Chapter 2
Dismantling The Hardcore Continuum (Futurythmic Dub) by DeForrest Brown Jr. 
A sonic fiction conversant with Case Study #2: The UK’s First Legal All-Night Inner-City Rave Club, The Eclipse (1990-1992), Cox Street, Coventry.

When polyrhythm phaseshifts into hyperrhythm, it becomes unaccountable, compounded, confounding. It scrambles the sensorium, adapts the human into “distributed being” strung out across webbed spidernets and computational jungles of digital diaspora. 

― Kodwo Eshun  

The objective of this sound art commission was to explore and respond to the historical, audio, spatial, and socio-cultural dimensions of the aforementioned site, The Eclipse (active 1990-92), utilising a curatorial toolkit. The soundwork created by the invited artist DeForrest Brown Jr. (a Vancouver-based rhythmanalyst, musician, and curator) not only sonically interprets the provided data sets, in line with this objective, but also leverages Brown Jr.’s position as a narrator of historically marginalised and under-researched cultures, which is demonstrated in their opus Assembling a Black Counter Culture, (2022). Brown Jr., who also works under the names The Rhythmanalyst and Speaker Music, is a figurehead of the Make Techno Black Again campaign and was commissioned for this project owing to their complex understanding of Detroit Techno’s evolution; its connection with the auto-motive industry; local activism; and its transatlantic journey to Europe in the early 1990s. This existing knowledge, plus their ability to integrate different viewpoints and interdisciplinary methods into music production, negates the fact that Brown Jr. was not familiar with this particular site in Coventry. 

Resonating spaces: The Eclipse’s cultural imprint 

In the early 1990s, the UK’s socio-musical landscape underwent a significant transformation. Steve Redhead, in Subcultures to Clubcultures: An Introduction to Popular Cultural Studies, (1997), described this period as possessing “a pulsating energy” that fundamentally changed British nightlife and the music scene. The Eclipse was temporarily at the epicentre of this cultural shift, serving not just as a “nightspot” but also as the embodiment of this transformation given that it provided a “wild space” for ravers, defined by Jack Halberstam as “a space/name/critical term for what lies beyond current logics of rule”, at the edges of the re-development of the city centre.[138] 

Drawing provided by the Coventry Town Planning Department details the historical location of The Eclipse, outlining the site’s redevelopment into an Entertainment Centre in 1972. Plan courtesy of the Coventry Archives.

The period witnessed rave culture’s transition from countryside fields and nondescript industrial park warehouses to metropolitan centres, as the movement was propelled into public consciousness through extensive media coverage. During this time of its evolution, The Eclipse emerged as a vanguard, inaugurating the first inner-city rave club via a legal loophole that enabled it to stay open all night as a private members club.[139] As Sarah Thornton notes, The Eclipse “captured the zeitgeist of its generation, with luminous clothing and tinted eyewear becoming symbols of a youth movement breaking free”, and as Reynolds posits, provided a “narrative of emancipation, dissent, and solidarity”, a nexus where underground subcultures and the mainstream intersected.[140] However, The Eclipse’s status extended beyond fashion and music, since it fostered a community through its membership scheme while reviving earlier working-class traditions and political club affiliations. Although it transcended “socioeconomic strata, racial demarcations, and everyday tribulations… Offering a sanctuary where rhythmic unity fostered human unity”, this sense of group identity failed to initiate responsible civic behaviour. [141] Instead, the club encountered significant challenges from legal and authoritative entities due to the aggressive actions of its constituents and excessive violent incidents involving security, leading to the curtailment of The Eclipse’s operations, which ceased entirely in 1992. Its influence, however, was indelible, leaving “an imprint on the annals of British clubbing history” that transcended its physical presence and symbolised a temporary junction in the UK’s cultural chronology.[142] 

Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub): a sonic fiction  

Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub) is a sonic fiction that explores techno, hardcore, and associated electronic music sub-genres from the research period, drawing from the available data sets. These genre-defining elements are filtered through a “scrubbing and stretching” process, and the output is adapted to match the frequencies from field recordings made at the site, which were “stretched and looped” to create a unique, location-specific dub. This dub, interlaced with “live drums”, utilises latency as a method to create “alternate realities and interpretation”, thereby providing a speculative re-evaluation of the musical era from an Afrofuturist perspective that challenges linear chronological representations of time.[143] 

Architectural drawing by the Coventry Town Planning Department, detailing the Western Elevation of the site’s redevelopment into an Entertainment Centre in 1972, which was later transformed into The Eclipse. Plan courtesy of the Coventry Archives.

The “Futurythmic Dub” of Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum akin to the original version begins with a BBC archive clip, capturing public opinions on rave culture through “vox pops”.[144] The report frames rave as a controversial trend akin to a “cult”, highlighting associations with drug use and crime, echoing Simon Frith’s metaphor of clubs as “temples where DJs were the high priests and ravers the devout congregation”.[145] As this fades, the beats of 808 State’s E Talk, (1988) rise, described by Reynolds as “a new form of collective euphoria”, which is then woven into the aural palimpsest. [146] 

The piece goes on to incorporate a BBC segment on the British producer and musician A Guy Called Gerald, and later feature the acid house anthem Voodoo Ray, (1988), a minimalist, rhythmic track that forgoes traditional pop narratives for drum beats and a singular vocal line. What follows is a fusion of North American dance and UK electronica, with the DJ Frankie Knuckles discussing a transition in the UK to a “harder” or less soulful dance music sound, linked to the narrow range of sounds accessible through affordable technology available to emerging producers.[147] Meanwhile, the UK house producer Mike Pickering notes the growing popularity of dance instrumentals and their lucrative prospects for profit with minimal investment. At this point, Brown Jr. introduces Music Sweet Music, (1989) by A Guy Called Gerald as a defining example of the music of the time, blending house and techno. This fusion was later epitomised by Forgemasters’ Track with No Name, (1991), characterised by its unique bleeps that became the “distinctive and defining sound of UK rave” particularly in post-industrial cities and towns outside of London, in the Midlands, and in the North of England.[148] The discussion transitions into Rob Gordon’s provocative take on club culture, which challenges the essential role of clubs in dance music and calls for more individualised forms of engagement. This commentary is set against the backdrop of the track Heptagon, (1994), produced by Gordon. The narrative then shifts to DJ Mick Wilson, who discusses The Eclipse’s social dynamics and its controversial practices like unauthorised mix recordings that benefited the staff financially but not the artists. DJ Dobbo offers a partial reflection on The Eclipse management’s entrepreneurial efforts, hinting at the legal manoeuvring involved in establishing a members-only club.[149] 

