By Luis M. Rguez, Franc Sayol and Mario G. Sinde
On Thursday, Sónar 2011 begins in Barcelona and A Coruña, promising to be one of the most musically balanced editions ever of the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. And now, it’s time to design some kind of roadmap for the different stages so your Sónar experience will be the best it can be. That’s why we’re starting a trip along some PlayGround recommendations (a route you can later modify as you see fit with the MySónar, which is available on the festival website), with the music we think you can’t afford to miss out on. Today we’ll focus on the line-up day by day at the CCCB in Barcelona. Tomorrow we’ll focus on the night programme.
Actress At this point, there’s little doubt that Darren Cunningham is one of the great privileged minds in contemporary electronic music. Maker of two modern-day classics like “Hazyville” (Werk Discs, 2008) and “Splazsh” (Honest John’s, 2010), his music is like a melting pot where he merges the legacies of Detroit and Chicago (and much more) and spits them out as a watery and abstract cocktail that defy the mind with abyssal textures. After the sound problems during his last gig at the Barcelona Nitsa club, this is his chance for revenge. Franc Sayol
Saturday 18th June, SónarHall stage, 8:30 pm .
Dels Kieren Dickins, alias DELS, is an atypical rapper, with his background as an art student, and because of his preference for working with people like Joe Goddard (Hot Chip), Ghostpoet, Mica Levi (Micachu), Sampha and Kwes, rather than checking out the beats market most of the headz are looking at, and because of his comments that there are too many rappers dedicated to rapping instead of making “songs”. He’s obviously of the second species, and his recent album “GOB” on Big Dada is a new piece of sophistication and hope for British hip-hop, with its mix of smooth phrasing and sci-fi beats. Luis M. Rguez
Thursday 16th June, SónarVillage stage, 7.30 pm Denseland Behind Denseland is the very respected vocal experimenter David Moss. With over 4,000 gigs behind him, last year alongside Hannes Strobl and Hanno Leichtmann, he made “Chunk”, an album featuring two very experimental sound strategies: the use of rock instruments to make highly investigative sounds (post-rock, the Central European way, following the path of Radian) and the voice in that improvisational context. FS
Thursday 16th June, SónarComplex stage, 9:00 pm .
Disboot Showcase In little under three years, Disboot has become one of the biggest names in Spanish bass music and beyond. Thanks to the Downliners Sekt trilogy, the Catalan label has been embraced by the bass aristocracy in the UK. They’ll be at the festival with two stellar live shows: one by the aforementioned Downliners Sekt and one by C156, who will unfold their expansive musical vision with four laptops, percussion and violin, with tremendous results. FS
Saturday 18th June, SónarComplex stage, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Dominique Young Unique Youth, cheek, straightforwardness and lots of energy. Those are the weapons of choice form the explosive Dominique Young Unique, a 19 year old rapper from Tampa, Florida, who feels right at home in between ghetto hip-hop, electro and booty house. After jumping to fame with a track featuring an agitated rhythm and explicit lyrics ( “Show My Ass”), her latest mixtapes confirmed young Dominique as the great hope for the so-called “female rappers” with basic instincts who take the dancefloor by storm. LMR
Friday 17th June, SónarVillage stage, 9.00 pm
Floating Points Whether he’s producing splendid pieces of cosmic house or creating avant-garde jazz at the helm of the Floating Points Ensemble, young Sam Sheperd has made it quite clear that he’s one of the main men of British electronic music of this decade. With a classical education and a scientific soul, so far, each and every one of his releases has been a great examples of his ability to fuse genres, proving his mastery of the synths, rhythm boxes and samplers. This time we’ll get to experience one of his famous DJ sets, which are sonic trips like his own productions. FS
Thursday 16th June, SónarVillage stage, 4:00 pm
With almost 15 years of career behind him so far, Kieran Hebden is one of the great examples of the ability to combine personality with permeability. “There Is Love In You” was the final step on a path that has taken him to be a key figure in adventurous, leftfield dance music. Apart from that, he’s an excellent DJ, but this time he’ll be playing live, and no doubt giving us an overview of his brilliant album and recent collaborations with Burial, Thom Yorke and Caribou. FS
Friday 17th June, SónarVillage stage, 7:15 pm
With his debut album on Brownswood , London rhymer Obaro Ejimiwe has established himself as one of the most curious and atypical specimens on the hip-hop scene of late. The Briton, of Nigerian descent, got into Gilles Peterson’s good book with his taciturn, reflective and laidback lyrics, and his misty “Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam” only added to his candidature for the great revelation of the year, with songs mixing confessional rap, rock, dub, dancehall, bassy electronica and spoken word. His relaxed and laidback flow (between hungover and sleepy) and his stories of mix-ups, solitude, confusion and urban alienation don’t leave anyone indifferent. LMR
Friday 17th June, SónarHall stage, 8.30 pm
