What planet are you on?
On 02 Feb at Doncopolitan HQ I portaled down a hall bedecked with voodoo skulls, and then to the catacombed interior of New Weird Planet.
We slurped on organic mead and scoffed vegan curry from Green Thumb. I took in the low lit, art infested space where Shamanic Healer Suzanne beat her double sided ritual drum. One side female, the other male – one removing energy, the other returning it.
Experimental Sonic Machines…
In a dark corner, an experimental sonic machine dwelt in the shadow of a helmetted and cloaked P.K Rollings, chanting and dancing. His rabbit-eared robot drummer sparked into life beating out a metallic and insistent rhythm. Electronically bowed instruments purred into life, completing the cacophony of modern yet primitive music.
As we gathered about the stairs, we were drawn to local artist; John Alexander’s distressed cine film flooding disconnected footage of croquet games, old rollercoaster rides and cop films through partition windows; all accompanied by angular electronica.
Glenn Moss, guitarist with Fallen Trees, wove delicate melodies across moody, atmospheric, furred up samples. His ambient soundscapes put me in mind of a cross between Twin Peaks and FKA Twigs.
Mat Handley played a twenty minute medley with no vocal. His synths delivered minimalist soundscapes, partnered with glacial guitar work by Passion-Play’s Tony Nicholson.
Tape Noise Dex…
Once the complicated array of pedals and lights found their place, it was a thrill to watch this shadow play with accompanying synth, guitar and flute. The narrator regailed us with riddles, thoughts and the passing of time.
The three noise demons, Craig, Paul and Jade unfurled their sonic flag. A flag with many colours, each representing a glitched and distorted version of mood and texture. Beaten road signs and mannikins met with scrunched samples, guitar poetry and porn confetti. The human beast in emotive bursts of anger and rage, beauty and sadness.
This was a wonderfully bleak and fitting end to an evening of specially disquieting performances.
As we stumbled out into the new Winter night, wrapped up against the metaphor of cold air, I thought about how Doncaster’s art rock circle had finally been squared.
Let’s have more of this kind of thing.
The finest Synth based music finally has a base right here in Doncaster.
Walking past the old Vintage Rockbar about two years ago, a poster caught my attention. It was stark, minimalist and industrial with the heading: ‘Donkaster Elektronische Freundschaft – Live electronic music in Doncaster’. Doncaster was to have a dedicated electronica based event.
Time passed, and with it came a new name: Doncaster Electronic Foundation. I sampled the events and started listening to their radio show defsynth.com every Monday at 9pm.
Now, I find myself sat here in DEF HQ about to go on air! Head honcho, DJ and mastermind Derek Williams is close by, preparing for tonight’s show.
He’s a driven man with a burning desire to bring quality electronica to Doncaster.
As the programme spins out he shows considerable skill chatting knowledgably with his listeners, gifting them obscure but brilliant music skipping across genres from darkwave to synth pop, coldwave, industrial and goth.
I was impressed and somewhat alarmed, when I was asked to contribute. My suggestions stray slightly from the wonderfully rich carpet of electronica he’d laid out for our delectation as I usher in archaic things as guitars and pianos.. Oops!
After the show he tells me how he’d wanted to bring a regular and vibrant electronica event to Doncaster for quite some time. Believing that ‘If you could just get people through the door, some of them are bound to love it aren’t they?’ Yes – they are! The success of the last two events in 2015 proves this.
Large crowds packed into the leopard, for Def’s Halloween special, to see delights such as the glamtronic Jan Doyle Band, horrifically great John Merrick’s Remains and simply superb The Webb.
Finally, back where this all began at a packed Vintage Rockbar, was a truly international affair on Nov 21. It featured Poland’s Sexy Suicide, the USA’s Night Club and Sheffield’s own Promenade Cinema.
DEF offer a platform for local artists to perform alongside acts from around the UK and beyond. The same bands he promotes also appear on his radio show.
As I left Defsynth HQ I felt that this was something new and exciting taking place in Doncaster. If your tastes are in tune with Depeche Mode, Human League, Ultravox and Gary Numan, there’ll be something there for you at DEF, so get yourself to one of their shows and listen in at DEFSYNTH.COM.
The next DEF live show is at the Leopard on the 6th Feb and features Hungarian band Black nail Cabaret, Canadian band Soft Riot and Derek’s act – Jan Doyle Band.