Urban Exploration improvise

May 8, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Events, What's On

The first time I saw Urban Exploration it was at Hayden Cohen’s Age of the Geek in the Painter’s Bar at Temple.Works.Leeds. They were so geekily cool they looked like they were doing the washing up as they casually adjusted bits of kits spread out on three enormous tables, seamlessly flitting around each other to turn up one bit and slide another. They had more cables than most men collect in a lifetime and they were all hanging down the front. Mick, Nat, Adrian and Dave entranced the audience and made anyone who had ever wielded a musical instrument in anger or otherwise want to jam with them – myself included.

I asked Dave – as he handily built the stage for fellow artist Anna Frisch’s My Polar Disorder’s pole dancing mouse’s at Why Rush next weekend – why they do what they do. Oh, and what exactly is that they do do? And how?

It’s a complex background and their Soundcloud page says:

“Urban Exploration is a recently formed music and art collective based in Leeds, UK. Comprising artists, producers and DJs working in various different combinations, they deliver a diverse body of work which is wilfully difficult to categorise.

They make field recordings in abandoned buildings, perform improvised music using homemade synthesisers and tape echo, run techno nights, free parties and experimental music events, and create films and interactive video installations.

Their records explore the hinterland between many different genres including, but not exclusively, Ambient, Techno, Electro, Noise, and Dub – sometimes with unrelenting dance floor functionality in mind, and sometimes just for the joy of sonic investigation.

Urban Exploration’s music is often diversiform but is held together by both atmosphere and process – always pushing forward into new sonic territory, experimenting with new methods of sound design and ways of improvising using electronic equipment.

Their debut EP was released in March 2012 on Berlin’s ITK Label. Subterranean comprises of four atmospheric Techno-inflected tracks created by members of the collective during their inaugural year.


Dave said that it is only recently that they have decided they want to move away from genre music and into ambient improv – with an audience. They want people for inspiration, for feedback, and for them to have a little play.  They genuinely don’t know what will happen each time they perform now they have started and Dave reckons the improv is so improv they’re not always sure if they’ve started, let alone finished. What they do know is that they want to bridge the gap between music and art and they want to do it with real people in an environment where anything can happen.

Urban Exporation will be playing – quite literally – at Why Rush? on Saturday May 12 and Sunday May 13 and I for one will be hanging around probably far too closely, gawping at the kit and reaching for a dial. On the Sunday they will be playing with the famous Slim Pro 6 & The Bobettes in the Open Loading Bay in the dark, with Sloth Hammer (apparently the loudest band in the world) playing next door in the Joiners:  so Why Rush’s? grand finale will be  salute, crash, bang and fireworks…and then a long ambient sigh.


Susan Williamson

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