Sat 29 JUN – Sun jun 30
Awakenings Festival 2019
Growing up in the Norfolk fenland village of North Lopham in a house filled with records lovingly hoarded by his pop music historian father Kingsley, Luke first headed towards the bright lights of Norwich to enrol at the City's respected art school. A course in Electroacoustic Composition at the UEA followed, where the open-minded approach permitted him to indulge all of his technological curiosities by wandering at will down the various experimental avenues that run through electronic music's leftfield. From generating his own software instruments and sequencers to circuit bending and hardware hacking, Luke's hands-on and homemade DIY approach has continued to inform his fledgling steps into his musical career, first leading him tentatively out into the world to participate in New York's Bent circuit-bending convention, and then on to exhibit a tape cassette-based video collaboration in Tokyo's Visions Gallery. Today it manifests itself as a deliberately arcane cassette tape compilation project featuring tracks from himself and the likes of Nathan Fake (out later this year), and a planned new sideline selling quirky homemade (possibly wooden!) synth modules.
Luke's own debut proper single release landed on the now sadly defunct but no less legendary Output Recordings back in 2006: the wackily-titled 'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B'B' had the dubious honour of being the last slice of vinyl ever pressed by Trevor Jackson's much-mourned imprint. A split 7” release on London's Trash Aesthetics (previous hosts to Bloc Party, The Rakes and Tilly and the Wall) followed soon after, before Luke eventually found a new home for his sprawling catalogue of unreleased tracks with Border Community in 2008, giving the alt-dance world something to chew on with the twinkly psychedelics of the six-track 'Tuesday EP'. His second five-tracker 'Whitebox Stereo' the following year somehow managed to put a mathematical twist on dancefloor hedonism (mathno, anyone?), providing Luke with his own pet club monster in the process in the form of the title track.
The natural progression of things brings us now to Luke Abbott's debut album 'Holkham Drones', an accomplished beast indeed that knits together joyously Krauty arpeggios and rolling primal rhythms in an overwhelmingly satisfying union that seems to somehow channel the pagan heritage of the British Isles through this incongruous electronic medium, just as his Kraut counterparts and forbears Harmonia sought to do in Germany almost forty years before. Where previous releases had sought to take in all of Luke's most beloved electronic sub-species in one go, the elasticated primordial mantras of 'Holkham Drones' are presented as a completely immersive unified whole. The offbeat dischordant thud that runs throughout 'Holkham Drones' is danceable rather than dance music, and the ideal follow-on milk to nourish an increasingly electronically attuned musical landscape that lies in the wake of the latest Four Tet installment. The UK's electronic underground is positively burgeoning, in its own cosy, organic, homemade, lo-fi and unquantised way.
The rangy behemoth of Luke's obligatory accompanying live show is also an eminently danceable creature, without ever resorting to any of the tired cliches traditionally associated with the genre. His hypnotic entrancements instead seem to connect with something deeper seated within, and have already been rolled out to universal effect across the clubs of Europe, and all the way to Japan. A similarly global array of artists including Dan Deacon, The MFA, John Talabot, MIT and Micromatic have already been the eager recipients of a Luke Abbott rerub. Meanwhile, the rest of the world awaits, bristling with innate anticipation: we are currently taking bookings for his upcoming album tour, where he promises to wheel out a flavour of the boutique analogue equipment that has become something of an obsession for this module-collecting electric soundscaper.