Animaux | UK

Primavera Sound Review [2017]

Jun
24

From a personal perspective, Primavera turned into a prime example of times when you might enter a festival rattled up for particular artists and perhaps see a few that almost seem dispensable to the acts you’re eager to see. In an interesting twist of fate, these dispensable acts might just be the highlights of the night, or even, some of the most memorable shows you will ever witness. When was the last time you went to a concert and ended up watching a fully grown and talented man fashion his boxers as a g-string and set fire to his leg hair? What about seeing a 69-year-old performing while wearing a strap-on? What script could we have written that would have showcased any of this?

Aphex Twin

Thursday kicked off in jazzy hip-hop high-tops by BADBADNOTGOOD, and Kate Tempest – who through conveying complex emotions musically was example #1 of unexpectedly entrancing performances. Headlining the evening was Aphex Twin, with a set filled with drawn-out, aloof and prickly transitions that left many describing it for the rest of the weekend as “I’m not too sure what I just watched.” Things were turned down a notch with a theatrical-like show from Tycho, which looking back perfectly resembled vanilla – nice, pleasant, safe. Nothing to get too excited over.

Some sort of effort has kind of happened with Primavera’s stage layout, which results in most alternative/”mainstream” artists performing in the main body of Parc del Forum, with a long, constantly overcrowded bridge connecting this torso to a predominantly electronic music limb. Here, as #2-5 of unforeseen goodness, Fatima Yamaha gave a fittingly lofty and upbeat set, followed by a deliverance of subterranean levels of deep house by German producer/cult figurehead Henrik Schwarz and a truly chilling live set of breakbeat and broken vocal sample wading into moments of old school dubstep from Bicep to an enthusiastic and amicable crowd.

Mogwai

For many, Friday was from the very start not going to live up to the heightened expectations people had set themselves, considering that just the Sunday before, headliner Frank Ocean pulled out his performance as a result, the momentary trend of the festival “Prank Ocean” was born and available on t-shirts, bags and hats.

Regardless of this, the bill promised a rather organic affair of indie and alternative acts, starting with an impromptu show of smoke which somewhere amidst, Mogwai was playing. Mirroring recent albums, things were, once again, a bit vanilla – if anything, they were a perfect beginning for those just arriving and talking to each other while laying on one of the only grassy areas on site.

If anyone were to ask me what Primavera 2017 was like, seeing Mac DeMarco get halfway through “Together” before jumping onto a speaker, giving himself a thong and in the process the cameraman a good old view of his behind whilst carnally lowering himself towards the naked drummer and wincing when he caught himself burning his armpit hair would probably be the first thing that came back to mind. As someone who doesn’t take himself seriously, even as a musician, we, as spectators, were truly given a performance.

The contrast came heavy, then, when on the main stage of the festival, The xx somehow managed to give thousands of people a truly intimate and slightly sombre piece. I was someone who saw the debut album as a lover you never really got over and felt like everything that you experienced afterwards couldn’t compare to. Yet, a compelling interaction between singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim throughout playing, not to mention the iridescent personality of the group conveyed something that I’d never noticed before in the recent albums I’d so strongly stayed away from. In the vocal harmony alone lies a duet that is captivating and yet is almost obsolete in music today. It was clear that the trio had considered a wide range of elements for the set and combined a well-ordered set list with glistening visuals and faintly subdued lighting, which together exhibiting patterns of refracted light, left many in absolute awe. It was, in many ways, so precious, that it seems a shame to have to denote serious issues with sound, as was, in fact, to become a recurring theme throughout the weekend.

The xx

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, sound troubles continued on the Bowers & Wilkins stage, which considering is celebrated for its ingenuity in sound systems, it was almost agonising to listen to legendary force Âme play a live set through a crackling speaker. Despite this, it is impossible to characterise the tandem as anything other than a pure energy drive; it’s instantly clear why the duo has such a powerful reputation between them. This kind of vigour consequently feeds into its audience, which was spaciously formed of techno freaks and house heads.

Friday was signed off with panache by Flying Lotus, who has created himself as a type of cosmic jazz/contemporary electronic music alien. Exalting oomph in both a collision of musical genres and accompanying visuals (of which at one point starred a computerised human tied up on the floor, another feminine body with a face similar to FlyLo’s own twerking over) he unceasingly showed himself to say “no thanks” to conventional style, obscure and haunting one moment, hilarious and mocking the next. Talaboman, the duo outfit that is John Talabot and Axel Boman, moved light-dark/dark-light as the final act of the night when it starts to become morning. Stragglers of all stages transfixed to modern day landmarks of intelligent electronic music, a subjective climax peaking with the sunrise and moving to “The Sun Can’t Compare” in its full and entire glory.

