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Matter, Greenwich

November / December 2008

Every so often something happens that shifts the landscape, takes everything within its reach forward and skews the way we approach the realms of possibility.

Shaken by an impact, propelled by inspirational vision and intensified by groundbreaking developments, everybody relevant to that happening has no choice but to pay respectful attention. It’s often the case that the magnitude of such occurrences can only be appreciated in hindsight, and that may be the case with new club matter, but when Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie took it upon themselves to branch out from fabric for the first time, it was time to brace yourself.

Elements that include a 75,000W BodyKinetic dancefloor from Djenerate, groundbreaking visual mapping by Pixel Addicts, Martin Audio and Void Acoustics sound systems and master control via an Avolites desk, equate to Dave Parry’s technological dream, and something extremely special.

Cameron reveals how initial reluctance to even enter into any kind of dialogue about the project was overcome by the vision of AEG, owners of the O2, and how different visionaries have inspired the project to be at the cutting-edge in everything it has set out to do.

After a conspicuous and controversial start to life, the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, London, was taken on by AEG, redeveloped and opened as an entertainment destination boasting the O2 Arena and Indigo2, as well as various bars, shops and restaurants. But AEG wasn’t quite finished there and set out, with a pretty focused effort, on enticing the partnership behind one of the world’s most iconic clubs to help shape the O2’s future.

“When this guy who we’d never heard of said, ‘do you want to come and have a look at the venue?’ It was just like ‘Why? Why would we ever want to go down there?’ It’s absolutely nothing of interest for our business. They tried a couple of times and again we politely refused,” said Cameron.

Through perseverance and different avenues of communication, the global entertainment group managed to engage with the fabric duo and did so with fairly profound effect.

Cameron continues: “We ended up going down and having a look at their marketing suite; they had all these weird and wonderful things that added up to quite an interesting group. So we came, we had a look at the building site of the arena in its early stages and at that point started to realise that these guys were actually very serious and we were quite overwhelmed by the vision. I think we became incredibly close and friendly with the guys at AEG because they really were about vision and trying to do things; making things happen rather than what seems to be the classic attitude in London, which is ‘no, you can’t do that’.

Convinced in terms of trust and belief, the pairing began to consider the realities of the project and in doing so settled on four prerequisites that had to be satisfied before committing to the new venue. These were: the freedom to design their own space; exit and entry points completely independent of the O2; an outside smoking area; and finally, a good late night transport infrastructure. The former three stipulations could be directly granted by AEG and the fourth came by way of a ten-year deal brokered with Thames Clippers that has guaranteed a 200-capacity catamaran every half an hour too and from the venue. With matter on the Thames side of the O2, the boat service is the perfect way to link the slightly obscure site to the rest of the City, as Cameron explains:
“It’s backed by TFL (Transport For London), it should do well and it’s a really good way of getting through the City – you actually get to see it. They’ve got great Bose sound systems; it’s more peripheral, background stuff, whether they become full scale party boats, again, we’ll see how that develops, but the potential’s certainly there.”

Set within the inner edge of the immense O2, matter is a freestanding, independent structure, soundproofed to 155 dB and designed with the freedom of a blank canvas. As well as the pioneering audio and visual installations, operational fluency is at the heart of matter - a cash only/card avoidance policy at entry, capable of processing the 2,600-capacity in 17 minutes, is proof of this. The conscious structural layout has been manipulated to create queuing space at places prone to bottlenecking such as the main cloakroom, where a sizeable indent guides patrons from the traffic flow. And if the 86 toilet cubicles, compared to 28 at fabric aren’t a statement of intent, the uniquely devised cloakroom system is.

