Artist Lawrence Lek builds uncanny virtual worlds that are as prescient as they are witty.
You may have seen his name in connection with Kode9’s eerie new album Nothing, for which he’s designed an “evacuated, fully automated, luxury hotel” for their forthcoming audiovisual show, or maybe you’ve come across his utopian world Bonus Levels, which turned London into a digital wilderness across a series of downloads, videos and installations.
Within Bonus Levels is Unreal Estate, a simulation that imagines a future where the Royal Academy of Arts, the heart of London’s art establishment, has been sold off as a luxury playboy’s mansion to an anonymous Chinese billionaire. First shown at the RA itself in 2015, the dystopian simulation-slash-game has already won Lek a handful of awards, and now his vision is being extended with the release of Unreal Estate’s soundtrack by cellist Oliver Coates.
Coates you might also know from his solo album on PRAH, Towards the Blessed Islands, and his work with Mica Levi, Bryce Hackford and Jonny Greenwood. For Unreal Estate he’s augmented Lek’s uncanny landscapes with his totally modern approach to cello, combining elongated ambient moods with cavernous bass and stark, Reichian rhythmic sections. Interspersed are selections from Unreal Estate’s narrator, whose advice to potential investors comes from a found text from the Russian version of Tatler magazine, translated into Mandarin.
The Unreal Estate OST is set for digital release this month via Slip along with a limited-edition A1 poster designed by Lek and Tom Rose. Stream it in full below and head to Slip’s Bandcamp to nab a copy.