Lawrence Lek’s Unreal Estate is a speculative simulation in which London’s Royal Academy of Arts has been sold off as a luxury playboy mansion to an anonymous Chinese billionaire. First shown at the RA itself in 2015, and available to play online as part of Lek’s ‘Bonus Levels’ series, this dystopian and poignantly funny piece was the winner of the ICA Tenderflix award and the Dazed x Converse Emerging Artist Award.
Unreal Estate’s eerie landscape is underpinned by a soundtrack from cellist and composer Oliver Coates. Coates’ cello chorales are both tender and stark; glossy Reichian quavers, elephantine bass lines and cultivated waltzes reverberate within the gallery’s imaginary walls. Interspersed amongst Coates’ themes are selections from Unreal Estate’s narrator, whose advice to potential investors comes from a found text from Russian Tatler, translated into Mandarin by Joni Zhu.
The result is a music concrete mixture of snatched vocal samples, effluent drones and tear-heavy harmonics.
“…one of the most immersive ambient albums you are likely to hear this year…” – Bleep
“…the music is as grand and boldly delineated as any computer game soundtrack, making it a perfect fit for Lek’s virtual world…” – Nathan Thomas, Fluid Radio
Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC
1. "The Royal Academy is now yours" 01:11
2. Dragons (Theme from Unreal Estate) 05:03
3. Slow Dancing 02:33
4. Memorial to Hitchens 02:55
5. TY-urn 01:50
6. "Don't Hire Foreigners" 00:48
7. Mergers & Acquisitions 05:47
8. (Untitled) 01:04
Oliver Coates is a cellist, composer and producer based in London. He has performed solo shows in China, Russia, Brazil, Egypt and Australia, and made his New York debut at Le Poisson Rouge. He was the winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award 2011 and is an Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre. Two major commissions premiered in 2017: HELIOTONES, for girls' choir, flutes, cello and electronics, for Borealis Festival, and Shorelines, for string quartet and electronics, for Cryptic at Operadagen Rotterdam.
In 2016 Coates released a solo record, Upstepping, on PRAH, and a collaborative record, Remain Calm, with Mica Levi on Slip. He works closely with Levi, London Contemporary Orchestra, Elysia Crampton, Jonny Greenwood and the visual artist Lawrence Lek, for whom he has scored the award-winning video pieces Unreal Estate and QE3. He has conceived and programmed the Southbank Centre’s long-running Harmonic Series and its first DEEP∞MINIMALISM festival in 2016, which featured Pauline Oliveros’ last public Tuning Meditation.