Musical Itineraries For Sónar, Part 1

The indie route

Sónar 2012 is just around the corner, and we're starting to take a closer look at the bill. We will do so with four themed routes. The first one is today, with pop and indie-friendliness as the leitmotiv.

There always are people who don't think clearly, or simply believe the misleading information that Sónar is all about tough electronic rhythms and empty-headed dance floor hedonism. It isn't: there's something for everyone. If there's anything the festival stands out for, it's its eclecticism; its idea of putting on display, in the same room, debutants like Lana Del Rey, alongside bands like Metronomy (who have made some incredible progress in the past months). That's what Sónar is: a musical oasis where tags are redundant, and where anyone with an intriguing and forward looking sound can find a place. Even you, who buys glasses by the pair, thanks to the generosity of Alain Afflelou. This itinerary full of delicacies for lovers of (electronic or not) pop, is for you.


Thursday, 14th June. SonarComplex. 19:30h.

Retro goth-pop (with analogue synths from yesteryear) has new heroes. From the deepest underground of Toronto comes one of the most addictive nightmares of the season. “TRST”, their debut album, is indebted to both the sickest EBM and the primitive techno of the 80s, alongside the gay-friendly heroes of synthetic pop ( TRUST have a track called “Gloryhole”, and that's no coincidence). Put on your favourite S&M suit and enjoy the goat-like voice of Robert Alfons and the electronic drums of Maya Postepski, because it's well worth it.

2. When Saints Go Machine

Thursday, 14th June. SónarHall. 20:30h.

Electronica full of contrasts for the early evening. This Danish four-piece (with the two members of Kenton Slash Demon) moves between icy and warm passages in a brand of synth-pop with an arty touch (the singer resembles both Talk Talk's Mark Hollis and Antony). On the songs of their respectable second album, “Konkylie”, there's music with an experimental, primitive and cosmic sound that shows their growth as a band, which landed them a deal with !k7.

3. Austra

Friday, 15th June. SonarVillage. 17:15h.

Austra, a trio from Toronto, were one of the most exciting debutants of last year and are the new champions of new dark electronica. Blame it on their notable debut LP, “Feel It Break”, on which the magnetic singer, Katie Stelmanis, uses her opera education to come up with a curious and irresistible brand of chamber synth-pop. Their album, the promo images and their videos are well up there. Now they have to prove it on stage.

4. John Talabot

Friday, 15th June, Sonar Hall. 20:30h

For his live show, John Talabot prefers an organic feel over a typical laptop setup. After all, liveliness has always been one of the main actives in his compositions. Accompanied by Pional and hidden behind an amalgamation of drum machines, synths and samplers, the Barcelona producer will be playing all the goodness of his first full-length “fIN” (Permanent Vacation, 2012) that made him one of the top names in electronic music this year. And playing a home game will help to establish what could well be one of the highlights of this year's Sónar.

5. Peaking Lights

Friday, 15th June, SonarComplex. 21:00h

The couple formed by Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes stole our hearts (ours, and half the underground community's) last year with the magic “936” (Not Not Fun, 2011). Now they're bringing their enchanting dub-pop to Spain for the very first time. With follow-up “Lucifer” about to be released (18th June), it's more than likely we'll hear some fresh tunes, too.

6. Lana del Rey

Friday, 15th June. SonarPub. 23:45h.

We had little hope we would ever see her play live, but thanks to Sónar, the latest great revelation in melodramatic pop (originally born on the internet, like Aphrodite from the waves) will have the opportunity to put things in their place. It remains to be seen if her live show can live up to the expectations, but, thanks to her ever growing legion of fans, the American will surely feel right at home in Barcelona. One of the most anticipated gigs of the event.

7. Friendly Fires

Friday, 15th June. SonarPub. 01:30h.

The Britons are always a guarantee for a party, and more so with that mad dancing frontman Ed Macfarlane, who gives it his all in every song. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that “Jump In The Pool” will tear the roof off the sucker. And the more than enjoyable “Pala”, with anthems like “Hawaiian Air” and “Live Those Days Tonight”, will have us losing kilos by the bucket-load on the dance floor.

8. Simian Mobile Disco

Friday, 15th June. SonarLab. 03:00h.

Although Simian Mobile Disco started out as a DJ duo raised from the ashes of Simian, they soon started to produce as well. As one of the great champions of the electronica-rock crossover in the past decade, James Ford and Jas Shaw have since turned towards strictly dance floor techno, as we can hear on their recent “Unpatterns”. Less indie-friendly than before, but still spectacular.

9. Cornelius

Saturday, 16th June, SonarHall. 17:00h

With a career spanning over two decades, Japanese Keigo Oyamada has become one of the top dogs in matters of experimental music with a pop heart in his country. His latest project involved the production of the album "S(o)un(d) beams”, by J-pop singer Salyu. At Sónar he'll be presenting it live, in the company of Yumiko Ohno, from Buffalo Daughter.

10. Metronomy

Saturday, 16th June, SonarLab. 23:45h

With “The English Riviera” (Because Music, 2011), the band led by Joseph Mount entered the major league of danceable pop, while at the same time Metronomy significantly improved on stage as well. Catchy tunes like “The Bay”, “The Look”, and “Corinne” will ensure SonarLab becomes a hedonistic feast of colourful melodies and jumpy rhythms.

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