Developed with software company Jayex, the bespoke system offers speed by using the barcode printed on a customer’s tickets. Similarly to the type of system found in catalogue stores such as Argos, barcodes are scanned at the first stage and the customer given a number, at the second the numbers are displayed in order on an LED board and at the final stage the owner is called to collect their belongings. With staff specified to each task, all this happens in efficient succession, minimising time in the queue and maximising that spent in the venue.
Bars have been equipped with Cratos’ J2 580 touch screen terminals running on a Dell server, a move that strives further towards smooth operation, as the system is renowned for its user-friendliness and Cratos for its support structure.

“The whole thing’s geared to keep people away from the bars, away from the cloakrooms, away from the toilets; but down on the floor in front of the speakers, involved with what’s going on,” says Cameron. 
The venue proper is a world of grey, concrete structures and shapes designed by architect William Russell of renowned agency Pentagram and built by Collins Construction - praised by Cameron for its professionalism and ability to minimise obstacles. Essentially the monotone backdrop provides a blank canvas onto which the intricate lighting and visuals project. The materials used in the build have been chosen and detailed to play with light, with different qualities of reflection achieved from the various finishes, which include concrete, perforated and sheet metals and ceramics.

From ground level of the main floor, the colossal nature of the space is revealed and a feeling for the different elements is realised. Above, tiers sweep around the perimeters of the room, broken only by the stage area, leaving a central void, parted by an encaged footbridge that links one side of the top, VIP floor to the other. The balconies on the upper floors provide views over the stage and curl right round to stage side – the result is a modern day, industrial amphitheatre focused on performance.

Facing the stage on the ground floor is the control hub, designed with four separate functions in mind. There are separate areas within this technological cockpit for; DJ, front of house, LJ and for the Pixel Addicts guys who have developed visual kit specifically for matter and take up residency as in-house VJs.   

Underfoot, the BodyKinetic dancefloor designed by Dave Parry (Most Technical, fabric, Djenerate) is a development of the 4,000W BodySonic dancefloor he installed in fabric’s Room 2, only this time the floor boasts an incredible 75,000W of power and is underfitted with eight strobes. Dave reveals the secret charms of the floor: “The vibrations are so low. There’s a frequency, like if you go into a church and you’ve got this massive organ, which can make a sound powerful enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – that’s all to do with the frequency range on it. So we found the frequency that can do that and the floor frequency was dropped below that so it totally promotes euphoria and makes you want to dance, that’s the whole thing about it.”

The dancefloor is one element of Dave’s vision of an immersive experience inspired by a Russian artist, as he explains: “It’s based on the Kandinsky Principle, which is about music, sound vibrations and visual stimulants that sends you into a trance like state, which is what dance music is all about. So the idea is to link everything together so it will really take you away from where you are.”

With the sound vibrations taken care of, Dave, Keith and Cameron cogitated the all-important audio installation with the demands of club and live performance very much in mind and resultantly grew their relationship with Martin Audio. Already an integral part of fabric, a Martin Audio system and amplification has been chosen for the mainstay of the venue. With no contractual tie to Martin, the selection was based on merit alone, Cameron explains:

“Martin knows the day someone else comes along and says, ‘try this for size’ and it’s better, and they have no answer to it, we’ll go with them. We have no relationship with Martin other than we’re a paying customer and we deem them to be the best in the industry for what we want.”

The system has been configured so that all the lighting, sound and video are controlled from an Avolites Diamond 4 desk - something that has never been done before. Martin Audio’s own vast armoury of power amplifiers, 55 in total, including the MA12K, form the bulk of an engine room that has been placed on full display on the bridge, high above the control booth. This room also houses the Outboard TiMax Audio Imaging processing, which allows the sound to be mapped in three dimensions and manipulated around the entire space using a touch screen, with which the sound can be freely pulled and dragged around the room.
In the main room, multiples of wall-mounted AQ8’s and AQ12’s cover the bar area, along with AQ215’s while the main room system consists of a L/C/R line array system comprising W8L Longbow hangs and W8LD Downfills, with three W8LMI enclosures and a W8LMDI Downfill. Six H3H+’s are mounted at balcony level to provide further coverage and eight WS218X’s provide the overall sub extension. A pair of Blackline F12+’s and S18+ sub bass units provide the DJ monitors.