His “76:14” (Dedicated, 1994) got them a top spot at the ambient Olympus. After releasing their masterwork, however, Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton decided to forget about Global Communication for a while and focus on their many parallel projects. It left a generation of fans without the possibility of seeing them live. Now, they’re reactivating the project to settle the score and get in touch with the new generation of followers who have been discovering them over the past seventeen years. A must-see if ever there was one. FS
Saturday 18th June, SónarHall stage, 5:00 pm
The duo formed by (in theory) Inga Copeland and Roy Blunt is one of the most exciting projects of recent times. Their unclassifiable sound is more concerned with subconscious and narcotic states of mind than with genres or styles. After three acclaimed albums, they’ve signed to Hyperdub, which shows they mean serious business. The confirmation of this should be their live set at the festival. Apparently, their shows are mantra-like rituals where dispersion and mental fog reach unknown dimensions. FS
Saturday 18th June, SónarComplex stage, 9:00 pm
The young producer, who left us petrified with “Time For Us” (Wolf + Lamb, 2010), is coming to the festival as one of the great hopes of deep house, thanks to his brilliant debut album “Space Is Only Noise” (Circus Company, 2011). With its lethargic pulse, airs of jazz, organic instrumentation and sensual vocals, it’s one of the debuts of the year. We’ll wait and see how that translates to the stage. FS
Thursday 16th June, SónarHall stage, 5:00 pm
Coming from the oppressive fields of the Blackest Ever Black label, Raime proposes an immersion in contaminated waters. Contaminated with early eighties electronica (basically, the industrial sounds of bands like Throbbing Gristle, Coil and Chris & Cosey) and the darkness of the most recent British bass currents. Mixing dubstep with the latest heavy oscillations and gothic-like post-punk, their live show at Sónar will be one of the “scary moments” of the festival. Mario G. Sinde
Saturday 16th June, SónarHall stage, 8.30 pm
Shangaan Electro is the rhythm of the streets of Soweto, feverish mix of rhythms from the Shangaan musical tradition, MIDI keyboards, manipulated vocal samples and 4x4 beats at diabolic speed, which jumped to fame last year thanks to a fistful of viral videos and an acclaimed compilation album, “Shangaan Electro. New Wave Dance Music From South Africa”, released by Honest Jon’s. Frantic dance music, inventive, confusing, colourful and energising from the heart of South Africa. LMR
Saturday 18th June, SónarVillage stage, 7.15 pm
Gifted skater, plastic artist, radio selector and electronic musician dedicated to abstract beats of the new LA school. That’s Mtendere Mandowa, alias Teebs, for you. His impressionist and watery beat-making exercises, a subtle mix of chaotic percussion, pulverised textures and humid atmospheres, made Teebs one of the most exciting names on the recent Angelino beat scene. “Ardour” is his excellent debut album on Brainfeeder, great proof of the boy’s talent for sonic chemistry. LMR
Friday 17th June, SónarDôme stage, 6.30 pm
Toro Y Moi
Chillwave? Leave the tag for others, Toro Y Moi is about something else, something better. Back in 2009, Chaz Bundick won the hearts of the blogosphere with a fistful of irresistible hypnagogic bedroom pop gems that married synthetic R&B, indie pop, Prince funk, post-Dilla electronica and sunny, Pacific north coast pop psychedelica. Two years later, Toro Y Moi broke out of the chillwave thing to give us his particular vision of black pop, with good doses of soul, space disco, jazz-funk and slowed-down eighties boogie beats. Closer to David Axelrod than Washed Out. LMR
Thursday 16th June, SónarVillage stage, 3.00 pm
Tri Angle Showcase
With only two releases (the debut EPs by Balam Acab and oOoOO) on the market, the Tri Angle label ended last year well-positioned among the new favourite labels of almost everybody, as the home of witch house. However, their most recent signings show that Robin Carolan’s vision goes way beyond the dark business of drag. The enchanting mix of hypnagogic pop, disintegrated R&B and uplifting 2-step of Holy Other, the slow-motion sensuality of drone pop and misty R&B, reverberating and lo-fi, of How To Dress Well and the electronic esotericism of oOoOO (offering a hybrid DJ/live set) will bear witness to the great shape one of the labels of the moment is in right now. LMR
Friday 17th June, SónarComplex stage, from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm
Like father (which in this case would be Anthony Braxton, thinker, avant-garde composer, saxophonist and free and incendiary pianist, a free-jazz phenomenon), like son. Now free from Battles, the restless Tyondai Braxton will come to Sónar to present new material and play songs from his most recent solo album, “Central Market” (Warp, 2009), an orchestral fantasy halfway between contemporary classical and experimental avant-garde, which collides loops of crooked electronica, poly-rhythms, brass instruments and strings with keyboards, impossible guitars and vocals. Orchestral music re-thought for the 22nd Century. LMR
Thursday 16th June, SónarHall stage, 7.00 pm PlayGround is a media partner of Sónar
Sónar is nigh and we’re giving you clues, if you still don’t know which stages to visit when. There’s a lot more than this, but our most important recommendations for Sónar by Day are here.
Review: '' Splazsh''
Review: '' Gob''
Review: '' One Nation''
Review: '' If Anywhere Was Here We Would Know Where We Are''
Review: '' Ardour''