The mix oscillates between UK and North American tracks, such as Mind Games, (1991) from Powerzone/Freezone and Carl Craig’s Bug in the Bass Bin (Jazz Version), (1996), interlaced with UK tracks in DJ Grooverider’s The Eclipse Part 1 cassette mix. This showcases the UK’s trend towards “euphoric” and heavy bass lines, illustrated by the hardcore rendition of The Specials’ Friday Night, Saturday Morning, (1980).[150] In this section, Spliffhead, (1990) by the Ragga Twins emerges as a subjective “soundmark”, epitomising the blend of UK dancehall reggae with hardcore breakbeats and heralding the shift from Happy Hardcore to Jungle. It closes with Edward George critiques mainstream rave narratives in Last Angel of History, (1996), urging for the preservation of rave history against sanitised media portrayals, intertwining with Terminator, (1992) by Metalheadz and Demon’s Theme, (1992) by LTJ Bukem, capturing the rapid evolution within the genre. Overall, the soundwork encapsulates the viral aspect of sound and rave culture as a “collective, aesthetic experiment”, resonating with contemporary desires for new forms of expression that challenge surveillance, consumption, and social constraints.[151] Brown Jr. actively “deconstructs” these elements to “essentially, strip it down to its core…”. Utilising the metaphor of a television as an expanded kind of palimpsest whereby the “entire screen” is “peel[ed] back to its barest elements” and then reconstructed: “Rebuilding… overlaying drum patterns that are played and recorded, not sequenced, resonating with early Detroit techno”. The approach aims to dismantle and create “fissures within the actual stereo field, akin to burning a hole through the screen… As if there’s another channel being hidden behind it, being temporarily transmitted”, and to invoke a feeling of being “hollowed out, not haunted, but more like a pirate radio signal”.[152] 

Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub): curatorial, technical, and theoretical analysis  

In this section, an analysis of the tools used from the curatorial toolkit in the production of Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub) is conducted. It will uncover the intricate layers of creative decisions and methodologies that have shaped this soundwork, providing insights into the technical intricacies and theoretical foundations that underpin its conceptual framework to offer a deeper understanding of the sonic fiction and its objectives.  

Active Listening Techniques - Socio-Political  

During the initial research and development phase of the data sets, Brown Jr. began the production by employing various active listening techniques to collect pertinent samples and sounds from the data set. The objective was to gain an understanding of the social and political dynamics and relationships among individuals associated with The Eclipse, the contemporary dance music scene in the UK and North America, as well as other relevant voices necessary for composing a new narrative for this research. The recorded voices from various communities captured the subtleties of language, tone, and emotion, highlighting the complexities of social the interactions and hierarchies within the interviewed “counterpublics” and stakeholders. Through active engagement with these voices, mainstream broadcasts, music samples, and contemporary field recordings via “Socio-Political Listening”, Brown Jr. explored the complex socio-political structures and personal experiences of the 1990s rave community to evaluate the detrimental media portrayals. 

This process was reflective of Ultra-red’s “militant investigations” to identify “acoustics of change” through “procedures of thematic investigation” and to foster a dialectical interaction between individuals and the environment. This is illustrated in Ultra-red’s School of Echoes, London, (2011) and also Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s adaptation of “Forensic Listening”, which investigates geographical and cultural shifts to “understand the voice as a network” and “create a sonic image”, as evidenced in Tape Echo, (2011). Brown Jr.’s interpretation of audio documents from the era alongside field recordings in the data sets plays a vital role in contributing to the cultural preservation of rave. This approach, as advocated by Emma Warren, allows communities to document their culture and create a lasting narrative and heritage connection. 

Field Recording 

Field recordings were captured on-site and adapted to enhance engagement with the site’s temporal and spatial characteristics, including sound frequencies. Brown Jr. employed digital audio mixing techniques to shape sound into a complex composition. Using a software plugin called Envelope, the speed of field recordings was manipulated, producing a stereophonic effect simulating depth. A faster, condensed layer was looped against a slower, elongated layer, creating dynamic interplay mirroring the external space and building’s internal dimensions. This speculation aimed to reflect The Eclipse’s auditory record during its existence, using edited samples to sonically capture its essence.[153] 

Brown Jr.’s use of repetition emphasises overlooked acoustic qualities, reshaping the acoustic environment to defy sound’s transient qualities. This technique is used to evoke nostalgia by revealing rhythmic and musical motifs found within sound often dismissed as noise.[154] The looping of the recordings evidences the impact of human activity on environments but also amplifies sounds that usually go unheard, offering fresh insights. Brown Jr.’s manipulation of the field recordings as well as media and music recordings creates a “sonic image”, a lingering auditory presence that endures in the perception of the listener after the original sound has ceased.  

(No photographer). (Circa 1990-92). The Eclipse, Cox Street, Coventry. Image courtesy of the Coventry Evening Telegraph.


In psychoacoustics, noise is recognised as a sound signal lacking harmony and predictability, rather than simply being unwanted sound. Artists and theorists like Maryanne Amacher and Steve Goodman, in their work Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect and the Ecology of Fear, (2010), explored this concept. Goodman’s collaboration with Tania Bruguera at the Tate, titled 10,148,451, (2018-19), corresponds to “the number of people who migrated from one country to another last year added to the current number of migrant deaths recorded since the beginning of the project”. They utilised a sound system to propagate inaudible sound wave frequencies, pushing the boundaries of auditory perception to create unique sensory experiences. 

This field also investigates the psychological and physiological responses in auditory pathways and their cross-modal effects on other senses. In Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub), Brown Jr. blends field recordings with specific music excerpts and oral histories within a restricted band of frequencies native to the former site of The Eclipse. This is accompanied by a moment of intense sound collision is the mash-up of hardcore beats and bass taken from The Eclipse cassette tape of DJ Grooverider’s mix, which are then further distorted to produce a “wall of sound”. This process is described by Brown Jr. as follows: “Going back to the TV screen metaphor, I see the Wall of Sound as resembling a flat screen, while dub is more akin to the convex of the screen. However, my intention is to push the process of stripping back the screen even further, almost to the point of crushing it, starting anew, and engaging in something disruptive”.[155] 

In doing so, Brown Jr. creates a sensory experience that explores the boundaries of sound, noise, and human perception. This experience alters the listeners’ conscious interaction with their immediate surroundings, with the objective of transporting them into a reflective space that prompts a re-evaluation of generational collective memories to form an entirely new sonic environment.[156] The phenomenon of psychoacoustics within Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub) also prompts for an analysis of radio broadcast and digital download distributions, focusing on their impact on the audience’s perception and experience. The curatorial tools made available to Brown Jr. offered a chance to further probe how signal processing techniques, such as frequency modulation and compression in radio broadcasts, affect sound quality and auditory perception. In the context of digital downloads, namely how MP3 encoding algorithms, which reduce file sizes by excluding inaudible sounds, can alter listening experiences, affect, and the spatial quality of audio. 

For example, Matthew Fuller, in Media Ecologies, (2005), draws a parallel between Kurt Schwitters’ use of collage and the MP3 compression algorithm. Fuller identifies Schwitters’ combination of disparate items to create new meanings and connections, which the MP3 algorithm does by merging different aspects of sound to form a unique auditory experience. However, this manipulation might strip away the full range of sound, particularly the bass elements that resonate with the body, a characteristic feature of bass-driven music. Fuller articulates this concept by stating that “the MP3 file format, which has achieved such mass usage as a means of circulating tracks via the Internet, is designed simply to match the included middle of the audio spectrum audible to the human ear. Thus it obliterates the range of music’s designed to be heard with the remainder of the body via bass. This is not simply a white technological cleansing of black music but the configuration of organs, a call to order for the gut, the arse, to stop vibrating and leave the serious work of signal processing to the head”. This mode of auditory presentation, MP3s, serves as a practical demonstration of media ecology, where the technology itself actively moulds cultural expression and experience, evidencing the intricate web of technological, cultural, and perceptual interplay that shapes the reception and interpretation of music. 

