Sónar 2011

Line-up almost complete

In these times of WikiLeaks and Twitter, it seems almost impossible that secrets can still exist. Information circulates faster than a supersonic air plane: no image, video or rumour remains unnoticed by the world. Even so, Sónar have managed to maintain the uncertainty about this year’s (almost) complete and definitive line-up right up until the last moment. Did you know Aphex Twin will be there? And that the retro-nostalgic quota of this year is met by The Human League, who’ll present their new album? And, a few more surprises magnified by the perseverance with which Sónar have kept this year’s names from us: Toro y Moi will be playing their new album “Underneath The Pine” at the CCCB. There will be showcases by two of the hottest labels of the moment, Numbers and Night Slugs. Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto will close the festival on Sunday. We’ll see the live show of Trentemoller, and the one by the princess of the grime-pop hood, Katy B – though it’s not clear if she’ll get on stage with Magnetic Man (but we’d think so). The festival will traverse five continents, there will be abstract beats and cubist techno, big pop stars like Janelle Monáe and magicians of danceable melodies like James Holden. And that’s only one part: on your right you can read the complete artist list of Sónar 2011 and Sónar Galicia; and below are a few recently confirmed names we’d like to highlight.

Toro Y Moi

Toro y MoiIf he would put his mind to it, Chazwick Bundick could be some kind of indie Michael Jackson. He has the gift of melody and the swing of funk, but with that faded halo of ethereal and vague sound associated with chillwave. We’ll be able to enjoy the blurry eighties dreaminess with sidesteps to disco music and synth-pop of “Underneath The Pine” (Carpark) here.

Showcase Tri Angle Records

When you talk to them about witch house, it’s possible they’d take offense and curse you, as they don’t like the label. And Tri Angle Records is not a record label that meets all the requisites of that particular esoteric American underground. There are references to the iconography of the triangle in their name, and they do have artists who connect with a vague idea of darkness. But Tri Angle is really a space of union for foggy pop and textured electronica with an urban pulse. Their key artists –oOoOO and Balam Acab– won’t be appearing, but How To Dress Well and new signing Holy Other will.


Actress The latest great innovator of British techno, the little explored connection between Warp’s intelligent sound and Hyperdub’s avant-garde dubstep (with a good dose of knowledge of Detroit deep house and techno), will be playing tracks off the brilliant “Splazsh” live. Actress might not be the most danceable act of the festival, but if his live show turns out well, he’ll be the one who will shake the most brains. The feet’ll be taken care of by James Holden, Surgeon, Silent Servant, Agoria, etc.

Aphex Twin

After 20 years, anything you can say about Richard D. James is not going to be enough to describe the greatness of his legend and the importance of his work. He is, as you know, the key figure in mad electronica, the man of the hyper-complex rhythms and super stupid melodies, the most toxic of all the ambient composers and the hardest of all techno producers. He’s the most acid and most broken one, because he does his thing and his thing only. He always does the same on festivals: he gets out his laptop, starts shooting tracks, leaves everybody deaf and tormented and leaves the room on the shoulders of the audience, like a bullfighter. So there.

The Human League

The Human League They are the living history of synth-pop and one of the most important branches of the long electronic tradition of Sheffield – the connection between Cabaret Voltaire and Forgemasters. Still going because beyond old glory –their album “Dare!” was a bestseller in 1983 thanks to the success up to today of singles like “Don’t You Want Me”– The Human League have conserved the quality on each and every one of their albums. The new one will be released next month and is called “Credo”, recorded with the line-up of the past few years: Philip Oakey (music), Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall (vocals). In any case, it’s obvious what’s expected of them: their all-time hits. Don’t fear, they won’t disappoint.

Katy B

A perfect opportunity to find out how things could go for Katy B, the new pretty face of British urban music, in 2011. We discovered her singing on the hits of Magnetic Man and “Katy On A Mission”, produced by Benga. Now she has the album ready and she will defend it on her own, without the support –well, she’ll have the moral support– of her friends Skream and company. One thing is certain, she has a golden voice. But will she have stage presence? That’s the big question she’ll have to answer to the hordes of extremely curious fans. And check out the context of this gig: a BBC showcase at the SónarLab, alongside Annie Mac, Benji B, Pearson Sound, Toddla T and Redlight feat. Ms. Dynamite and Dread MC. Funky house in your veins.

Janelle Monáe

There is little we can add to our review of the concert Janelle Monáe gave in Barcelona a few weeks ago. It was all delicacy on stage: the costumes, the band, the choreography, her movements when she has to do things on her own, the repertoire, the voice, the dedication of the audience. With “The ArchAndroid”, we’ll have one of the best gigs of Sónar 2011.

