Review: Resist In Belfast

Art & Culture

It’s an entrancing experience, entering the Black Box in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Voile curtains hang from the ceiling, creatively segmented into different shapes and sizes. Dotted visuals engulf the audience as they enter. In the distance, a short loop of a gull attempts to take flight. What Koichi and Helena can do with such a small space is really quite impressive. 

Koichi Samuels and Helena Hamilton are the creative minds behind RESIST, Belfast’s most forward thinking experimental event. Helena is a contemporary artist based in Flax Studio’s, Belfast, and has showcased her unique work a variety of places, including Berlin, Tokyo and New York, and having discovered Koichi’s original work on Soma Records and as one half of the techno duo SPIRES (the other half being Phil Kieran) it’s clear we’re in good hands. Koichi explains: 

“So this event and the last event were supported by Sound and Music under a scheme called Composer-Curator – where artists are supported to curate an event.”

"We did one back in July with Lee Gamble and Shiva Feshareki, and this one is the second in the series. The concept is club/art hybrid – mixing electronic music from the left field with immersive visual art. We wanted to create something that brought in visual arts and not just strobes/vj style and the standard club night visuals.”

Excitement builds further when you take a look at the line up. On the bill this evening is Houndstooth’s AISHA Devi and Crazylegs artist Bloom, alongside local artist Celestian and Koichi and Helena’s Kandehha collaboration.

Celestian gets us underway, exhibiting otherworldly soundscapes and ethereal ideas that symbolise the feeling of euphoria, inspiration and innovation that his own Collate label thrives upon. Kandehha shortly take over, bringing with them an unlikely piece of apparatus in the form of an old overhead projector, just like the one you used to copy lines from in high school. Koichi sets the scene. 

“In our performance as Kandehha she [Helena] was drawing on a hacked overhead projector with contact mics inside and a webcam for visual. Her drawing was actually generating part of the sounds on the set – so the drawing and webcam was visual, but the main purpose was to generate sound for the set.”

At times it’s almost difficult to comprehend what is happening on stage, but that’s exactly the point. RESIST is designed to make you think, to encourage you to leave everything you think you know at the door and open your mind to new ideas. 

This isn’t ‘easy to digest’ electronica, and that is emphasised further as AISHA DEVI takes to the stage. The crowd, up until this point, had congregated around the back of the room. AISHA, yearning for a feeling of spiritual ecstasy, asks the crowd to come closer. Pounding, engaging rhythms and body awakening noise blends together with an angelic, yet demonic vocal as we watch on in awe.

AISHA has always implemented spiritual elements to her music. It’s something she truly feels. Her performance is at times both frightening and beautiful. In a rush of spiritual climax, the Houndstooth creative jumps from the stage and into the crowd as we all dance as one to the same haunting groove. 

Bloom follows up with a fusion of heavy experimental vibes and straight up grime riddims that showcases just how varied Belfast’s soundscape really is. The Belfast based producer has worked with both Gobstopper Records and Crazylegs in the past, two labels at the forefront of a contemporary, forward thinking and ever evolving UK soundscape.

The lights go up, the music stops, and we think it’s all over. That is before Cher’s 1998 classic ‘Believe’ begins to play out. Koichi smiles and informs me that it has becoming RESIST’s closing track. 

“The night is very experimental and left field, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of cheese right at the end.”

Visit the RESIST Facebook HERE

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