In Sonic Persona: An Anthropology of Sound, (2018), Holgar Schulze posits, “no sound event, musical or otherwise, can be isolated from the spatial and temporal conditions of its physical signal propagation… [S]ound is shaped subjectively, depending on the auditory capacity, the attitude, and the psychology and culture of the listener. There is no universal approach to listening: every individual, every group, every culture listens in its own way”. Schulze explores the listener's material experience, shaped by sound within urban environments and architecture. This exploration suggests that streaming sound creates unique auditory environments, tailored by individual subjectivities. A phenomenon amplified by the constant evolution of “loudspeaker culture” and “headphone culture” in the context of the “epidemic expansion of computer technology”, rendering the impact of sound ubiquitous. Schulze advocates for interpreting acts of listening and sounding as inherently material, suggesting that “sonic materialism” is akin to “sensory materialism”. Speculating that “a materialist theory of sound” wherein “sound is not a world apart, a unique domain of non-significance and non-representation. Rather, sound and the sonic arts are firmly rooted in the material world and the powers, forces, intensities, and becomings of which it is composed”.[157] 

Sound Archives – Media and Documentation 

This data set included audio recordings from both human and non-human sources. Human audio features speech from interviews and news excerpts, alongside music from electronic dance tracks sourced from pre-existing mixes on YouTube and Vimeo. Non-human audio encompasses environmental sounds and field recordings, as well as the sounds and glitches from Brown Jr.’s digital audio mixing processes, in addition to the original noises captured using various, basic, or obsolete, technological equipment. This equipment’s limited capacity to capture sound frequencies ties into concepts of sonic materialism and relates to psychoacoustic discussions on frequency compression and broadcast media.[155] In addition to their primary function, the recordings serve as social documents, offering insights into the acoustic ecology of the region, the linguistic characteristics of the language used at that specific time, and the cultural practices of the rave community. The numerous interviews provided Brown Jr. with a narrative structure, to which a variety of recorded sounds and music pieces were appended, resulting in a multi-layered soundwork. The contributors include music producer Rob Gordon and DJs Mick Wilson and DJ Dobbo. These interviews, curated for coherence with Brown Jr.’s thematic vision, feature Edward George discussing rave culture as a symbol of rebellion, an escape from societal norms, and sometimes a platform for political activism. 

Analogue and Digital 

The sound archives in the data set, reflective of the research period, primarily consist of digitally recorded versions of analogue media, including vinyl records, tape cassettes, and radio and TV broadcast recordings, all of which have been independently transferred. These materials form the core of Brown Jr.’s conversion of information into a musical narrative. These narratives are then deconstructed and combined with intricate Jazz drum rhythms, intentionally diverging from the programmed breakbeats found in the data sets that correspond with the key movements within the hardcore continuum. This sonic fusion adopted by Brown Jr. symbolises a form of narrative reclamation and empowerment though the application of advanced technology. The blend of contemporary and traditional music creation techniques is also employed as a means to test the boundaries of music production, while emphasising the African diaspora’s impact on global technology and the fundamental role of “remixing” or “versioning” in contemporary culture and technology. 

The data set comprises photographs, scans, transcripts, annotations, maps, field notes, and various documents, including promotional flyers for The Eclipse events. These materials originate from printed media and offer additional context to the sound recordings but also list the key figures who would DJ there, providing crucial contextual information about music genres. Brown Jr. utilised printed media as a descriptive tool to create a rhythmic language for the sonic fiction. This imaginative approach envisioned auditory experiences, bridging the silence of documents with compositions of sounds derived from analogue, digital, and field recordings. Cultural references in the printed matter were utilised by Brown Jr. to trigger auditory memories through the integration of familiar sounds into their speculative narrative. Typography related to the documentation was initially customised from the documents and employed. However, after a period of curatorial reflection, they were replaced with a font favoured by the conceptual art collective Art & Language in the posters installed at each location.  

Sonic Ecologies 

Sonic ecologies encompass the study and artistic exploration of acoustic environments, focusing on the interplay between living beings and their surroundings. In this commissioned soundwork, Brown Jr. applies this concept to the unique sociocultural context of inner-city electronic music during its formative years in the early 1990s. As stated, Brown Jr. expands upon Eshun’s concept of sonic fiction while also aligning with the principles of Black Quantum Futurism (BQF). BQF’s exploration of time and cultural resonance within sound challenges linear narratives, which corresponds with Brown Jr.’s introduction of the concept of “latency” that also critiques of Western temporal constructs and a reimagining of the continuum that harmonises with African temporalities, which are non-linear and cyclical. In this fusion, Brown Jr. preserves the essence of historical musical forms and re-contextualises them, in alignment with BQF’s practice of blending traditional Black music genres with contemporary electronic sounds. This process creates a complex temporal collage through the practical and theoretical application of loops, samples, and time-stretched elements, constructing a bridge between eras and inviting listeners to transcend established temporal boundaries. 

The interpretation of sonic ecologies resonates with Dhanveer Singh Brar’s insights in Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski: The Sonic Ecologies of Black Music in the Early 21st Century, (2021), preferring “ecologies” to the more abstract term “space”. An approach that allows sound to interact dynamically with the environment at the moment of engagement, promoting a conversation that spans past, present, and potential futures. This is particularly relevant in the context of both soundworks and the remote access to Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub) via broadcasts and QR codes, facilitating an ongoing temporal dialogue. 

Sonic Methodologies 

Brown Jr. utilises sonic ethnography to explore the complex cultures and societies associated with The Eclipse’s period of activity, pushing ethnography’s limits beyond traditional visual and textual analysis to centre on sound. This approach recognises the various sounds as significant bearers of meaning for community identities and practices. Drawing from Nicola Scaldaferri and Steven Feld’s conceptions of sonic ethnography as an immersive method for engaging with cultural environments, Brown Jr. investigated the veiled aspects of community life around Cox Street. With the use of field recordings, which acted as a rich tool for analysis and storytelling, reflecting Brown Jr.’s commitment to preserving and evidencing the complex cultural narratives that might have otherwise remained concealed.  