For Room 2, on the first floor, Dave Parry has created more of a conventional Martin Audio club sound, using four stacks of H3T+’s and WS218X’s - one stack for each corner. Blackline F12+ and S18+ sub provide the DJ monitoring.

Completing the trio of Kandinsky elements are the abundance of visual stimulants, which transform, illuminate and revolutionise the venue into a spectacle of cutting-edge technology. As well as the intelligent lighting from Robe, and the spectacular Pixel Addicts’ projections, Architainment, at the specification of Pentagram, has supplied over 830 Philips/Color Kinetics LED fixtures that work throughout the venue to set particular moods and complement the other installations.

Having developed its architectural mapping techniques for two years and spent the summer testing it in Ibiza’s Eden (see page 64), Pixel Addicts has a fully-fledged system, which has grown specifically to meet the requirements of matter. The Addict Server will feed 12 high output projectors, which are mounted along with VideoMirrorUnits, created by VMS Technology that allow projections to be reflected at any angle around the entire space. This provides greater functionality and less wear to expensive hardware. Combined with the architectural mapping software it produces stunning results and means that both the audio and the visuals can be shifted at will around the room.

Dave Green explains the aim: “We’re trying to move away from one focal point in the room and instead create surroundings where all your peripheral vision is stimulated and the whole state is a feeling of coming alive.”  

Architectural mapping is also at work on the first floor at the bar leading into Room 2. Here the wall, tiled in a contingent of black, white and grey is brought to life by two projectors, which by virtue of the mapping software can pinpoint individual tiles and turn them into 150 small screens, one massive screen or anywhere in between.

As well as the two long, straight bars on the ground and first floors of the main space, Concept has reworked the island bar design here and made a style of bar that can often be frustrating for server and customer into a practically astute addition to the venue. Rather than being the same height all round, both sides of the bar have a high non-serving area that slopes down to a serving point. This means that there are two clear serving areas on either side, counteracting the chances of the server becoming confused about customer order. Impressed by Concept’s workmanship and its ability to get the job done, Cameron comments: “Concept were brilliant!” 

The VIP floor on the second level, although part of the main space, has a different feel than the comparatively intense lower floors, without losing any edge. Looking onto the activity below, the logistics of the building, including a separate entrance, mean that this floor can be opened independently on an off-peak night for functions. In fact, the entire venue has been designed so that the capacity can be manipulated, from 300 up to 2,600 in approximate blocks of 400, depending on the nature of the event. By stretching a specially sourced material across the void, using the Sky Bridge as a spine, the top floor can be sealed off and the sheet across back projected. The more luxurious surroundings and the branding opportunities bring a valuable commercial appeal to this area.

The level of finishes and materials to the second level is slightly raised to create a floor of tiered luxe lounging. Opposite the Sky Bridge and balcony surrounding the void, a series of booths offer intimate deep-set banquettes finished in a rich, soft oxblood leather.

Here the dancefloor is made up of LCD screens working concurrently to display programmable content and in tandem with LCD screens mounted on the ceiling and the surrounding walls. Stairs wrap around the DJ booth to take VVIP guests to a private mezzanine level, while across the dancefloor a further raised platform, lined with leather banquette seating offers exclusivity. The bar is of a different style to the others, with the front topped in a corian finish allowing maximum play of coloured lighting effects and a separate back bar where cocktail orders are filled before delivery through hatches to the main bar, which allows for a clean, minimal look and fast, efficient service.

Interestingly, Void Acoustic has been chosen as the audio solution to this floor - picked for the sound quality and aesthetic appeal of its products. Each of the seven booths are equipped with an Airten unit and a Mycro X, which has been specially designed as a perfect under-seat fit within the dimensions of the booth furniture. Sound and the lighting can be controlled by the occupants of each booth. Two pairs of Void’s signature Air Motion triple-horn mid/highs are deployed for the dancefloor, together with four Axsys X subs, plus Airten twin-cowl units as infill and as DJ monitors.