Grace Jones

With a tendency to present older names and long-celebrated artists on Saturday, the atmosphere at Primavera is usually significantly different. The atmosphere gets a bit more relaxed, the crowd dies down and things become, or so it seems, a little more for the locals. The groove sets in earlier than previous days – this time in an oriental fusion with Junun, a project of different cultures and nationalities, usually including Jonny Greenwood. As a mixture of traditional Indian instruments and Israeli influences with electronic coding as the backbone of the outfit, Junun is a multi-cultural, polyrhythmic discourse; their performance giving colour and vitality and making it impossible to stay still. Later, diva/musical icon/Jamaican disco goddess Grace Jones created an absolute storm on the main stage, her entrance somewhat improvised after a dramatic and wind-induced curtain fall. Between bearing a force of a stage persona by asking for a “Coke” in an ambiguous manner midway through the set, to unveiling herself wearing a dildo, she showed herself to a society obsessed with youth and as limitless and unapologetically ageless.

John Talabot

In fact, Primavera proceeded to go down a Saturday Night Fever route in which disco proved to be king. Since Primavera is also an international phenomenon in both acts and audience, there is something intangibly special when John Talabot, who hails from Barcelona, comes back to his roots and performs in front of an appreciative and melody-hungry audience. Playing a disco set, Talabot continuously manages to capture this essence of bliss and yet take the whole of humankind on the same journey at the same time. Weval were a stones’ throw away making some similar magic – as a live and downbeat edition. The Dutch duo is a bit like how a priest might describe God – personal yet impersonal; transcendental yet immanent. Moving away slightly from the intricate power they’ve consistently mustered throughout their studio work, Weval led all eyes on an emotional thread and offered an all-encompassing performance that takes electro-pop, dreamy dance and touching vocals to finish in a state of rapture.

Regardless of the hushed-up malfunctioning sound system and the constant clashes of interest in the programme, reputations happen for a reason. Primavera is now recognised in international lands as a leading festival for its line-up, and this year, excluding the heartache of Prank Ocean, was no exception. An almost predictable outcome of this is a melting pot that allows attraction of like-minded people from a plethora of countries. Where other festivals might offer better food, boutiques and camping, few festivals can compete with the feeling of leaving in the early morning sun to head to the beach and walk back to base in the magical city with borderline mythological architecture and infinite springs of culture that is Barcelona.

Check out http://www.primaverasound.com/ for more info.

Dixon & Âme – All Night Long – Albert Hall, Manchester.

Mar
26

Although both Dixon and Kristian Beyer (one-half of Âme) are very well known for their individual work, it’s hard to talk about either of them without mentioning Innervisions. Now in it’s eleventh year the label has grown to become one of the most talked about and innovative institutions in the industry. Since breaking away from Sonar Kollektiv Dixon, Beyer and Frank Wiedmann,­ the other half of Âme,­ have slowly, and not so quietly established the label as a beacon of quality in a saturated digital world. Their simple approach to their work, placing quality above all, has clearly paid off, with Dixon topping the resident advisor DJ chart three years running, and Âme (Beyer) in the top twenty in the last four, they have developed a solid pedigree. So when I discovered the Warehouse Project was bringing them to Manchester, I needed about as much persuasion to get tickets as a dog eyeing up an unattended burger stand.

More recently Innervisions have become known for their ‘Lost in a moment’ parties, a concept which has hosted some of the most unique, and perfectly crafted events on the industry calendar. ‘Lost In A Moment’ is all about finding that sweet spot where everything at a party clicks; location, sound system, music and lighting. Now I know it can’t really be said that The Albert Hall is not different compared to many other venues out there, it’s a four-story gothic chapel after all, but it is in danger of seeming run of the mill to a collective who are used to holding parties on their own island (Osea Island). Nevertheless, the atmosphere is gripping as we enter the main hall. The floor and upper tier are filling up with an excited looking rabble while the Innervisions pair gear up for what is sure to be a night of palpable emotion and energy. The stage is framed by the huge, century-old organ towering high above them, which seems to be pumping out the music with an almost demoniacal efficiency.

As we enter its Dixon who is in control, moulding the mood, his famous brand of melodic, brooding music, softly washing over everyone. With impeccable subtlety, the gentle harmonious tracks coerce our attention away from the bar to the stage. A slick lighting set up pulsates into view, greeting those arriving with lush vibrant orange and blue rays. His his first stint comes to an end and the headphones are casually passed to Kristian, the crowds movement starts to synchronize with the beat, the room submitting to their spinning wizardry. Kristian steps in, providing a new sense of urgency to the starting pace set by Dixon, his masterfully picked techno starts to reverberate round the room to a chorus of whoops and hollers. The crisp punching kicks are layered over and under with haunting dark distortion that gradually increases over the next 45 minutes, building in intensity. We’re 3 hours in and already it’s pretty clear, the German masters have no intention of slowing down, quite happy to leave a good many people around me in a state of hypnotised anticipation.

As the next few hours flowed over us, Beyer and Dixon casually rotate every 45 minutes or so, always with a few words of intent into the others ear. The energy still continues to build, Beyer coming in with the injections of heavier, driving techno, fueling the throng of bouncing heads oscillating up and down, with military precision. Dixon moves in again, black cargo pants tucked into heavy black boots, it looks for a second like an army is drilling in front of its stern unflappable leader. He uses Beyer’s change of pace to weave in his felicitous beats, no doubt bespokely edited to fit exactly where he wants them. He cements the atmosphere with a newly flourished vehemence as track after track of pounding techno permeates everything in the ex-methodist church shelter.