Additionally, Brown Jr. employs Rhythmanalysis as a method to scrutinise the temporal dynamics and social context captured in audio and field recordings stored in the data set while composing Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub). Reflecting on Henri Lefebvre’s insight, “A place has rhythms, and understanding a place means comprehending its rhythms”, Brown Jr. catalogues and intertwines these patterns into a sonic narrative to reveal how the site of The Eclipse pulsates with varied rhythms. This notably includes the constant drone of Ring-Road traffic and the accelerated tempos or BPMs of the music historically played there. Brown Jr.’s narrative captures the complex interplay of these accelerated tempos, inviting the listener to traverse different temporal dimensions. This portrayal is indicative of a period marked by a significant increase in beats, samples, and bass, illustrated in a number of diagrams and graphs provided demographic census data that connects with the increase of BPMs in UK Dance Music. This correlates with Steve Goodman’s application of Rhythmanalysis, or “rhythmachine”, which synthesises seemingly disparate and chaotic data to establish order. Goodman and Brown’s alignment with Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome is evident as they translate statistical data and numerical relationships into non-numerical phenomena like affect or music. Through this, Brown Jr. demonstrates how acoustic resonance can personify numerical relations, bridging the gap between quantifiable data and the qualitative elements of experience.[159] 

Furthermore, Goodman’s concept of “ecologies of frequency” suggests that “in sonic realms, it is the frequency, the rhythm, that narrates the story of a place”. Brown Jr. employs this concept to explore how the sounds, rhythms, and frequencies of a period can be woven together to construct unseen realities and moments. This echoes Maryanne Amacher’s idea that “there is a sound to every environment, and this sound has a story”, particularly when applied to media fragments imbued with cultural and historical significance, such as the crackle of analogue radios or TVs, which would have been commonplace at the time.[160]  

It is also important to provide a more detailed description of “versioning” in relation to this research, which challenges musical and cultural boundaries. This represents a form of track deconstruction that questions notions of originality and ownership in music, mirroring broader cultural and political attitudes, particularly within marginalised communities. Paving the way for the now more mainstream “Dub”, a genre defined by instrumental focus, remixing, and extensive use of audio effects such as echo, reverb and riddim—the dominant bassline.[161] By the late seventies, “Dub” had transitioned from being relegated to B-sides to featuring prominently on A-sides, a shift epitomised in 1975 when a Dub version by King Tubby was featured as an A-side track in the UK. In 1976, Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “Super Ape” album further cemented “Dub” as an independent musical genre and as a crucial influencer of modern sound, serving as a hub for sonic innovation. This expanded the understanding of technology beyond “the white boxes of computer technology” to include “the black boxes of modern street technology”, which neatly fits Brown Jr.’s intention in transposing the audio materials found within the data sets.[162] This point of using what A Guy Called Gerald referred to as “black secret technology” is reiterated by Michael Veal in Dub: Songscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae, (2007), which posits that “Dub’s heavy use of reverb is a sonic metaphor for the condition of diaspora”, probing the echoic fragmentation of conventional song structure.[163] Furthermore, this approach disrupts the “Master” narrative of progress, technology, and futurism that emerges from the West, akin to the decay of an echo or a ripple spreading outward from a colonial centre. Echoic gaps in a composition symbolise both longing and the auditory representation of historical discontinuities and disjunctures. They become a tool for redefining the past and moulding the future, creating a complex space-time continuum that blends reality and fiction. This aligns with Michel Foucault’s notion of ‘heterotopia’, which suggests an alternative historical space. More recently, Rizvana Bradley’s Anteaesthetics (2023) critiques the established formalist conventions inherent in Western Modernism, which often engages with black intellectual and artistic forms in a sceptical or extractive manner. Bradley highlights the unique challenges that blackness presents due to its dissimulative appearance and ontological exclusion, suggesting a parallel discourse, which is applicable to how Brown Jr.’s addresses the materials provided.[164]  

In a series of theoretical discussions with Brown Jr., we decided that the project would involve capturing and reinterpreting the site’s musical history when it was  The Eclipse, initially showcased genres like Balearic, Chicago House, Detroit Techno, before progressing to UK sounds such as Hardcore, Jungle, and Drum ‘n’ Bass, as detailed in the glossary. The project recruits the data sets to sonically chart the rich legacy of musical shifts between 1990-1992 at the Eclipse as well as its various publics, characterising the soundwork as a form of audio cartography.[165] 

Alongside the Case Study Data Sets, the original ambisonic field recordings taken at the site which previously housed The Eclipse were a key component in producing this soundwork. These recordings capture the “acoustic environment” of the location through the unique sound frequencies shaped by the site’s physical aspects, which influence sound wave propagation. In conjunction with the persistent “drone” of vehicles on the Ring Road— “drone” denoting a continuous, sustained tone or harmonic effect that underlies or is interwoven with a piece of music, often engendering a sense of spatial ambiance or tonal foundation—further typifies the sonic conditions of the area. This form of recording corresponds with R. Murray Schafer’s concept of “soundscape”, an acoustic environment or atmosphere perceived by humans that encompasses all neighbouring sounds, both natural and human-made, within a specific context or location.[166] However, it is important to note that this research favours the term “acoustic environment”, avoiding the binary and pictorial connotations of “soundscape” opined by Tim Ingold in Against Soundscape, (2007).[167] 

Brown Jr.’s approach to the project promotes the use of sound as a way of interpreting the past, considering that historical analysis typically relies on visual media. This builds on Nicholas Mirzoeff’s argument that “ocular-centric” perspectives can often result in oversimplified experiences, and subsequently offers an alternative form of sensory engagement.[168] This stance is echoed by Brandon Labelle, who believes that sound deepens auditory connections to history through “means of occupying and exploring the multiple perspectives of the present”.[169]  The toolkit acts as a guide to mediate and contextualise the transient sounds specific to the location’s diverse histories, as well as underscore the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration. As Miwon Kwon emphasises, site-specific art, particularly sound art, encourages profound reflection on our relationships with places and histories, while Michael Bull and Les Black argue in The Auditory Culture Reader, (2003) that auditory experiences offer a comprehensive and immersive understanding of cultural histories, rivalling visual or tactile encounters.[170] 

Evaluating the soundwork, Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub) requires critically assessing the application, accessibility, and relevance of the curatorial toolkit in various contexts. In doing so, I assess which tools were used and why, identifying their effectiveness as well as their viability in other scenarios, while testing whether the toolkit’s guidelines are too prescriptive, hindering creativity. Additionally, this project scrutinises terminological clarity for biases or misinterpretations that could affect the understanding of spatial environments and sonic practices, for example the term “soundscape” was substituted with “acoustic environment” because of its sensitive historical connotations or binary interpretations.[172] 

The toolkit’s emphasis on sonic documentation prompts reflection on how sound might shape our perception of cultural subjects and social phenomena while offering an immersive experience that engages our senses.[169] Edward Palmer Thompson, in The Making of the English Working Class, (2002), recognises the pivotal role of sound and music in marginalised communities. This insight aligns with the link Simon Reynolds makes between rave culture and the working class, describing the movement as both “a celebration of escape” and a “site of resistance” which burgeoned into a significant and subversive cultural force. The evolution of rave is further examined in The History of Our World: The Hardcore Continuum Debate, (2010), which reassesses the “hardcore continuum” concept and its ties to historical socioeconomic structures, proposing that sonic deconstruction can re-contextualise countercultural movements within broader socio-political narratives.[173] 

Brown Jr. offers a new perspective on rave culture with a focus on the history of techno within the context of The Eclipse. This perspective highlights techno’s role in cultural expression and activism, challenging aspects of Reynolds’ assessment of the “hardcore continuum”. It practices, through sound, the reclaiming of techno’s black roots, considering that Brown Jr. argues that the genre has been co-opted by some Western practitioners and promoters. This appropriation has led to alterations in its original rhythmic and bass-driven foundations, exemplified by early Detroit Techno, due to commercial and logistical demands. Brown Jr. employs “versioning”, a technique associated with dub and sound systems, both of which are historically related to amplifying marginalised voices to broadcast messages that intertwine racial history with contemporary social issues.[174] This was achieved by repeatedly clipping and layering the first 60-minute iteration of Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum, featuring various collaged sound files with an emphasis on key tracks and vocals, to create a shorter 15-minute dub. Overlaid are a series of performed drum rhythms that intentionally contest formulaic four-by-four interpretations of drum patterns to create a soundwork that Brown Jr. frames as a “sonic fiction”.  