Dave Parry comments: “Void has applied some custom finishes to the loudspeakers for us, and they look amazing! Fortunately, Void’s products sound every bit as good as they look. At Most Technical we specialise in high quality, immersive sound systems, with the emphasis very much on the music - Void’s loudspeakers fit our ethos perfectly.”

matter’s creation should not be underestimated. There are so many elements that are unique to the venue, which push it to the forefront of the UK club market and give it significant presence on a global scale. fabric has always been about substance and with matter nothing has changed, only it is a completely different entity and prospect. It will be a forerunner in terms of technology and the magnitude of what Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie have done with Dave Parry’s expertise is nothing short of phenomenal. But with feet firmly on the ground, Cameron is under no illusions how such a project has come to fruition, as he explains: “It’s been a collection, there’s a lot of people that have helped make this work. It’s about getting the right blend of specialists together that come up with something; letting them do what they do well.”


48 x KAM LED bar; Avolites Diamond 4 lighting desk; Avolites Pearl Expert lighting desk; Avolites Tiger lighting desk; Avolites Art 96-way dimmer; Pixel Addicts Addict Server; 8 x Robe 700 spots; 6 x Robe 575 spots; 4 x LED blinders; 4 x Robe 575 scans; 8 x Robe 250 scans; 8 x red wash LED moving heads; 830+ Philips/Color Kinetics LED fixture

Outboard TiMax Audio Imaging; 6 x Martin Audio MA4.2s; 3 x Martin Audio MA12K; 5 x Martin Audio MA6.8Q; 3 x Martin Audio MA2.8s; 3 x Martin Audio MA4.8Q; 9 x Martin Audio MA900; 2 x Martin Audio MA1400; 1 x Martin Audio MA9.6K; 2 x Martin Audio MA1.6s; 4 x Void Kryo 5.4; 3 x Void Infinite 8; 1 x Pioneer SVM 1000; 2 Pioneer x DVJ 1000 (fed directly into the main rooms main video projector output); 2 x Pioneer CDJ 1000MK3; 1 x Pioneer DJM 1000; 1 x Pioneer EFX 1000

GROUNDFLOOR: 4 x Martin Audio W8L Longbow line array; 2 x Martin Audio W8LD downfill line array; 2 x Martin Audio W8L Grid Assembly; 8 x Martin Audio WS218X sub-bass; 6 x Martin Audio H3H+ bi-amped; 3 x Martin Audio W8LMi mini line array; 1 x Martin Audio W8LMDi mini downfill line array; 1 x Martin Audio ASF20001 Grid Assembly; 2 x Martin Audio F12+; 1 x Martin Audio S8+; 5 x Martin Audio AQ8; 2 x Martin Audio AQ12; 1 x Martin Audio AQ215; 7 x Martin Audio AQWB8; 2 X Yamaha D.M.E 64 contro; Digidesign Venue 96 way FOH desk; Digidesign Profile  monitor

FIRST FLOOR: 16 x Martin Audio AQ8; 16 x Martin Audio AQWB8; 6 x Martin Audio AQ210; 4 x Martin Audio H3T+; 4 x Martin Audio WS218X; 2 x Martin Audio F12+; 1 x Martin Audio AQ212; 6 x Martin Audio AQ6; 2 x Martin Audio AQ210

SECOND FLOOR: 13 x Void Air Ten speakers; 4 x Void Air Motion speakers; 7 x Mycro X underseat bass speakers; 4 x Axsys bass speaker; 2 x Pioneer CDJ 1000MK3; 1 x Pioneer DJM 800VIP; 1 x Pioneer SVM 1000; 2 x Pioneer DVJ 1000 (fed directly into the plasma ceiling)





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