A Guide to Budapest’s Best Experimental Music Festival

Next week we’re headed to Budapest for UH Festival, one of the events we highlighted in our guide to fall experimental festivals. The eight-day program places adventurous favorites like PAN’s Rashad Becker, Morphine don Rabih Beani and members of the SHAPE program such as Pop Talk reviewer Kathy Alberici and EB Radio alum Borusiade in venues around the Hungarian capital. We caught up with UH founder András Nun to talk about some of the live sets, workshops and club nights he thinks you shouldn’t miss in the coming days.

Sunday, September 27 @ Trafó: Phill Niblock

“We start on Sunday and present a cult figure Phill Niblock, who is 81. Personally it’s very important to me to have him in the program, because I’ve known him since 2006. I went to CTM in 2004 and I saw him showing films. While I was looking at the pictures on the screen, I realized that there are familiar landscapes in some of the scenes. I contacted Phill and asked if his footage was from Hungary, and he confirmed that in the early ’80s he visited Hungary and produced this experimental video project. I was really cheerful to hear that. I asked him if he wanted to revisit the two villages after nearly 30 years or so had gone by. So he came here in 2007, and we got him a car and a few sleeping bags and went to the villages where he had filmed in the ’80s. We had projectors and laptops to show the films to the locals, and it was heartbreaking how they reacted. It was without music because there was no proper PA, so we only showed the films, but it was amazing how an experimental film that’s only playing with movements of working people, really affected the locals. They saw neighbors, they saw relatives, grandpas and grandmas—people were in tears, really. Since then I dreamt of doing a big show for Phill with these films, with musicians and a big PA in a proper venue. So that will be the first day of UH this year.”

Monday, September 28 @ Dürlin: Stanislav Abrahám

“The next day will be in Dürlin, which is an event hall where we have a room that we’ll fill with pictures and music. My pick for that evening would be Stanislav Abrahám, a Czech guy. I saw him recently in Dresden in April. He’s doing computer music with really warm feelings and very finely-crafted electronic sounds. He’s part of the SHAPE project.”

Tuesday, September 29 @ Capella: James Hoff

“The next day is Tuesday, and again that’s in a very different venue: the basement of Capella, a gay club. It has very weird architecture, but it’s very welcoming and has a warm atmosphere. When we program the festival, we always say to each other ‘Oh, we love this artist but he or she should be placed in Capella.’ We’ll have James Hoff from New York. He’s interesting because he plays computer music, but he merges it with the phenomenon of sounds attacked by a virus, and from that attack he composed a music piece so you can hear sound files destroyed by a computer virus. There will also be a visualization of that.”

Wednesday, September 30 @ Budapest Jazz Club: Iancu Dumitrescu's Written and Improvised Music Workshop

“On Wednesday, we’re going to a proper jazz club, and there will be a masterclass by [spectralist composer] Iancu Dimutrescu. This will be not a stage performance; it’s more like a workshop or masterclass for young musicians who want to learn about how to play composed and improvised music with other people in a four-hour long workshop.”

Thursday, October 1 @ Lärm: Helena Hauff DJ Set

“Since this is for the international audience, I’d like to highlight the name of the club, which is Lärm. In Hungarian, we say ‘Lahhrm,’ which is not correctly pronounced. It’s ‘Layrm,’ as in the German word [for ‘noise’]. It’s a very cool techno club in the middle of the city. Usually techno clubs are situated in suburbs, but this is in the very downtown. It’s a small place with a super nice atmosphere and very nice sound. There we’ll have Helena Hauff from Hamburg DJing. We wanted to do an all-ladies night with only women on the lineup, but after a while, we started to wonder why we’d make such a ‘ghetto’ for the female musicians. Still, we had names and we wanted to use some of them, and Helena was one of them. We also wanted to have DJs. Usually we don’t really have DJs, as we’re more focused on live acts. We really like her attitude and sound, and it was really refreshing last year to hear her.”

Friday, October 2 @ Toldi: TM404

“On Friday, we go to Toldi, which is a cinema and music club together. There we will have TM404 from Stockholm. That’s going to be a dance night. It’s from 10:30 till, who knows, 3 o’clock. Those who feel like dancing can come. We had him 10 years ago, so we know him, but when he came out with this new project, we couldn’t really resist [booking him again]. We liked it so much that we even had to breach the oath that we don’t invite artist two times. So I think it’s gonna be super interesting.”

Saturday, October 3 @ Trafó: Pierce Warnecke & Matthew Biederman

“On Saturday, we have two venues. I should pick one for this, so let it be Trafó with Pierce Warnecke and Matthew Biederman. Again, I have to reference to the capital of music, Berlin, because we saw them again at this year’s CTM Festival. I didn’t know them, but to me, they were the highlight of CTM. This is one of the rare examples when location, visuals and sound really come together, and that’s why I would recommend them. No one knows them but I tell all my friends, ‘OK, you might not know these two names, but don’t miss these guys.'”

Sunday, October 4 @ G3: UH Demo 7

“The last day is a special day for us because it’s an evening dedicated only to Hungarian talents. We tried to search for them on the Internet or through friends, and we had a call for entries so people could send in some files or videos and we picked the most promising ones. They are emerging artists in the sense that the given band or solo act have never been on a stage before. So we are giving them the possibility in the framework of the festival to highlight their music in the city, and we’ll have a selection on the last day of the entries from this year. So that’s gonna be interesting, I think, because you can hear really fresh sounds. Of course it’s risky to offer a stage and a slot for beginners, but most of the time it turns out well because many people show interest and there’s a very cheerful and attentive audience that might inspire and support these emerging artists.”