After more than two years in development, matter - the new live music and club project from the founders of fabric london - opened to the public last month. One of the most eagerly awaited additions to London's clubland this decade, the 2,600-capacity venue has taken shape around an integrated vision for sound and lighting that incorporates hundreds of loudspeakers and light sources.
Occupying three floors on the site of the O2 complex in south-east London, the resolutely modern matter is the brainchild of Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie, arguably best known for their creation of legendary London club fabric, located in the city's Smithfield area.
While the focus with fabric london was firmly on the dancefloor, the objective for their latest venture was to develop a venue that could accommodate both live music and DJ sets to equal satisfaction.
Chiefly responsible for making this a reality was Dave Parry and his company Most Technical. Another fabric alumnus, Parry was brought in to devise the venue's sound, lighting and video systems, for which he was given an entirely open brief.
"Their objective was to develop something that would feature more live performances as well as being a club," says Parry. "The great thing about Keith and Cameron is that they let me have a free hand. It was basically a case of 'Here's the space, here's the budget - put in what you want'. And, give them their due, they never once questioned anything I did, even at points where they must have thought I was barmy!"
The result of Parry's deliberations is, in principal area room 1, a fully integrated approach based around an Avolites Diamond 4 console and TiMax audio matrix processor. From the one desk, it is possible to control all lighting, video and TiMax-mapped sound cues, along with the LED architectural fixtures in the room and surrounding areas such as the upstairs balcony.
The result is a versatile infrastructure that can respond to the nature and dynamics of any given performance or club set.
"The ability to manipulate the sound [to the degree] that I can manipulate the lighting rig is something that I have wanted for a long time," says Parry. "It all started with the TiMax on the sound system, which we then linked to the lighting console via MIDI; this enabled the desk to cue the TiMax to move the sound around. We also programmed and linked all the lighting, video and LEDs to it as well… All of the systems are meant to work together as a cohesive whole."
The set-up is more conventional in rooms 2 and 3, where Avolites consoles - a Pearl Tiger in 2 and a Pearl Expert in 3 - are paired with Yamaha Digital Mixing Engines (DMEs).
The front-end of the audio system in rooms 1 and 2 is provided by a veritable armoury of Martin Audio products, including W8L line arrays and AQ6/AQ8 loudspeakers. The Martin Audio equipment is used in conjunction with the Martin MA Series of amplifiers, including 12Ks and 9.6s. Lab.gruppen devices were also specified.
"Martin Audio has enjoyed a long relationship with both Dave Parry and the directors of fabric/matter," says Rob Lingfield, sales and marketing director at Martin Audio.
"Dave not only converted fabric into an all-Martin Audio line array venue, but was also responsible for specifying our products at Elevate in Delhi. We are delighted that the relationship has now been extended, and that we have again been able to provide Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie with our award-winning sound at their new flagship within the prestigious O2 Arena complex."
Also in room 1 is a Digidesign/Pro Tools system for live recording.
The audio set-up is markedly different in room 3, which serves as the VIP area and features a dance floor and seven private entertainment booths. The room's loudspeaker system incorporates more than 30 Void Acoustics units, including two custom-designed bass enclosures - the Axsys X and Mycro X. In addition to meeting the room's sound requirements, the Void equipment was also chosen to satisfy the desire for a visually high-impact system.
The venue's lighting specification is similarly extensive. In room 1, the set-up includes eight Robe ColorSpot 700E ATs and six ColorSpot 575E ATs to light the stage and dancefloor, while the active dancefloor system - a key tenet of the cohesive design brief - incorporates a total of eight strobes. Eight ETC Source Fours, 24 PARs, four Robe 2•LED blinders and Avolites ART2000i installation dimmers are among other equipment installed in this room.
The other two areas also incorporate elaborate lighting systems. The discreet-in-feel room 2 emphasises colour-changing LED wall and alcove-washing architectural light sources, and includes Philips SSLS Color Kinetics (CK) iColors, iCoves and iColor Flex units, along with Robe Scan 575 XTs and Robe REDWash 2•36 LED wash lights.
Occupying a long corridor with a dancefloor at the end, room 3 features 16 plasma screens, 12 custom LED floor panels and more Philips CK iColor Flex units, which are linked into Resolume 3 AV software. The specification in this area is rounded out by 16 Kam LED bars and Robe Scan 250 XTs.
While Parry and the Most Technical team are continuing to fine-tune matter's AV infrastructure, the initial response has been extremely positive. "We've had fantastic feedback," concludes Parry. "The main focus now is getting the DJs to get their heads around what they can actually do."