Date: Saturday, September 10, 2016
Time: 6:00–9:00 p.m.
Location: Museum Courtyard
Admission: Free; no reservation required.
Demdike Stare is a collaboration between DJ/producers Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker, two childhood friends from the north of England with voracious appetites for record collecting. After years spent mining vinyl bins, they developed a musicologist’s breadth of knowledge spanning genres, with a penchant for obscure and occult recordings. Demdike Stare’s music weaves together a complex web of sound from this deep body of source material, exploring everything from Dub, House, Techno, Hip Hop, and Psychedelic Rock, to Free Jazz, Industrial and Noise music. Beyond standard records, they also mine curiosities from stock library music, found-sounds from everyday life, like church bells, or from staged field recordings, such as the destruction of several pianos. Blurring the line between sampled and original sound, the result is not quite dance music, but a singular, textured, and immersive music of their own.
Throughout their numerous recordings released since 2009, including their stunning debut Symbiosis and the 3-disc album Tryptych, Demdike Stare has been distinguished by their affinity for a dark, ominous sound. In addition to the strange monochrome symbols they use as album art, they sometimes perform alongside striking clips culled from macabre and cult films from the 1960s and ’70s, whose tension and mystery complement the music’s ethereal sense of environment that seems to emanate from the unconscious. This totality creates, as tastemaker music website Resident Advisor writes, “a prismatic refraction of the possibilities of the hauntological, found-sound realm…, a ghostly walk through dark English woods of fog and drone.” Demdike Stare have brought their bewitching experience to a string of unique venues including cathedrals, museums like London’s Barbican Center, and to live-score early cinema at the British Film Institute.
At the Getty Center, the bold and cinematic sound of Demdike Stare is offered up as a kind of soundtrack for the intensity and horror of Francis Bacon’s distorted faces, the psychological complexity of Lucian Freud’s portraits, and the rich and varied styles of the “School of London” painters, who also drew from a vast array of source material—from the mundane to the arcane. Like the exhibition’s artists, who looked to figuration in an era that largely leaned toward abstraction, Demdike Stare stands out for their reference-driven, narrative impulse, characterized by the substance of the tangible world, when most electronic music floats in oblivion. Furthermore, like the artists in London Calling, who represent some of the greatest achievements in British painting of their time, Demdike Stare exemplifies the sophisticated and thriving electronic music movement that has especially flourished in Britain.
Appearing as part of a highly limited set of dates in the United States, and immediately following shows with their Modern Love label partner and collaborator Andy Stott, Demdike Stare performs an original live set created specifically for the Getty Center courtyard stage, as sundown deepens into night.