Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto in London

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  • The fifth outing for the craft helmed by Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto launched the conspirators into a zone darker than any reached on its previous expeditions: the pair negotiated asteroid belts of spectral granulation, and navigated along unprecedented solar flares, utilising momentum picked up by the craft as it was hurled by extra-galactic winds through the space/time continuuim. At all times we, mere stowaways, were treated via visual relay: here, landing onto a regimented LED cityscape; there, delving into the fibre of an unfortunate undiscovered being: a double-helix invasion! At no point did Sakamoto's graceful keystrokes jar with Noto's electronics; less a pairing of talents, more a matching of expertise, the duo affected each other, either by reducing a piano loop to an unrecognisable point, or by communicating with an electronic pulse by beating on the piano's strings. Photo credit: Conny Fornbäck Halfway through the performance, a memory bank adjustment technique took place; a swiping flash accompanied by a sweeping sound, and the craft performed an about turn: perspective altered to out-of-craft, leaving us drifting to enjoy the experience externally as the masters directed the craft away for the last time. Below, in the studio space, Raster Noton's most recent roster addition Anne-James Chaton entranced with his literal take on "beat" poetry, recounting some of 2009's more memorable events. The vocal interlude was refreshing, and after the break, during which even a certain Richard D. James took a slight pause, much of the crowd returned for Atom™'s self-analysing acid. Certainly the most diverse performance of the hugely varied evening, using several of his countless aliases Uwe Schmidt guided us through his Maltese rose garden with only an MPC for company, and blasted out numerous intriguing tunes, often while singing along in the shadows. His genre-defying/defining "Interferenz" surely provided a highlight for many, though the streams of binary-based pornography may have for others. Photo credit: Conny Fornbäck Having by now fully assessed the robustness of the structure (though Robert Lippok and the brilliant Grischa Lichtenberger kept on at the foundations below), all was good to go for a performance by Olaf Bender's Byetone project, the most overtly minimal performance of the night. Not only was all sound stripped to a bare beat, but visuals were left as block colours and large ascending numbers cunningly withdrew any intellectualism the audience might have applied to it. A small contingent took to bodily movement unashamedly, but tables still obstructed and most remained recumbent, preferring to let themselves be ravaged by the sound. And thus they remained.