Preview: Netaudio London 2011

Highlights of a festival that explores the relationship between music and technology.

The Netaudio London festival, which runs from 13-15 May, showcases the work of artists who use digital technologies to explore new areas in music and sonic art. The programme encourages participation in all forms: interactive sound art installations, conferences, workshops, collaborative online broadcasting and live music shows.

Netaudio London has posted a series of thought provoking pieces from its conference speakers that address a challenging set of themes in 21st-century culture. Speakers include Matthew Herbert, Michel Bauwens and Liliane Lijn, as well as representatives from Mute, UK Uncut and Wire magazine.

Elsewhere in the festival, Steven Stapleton's avant-garde, surrealist Nurse With Wound project headlines the evening programme. Over the past three decades, Nurse With Wound has collaborated with a highly respected troupe of free thinkers including David Tibet (Current 93), William Bennett (Whitehouse) and Andrew McKenzie (Hafler Trio).

Mika Vanio (ex-Pan Sonic) and Bruce Gilbert (founder of the band Wire) will also perform a newly commissioned collaboration using both analogue and digital equipment. The opening concert at Cafe Oto on Friday 13 May presents the composer and artist Valerio Tricoli, along with Robert Piotrowicz, a luminary of the Polish experimental and improvised music scene.

Netaudio aims to do more than simply programme a music event, promoting audience engagement over purely passive consumption, as demonstrated by the Sonic Maze of 12 interactive audiovisual installations. There will also be workshops on making sound effects, creating interactive music projects and radio broadcasts. And there's a broadcast presenting a live webzine in partnership with Resonance FM, featuring newly commissioned broadcasts by Liliane Ljin, Stefan Blomeier and VHS HEAD.

HEINZ BAUMANN/GALLERY STOCK
Show Hide image

With the BBC Food’s collection under threat, here's how to make the most of online recipes

Do a bit of digging, trust your instincts – and always read the comments.

I don’t think John Humphrys is much of a chef. Recently, as his Today co-presenter Mishal Husain was discussing the implications of the BBC’s decision to axe its Food website (since commuted to transportation to the Good Food platform, run by its commercial arm), sharp-eared listeners heard the Humph claim that fewer recipes on the web could only be a good thing. “It would make it easier!” he bellowed in the background. “We wouldn’t have to choose between so many!”

Husain also seemed puzzled as to why anyone would need more than one recipe for spaghetti bolognese – but, as any keen cook knows, you can never have too many different takes on a dish. Just as you wouldn’t want to get all your news from a single source, it would be a sad thing to eat the same bolognese for the rest of your life. Sometimes only a molto autentico version, as laid down by a fierce Italian donna, rich with tradition and chopped liver, will do – and sometimes, though you would never admit it in a national magazine, you crave the comfort of your mum’s spag bol with grated cheddar.

The world wouldn’t starve without BBC Food’s collection but, given that an online search for “spaghetti bolognese recipe” turns up about a million results, it would have been sad to have lost one of the internet’s more trustworthy sources of information. As someone who spends a large part of each week researching and testing recipes, I can assure you that genuinely reliable ones are rarer than decent chips after closing time. But although it is certainly the only place you’ll find the Most Haunted host Yvette Fielding’s kedgeree alongside Heston Blumenthal’s snail porridge, the BBC website is not the only one that is worth your time.

The good thing about newspaper, magazine and other commercial platforms is that most still have just enough budget to ensure that their recipes will have been made at least twice – once by the writer and once for the accompanying photographs – though sadly the days when everyone employed an independent recipe tester are long gone. Such sites also often have sufficient traffic to generate a useful volume of comments. I never make a recipe without scrolling down to see what other people have said about it. Get past the “Can’t wait to make this!” brigade; ignore the annoying people who swap baked beans for lentils and then complain, “This is nothing like dhal”; and there’s usually some sensible advice in there, too.

But what about when you leave the safety of the big boys and venture into the no man’s land of the personal blog? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff and find a recipe that actually works? You can often tell how much work a writer has put in by the level of detail they go into: if they have indicated how many people it serves, or where to find unusual ingredients, suggested possible tweaks and credited their original sources, they have probably made the dish more than once. The photography is another handy clue. You don’t have to be Annie Leibovitz to provide a good idea of what the finished dish ought to look like.

Do a bit of digging as part of your prep. If you like the look of the rest of the site, the author’s tastes will probably chime with your own. And always, always, wherever the recipe is from, read it all the way through, even before you order the shopping. There is nothing more annoying than getting halfway through and then realising that you need a hand blender to finish the dish, just as the first guest arrives.

Above all, trust your instincts. If the cooking time seems far too short, or the salt content ridiculously high, it probably is, so keep an eye on that oven, check that casserole, keep tasting that sauce. As someone who once published a magic mince pie recipe without any sugar, I’m living proof that, occasionally, even the very best of us make mistakes. 

Felicity Cloake is the New Statesman’s food columnist. Her latest book is The A-Z of Eating: a Flavour Map for Adventurous Cooks.

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad