24rpm Electronic Music Festival Pushes Boundaries with d&b Soundscape.

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While the phrase “church music” most likely calls to mind the pipe organ’s sombre tones or the energetic pulse of gospel, there’s something about the aesthetics - and indeed acoustics - of traditional church buildings that also lends them to the genre-bending and twisted beats of experimental electronic music. At least according to pioneering record label/artist and event management outfit Bit-Phalanx, which has exclusively employed such sacred spaces for its annual RPM Festival.

Returning for its fifth edition in 2019, the day-long celebration of electronic music and live AV performance recently took place in the welcoming environs of St Paul’s Church in London’s Covent Garden. This year’s event – designated ‘24rpm’ – showcased a remarkable line-up of groundbreaking electronic artists including Leila (Warp Records), LA trailblazer Daedalus and a live collaboration between Japanese artist/producers Coppé and Hataken. Completing 24rpm’s feast for the senses, a VR installation also allowed visitors to experience Bjork’s ‘Vulnicura’ album in virtual reality.

Memorials of luminaries such as Charlie Chaplin and Boris Karloff contribute to the feel of an inherently creative space and, as Bit Phalanx’s Léigh explains, St Paul’s (also known as ‘Actor’s Church’) proved a perfect fit for 24rpm - once d&b’s Soundscape system came into play…

“One of the main reasons we work exclusively with churches is for the almost-guaranteed magnificent acoustics” he says. “However, each church has its own unique, quirky layout which is a challenge even for the best conventional PA systems. We’ve discovered that the multiple mezzanine levels, choir stands, organs, pulpits etc have been very difficult to navigate sonically. While we’ve simply managed our way around this at previous events, we’ve always been conscious of various dull or sonic ‘blind spots’ and believed there must be a better option.”

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That “better option” for 24rpm was a d&b Soundscape system, supplied by Dobson Sound in Merton and supported during the event by d&b personnel. At the heart of the system sat the DS100 Signal Engine, providing Dante-enabled signal management for the array of loudspeakers around the venue.

“It was our first involvement with the RPM Festival,” explains Dobson Sound’s Mel O’Malley, “and we had a last-minute change of venue to contend with, but it was a great event. We’re used to handling what we refer to as “rock’n’roll in posh places”, so The Actor’s Church didn’t present any challenges that I felt we couldn’t overcome. With the support from d&b on the day, the set-up was remarkably easy, even given the limited space and logistics of working in an old church building. The ArrayCalc software significantly reduces the time required for tuning a system in situations like this, which makes even complex set-ups manageable very quickly.”

As a longtime d&b partner, Dobson Sound was quick to recognise the benefits that Soundscape would bring to the immersive nature of 24rpm. “This wasn’t just about delivering decent sound quality, but giving the audience a real experience,” says O’Malley. “Soundscape was the perfect option for the 24rpm line-up, which included some really interesting, experimental artists. It made for a unique event and we were delighted with the response.”

“We had nothing but incredible compliments and feedback for the sheer quality and clarity of the sound and the intimate atmosphere the event delivered for our audience” adds Léigh. “This is always what we strive for but d&b simply took that above and beyond with Soundscape this year.“

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