Examining the role of technology in music as a catalyst for societal transformation as well as a critical lens on established cultural narratives, Brown Jr. reflects on the concept of “latency” from both a theoretical and practical perspective. This contemplation draws parallels between temporal disjunction and technological processing, culminating in a soundwork “entirely focused on latency and dub resonances” in relation to the “historical pattern of Black Americans traveling, at different times, either across the Atlantic or up to Canada, whereby both movements occur simultaneously”. The “Futurythmic Dub” of Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum serves as a narrative “from the Ex-American perspective”, reinterpreting the genre of techno that has been exported and transformed. By employing dub mixing techniques, or “versioning”, it introduces a new temporal dimension. This is viewed as a reversal from the geographical perspective of Canada, described as “six hours behind or whatever”. The objective is for the music to fold back upon itself in a way that is “really irreverent”, thereby challenging conventional notions of time and space within the musical and cultural framework.[175] 

Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub) – Conclusion 

As outlined, the creation of Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum (Futurhythmic Dub), a soundwork derived from a diverse array of historical records compiled into a data set, equipped DeForrest Brown Jr. with insights into the Eclipse as a site of cultural resistance from 1990-92. In dialogue with me, Brown Jr. produced a soundwork that amplified previously unheard voices and cultural narratives, testing the effectiveness of the curatorial toolkit when applied to this specific geographical and socio-political context. 

Brown Jr. produced two versions of the soundwork Dismantling the Hardcore Continuum. The initial iteration was a 60-minute compilation of dance tracks and interviews with key figures from North America and Europe, relevant to that era. This version promoted a more transparent form of knowledge exchange and will be archived for online access in the future. However, to conform to broadcast constraints, alongside Paul Purgas’ This Voice Was Once Spoken, Brown Jr.’s work had to undergo additional modifications to fit within a 60-minute programme slot. Moreover, the cassette tape release, currently delayed indefinitely, is constrained to 40 minutes, with 20 minutes allocated to each side.  

Although Brown Jr. was informed well in advance about the need to edit the soundwork in Spring-Summer 2023, several issues arose regarding personal and technical challenges: renouncing U.S. citizenship, relocating to Vancouver, touring as Speaker Music, co-curating an exhibition at Museion in Bolzano, and dealing with a technical issue with the computer that housed the original composition and files of the soundwork. After resolving the technical issues, Brown Jr. re-evaluated the soundwork, to further question Reynolds’s “hardcore continuum” theory and its cultural homogeneity, notably its white male dominance and disconnect from politically charged origins. Committed to diversity and the genre’s heritage, as shown in the publication Assembling A Black Counter Culture aside from the Make Techno Black Again initiative, Brown Jr. used “versioning” to create a shortened dub adaptation. This approach transposed the original’s core, forming a sonic palimpsest aligned with the project’s conceptual objectives, reflecting Detroit Techno’s cultural significance and its early connection with the Midlands region, as Neil Rushton notes.[176] 

Compiling the data sets and capturing sufficient ambisonic field recordings presented challenges in preserving The Eclipse’s acoustic heritage. These recordings were crucial for creating a dub track that resonated with Amacher and Goodman’s use of psychoacoustics and rhythmanalysis. Brown Jr. employed a “socio-political” approach to active listening, notably using Aidy Dowling’s oral histories to enhance the soundwork. Although, this effort uncovered gaps in representing The Eclipse’s community’s diverse voices, instead reflecting a cultural-to-financial motivational shift not necessarily tied to political activism. However, for Brown Jr., the focus was on the location and the music’s socio-political “resistance”, using frequencies and rhythms to situate the sound within the Detroit Techno milieu and introducing alternative drum patterns to UK dance music’s four-to-the-floor rhythm, highlighting its historical lineage.[177] 

Brown Jr.’s exploration of vibrational ontology engenders an authentic engagement with sound and its historical imprints. Drawing from Eshun’s notion that sonic fictions “neither concern music nor its absence but rather resonate as music, driving us onward with rhythmic coherence”, this approach reconfigures cultural narratives through the lenses of decolonisation, de-modernisation, and the integration of intersectional feminism as a challenge. Furthermore, Brown Jr.’s application of “versioning” as tool disrupts static historical narratives by embracing a speculative Afrofuturist approach that interrogates linear temporality and bridges historical discontinuities. This fosters a sonic domain characterised by “incompleteness”, which both preserves history and maintains its susceptibility to continuous investigation and reinterpretation.

[138] The delineation of the “third space” parallels bell hooks’ concept of “margins”, as well as Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s “undercommons”; it also resonates with the notion of “incompleteness”. As an academic concept, its development is indebted to the contributions of several critical thinkers. Homi K. Bhabha, the eminent postcolonial theorist, posits the “third space” in The Location of Culture, (1994) as an interstitial zone that “displaces the histories that constitute it, and sets up new structures of authority, new political initiatives… The process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognisable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation”. Edward Soja intersects urban planning with postmodern geography and extends this notion to spatial consciousness in Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, (1996), blending the tangible and symbolic realms to redefine spatiality. Michel Foucault’s notion of “heterotopias”, albeit not labelled “third space”, parallels in its envisioning of counter-narrative spaces.

[139] During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rave scene in the UK faced stringent licensing laws that restricted the hours during which public nightclubs could operate. The laws at the time, primarily the Licensing Act 1964, mandated that public nightclubs had to close at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. This posed a significant constraint on the emerging rave culture, which required all-night dancing and music. A legal loophole was identified by club promoters and owners that allowed private members’ clubs more flexibility in their operating hours. Unlike public nightclubs, private clubs could stay open longer because they were considered private premises where membership could control access. The law assumed that private clubs were for specific communities or groups with common interests, and therefore they were given more leeway in terms of regulation. This included the ability to serve alcohol outside the normal licensing hours for public houses and bars. To exploit this loophole, many rave promoters, initially the Eclipse, set up venues as private members’ clubs. Patrons would have to pay a membership fee, sign up in advance, or be invited by existing members to gain entry. By doing so, these clubs could legally operate all night long without infringing on public licensing laws. This approach allowed the rave culture to flourish, with clubs like The Eclipse in Coventry recognised for their all-night events. However, this loophole was eventually addressed by authorities as the rave scene grew and the government sought more control over these events. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 introduced new measures that targeted raves, including those held in private members’ clubs, by defining repetitive beats and giving police more power to shut down events seen as causing a public disturbance.

