In mid-June, when many of us were packing our bags to go to Sónar Barcelona and Sónar Galicia, the directors of the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art surprised friend and foe (well, not really, as Sónar’s history outside of Spain is pretty long already) with the announcement of their plans for an edition this year –and expectedly in the following years- in the Windy City. Yesterday, the official line-up was released of this first Chicago issue, to be held between 9th and 11th September at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the popular Millenium Park and the emblematic Chicago Cultural Center.
The good people of Sónar tell us that it is their objective to transfer the Barcelona festival’s philosophy to the North American city, paying attention to all the elements that has made Sónar a global reference; a high quality musical and audio-visual programme with a clear experimental component and a set-up in an important urban frame and on special and top notch locations. The Chicago edition will have one particularity: all the performances and activities programmed by the festival will be free, except those that are included in AIMM, which will have to be paid for separately. What’s AIMM? Those four characters contain one of the other differences with the original festival. In line with their recent commitment to opening up to, and collaborating with other relevant cultural institutions in the cities they visit, Sónar Chicago expands its programme by working with Adventures In Modern Music (AIMM), a prestigious festival organised for the last eight years by British magazine The Wire Empty Bottle, one of the most important venues in the city.
Regarding the line-up, among the artists confirmed are The Slew (the “scratch-rock” band led by master scratcher Kid Koala), Oval (the project of German Markus Popp, back in business after ten years of silence), Ben Frost (one of the winners at Sónar 2009), Nosaj Thing (presenting his brilliant audio-visual show), Dutchman Martyn (key figure on the techno-dubstep fusion front), the duo formed by Nicolas Bernier and Martin Messier (presenting La Chambre des Machines, a performance based on the sonic possibilities of the intonarumori, the mechanical “noise boxes” invented at the beginning of the 20th century by futurist Luigi Russolo) and New Yorker Lesley Flanigan with her Amplifications (music constructed from artesan instruments and sounds made with her own voice). The Catalan music scene will be represented well by the imaginative pop of Bradien, the touching electronica of bRUNA, the dark ritual drone-folk of Huan and the Krautrock psychedelica of Faraón.