If you like your electronic music with a digital twist, then be sure not to miss Ryoji Ikeda’s music for percussion + datamatics [ver. 2.0] on Sunday 30th September at The Barbican. The closing part of the Japanese Innovators: Pioneers in Experimental Sound season that began on 20th June this year, this series of live performances looked at the development of the underground music scene in Japan from the 1950s to today, exploring (amongst others) the sound of the ground-breaking Yellow Magic Orchestra and quirkier Pop of Mariah. Ryoji Ikeda’s show – based on his ongoing art project begun in 2006 – really is something else, though.

Japanese Innovators has taken listeners on a journey through Japan’s underground music scene of the last 40 years, exploring the vastly interesting musical innovation undertaken over that time. And the developmental and ever-developing sound discovered was quite a different entity to the globally acknowledged J-Pop that occasionally plays on western radio waves today.

From musique concrète foundations inspired by Zen Buddhism, through its almost anarchic circular scores (and happily back to the normal format), to the influence of America on the during the 50s and 60s (which was substantial), the influx of specific rock and jazz inspiration in the 70s further led to a later blurring of lines between the former style and punk in the land of the rising sun.

By the 80s this musical “underground” had very much become an “experimental” auditory scene that incorporated the emergence of the then contemporary new wave electronic and synthesiser predilection, so that by the 90s Shibuya-kei played free and wild (a happy blend of French pop, British indie-pop, and 60s movie soundtracks). Since then, a full circle has been completed and these experimental sounds are once more firmly situated in the underground.

Since June, Japanese Innovators has brought to visitors’ ears the work of electronic musician Alva Noto and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (blending minimalist piano and glitch beats in TWO), the music of Haruomi Hosono (supported by Acetone and Willie Thrasher with the help of Light in the Attic Records), and the four-channel surround sound performance of composer and aural experimenter Yasuaki Shimizu together with “live computer music pioneer” Carl Stone. It is this last that Ryoji Ikeda most aptly follows.

A show in two parts, the first (music for percussion) focuses on the “purity” of sound at its very core and will be acoustic in nature, performed in collaboration with four-piece Swiss collective Eklekto; the second (datamatics [ver. 2.0]) promises to be an audio-visual transmutation of the world’s data into sound. The Barbican website promotes it best:

“From sequences of patterns derived from hard drive errors, the imagery transforms into dramatic rotating views of the universe in 3D. The hypnotic soundtrack mirrors the imagery, meshing bleeps, crescendos and bass into a kaleidoscopic soundscape.”

Ryoji Ikeda’s concert takes place on Sunday 30th September in the Barbican Hall at 7.30pm. Tickets between £15 and £25. Please note there will be strobe lighting.