[140] Thornton, S. (2003). Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. (Cambridge: Polity).  

Brewster, B. & Broughton, F. (1999). Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey. (New York City: Grove Atlantic).  

Reynolds, S. (1998). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. (London: Picador). 

It is important to note that Pierre Bourdieu, in The Forms of Capital, (1983), articulates a framework for understanding the various manifestations of capital beyond its economic dimension, proposing that capital exists in cultural, social, and symbolic forms, each with distinct features and effects on social dynamics. This theory provides a lens for analysing subcultures, examining how they accumulate and exchange these forms of capital, and how these transactions contribute to their position within the broader social hierarchy. Bourdieu’s perspective allows for a deeper insight into the intrinsic relationships between subcultures and the various forms of capital, elucidating how cultural tastes, social connections, and symbolic attributes can confer advantages or disadvantages in a way that is analogous to financial capital.

[141] Collin, M. (2010). Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House. (London: Serpent’s Tail).

[142] Bennett, A. (2001). Cultures of Popular Music. (Berkshire: Open University Press).

[143] Direct quote from final appraisal of the curatorial toolkit’s application in the production of the sound art commission with DeForrest Brown Jr. conducted in person at Brick Lane Coffee Shop, London on 16 January 2024.

[144] “Vox pops”, short for “vox populi”, is a Latin phrase that translates to “voice of the people”. In media and journalism, “vox pops” refer to short interviews with members of the public. These are often conducted spontaneously in public places and involve asking individuals their opinions on a particular issue, event, or topic that is of current interest. The aim is to get a quick and diverse range of viewpoints to represent the reactions and thoughts of the general population. “Vox pops” are typically used in television, radio, and online news formats to add public perspective to news stories or gauge public sentiment.

[145] Frith, S. (1996). Performing Rites: Evaluating Popular Music. (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

[146] Reynolds, S. (1998). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. (London: Picador).

[147] The early 1990s marked a pivotal moment in music history with the advent of economically viable electronic mixing apparatus and software, catalysing the democratisation of music production and DJing and thus influencing the expansion of rave culture. Affordable synthesisers, drum machines, and sequencers—such as the Roland TB-303 and the Akai MPC series—became available beyond professional studios, fostering the rise of home studios where amateur producers could experiment with and create rave tracks. This period was characterised by a surge in musical experimentation, giving birth to new electronic sub-genres and revolutionising DJ culture. For instance, the Technics SL-1200 series of turntables made DJing practices more accessible, leading to the emergence of prominent DJs. Early Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) like Pro Tools, along with trackers, were instrumental in making music composition more accessible and less dependent on complex hardware, contributing to the growth of independent labels and a diverse music scene. Concurrently, the nascent internet, through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), forums, and mailing lists, facilitated the formation of rave culture communities, enhancing communication among enthusiasts. This era also saw the rise of a sampling culture within electronic music, which, despite legal complexities, contributed to the global spread of rave culture, a testament to the far-reaching impact of democratised music technology.

[148] Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music. (2000). Available at:

[149] The information shared stems primarily from interviews with Aidy Dowling, an unofficial biographer of the Eclipse. Dowling’s dedication to capturing the venue’s history has led them to self-fund numerous projects without support from the Arts Council or Coventry City of Culture. After several discussions with Aidy, they agreed to use their public materials but was cautious about unreleased content awaiting edits. From their records, a riveting narrative unfolds about the Eclipse’s music evolution, with insights from industry stalwarts like Micky Finn, Grooverider, and Fabio. Dowling explained that the local council’s denial of an alcohol license prompted the venue to control drug sales. They sold counterfeit drugs to increase profits, causing audience numbers to dwindle. Nevertheless, the venue’s primary focus remained on steady revenue over audience contentment. The management’s disinterest gave DJs performing at the Eclipse a unique platform to experiment without the pressure of mainstream expectations. The loyal audience valued innovation over popularity. This environment, combined with the management’s cost-saving approach, led to the emergence of younger, affordable DJs from the breakbeat and hardcore scene, setting the stage for the evolution from jungle to the drum ‘n’ bass we know today. 

[150] Hardcore anthems were characterised by fast breakbeats, heavy bass lines, and euphoric piano riffs and vocal samples, defined an intense, kinetic raver experience, epitomising the rave scene’s ecstatic atmosphere, sonically representing the ravers’ desire for escapism. As the genre evolved, it branched into various sub-genres, with tracks getting faster and more aggressive, giving birth to jungle and, later, drum and bass, with their dark, complex bass lines and reggae or dancehall samples mirroring the rave audience’s growing sophistication. Conversely, other tracks embraced a slower tempo and more melodic elements, spawning the “happy hardcore” sub-genre. These anthems, with their pitched-up vocals and simple, catchy melodies, catered to a new raver generation seeking sing-along anthems that resonated with the rave ethos of Peace, Love, Unity, Respect (PLUR). Simon Reynolds views the evolution of hardcore anthems as a reflection of broader sociocultural dynamics and the rave community’s changing tastes and demographics. Each genre shift responded to the need for innovation, commercial pressures, or the community’s craving for new sonic experiences. Continuing to evolve, hardcore anthems assimilated elements from trance and house, leading to sub-genres like UK hardcore and hardstyle. These maintained the original sound’s energy and crowd appeal while incorporating contemporary production techniques and diverse electronic music influences. Reynolds posits that hardcore’s longevity and crowd appeal stem not only from its energetic nature but also from its adaptability and capacity to resonate with the collective consciousness of its listeners, mirroring their changing desires and the spirit of the times.

[151] Mercer, K. (1989). Black Film/British Cinema. (London: ICA Documents). 

Collin, M. (2010). Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House. (London: Serpent’s Tail). 

George, E. (1996). Rave Culture and Its Discontents in Radical Philosophy. 82. pp. 2-8. 

[152] Direct quote from final appraisal of the curatorial toolkit’s application in the production of the sound art commission with DeForrest Brown Jr. conducted in person at Brick Lane Coffee Shop, London on 16 January 2024.

[153] In sound design, the term “envelope” refers to a software plugin known as the Envelope generator. This tool manipulates the temporal dynamics of a sound wave through four key stages: Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release (ADSR). The application of the envelope generator spans a variety of digital instruments, from synthesisers to samplers, infusing sounds with nuanced expression and dynamism. The Decay parameter controls the sound’s reduction to a pre-set Sustain level, shaping the note’s initial profile. Sustain, unlike timing-based parameters, regulates the sound’s level while the note is held. High sustain maintains sound prominence; low sustain yields a quieter impression. Release then dictates how the sound fades after the note ends. Longer release times extend the fade, adding resonance, while shorter times quickly quiet the note. An envelope plugin does more than adjust volume; it also modulates filter cut-offs, pitch, providing sound designers with a comprehensive set of tools for customising audio. Through ADSR manipulation, designers create sounds that fit seamlessly into musical compositions or sonic environments.

