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Bar Atlantis

ix 1999

Whilst the Sonic Arts Network involves itself in large scale concerts, commissions and education projects there is also a commitment to providing members of the network with information and opportunities. As well as this we are keen to set up local listening spaces for electroacoustic music in an informal setting. As well as the music this idea is as much to do with bringing the somewhat disparate community together. The night 'Diffusion' (named after the quarterly magazine) was the first attempt at this.

London is awash with clubs and bars but trying to find spaces for electroacoustic music within these spaces can be tricky. Music without beat is always going to be a problem to promote in the heavy climate of club music which dominates the city. Sonic Arts Senior Administrator Phil Hallett managed to find such a space after much patient negotiation with bar owners. The small 'Bar Atlantis' in central London provided the right ambience, a basement bar with fish tanks and aquatic decor. Flyers in the form of little plastic crabs were sent out and the word was spread about town.

DJing for this kind of event is of course inherently difficult:

So what do you do? There is no more room for speakers; the only real option is to achieve a steady river of sound that fills up the sound spectrum. The underwater analogy was a useful idea when thinking of how to mix things up. The best mixes involve long cross fades between steady music and a few squelchy 'electro' tracks to things forward in between. Francois Bayle's 'Toupie dans le ciel ' is one such track which really doesn't need any tampering with, it just fills the whole room. Other techinques used were filtering certain tracks and playing them together to achieve a good mix.

It may not be to everyone's taste to be so coarse with great music but the idea is to create something new from a genre of music that is sorely under represented in the capital.

The turn out was good for this first outing. We plan to do further events like this in the future and obviously get a better sound. An intense listening space and more of chatty bar area would be preferable. It did not always work and it's very intense mixing which requires practice!

Tom Wallace is a composer and sound artist based in London.

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