Unable to pinpoint exactly where the time has just gone the night draws towards its ultimatum. In the last hour and a half, we are emotionally dragged between hair-raising hand in the air build ups riddled with feverish anticipation, and colossal mind mincing drops that smack a look of ecstatic perplexion onto everyone’s faces. All except Dixon whose steely demeanour is replaced with a sly, cheeky grin. Gradually the house lights begin to brighten, the organ is bathed in a diffuse deep orange light, the inky shades of night artificially turned to dawn. Dixon, sympathetically switches the pace to an ethereal chorus, chiming around a lingering bassline which slowly fades out, leaving the room to revel in the contented afterglow of what has been, simply a special night.

Review: The Garden Party

Sep
03

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we arrived at The Tetley in Leeds – a former brewery, now contemporary art gallery complex. The Garden Party was upon us and I could not pick a better setting myself.

The festival grounds were quite small in comparison to other day festivals I have visited before (namely Field Day), which I very much enjoyed – all of the five stages were a brisk walk away. We were instantly drawn to the biggest one – the Fact stage by none other than Ame. A fantastic performance of melodic techno and house left the very varied crowd craving for more while we went on to explore the grounds a little more.

The other stages were considerably smaller in size, however keeping the caliber of the artists performing in mind, this ended up being a very positive experience. My biggest pet peeve of not actually being able to make out artists on stage, or staring at screens here turned into intimate performances. The best example of this was my highlight of the Dummy stage – Roisin Murphy. Seeing her and her band move the few hundred smiles around us really cemented The Garden Party as a place I will recommend not only to those interested in electronic music.

Another stage – Metropolis & Ape (known as Just A Little Stage on Sunday) played host to the more commercially orientated artists such as Redlight, Shadow Child and B.Traits among quite a few more. We managed to catch a good bit of Redlight and even though I would not describe the experience as groundbreaking it was thoroughly enjoyable for what it was.

The Red Bull Truck, which was classed as a stage, was placed in such a way that quite a bit of the sound was drowned out by the rumble of its bigger counterparts, however Ste Roberts and Zutekh deserve a mention for keeping the bar and food stall queues grooving throughout the two days.

My absolute highlight of the festival, however, was Heidi. The woman definitely knows how to put on a great show and as the Saturday night drew to a close I and many others, it seemed, were craving for more of the jackin house goodness. If you ever get a chance – do see her. Other special mentions go out to Joy Orbison, my new love – Black Coffee and Romare for making me get achievements on my phone’s physical activity tracker.

All in all The Garden Party was thoroughly enjoyable. A lot of thought went into curating this city festival, far more than others I have attended in the past and it shows in everything – from the sound, the line-up and the food. Itching for next year’s edition!

More info on The Garden Party here – http://www.thegardenpartyleeds.com/

Preview: The Garden Party

Aug
20

The Garden Party returns to Leeds for its 10th rendition on 29th of August with two days packed of great artists and amazing food! This bank holiday weekend they are taking over The Tetley (Hunslet Road, LS10 1JQ Leeds) 10 AM – 11 PM on both days with afterparties running afterwards.

The Garden Party is offering a very impressive and wide array of artists spanning the two days – Roisin Murphy, Todd Terje, Joy Orbison, Âme and Grandmaster Flash to name a few.

As well as music they are reaching out to independent food and beverage sellers for the highest quality grub and drink – FISH& / BOOZY Q BBQ / NORTHERN BLOC / BÁNH MÌ BOOTH / PIZZA FELLA / RŌLA WALA / SELA / CRAFT BEER BAR / COCKTAIL SHACK.

With club and promoter partners such as Warehouse Project, Canal Mills, Mono_Cult, and KMAH Radio among others, the quality is assured as the best the North has to offer come together for a fantastic two-day party. See you there!

ROISIN MURPHY / LITTLE DRAGON / TALIB KWELI / TODD TERJE / SOUL II SOUL / KERRI CHANDLER / JOHN TALABOT / JULIO BASHMORE / JOY ORBISON /  BLACK COFFEE / HEIDI / GRANDMASTER FLASH / ÂME / BICEP / REDLIGHT / PATRICK TOPPING / B.TRAITS / MR SCRUFF / CRAIG CHARLES / SHADOW CHILD / PAUL WOOLFORD / CHRIS LORENZO / FATIMA & THE EGLO BAND / PREDITAH / ROMARE / PBR STREETGANG / CRAZY P SOUNDSYSTEM / FUTUREBOOGIE / ADY SULEIMAN / ERRORS / DUTCH UNCLES / BAMBOOMAN / GALAXIANS / HONNE / LONELADY / HAELOS / FORMATION / BERNARD AND EDITH / WHILK AND MISKY / ARKIVE / DISKO KID & TOBIAS / PEOPLE GET REAL / KRYSKO & GREG LORD / THE SONIC EMPORIUM / GRAINGER / STE ROBERTS / CHRISTIAN MAIDEN / OLI PATTEN / SIAN BENNETT

More information & tickets via www.thegardenpartyleeds.com