Live Report: Unfold.Art X SORA

An enthralling three-part installation celebrating electronic music and kinetic light...

Across the past decade Amsterdam has become a central meeting point for music enthusiasts worldwide, home to a diverse range of festivals, nightclubs and industry conventions. Next to join the list of platforms raising the city’s momentum is: Audio Obscura.

Renowned for their series of hotly-tipped audio-visual events, Audio Obscura explore the possibilities of electronic music within venues that reject the conventional, transforming the likes of Amsterdam’s train station, the Rijksmuseum and Concertgebouw into crowd-ready club rooms. is the platform’s latest inception, inviting global artists to work collaboratively and explore new cities along the way. presents: SORA is the project’s debut, inviting Paris-based duo NONOTAK to bridge the gap between kinetic installations and live production. Experienced through an exhibition and a live show open to all ages, the two offer a distinct perspective of the pair’s work. However, SORA hardly sets aside Audio Obscura’s usual programming, later hosting a rave soundtracked by the heavyweight forces of Nadia Struiwigh, Henrik Schwarz and Adriatique

All is situated within the Gashouder, one of 22 buildings situated in a former industrial site. Now re-imagined as a 3,500-capacity creative space, the original Dutch Neo Renaissance architecture remains an integral characteristic of the venue. 

CLASH made their way down to Amsterdam over a bright, crisp weekend to experience’s work alongside Audio Obscura. An exciting venture into the future of live, electronic music.

Unfold.Art presents: SORA (Exhibition and live show)

Upon arrival, the exhibition is filled with an ominous ambient production that welcomes its attendees to take a stroll around the large, circular room. Amongst the mid-day crowd are the young, the elderly and everything in between. It’s a refreshing surprise, especially for something that – at first glance – seems considerably niche. A few have brought their own blankets, others have decided to perch on the venue’s block benches, but most have figured that the light installation isn’t to be appreciated from just one stance or angle. Indeed, it’s a worthwhile approach to the following 40 minutes, unveiling a multi-dimensional playground of shadows, distance and optical illusions.

The projecting lights are incredibly precise and versatile, an evocative, striking spectacle. Contrast is SORA’s secret weapon, both sonically and visually. At times, a whooshing production encourages bright strobes to race across the building’s circumference like a tornado, flickering glitchy silhouettes all-round. At others, the ceiling’s twirling beams mimic a turn towards minimal soundscapes, gentle yet attentive in their intensity. The result is a pulsing blanket of stars, fluid in their movement that, depending on one’s view, is a trippy morphing of time and space. These moments tie the whole project together – ‘SORA’ does translate to ‘sky’ in Japanese, after all.

The live show, although essentially similar, can be considered a totally different experience. As NONOTAK, otherwise known as Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto, take the stage, they incorporate a more traditional performance element. Admittedly, this does hinder the sense of freedom and wandering that the exhibition once urged, but is a welcomed change for those attending Gashouder for the second time. Nakamoto throws himself into his performance,  rebelling against the robotic, cyber feel of the light installation which is controlled by a wholly absorbed and still Schipfer. Shadows are no longer a main focus-point, allowing for Nakamoto’s live Ableton production to lead the crowd. The sounds filling the room are much more hard-hitting, weaving between trap and bass-heavy frequencies. These moments generate an unspoken excitement from attendees, sensing a shift in energy. Less focussed on the prolonged drones from the exhibition, Nakamoto seizes the more dreamy, ethereal textures that accelerate towards the show’s crescendo, illuminating a softer, fast-paced ambience. As the duo step aside from their LED panels, the crowds break the room’s tension with applause, now marking a return to reality.

Audio Obscura X SORA present: Adriatique, Henrik Schwarz, Nadia Struiwigh, NONOTAK

For those who’ve experienced Gashouder as an exhibition, it’s hard to predict how the space will transform across tonight’s rave. It’s a popular destination for the evening, having sold out within a day of tickets going on sale. From a practical point of view, the venue surpasses the typical obstacles of a night out. The self-organised locker system is a case in point, scrapping dreary cloakroom queues and maximising efficiency. Let’s face it, frantically hunting for a crumpled lottery ticket is no fun at all. Acoustically, one would expect the venue’s circular shape to pose its difficulties however, the team have crafted Gashouder to please even the most fine-tuned of ears.

The atmosphere is ignited by exchanging conversations, some in Spanish, others in English and of course, mostly in Dutch. The evening’s crowd is a global one, something that is reflected across the universal selections of Nadia Struiwigh, NONOTAK, Henrik Schwarz and Adriatique. 

Kicking things off is Tresor regular Nadia Struiwigh, piecing together an ambient set that strategically warms things up. It’s also a time where attendees truly take in their surroundings, gazing at the industrial, high ceiling illuminated by splashes of blue and purple. 

This sense of awe only grows during NONOTAK’s half hour. Taking their chances, the duo execute an experience that feels close to, if not identical, to their live show. For the crowds it’s a totally unexpected turn, unlikely to have experienced such heightened use of kinetic light within a club setting. The duo don’t hold back either, grasping the opportunity to showcase the full breadth of their art. Although generating a more observant crowd in oppose to one full of movement and cheers, it’s a gripping, note-worthy moment of the night. Let’s just say, no one is gasping to run off to the smoking area.

Another highlight act is Henrik Schwarz, delivering a gorgeous genre-spanning mix that swings the crowd in full motion. Rising to fame during the early nineties, the German producer and DJ has long-ruled dancefloors with his melodious house anthems. Tonight accentuates Schwarz’s legacy, diving straight into a vocal-lead pulser that instantly feels like a uniting moment all-round. Seamlessly navigating between warm basslines, afro-house rhythms and more cutting, percussive material, the well-versed mixer savours his crowd, losing himself in his performance. 

Last to grace the stage is Adriatique, a highly anticipated three-hour set from the power duo now re-visiting Audio Obscura as main headliners. Made up of Adrian Shala and Adrian Schweizer, the two collaboratively take charge with vibesy, slow-burning selections that remain loyal to their deep house and techno roots. Consistently building on the room’s energy, they bounce back with minimalist, poignant drops that expand into a smokier, atmospheric production. The overhead lights follow suit and make for a thrilling closing set, ushering starry-eyed club-goers into the early morning.

Proving the natural synergy between electronic music and visual art, the team behind Unfold.Art are offering a glimpse into the potentialities of night life, concluding with a bustling, packed-out Gashouder. Conceptually, the installation crafts a versatile, three-part-venture for people of all walks of life, handing their spotlight to innovative, rising artists and off-piste venues challenging the norm. As they map out their next destination, one can only expect more ambitious and immersive plans ahead.

Words: Ana Lamond

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