Dubstep, hip hop, slow-motion rave, sample puzzles, surround-sound psychedelics: the beatz department at Sónar 2012 is huge and complex. We have drawn out a roadmap for you to enjoy the most underground sounds on the bill.
One of the leitmotivs of Sónar 2012, parallel to that of bands and artists taking pop as a starting point for technology-based musical evolutions, and of those giving house a make-over from different viewpoints (the most classic, the deepest, and the most hipster), is abstract beats. Or, in other words: musicians who move away from the basic 4x4 structures and experiment with more broken rhythms, slow and unpredictable, mostly accompanied by a psychedelic sound and full-fat bass lines. The roadmap we have prepared for you is blurry, but full of essential artists. It's the road to the surprises and future best moments of the festival.
1. Daedelus Arquimedes Show
Thursday, 14th June. SónarHall, 5 pm.
Alfred Darlington, alias Daedelus, is one of the weirdest guys on the present electronica scene. His passion for the baroque (in every aspect of his appearance and sound) can also be explained by looking at the variety of labels he's released his eleven albums on. As his stage name indicates, and the fact that a Monome is included in his musical equipment, Darlington is a science and invention fan. For his new live show, he uses a mirror structure that generates dream-like effects in combination with lights and projections, based on the device that Archimedes supposedly invented to burn the ships attacking old Syracuse from a distance.
2. Brainfeeder presenta Kutmah, Lapalux, Jeremiah Jae, Thundercat & Flying Lotus
Thursday, 14th June. SónarVillage by Estrellam Damm, 3-7:30 pm.
The Brainfeeder label seems to have achieved a new distinctive model within the complex worldwide experimental electronic music scene, incorporating psychedelics, jazz and funk (ingredients of the great genres of black music in the seventies) through hip hop, and this giant showcase will allow us to see what else there is beyond the central figure of label boss Flying Lotus. Naturally, Lotus himself will perform, and he'll present some pieces from his upcoming album, “Until The Quiet Comes”, but let's not forget Kutmah's eclectic DJ set, Lapalux' melodic dubstep, Jeremiah Jae's violent post-hip hop psychedelics, or Thundercat's prodigious bass playing technique.
3. DJ Spinn & DJ Rashad
Thursday, 14th June. SónarDôme, 9 pm.
They are the Starsky & Hutch of footwork. Ever since Mike Paradinas put them on a compilation and the road to Europe, their reputation hasn't stopped growing. Of course that's partly thanks to their huge output as producers on labels from both sides of the Atlantic, such as Ghettophiles, Juke Trax and Planet Mu, but also maybe because they've been some of the few names from the Chicago juke scene to strike a chord with the European public. If your brain doesn't allow you to overdo it with the frantic footwork rhythms, no worries. But you shouldn't miss out on the dance moves during this set.
4. Amon Tobin - ISAM
Friday, 15th June. SónarClub, 11 pm.
Amon Tobin has been going for quite a while now, and he's had his ups and downs. After his shining start at Ninja Tune in 1996, fusing drum'n'bass and samba, the London-based Brazilian has continued to experiment with dense and complex sample structures, which ultimately led to the creation of “ISAM”, a heavily experimental album that he plays live with an astonishing set-up, with sound and light cubes and platforms, to simply hypnotic, even flabbergasting effect.
5. James Blake DJ
Friday, 15th June. SónarPub, 12:30 am.
Before his first album, “James Blake”, made him famous worldwide, before his first EPs stunned us, before all that, James Blake regularly manned the DJ booths of London at night, earning the respect of the still-emerging post-dubstep scene with his exquisite selections and mixes of the new sounds of the British capital. Moreover, he's always bringing some of his notorious bootlegs with him, known as Harmonimixes. If you're a fan, you won't have too many other opportunities to hear them played out.
Saturday, 16th June. Escenario SónarDôme, 3:15 pm.
Salva is one of the most prolific agents on the present Los Angeles scene, thanks to the creation of his collective, Frite Nite, which has become one of the most solid quality reference points in California's cultural capital. His production style integrates hip hop breaks and soft house textures, creating a space in between, where the music can be both lethargic and nervous, increasingly evolving towards more complex sounds. His first album, “Complex Housing” (2011), was only a first indication of what he has in store for us.
7. Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones
7. Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones
Saturday, 16th June. SónarVillage by Estrella Damm, 4 pm.
He, a Canadian DJ and producer based in Barcelona. She, a pretty Austrian fashion student who over time has been building a rep as a DJ in Barcelona. No, it isn’t a clothing store advert. They share a love for southern rap, R&B, trap, crunk and the most recent brands of dance music. Which you can hear on “The Lights EP”, Hawke's latest release on Pelican Fly. On Saturday they will shower the SónarVillage with anything from Waka Flocka to Jacques Greene; from Dipset to The-Dream, in one of the most promising Spanish back to back sets of the event.
8. Star Slinger
Saturday, 16th June. SónarVillage by Estrella Damm, 6:30 pm.
He started drawing attention with a series of tracks he dropped in different corners of the worldwide web: YouTube, download sites, almost always using the tactic of the unauthorised remix, or releasing mixtapes on which his particular sound was taking shape; silky, emotional, taking influences from the most euphoric brands of hip hop and sparkling electronica, as if he were an answer to Gold Panda.
9. Die Antwoord
Saturday, 16th June. SónarClub, 1 am.
The monster parade has another stop at Sónar, and it promises to be devastating, like last year. A delirious freak show, caricaturing gangsta-rap, the Afrikaans way. The dirty Yo-Landi Visser and the no-less-disgusting Ninja, with his prison look, will violently present the songs of “Ten$ion”, the second album by the South African project that has been ruling the internet for two years now, with shocking videos, foulmouthed songs and chav eroticism. Guilty pleasure.
10. Hyperdub Showcase: Kode9, Cooly G y DVA
Saturday, 16th June. SónarLab, 03.15 to 05.45 am.
The only 'but' you can add to any Hyperdub showcase is that they don't feature more artists. Because if Steve ‘ Kode9’ Goodman has anything, it's a sixth sense for musical pulsations, especially from the British underground. This time, spaceship commander Kode9 called upon DVA and Cooly G, two of the most important names on the UK funky scene, whether that be because of records on Goodman's label, as is the case of the latter, or because of his former radio show on Rinse FM, his own label and his debut album, in the case of the former.