape Music Center, a hotbed of minimal music in the ’60s – performing their own influential music, as well as other musicians playing work by Terry Riley, John Cage and John Luther Adams.
Sunn O)))’s drone lord
After a deafening and disorientating performance with his Sunn O))) project at this year’s Meltdown festival – apparently the vibrations brought down a couple of ceiling lights during soundcheck – Stephen O’Malley returns to London for a solo performance on December 13 at a LCMF concert called ‘Five Ways to Kill Time’. It’ll be a singular experience, though you should maybe wear a crash helmet.
A 91-year-old Ethiopian nun
Making her first ever trip to the UK, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is a composer and pianist who has lived in the Ethiopian Monastery in Jerusalem since 1984. Layering slow-motion waltz rhythms with percussive right-hand riffs, the solo piano records she’s released since the ’60s are incredibly soulful and bluesy, but she’s only ever played a handful of concerts. Witness a rare performance on December 13 – the evening after her ninety-second birthday.
Egypt’s favourite party band
Flanked by two drummers bashing out beats, keyboard maestro Islam Chipsy creates great walls of cascading synths. The music of his band EEK is an electronic form of Egyptian chaabi music, and it makes anyone who hears it dance like a loon. They’re playing live at LCMF on December 16, so give your office Christmas party a miss and let Cairo’s finest blow your tiny mind instead.
Giddy, postmodern and super-weird, post-internet music is inspired by information overload, virtual reality, video game soundtracks, retro nostalgia and an anarchic sense of humour. James Ferraro’s album ‘Far Side Virtual’ kickstarted the movement in 2011, and he’s at LCMF on December 17 to present new music alongside Jennifer Walshe and PC Music collaborator Felicita. You’ll probably want to Instagram this one.
Book now for the best gigs of 2016
When it comes to live music in London, it’s wise to plan ahead. The most popular London gigs sell out months in advance. Here’s our round-up of the best London live shows in 2017, to help you discover the best new music and book tickets to the hottest concerts before everyone else does.