Another year, same story: a wave of sweet stress in view of the imminent Sónar festivities. There are so many unmissable activities and artists, so many attractions concentrated into a frenzied three days and nights, that at some point you have to set some guidelines or drown in a sea of choice. That’s why, as we did last year, we’ll be drawing up a schedule over the next few days that includes some of the artists that, in PlayGround’s opinion, no-one attending Sónar this year should miss. We believe that, at the end of the day, there’s no better judge than the audience and no–can make your choices for you (we know from experience, though, that it’s good to let yourself be surprised sometimes), but if you’re a bit lost and not sure where to start, here are a few pointers.Thursday morning: Depending on your arrival schedule, sooner or later you’ll get to Sónar de Día (you know, with activities located between CCCB and MACBA), but if we were you, by 13:00 hours you should be around the SonarDôme stage, where the Red Bull Music Academy will be, to check out the Galician Noaipre, who is one of the greatest hopes to come out of the local post-garage scene (where UK Garage, grime, dubstep and UK Funky converge). His first 10” through Arkestra Discos will be release after the festival, and everyone who’s had the chance to hear it (us included) agrees that Rohe Rodríguez is one to watch.
Those in search of new angles in the world of rhyming should check out Professor Green. His melodic tones and uninhibited rapping style flirts with pop and commercial rock to deliver, with humour, his particularly British hybrid of hip-hop, close to the new wonky pop with an urban background, like the no-frills chronicles from the streets that characterized the young Mike Skinner ( The Streets). His “ I Need You Tonight”, built around the INXS hit sample, has been around for a couple of months in the British Isles, and something tells us that this young man with a twisted sense of humour will entertain more than a few of us with his Sónar performance.On a more experimental tip, Alexandre Burton and Julien Roy will be at SonarComplex at 16:00 hours for the first outing of POWEr, half sound installation and half concert, which will see the pair modulating electrical discharges and electromagnetic disturbances from a high voltage generator (a Tesla coil) in real time, with musical intentions. From the images we’ve seen, we can tell it will be pretty special, and that it is a brave piece of programming that only Sónar would showcase.An hour later at SonarVillage, Londoner Speech Debelle will be delivering a live show based on her debut, “ Speech Therapy” (Big Dada, 2009), an album created with the help of Lotek ( Lotek Hi-Fi), Plutonic Lab, Roots Manuva, Mike Lindsay ( Tunng) and tiny Mika Levi (aka Micachu) which draws its influences from organic flavours in avant-pop, nu-soul, jazz and hip-hop. Young Debelle understands rhyming as a professional exercise but it still able to evoke emotions with sweet and sour undertones, which are skills that helped her become the Mercury Music Prize recipient last year.At 19:00 hours, at SonarDôme, there’s an unmissable date with Caribou, maker of one of the most enjoyable and colourful albums of the year so far. We’re all curious to see how Dan Snaith will bring the organic dance rhythms of the majestic “ Swim” (City Slang/Coop, 2010) to the live arena, though we have no doubts that he will rise to the challenge. Dancing to “ Odessa”, “ Jamelia” or “ Sun” in the bright daylight is something we look forwards to very much.
Almost overlapping, veterans Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius will be giving lessons in cosmic flotation and kraut electronica when they perform as Cluster. In 2009 they returned with “ Qua ”, their first studio album in fourteen years. Despite of their age, their shows remain suggestively experimental and highly relevant.
At 20:30 hours, we will all be heading to SonarHall to catch up Broadcast. Their signing to Warp near the end of the 90s created a bit of a stir. With their body of work as Broadcast, coming up like a narcotic and fascinating psych-pop cinemascope, Trish Keenan and the band are amongst the firm favourites on the Sheffield label. Their recent re-invention promises some surprises at Sónar.At night, the Barcelona sky will be flooded with the sparkle of “spectra [barcelona]”, a light installation by Japanese audio-artist Ryoji Ikeda who will be drilling a hole in the celestial sphere over the city using a beam of white light that you’ll be able to see from any point in the metropolis. If you enjoy “spectra” from the nearby Teatre Grec, in the gardens of the theatre Ikeda will be defying the senses with an audio-visual performance of his work “test pattern”.
See you at Sónar.