Very few days now separate us from the Sónar Festival di Barcellona, where art and electronic music come together on the stage and behind the scenes at the parallel event Sonar +D, which brings the public into contact with the international panorama and opens numerous opportunities for union between creativity and industry. With Arshake, this year’s media partner of SONAR+D, we have dipped into the rich and varied programmes of the “Congress” and “Exhibition” sections, the first two parts of a division into phases corresponding to the phases of creativity. Now, only hours from the opening of the festival, we venture into the schedule for Live Performance, the third and last of these three areas, dedicated to the onstage presentation of projects, performances and installations.
One section is Sónar Planta – a collaboration between Sónar and the Sorigué Foundation, which every year produces a large-format work for the occasion, in line with its intention of encouraging research into new languages. The 2016 edition of this project brings to Barcelona the British duo Semiconductor with their spectacular installation Earthworks, in which scientific data regarding the formation of Earth and its constant changes (observed by IRIS – Incorporated Research Institution for Seismology) define and animate an installation structured to appear on five giant screens placed in zig- zag formation, giving enormous visual impact to the event.
Tristan Perich will present Microtonal Wall. 1,500 speakers arranged in a rectangular panel, each playing a sound of a pitch which is slightly different, but at the same time very close, to the surrounding speakers. Created in 2011 and exhibited in numerous museums including the MoMA, on 14 June this work will be presented in an exceptional venue: the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion (a pavilion which this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of its construction). Listeners approaching the surface of Microtonal Wall will enjoy a different auditory experience depending on their individual motor interaction with it.
In the Tech Shows section, another fundamental part of Live Performance, the quartet 65daysofstatic – formed in Sheffield in 2001 – will play No Man’s Sky (16 June at the SonarComplex), the soundtrack for the PlayStation4game of the same name. Their distinctive sound is the perfect accompaniment for the aesthetic of the game and the spaces depicted in it.
The dance company Erre que Erre marks its twentieth anniversary by bringing music and technology together on the stage at Mercat de les Flors (16-17 June), in a tribute to dance entitled Reset (with development by Rotor Studio and music from the trio Sincro and the duo Nuu), in which organic and electronic elements will combine in a scenographically unique musical performance.
bRUNA (aka Carles Guajardo) & Wooky (Albert Salinas) + Alba Coral, will immerse us in electronic experimentation in conjunction with Spanish artist Alba G. Corral, with a live show on 18 June, to be premiered during Sonar by Day. Golden Bug (French producer Antoine Harispuru) & Desilence (the Barcelona studio of Tatiana Halbach and Soren Christensen) join forces in V.I.C.T.O.R. (17 June in the SonarComplex auditorium), a live show inspired by the Rubik Snake game, in which techno mixes with organic visuals and retro-futuristic mapping. Cyclo (consisting of Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda and German Carsten Nicolai) will perform on 18 June, in a high-impact sensory and technological show. Images will fuse with music, resulting in a show that straddles visual art and digital music.
And then there’s Byetone (18 June), otherwise known as Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai from Berlin, the heart and soul of the Raster-noton label, which celebrates its twentieth birthday at this year’s Sonar. A key figure in electronic music experimentation and linked to this twentieth anniversary of the label (founded with Olaf Bender and Frank Brettschneider in 1996) is Alva Noto (aka Carsten Nicolai), who will write a new chapter in his long and fruitful relationship with Sonar, with a live performance on 18 June.
Howling, the duo made up of Ry Cumin’s expressive and charismatic voice and Frank Wiedermann’s delicate melodic and rhythmic beats, will perform on 18 June. The two were included in the prestigious Resident Advisor list as best live show in 2015, which bodes well for their concert at the SonarHall accompanied by the work of artistic duo Children of the Light. Howling’s first album, Sacred Ground, is further proof of the quality of their work, and forms the basis for their live debut at Sonar.
Jean Michel Jarre, considered the Godfather of electronic music, a pioneer and titan in the field since the release of his debut album Oxygène, has launched his first double studio album since 2007 (Electronica 1: The Time Machine). The album features collaborations with 15 other artists with whom he feels he shares DNA, and he has already announced the release of Electronica 2, composed of further collaborations with major names in the world of electronic music. Another of Jarre’s important contributions in the field is his visionary approach to live shows, which are always designed to be a multi-sensory experience of vast dimensions, planned on city scale; to the extent that we could say he was the first to invent the concert as multimedia experience as we know it today, with total immersion of the audience. During Sonar+D, Jarre will also appear in a special talk hosted by journalist Philip Sherburne.
Kode9, otherwise known as British artist Steve Goodman, will perform live in a new audiovisual show created by German Lawrence Lek: Nøtel (scheduled for 17 June): a kind of automated luxury hotel where the rooms and corridors form the platform for Kode9’s compositions. Lek and Goodman will also feature in a talk chaired by Lisa Blanning. Gazelle Twin will combine theatre, music and new forms of narration in Kingdom Come (scheduled for 16 June), an evocation of the dystopian worlds of JG Ballard. The work of artist Elizabeth Bernholz (aka Gazelle Twin) is characterised by the creation of disturbing universes and unconventional situations. Composer, sculptor and performer Martin Messier (also 16 June) will create sounds and images from electro-magnetic fields.
Lastly, Myriam Bleau, from Montreal will spin her Soft Revolvers, four transparent discs which emit sound and light. Each disc is associated with an instrument or a type of sound used in electronic compositions, so that at first sight Myriam’s work is very similar to what a DJ would do onstage, while the effect created by the LED lights contributes to the hypnotic mood created by the music. Overall, once again this year Sonar+D promises to be packed with opportunities for sharing and to confirm its place in experimentation and attention to a young and cosmopolitan public.
Sónar + D, organized within The Sónar Festival, June, 16 – 18, Barcelona, Spain
images (cover 1) UVA – artisan parallels (2) Tristan Perich – Microtonal wall – courtesy Tristan Perich (3) Alva Noto – by dieter wuschanski (4) Michelle Jarre – portrait (5) Kode9 – Lawrence-lek – The Notel (6) Myriam Bleau – Soft Revolvers