The ability for club events to realise the full artistic potential of a space can be lost within an over-saturated and competitive clubbing market. Northern experimental electronics label Mutualism’s Scope Plus launch resisted this, duly exploiting Bates Mill, a former spinning mill in Huddersfield, as an interdisciplinary art space to produce a coherent and immersive musical experience. “Some of this music may not immediately seem ‘dancefloor ready’”, noted label founder Lucien during Guiseppe Lelasi’s set, “..but in my eyes, the dancefloor, especially in a space like this, should be ready”.
It became clear that Mutualism’s goal was to contextualise the music they were presenting via the carefully curated installation and workshop programme. Helge Ebinger and Sebastian Russ’ installation greeted attendees on arrival, inviting them to produce recorded sound loops that echoed along a pipe-like structure. Throughout the evening, dancers would retreat to the back of the space to experiment by uttering new sounds into the mouth piece, the dissonant results of which could be heard from the smoking area in-between the music acts. In addition, Tom Wilson and Richard Bates’ large light installation emerged as a centrepiece as the night progressed. Initially flashing when participants played a drum (fashioned from a piece of equipment used in the original Huddersfield mill), its later synchronisation with the surrounding basslines illuminated the space in a reactive way that is not possible to achieve in small-scale club environment. Upon the space becoming washed in signature ‘Scope Plus purple’ during a deconstructed rework of Ariana Grande’s ‘Into You’, LOFT took to the mic to tell the crowd: “If you’re not slow dancing with someone right now, you’re doing it wrong”.
A highlight of the night, LOFT’s performance, met a level of intensity that was perhaps necessary for the cavernous nature of the space, leading one of the team to sprint away from the entrance desk to dance to a breakbeat-heavy number complete with cash box still in hand. Within the earlier support, BFTTs sporadic, industrial offerings effectively eased the transition between visitors approaching the mill as solely an “exhibition” space, thus preparing them for the Permahigh label roster to exacerbate the special properties of the dancefloor with a series of bass-heavy sets. Us & It’s unreleased material sent gunshots and ethereal vocals echoing around the Mill. Watching Mike Drones and SGNL thrive off each other’s dance-led feedback in the booth was also a refreshing shift away from the often-introspective focus of DJs at events of this nature. Also noteworthy, Visionist and Guiseppe Lelasi’s sets were not as well attended as the support act, perhaps suggesting that placing them earlier on the bill would have been more appropriate. However, accompanied by Elle Bulger’s excellent visual projections, the crowd made their reverence known with marked physical enthusiasm.
Mutualism’s next event at Manchester’s White Hotel may allow them to cultivate the “peak time” atmosphere that Bates Mill’s vastness (and location) may have made difficult. However, their commitment to ambitious programming and innovative collaborations with other Northern collectives (including Leftovers and 8MANA from nearby Leeds) should not be underestimated. Above all, Scope Plus felt like the start of something that many felt privileged to witness. “Look at all of this, it’s silly, it’s ridiculous”, claimed LOFT during their set, gesturing towards the flickering installations and high ceilings, “..how did we all get here?”.
By Eleanor Gribbin | Loose Lips