This collaboration between Belfast born musician, DJ and scientist Max Cooper and design studio Architecture Social Club opens Sonica‘s late October weekend with a vast visual bank of waves, bubbles and neon needles wrapping around the ceiling, all created using thousands of pulsing suspended threads.

Initially, it’s an impressive array of textures and shapes which ebb and flow to Cooper’s rhythms. But soon, the reiteration of AV patterns becomes a little repetitive, with no development of ideas. There’s a lovely Cooper track called Repetition which is surely intended as a cheeky riposte to detractors of music with beats, but it feels even more ironic tonight.

There are many artists exploring experimental dance music to startling effect at the moment – from Arca to Gazelle Twin – but Cooper’s music somehow lacks vitality within this particular context.

Robbie Thomson, Jack Wrigley, Kathy Hinde, ASUNA and Heather Lander are all presenting inventive work in the AV field during the Sonica festival this year, but tonight feels a little lacking by way of comparison. It’s almost akin to watching an extended elitist pyrotechnics display.

Cooper’s music is often gorgeous, featuring some nice warm ambient soundscapes, crunchy drum ‘n’ bass and electronica, evocative of classic early 90s artists like Orbital, Alex Reece and 808 State.┬áBut because it falls somewhere between installation and club night, not really satisfying on either count, there’s a frustrating sense of being unable to dance, and wishing for more stimuli to engage with.

Basically, it’s a pretty but ultimately meaningless experience, which somewhat dampens the subversive fire of post-rave culture. But there are some nice moments, at least initially.