Max Cooper and Collate change the dialogue of Belfast nightlife | Page 10 of 10 | Soundspace

Max Cooper and Collate change the dialogue of Belfast nightlife


max cooper, soundspace, collate, belfast


Concerned thoughts on the alcohol prices upon entry were soon forgotten as I entered the performance space. The room is almost in complete darkness as Peter Gibney begins his set. It may only be 9pm, but already a small crowd has gathered in anticipation. An 8 x 4.6 metre screen dominates the background. Collates symbolic atom makes its way through a shadowy maze as Gibney’s ghostly brand of techno rebounds off the walls.

As the crowd outside grows ever larger, Celestial, also known as Ryan Macfarlane (the founder of Collate), takes the reins. Ryan has an extremely supportive team behind him, and through this and his vast musical knowledge he is at ease on stage. The ambiguity of his set may have surprised some, but like the whole event it was greeted with ecstatic curiousity.

I step outside for a momentary breather. As I light my roll up cigarette I begin to join in with the countless numbers of friendly conversations going on around me. The first thing many are quick to talk about is the choice of venue. “I had no idea the MAC were up for putting on an event like this, it’s really kicking off!” Another describes the night as a “nice alternative to the usual electronic music nights.” Whilst acknowledging that the events in Belfast are also making their mark on rave culture it’s clear to see that as the scene grows larger there becomes more room to evolve and produce concepts with different perspectives within electronic music, room that Collate wants to explore.

I grab a pint of Yardman’s Stout from the friendly bar staff and re-enter, just in time to witness Paul Nolan, looking very dapper in a 3 piece suit, take the stage. Paul is head of Chapter 24 Records, an imprint that looks to bring the “meaning and purpose of the early days of house and techno” right back into the present day. It’s described as “stories in sound”, and Paul didn’t disappoint. He maintains huge respect and admiration for the Belfast crowd. Sometime after his set, I found him smack bang in the middle of the audience, grooving away.

Paul’s set is available for download.

“I couldn’t wait to get back to Belfast for this hugely significant gig with one of the most cutting edge artists in the industry right now. So much so that I flew all the way back from L.A, and I wasn’t disappointed. The crowds here are just amazing. They’re so honest and visceral and the energy that creates is beautiful. I feel like I can play anything I want and I’ll be given a straight answer, and as a performer, as a human being, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

He went on to say, “Supporting Max was an important step for me as an artist, but also as a friend in supporting Ryan and Conor (Miley) who have taken this event from a basement bar in Liverpool and transformed it into a major influence on the scene in Northern Ireland. It’s been lovely to watch them emerge, just like the theme of Max’s show, a beautifully parallel environment.”

Chris Hanna showed once more why he’s one of the most exciting prospects within the Northern Irish scene. His fusion of hard hitting techno and electro brought the crows to peak volume. There wasn’t one person standing still. Chris commented on the evening afterwards, expressing his delight at playing right before Max Cooper, and also his scepticism, brought on by the quick change between a party atmosphere and it’s ambient brother.

“I thought it was absolutely unreal, and a treat to play before Max too. I was slightly sceptical it was going to be something you either ‘get’ or you don’t, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.”

“It was a pretty ballsy booking in my eyes, but I haven’t heard a bad word said about anyone who played, and especially Max’s show. Pretty captivating stuff. An ambient intro to a set is fairly risky when people have been dancing for hours before, but it worked so well, and sort of made everyone pay attention. After that it was thumping, what can you not like about it, really?”

Chris left the stage to a rapturous applause, which continued with the arrival of Max Cooper.

Hundreds waiting in anticipation, sweat trickling down their foreheads after hours of nonstop movement. Any fear that the ambience might kill the vibe was quickly eradicated. The concept of Emergence united engaging and immersive visuals with an emotional and melodic soundscape. I took a brief trip up to the stage to get some shots and was left amazed at how easily Cooper was navigating the complex technology at his disposal, all while bobbing back and forth. Truly a scientist, artist and musical enthusiast at work.

As the illustration of the birth of modern society continued, the mood changed slightly. Glitchy, distortional noise and intimidating, glitched visuals lit up the room as pupils widened in awe. There was a slight worry that the undanceable parts of the show would put people off, but as far as I could see there was no evidence of this. For once all movement stopped we were collectively entranced at what was unravelling in front of us.

The show ended to sensational applause, just before Cooper brought out the bangers. The energy was electric. The unified feeling of wonderment was still fresh within the congregation, and together it went out with a bang.

The crowd dispersed and the embraces from the Collate team began. It wasn’t just the crew that felt the night had been special, as we waited for taxi’s to take us off to our beds and after parties there were nothing but positive comments from both the rave and artistic communities. It brought in a new crowd, the cultural community and rave community of Belfast met under one roof, and it was beautiful. You’ll find it difficult to find someone that disagrees.

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