Chris Cunningham

Yes: the video artist, the man who couldn’t take “Neuromante” to the big screen but who will forever have our admiration thanks to his masterpieces for Aphex Twin, Portishead and Squarepusher: “Windowlicker”, “Only You” and “Come On My Selector”. But beware; he won’t come as a video jockey, but as a musician. Cunningham has been leaving his camera aside for a while now, in favour of the keyboard. What he does exactly, nobody knows. We’ll have to go and see for ourselves. There will be visual accompaniment, of course.

Night Slugs

Bok BokThe showcase of the London label with a back 2 back set by Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990, it’s two founders, and a live show by the black sheep of the family, Canadian Egyptrixx, who will play the tremendous material from “Bible Eyes” still hot off the presses. As we all love horns, breakbeats, shrieks, hot rhythms and roaring basslines, we will definitely be piling up at the Night Slugs. And if not…


The other great showcase that will rule at Sónar. The Glasgow label that goes crazy for acid, Drexciya, Chicago house and atomic dubstep presents a line-up to die for: Deadboy, Jackmaster, Lory D, Redinho, Spencer and Jessie Ware. Don’t forget your smiley face, your Vicks Vaporub, your lasers and your fluorescent T-shirt.

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto

They have a new project fusing minimal electronica and piano, the continuation of “Insen”. A few years ago they already presented their show at the Barcelona Auditorium, and this time the Japanese maestro and the genius of post-techno architecture will do it at the stone amphitheatre of the Teatre Grec on a warm and relaxed Sunday. If Sónar already looks great, the closing will be better than a gold star.

Sónar 2011 will be celebrated from 16 th to 18th June at the CCCB in Barcelona, the Fira Gran Via in L’Hospitalet, L’Auditori in Barcelona and the Teatre Grec in Barcelona. Tickets are on sale here . Sónar Galicia will be held on 17 th and 18th June at the EXPOCoruña in A Coruña. Tickets are on sale here .

Ticket sale

Sónar releases more names for this year’s line-up with some important confirmations. Heads up: Aphex Twin, Janelle Monáe, Katy B, Actress, The Human League, James Holden, showcases de Numbers y Night Slugs, Toro y Moi…Looking good, looking very good.

Extended line-up Sónar 2011 Thursday 16 / By day Nicolas Jaar Toro Y Moi Tyondai Braxton Little Dragon Floating Points Raime Denseland Open Reel Ensemble Daito Manabe Ninja Tune & Big Dada presenta: Shuttle + DELS + Offshore + Eskmo

Friday 17 / By day Astrud + Col·lectiu BrossaAgoriaHauschkaAtmosphereDominique Young UniqueOyXesús ValleFacto y Los Amigos del NorteTri Angle presenta: How To Dress Well + Holy Other

Saturday 18 / By day ActressApparatGlobal CommunicationHype WilliamsGilles PetersonShagaan ElectroNo SurrenderFilewileEVOLEdredónJudahDJ Sith & David MDisboot presenta: Downliners Sekt + C156

Thursday 16 / By night Steve Reich + bcn216 + Synergy Vocals

Friday 17 / By night M.I.A.Aphex TwinThe Human LeagueCut CopyBoys NoizeDie AntwoordTrentemollerA-TrakScubaSteve AokiMunchiDjedjotronicSchlachthofbronxBBC Radio 1 presents Annie Mac + Katy B / Benji B + Pearson Sound / Toddla T + Redlight feat. Ms. Dynamite & Dread MCRussian Beats presents: Mujuice + DZASmalltown Supersound presents: Diskjokke + Annie + Björn Torske

Saturday 18 / By night UnderworldMagnetic ManJanelle MonáeChris CunninghamShackletonJames HoldenThe Gaslamp KillerSurgeonBuraka Som SistemaAfrica HiTechPaul KalkbrennerMary Anne HobbsYelleSilent ServantNoaipreNight Slugs presenta: L-Vis 1990 b2b Bok Bok + EgyptrixxNumbers presenta: Deadboy + Jackmaster + Lory D + Redinho + Spencer + Jessie WareInfiné presenta: Rone + Arandel + Clara Moto

Sunday 19 / By night Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto

Still to be placed Katy BZincTiger & WoodsB. BravoBrandt Brauer FrickDaisuke TanabeDiscodeineIllum SpherekidandevilJuan SonJulian GomesPoirier feat. BoogatTeebsVenice

Extended line-up Sónar Galicia UnderworldMagnetic ManShackeltonJames HoldenThe Gaslamp KillerBuraka Som SistemaHHY & The MacumbasJudahColectivo OrugaGalis 115DJ SithCaino & ZinquinWasilkoskiDJ Ino & La Keise BandM.I.A.Die AntwoordCut CopyBoys NoizeMuchiNingunos DJsLaserDr. Think

If he would put his mind to it, Chazwick Bundick could be some kind of indie Michael Jackson. He has the gift of melody and the swing of funk, but with that faded halo of ethereal and vague sound associated with chillwave. We’ll be able to enjoy the blurry eighties dreaminess with sidesteps to disco music and synth-pop of “Underneath The Pine” (Carpark) here.

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