[154] In The Future of Nostalgia, (2001), Svetlana Boym explores the concept of nostalgia and its manifestations, citing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s description of Swiss cowbells as “memorative signs” to exemplify “reflective nostalgia”, characterised by the lingering memory of the past, as opposed to “restorative nostalgia”, which seeks to recreate historical and artistic relics. Boym engages with Immanuel Kant’s romantic interpretation of nostalgia as a longing for a lost world of clarity and order. She contrasts this with Charles Baudelaire’s The Painter of Modern Life, which offers a modernist perspective on nostalgia, one that yearns not for a past ideal but for potentialities within the present. This modernist nostalgia is also reflected in Walter Benjamin’s work, who shifts the focus from the past to the potential of imagining a better future, suggesting that history’s emergence in the present creates a “now of recognisability” and spurs a progressive nostalgia. 

Extending the discourse, Jacques Derrida’s meditations on archives and memory assert that the “question of the archive” is fundamentally about the future and our responsibility towards it, rather than a mere reflection on the past.

[155] Direct quote from final appraisal of the curatorial toolkit’s application in the production of the sound art commission with DeForrest Brown Jr. conducted in person at Brick Lane Coffee Shop, London on 16 January 2024. 

[156] The concept of “collective memory” refers to the shared pool of knowledge and information held by a group of people that transcends individual experiences. Maurice Halbwachs, a French sociologist, introduced the term, in The Collective Memory, (1952) arguing that collective memory is constructed within social frameworks and persists through the support of communal reinforcement. According to Halbwachs, “the collective memory depends on the framework used by people living in society to determine and retrieve their recollections”. This notion has been further expanded upon by Paul Connerton in How Societies Remember, (1989) who suggests that collective memory is maintained through ritual performances and is not merely a cognitive phenomenon but embodied in shared practices. Connerton examines the formation and preservation of social memory, positing that it extends beyond textual records to the realm of embodied practices, creating “habit-memory” and “inscribed memory” as two types of social remembrance, with the former based on bodily repetition and the latter on recorded media. Society, Connerton argues, engage in “performative rituals” that enact and reinforce collective identity and memory, thus playing a pivotal role in social continuity and the active reconstruction of memory within cultural contexts.

[157] Schulze, H., (2018). The Sonic Persona: An Anthropology of Sound. (London: Bloomsbury).

[158] Christoph Cox and Holger Schulze have both articulated the concept of “Sonic Materialism”, which posits that sound is not just a signifier or representational device but a material force with its own reality and dynamics. This view reflects a historical transition from visual music representations, such as notation, to the aural experiences enabled by technological advances like the phonograph, introduced by Edison and Cros, and more recently digital apparatus. The phonograph’s indiscriminate sound capture epitomises Sonic Materialism, illuminating the tangible essence of sound, a notion resonating with John Cage’s exploration of the “entire field of sound”. This approach, emphasising the dynamic interplay of sound masses, diverges from traditional music definitions and corresponds with Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy of “becoming and change”, urging a reconsideration of sound’s intrinsic nature and its role in art and life, recognising sounds as individual existences, akin to events rather than static entities. Sonic Materialism re-conceptualises music equipment as active elements in sound creation, with analogue devices like synthesisers contributing tactile interactions to sounds through their inherent material properties. In digital domains, sonic materialism recognises software and algorithms as integral to sound manipulation, with software and plugins offering new auditory possibilities through digital synthesis. The materiality of digital apparatuses includes the impact of compression algorithms on audio perception, as they selectively filter sound data during streaming and playback, shifting the paradigm of musical creation, treating every component, analogue or digital, as a dynamic contributor to the construction of sounds.

[159] Lefebvre, H. (2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life. (London: Continuum).

[160] Goodman, S., (2010) Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. (Cambridge: MIT Press).

[161] Vendryes, T. (2015). ‘Versions, Dubs and Riddims: Dub and the Transient Dynamics of Jamaican Music’ in Dancecult. 7. pp. 5-24. doi: 10.12801/1947-5403.2015.07.02.01. 

The “versioning” process in Dub music, which involves the continuous evolution of a track into something new with each iteration, aligns closely with Gilles Deleuze’s philosophical concepts of becoming, difference, and repetition. It disrupts the notion of a fixed identity, echoing Deleuze’s “rhizome” concept—a non-linear system devoid of a singular origin or conclusion that emphasises continuous growth and transformation—thus mirroring the exploration of originality and ownership in Dub music. Similarly, Jacques Derrida’s concept of deconstruction fits with the “versioning” process in Dub music, a process that inherently deconstructs and re-contextualises the elements of the original song, challenging established notions of originality and ownership. It also mirrors Derrida’s “différance” concept, which signifies the deferment of meaning and the differentiation between texts.

[162] Derby, M. (ed). (1994). ‘Back to The Future: Interviews with Samuel R Delany, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose’ in Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture. (Durham: Duke University Press). 

The following footnote paraphrases Jodie Yates’ article Reggae, Riots and Resistance: the Sounds of Black Britain in 1981, published in April 2019 for The Pan African Music Magazine. It opens with Enoch Powell’s 1968 prediction about black Britons having power over white Britons fuelled post-war racial tension in the UK. In response Black Britons introduced Caribbean reggae, dub, and sound system culture in response, forming an auditory resistance. By the 1970s, black British culture thrived with Caribbean rhythms introduced by early migrants. What started as a private phenomenon soon reached public spaces, driven by a determined second-generation black Britons. Originating in 1950s Jamaica, sound system culture resonated in Britain with UK sound systems like Saxon Sound, Coxsone, and Jah Shaka. This distinctive, bass-heavy protest music combined Jamaican and British reggae to give voice to black Britons’ resistance. 

The 1981 New Cross Fire, causing 13 black children’s deaths, catalysed a significant mobilisation within the UK’s black community. Musicians like Roy Rankin & Raymond Naphtali and Linton Kwesi Johnson channelled their grief and protest through music. The Sus laws, allowing for arbitrary stop-and-search, sparked a series of revolts in 1981 due to their disproportionate effect on black youths. Linton Kwesi Johnson’s Di Great Insohreckshan powerfully documented this struggle, leading to the Scarman report, a critical public inquiry into UK race relations. Sound system culture endured through the 1980s as a potent symbol of resistance, marking a significant era for ethnic minorities in England. The impact of reggae in 1981 transformed Britain, symbolising the ongoing black struggle and empowering black Britons to assert their British identity.

[163] Black Secret Technology refers to the 1995 album by A Guy Called Gerald, lauded for its influence on jungle and drum & bass music. Interpreted by Brown Jr., the term encapsulates the ingenious application of technology in crafting Black music genres, highlighting the cultural and musical creativity of Black communities. It acknowledges Black artists’ often overlooked contributions to electronic music’s progression, underscoring their technical prowess and innovation in forging the contours of contemporary music.

[164] Foucault’s concept of “heterotopia” refers to unique spaces that exist simultaneously physically and mentally, such as a phone call or a mirror reflection. Unlike utopias, which are idealised non-real spaces, “heterotopias” exist. They represent, contest, and invert societal norms and function as alternative spaces providing new perspectives on space, power, identity, and culture.

[165] LaBelle, B. (2010). Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life. (London: Continuum). 

Massey, D. (1994). Space, Place and Gender. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). 

