Having spent years working under the musical pseudonym LCD Soundsystem, it’s not the biggest surprise to learn that James Murphy is staying with music for his new project. Since officially retiring the LCD moniker in April 2011, he has produced music for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire, and DJ-ed in a guest appearance on the final Gorillaz track last year. Next up, Murphy gets a little technical as he plans to go from making his name under the guise of a “soundsystem” to actually building a sound system.
The sound system in question is going to be a temporary thing, built to exist for just three nights this summer (July 18-20, to be precise). As part of the Manchester International Festival, the experience allows Murphy to both take advantage of his training as a sound engineer and fulfill a long-held ambition to create a very specific club experience – both in terms of aural quality and the music played.
“It’s a simple, floor-standing series of giant stacks, comfortably doing full, smooth sound,” Murphy told the Guardian of the set-up for the new system. “It’s pretty wide-open, pretty raw.” He described that the circular stacks will allow people to wander around them, making it possible for someone to literally be surrounded by the sound if they so wished. The noise is intended to be the opposite of the high-impact sound systems so prevalent in clubs today, which he called “tiny, sad [and] hyper-aggressive. They don’t sound beautiful. If you play certain dance music, great. But if you play jazz or AC/DC, they sound terrible.”
Not that Murphy is planning to use the sound system to play jazz or AC/DC, of course. Instead, his new sound system will be used for something called Despacio – a three-night collaboration between himself and David and Stephen Dewaele (also known as Soulwax/2ManyDJs). According to the trio, Despacio will live up to its name (“Despacio” is Spanish for “gradually”) by opening each night with an hour of unmixed music, before moving onto a night where anything goes musically with only one rule: The music has to be on vinyl.
Yep, hipster alert: Murphy’s new sound system will only play old school records, not digital files. “It’s a challenge,” Murphy admitted. “If I don’t have it on vinyl, I can’t play it. The idea will be to take chances without forgetting the principal thing about DJing: making a fun time for people.”
Despacio gives Murphy the chance to play around with the idea of a club night, and of being a DJ in modern times, by taking things back to basics and throwing away certain technical crutches. The idea of building your own sound system to fully create a specific experience may seem a bit extreme, but one thing’s for sure: It’s certainly going to sound good.