“Once you have walked the road, Everything becomes clear”
So begins The Road: Part II, James Lavelle (UNKLE)‘s enigmatic latest album, the second of a trilogy. And springing from this work is Beyond the Road, a multi-sensory exhibition taking place at the Saatchi Gallery, London. Through sound, film and visual effects you can take that journey yourself – a voyage of discovery, with Lavelle’s expansive music at its heart.
Being at Beyond the Road is to be fully immersed in another world, from the minute you make your way to the top floor of the gallery and enter the dark space, which creates a disorientating effect and helps transport you into its secret space.
With the soundtrack, a reworking of elements from both albums (Ar.Mour sounding particularly effective), your personal journey leads you through rooms and corridors, each space offering a contemplative and visual setting with surprises at every turn; as the music and lighting continuously alter, your own unique experience shifts. And always that dreamlike soundtrack is there, propelling you forward through your adventure. Many visual artists were invited to be involved in the exhibition so expect to see work by artists such as BAFTA winner Danny Boyle, artist
We went expecting to spend an hour or so… we eventually left well after over two hours, unwilling to drag ourselves back to real life, so cocooned by the dreamy soundtrack and the discoveries each room presented. Some areas have seating invitingly placed so you could sit and enjoy each space more fully. You are encouraged to linger and make the experience your own.
We were so wrapped up in the multi-sensory nature of it all that we almost forgot to notice the perfumes that waft through the space, then peering at a display of bottles in a mirrored cabinet we caught hints of a gentle fragrance in the air. There were very occasional scary moments, and then others of great beauty. Candles, hearts, skulls, a memento mori above a fireplace… themes of love and death give the observer cause to reflect… and there are opportunities to search for and – maybe find – answers.
At one point you are jolted out of your reverie by visuals which are of a less contemplative nature, maybe to alert you that your time in this mind-altering and meditative space is coming to an end. But I’ll leave it there, you need to discover this intriguing and lyrical experience for yourself.
The work was developed by Colin Nightingale and Stephen Dobbie of Punchdrunk in collaboration with James Lavelle of UNKLE.
Beyond the Road, presented by Beyond Projects. NOW EXTENDED TILL SEPTEMBER 8 Sept 2019