Kwon, M. (2004). One Place after Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. (Cambridge: MIT Press).

[166] In The Tuning of the World, (1977), R. Murray Schafer asserts that “each environment has its own acoustic profile, a characteristic distribution of sound frequencies, determined by the physical dimensions and reflective surfaces”, a principle further explored by Barry Truax in Acoustic Communication, (1984), who emphasises how “the frequency response of a place is shaped by its enclosure and the absorptive properties of its surfaces”. Hildegard Westerkamp, in the revised text Soundwalking, (2001), adds that field recordings uncover a location’s “sonic contours”, explaining that “each space reflects and absorbs sound waves differently, thus creating its own frequency spectrum”.

[167] Ingold, T. (2007). ‘Against Soundscape’ in Carlyle, A. (ed). Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practice. pp. 10-13. (Paris: Double Entendre).  

Ingold, T. (2011). Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. (London: Routledge). 

Anthropologist Tim Ingold’s critiques of the concept of “soundscape” as posited by Schafer, suggest the term implies a static or bounded collection of sounds analogous to a landscape—a visual panorama observed rather than inhabited. Contrarily, Ingold proposes conceiving sound within a “meshwork” of sensory experiences, wherein sound is not merely passively received but is an active engagement by entities interacting with their milieu, emphasising sound’s processual nature as part of a living dialogue with the world.

[168] Mirzoeff, N. (1999). An Introduction to Visual Culture. (London: Routledge). 

In Western traditions, the ocular-centric paradigm has prioritised vision, linking it to the Enlightenment and the significance of the “gaze” in knowledge portrayal. However, this research, among others, aims to re-evaluate this visual emphasis and promote multi-sensory understanding. Cultural critiques suggest that overemphasising the visual may limit our understanding of other sensory-valued cultures. The digital era introduces multi-sensory interfaces, challenging visual dominance. Sensory anthropology highlights non-visual experiences that have influenced human history. Academia recognises that knowledge is not validated solely through visual observation. Additionally, the “gaze”, central to the ocular-centric view, faces scrutiny with feminist and postcolonial discourses, highlighting its role in power dynamics and surveillance. 

[169] LaBelle, B. (2010). Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life. (London: Continuum).

[170] Bull, M. & Back, L. (2003). The Auditory Culture Reader. (Oxford: Berg).

[171] The academic delineation of “ghettoised” urban spaces is a multifaceted and embedded in socioeconomic and political undercurrents that drive the segregation and marginalisation of specific urban demographics, often defined by race, ethnicity, or economic standing. The term “ghetto” evolved from its historical inception—denoting segregated Jewish quarters in European cities—to a broader characterisation of urban sectors inhabited predominantly by minority groups, a transition underscored in 20th-century American sociology with respect to African American inner-city communities. For instance, Herbert J. Gans, in The Urban Villagers, (1962), describes how physical structures like highways can reinforce spatial segregation, while William Julius Wilson, in The Truly Disadvantaged, (1987), attributes their economic plight to broader structural changes. The political and institutional oversight of these urban locals is critiqued by Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton in American Apartheid, (1993), as does Elijah Anderson in Code of the Street, (1999), which analyses the cultural repercussions of such isolation. Contemporary perspectives, include Mark Gottdiener and Ray Hutchison in The New Urban Sociology, (2010), which details how global economic dynamics contribute to ghettoisation, shifting the discourse from individual failings to systemic causation. However, the academic usage of “ghetto” is contested for perpetuating stereotypes and failing to reflect the complexity of marginalised urban life.

[172] Sterne, J. (2003). The Audible past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.
(Durham: Duke University Press). 

[173] LaBelle, B. (2015). Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art. (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA). 

Goodman, S. (2010). Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. (Cambridge: MIT Press). 

[174] Jonathan Sterne’s The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, (2003) explores the concept of the “sonic palimpsest” within the realm of sound reproduction technologies, with a particular focus on the transition from analogue to digital technologies. Sterne contends that sound recordings, during this transition, can be aptly likened to palimpsests. Sterne underscores that these technologies do not only replicate sound but engender layers of sonic information, both preserving and at times obscuring the original source. They posit that as sound technologies evolved, the act of recording, re-recording, and remastering sound transformed into a process of accumulating layers of auditory information. These layers encompass not only the sounds themselves but also the assorted distortions, imperfections, and interpretations introduced by each recording and playback technology. Each layer imprints its own distinct mark, contributing to an intricate sonic history that can be decoded and analysed. Through a detailed academic examination of the development of sound reproduction technologies, Sterne demonstrates how sonic palimpsests come into being as recordings are duplicated, reissued, and digitised. Illustrating that an exploration of these palimpsests unveils insights into the history and cultural context of sound and music, revealing how technological shifts have moulded our auditory encounters and conceptions of the past. 

In Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, (1994), Tricia Rose investigates the concept of the “sonic palimpsest” within the framework of hip-hop music and its interconnectedness with African American culture. Rose examines into how hip-hop artists fashion sonic palimpsests by sampling and remixing pre-existing music, sounds, and cultural references. Contending that hip-hop music is deeply entrenched in a tradition of appropriation and reinterpretation, wherein artists draw upon samples from earlier songs, speeches, and historical recordings to craft fresh sonic narratives. These samples are layered with contemporary beats, lyrics, and cultural commentary. Consequently, hip-hop compositions frequently function as sonic palimpsests, conserving and re-contextualising the past while simultaneously addressing present-day social and political concerns. Rose underscores that the act of sampling in hip-hop constitutes a manifestation of cultural memory, wherein the past is imaginatively reconfigured and articulated through sound. The sonic palimpsests generated within hip-hop echo the cultural and historical experiences of African Americans, furnishing a platform for self-expression, storytelling, and resistance. 

Combined, the exploration of the “sonic palimpsest” in both Sterne’s and Rose’s writing highlights how this concept illuminates the multifaceted intersection of sound, technology, culture, and memory. It emerges as an invaluable framework for comprehending the intricate and dynamic nature of sound and music within diverse cultural and historical contexts.

[175] Quotes are taken verbatim from final appraisal of the curatorial toolkit’s application in the production of the sound art commission with DeForrest Brown Jr., which was conducted in person at Brick Lane Coffee Shop, London on 16 January 2024. 

[176] Detroit: Techno City. (2016). Available at:

(2023). Available at:  

While serving as Senior Curator at the ICA, I organised the exhibition Detroit: Techno City, (27 July 2016-25 September 2016). For the research component, I conducted interviews with Neil Rushton (founder of Network Records) and various Detroit artists who appeared on Techno: The New Dance Sound of Detroit, (1988), including Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Eddie Fowlkes, and members of Underground Resistance.

[177] In one of the many conversations that where part of the project Brown Jr. discussed various auto-ethnographic sites such the Underground Railroad in Alabama or the location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s incarceration, endorsing the profound connection between place, memory, and identity. The sonic images derived from subjective experiences act as acoustic markers of historical events, distinct from others’ experiences yet capturing an essence of moments past. By securing these moments in contemporary consciousness, they contribute to collective memory and foster discussions about the infrastructures and societal conditions that shaped specific actions and behaviours.