This club night of VJs was part of the onedotzero4 series of 'multimedia' events organised to promote cutting edge digital media talents. If you scour the late nite TV schedules on Channel 4 (one of the season sponsors) you should find the onedotzero TV programme that showcases some of the artists involved. It was here that I discovered Hexstatic last year with their excellent Vector track and video.
Stuart Warren-Hill and Robin Brunson are responsible for this Ninja Tune label project, and promote a no-holds-barred approach to the VJ phenomenon. The first thing I heard as I walked into the hall was Kraftwerk's Man Machine undergoing some audio treatment - and a handsome sounding piece of plastic surgery it was too. Suspended from the ceiling were four large video screens - one on each wall - projecting suitably frenzied visuals the match the sounds coming from the turntables. Footage of planets and the stars, Japanese Godzilla movies, breakdancing and toy robots flickered in time to the beats and edits creating a hypnotic and all-encompassing audiovisual environment. The platters served up by Hexstatic were largely traditional electro but, of course, with additional accompaniment, which worked brilliantly.
When Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald kicked in a barrage of 80s video game imagery raced across the four silver screens - Robotron, Space Invaders, Defender, Speak and Spell and Simon. A friend (who knows me well) said that is was as though someone had plugged into my head and downloaded all the stuff inside whilst I was asleep! And he was right. The music and the visuals were a near-perfect marriage creating an adrenaline-pumping atmosphere that the crowd clearly loved. With their own excellent Vector track and video thrown into the mix, this was a superb show by Hexstatic, my previously jaded views of the abilities of DJs having to undergo a serious revision as a result. Great stuff.
Prince Tongha is actually three guys from Japan - Hideyuki Tanaka, Pierre Taki and DJ Tasaka. This evening was their first ever performance outside of home country and it came as no surprise that about half the audience gathered were Japanese. Pierre Taki is perhaps better know as one third of Denki Groove who have been putting out technoid dance on the Sony label since 1991. Instead of picking up where Hexstatic left off, Prince Tongha (one guy at decks at the front with the two others supporting behind) chose to go down the more experimental cut-up route.
Consequently, the sound was less melodic and less danceable but it gave whoever was leading this performance plenty of opportunity to show off their DJ-ing skills. And they were very impressive. Even the way he removed vinyl by flicking them up from the decks and twisting them down to their sleeves and sliding in the replacement looked like an elegant routine that had been honed over many years. Clubbers rapidly took to the floor to show their appreciation of Prince Tongha's efforts, and whilst they were perhaps technically superior to Hexstatic, this got in the way of delivering some decent tunes for ten minutes or more whilst they displayed them to the full.
The groove did return but in the form of more tribal techno, although there were some memorable 80s highlights like Nitzer Ebb's Join In The Chant, Gary Numan's Cars, and New Order's Blue Monday but stylistically I much preferred the Hexstatic approach. The visuals were just as amusing and/or impressive but an unhealthy obsession with Michael Jackson (and his trademark "Oww!" scream) began to unnerve me and by the time the dreadful theme song to Ghostbusters put in an appearance (I'm not kidding) I concluded that, for my money, Hexstatic had the upper hand on the day.
Check out the official onedotzero website for more info: http://www.onedotzero.com