THE BEGINNING

The Brixton conceptual artist delivers a compelling live show inside designer Ron Arad’s 360° video ‘curtain’.

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Gaika @ Curtain Call, London, Roundhouse, Thursday 12 August

Right now Gaika feels like the kind of new artist that could do anything. The Brixton creator has an iron-plated self confidence and creative vision that mean prized opportunities afforded to more established artists seem to be gravitating towards him, even at this early stage (his first track only dropped in October last year).

Unique opportunities, like this one. Part of the London venue’s Curtain Call series, artist and designer Ron Arad’s floor-to-ceiling silicon rod video curtain has been installed in the centre of the performance space at The Roundhouse. Step inside and the audience is surrounded by a 360°, immersive visual experience.

Dan Deacon, Matthew Herbert and the London Sinfonietta are all transforming the space in their own ways for the run, but tonight Gaika converts the room into a grimey, edgy nightclub. This is Club 88: A reproduction of a basement den so accurate it comes complete with knucklehead bouncers refusing entry to ticket holders (for effect), couples making out on the dancefloor and four podium dancers contorting on satellite stages. You’re never quite sure who’s there for the show, and who is the show.

In the centre of it all is Gaika, performing on an elevated, circular platform with the crowd and surrounding screen orbiting around him. He writhes, bends and encourages the audience to circle around him.

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The music – cuts from his ‘Security’ mixtape, out earlier in 2016 – are delivered by a pair of DJs/producers, with Gaika rapping and singing over the top. The mixture of dancehall, grime and distorted RnB is dark, ominous, and enthralling. It all adds to the claustrophobia. Around him, the visuals help shrink and expand the space, clips of his recent SECURITY short film flashing on the curtain. The main themes of that piece – fear, violence and control – quite literally surround us.

It all makes perfect sense, then, that in the past couple of weeks Gaika signed with Warp, a move that’ll afford this producer, visual artist and songwriter the freedom he demands. And like the nosebleed aerial views of urban London sweeping behind him as he kneels on the floor emoting into the microphone before the end, that immediate future feels kind of limitless.

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