James Blake made the ladies swoon, Jazzanova made the crowd groove, but In Gda?sk ‘party’ is now spelled S-Q-U-A-R-E-P-U-S-H-E-R. We watched Tom Jenkinson entrance the crowd with his hypnotic live show, swirling LED lights synced in time with his pulsing waves of broken bass, channeling 8-bit-flavored drum’n’bass electro across a crowd eager to rave hard. The show was a first opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of some previously-unheard material from Squarepusher‘s new album Ufabulum, due to drop tomorrow. The energy in the room was intense, the enigmatic and helmeted Jenkinson conducting the crowd through a frenzy of sweat and pounding beats.
If this just isn’t enough Squarepusher for you, then you’re in luck. The next issue of Electronic Beats Magazine will feature what we can only describe as the Essential Squarepusher Interview. Conducted by EB’s Editor-In Chief Max Dax, it’s an in-depth look at the man behind the music. Be sure to check out our photos from the festival too, as well as tons from the other EB festivals. See what you’re missing, and be sure not to miss any more!
We were blown away last week by James Blake‘s performance at Electronic Beats Gdansk 2012. He held the audience in awe and silence (certainly no easy feat) when he began his hit ‘Limit To Your Love’, his voice echoing throughout the venue like a beautiful ghost. ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ hit even harder, an emotional tidal wave of barely-subdued electronics that built into a crescendo before collapsing against the immensely satisfied crowd. And then there was also his masterpiece ‘Klavierwerke’. A sea of smiling, sweaty faces; is there any better sight after such a show? Maybe the show itself! Why not watch it for yourself? We think you’ll be smiling just as wide.
“I try to borrow my music from the future” says Tom Jenkinson (aka Squarepusher) as he pours a glass of ice-cold San Pellegrino into his plastic cup.
He’s just finished his soundcheck and is now relaxing on a sofa, backstage of the old Gdansk U-Boot wharf—tonight the venue of the Electronic Beats festival in Gdansk, Poland. Only minutes ago, he was wearing a futuristic high-tech helmet with an impressive LED screen on it that made him look like the forgotten offspring of Daft Punk. Now he talks face to face with me about the French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen. His modern compositions could have theoretically been composed and played 500 years ago—on the same instrument. But nobody did it. Jenkinson’s goal is to anticipate what futuristic music could be played on his own equipment in 100 years. That’s what one could call ambitious, and nothing less is what the Gdansk audience gets to hear hours later in Squarepusher’s uncompromising prime-time set, including a stunning black and white LED visualization of his abstract breakbeats. But let’s start with the beginning
The sold-out kick-off of this year’s Electronic Beats festival season could be best described as eclectic and diverse. The first band to play was Warsaw’s Das Moon, an audiovisual group that was voted into the line-up by the Polish audience in an Internet contest. Das Moon, who credit Einstürzende Neubauten, Depeche Mode, Nico and Kraftwerk as their main inspirations delivered a dark and gothic opening set—while the audience was still slowly dropping in.
Next in line should have been Dillon and her band—the Brazilian-American singer/songwriter is also on the cover of the spring issue of the Electronic Beats Magazine. But as her luggage got unfortunately lost at Munich airport, she had to wait and wait and wait for the suitcase containing her laptop—which didn’t arrive.
As a result, Jazzanova played earlier than scheduled. They were the first highlight of the evening. The group delivered a tight and funky set that kicked no less than ass. In Poland, the Berlin-based collective of musicians is well-known for its groundbreaking CD compilation Go Right: Jazz From Poland 1963-75 that reportedly reminded a young generation of Polish jazz aficionados of their own musical heritage. The U-Boot wharf was by now already packed, and the audience cheered to the complex mixture of electronic sounds and real instrumental craftsmanship—among the numerous musicians were a trombone player, a saxophone player and a percussionist.
After Squarepusher’s substantial set, Digitalism entered the stage. The Hamburg duo performed in a waft of dry ice, pushing their bouncing Kitsuné sound to the limits. One word about the fact that the Gdansk festival got streamed live. It was fascinating to see Digitalism’s live set from a computer screen backstage and to hear their music life from next door. The US-American hacker ethicist Steven Levy recently described the format of the live-stream as the future of music. At the Electronic Beats festival, a lot of people were working behind the scenes to make the live-stream happen.
Unexpected for many, late at night Dillon entered the stage to perform a solo show in spite of her luggage that hadn’t arrived yet. The show could have been a triumph, considering that many of music history’s great and defining moments were born out of accidents. But Dillon’s performance suffered from the difficult situation she found herself in. The people in the audience loved it, though. Dillon sang only five songs on one of James Blake‘s many top-notch keyboards, but she delivered them in an intimate way, relying totally on her strong and impressive voice. Some concert-goers were irritated: “Was the lonely woman on the stage surrounded by dry ice Soap and Skin?” No, it wasn’t. It just wasn’t her day.
Following this special performance, James Blake hit the stage. The British shooting star delivered the highlight of the evening, playing his songs in a very laid-back way. Heavy subsonic basses and equally heavy experimentation with his voice defined a sound architecture that was nothing less than breathtaking. Blake really risked a lot by playing a slow and complex finishing set. But he succeeded. Sometimes the melodies brought the reminiscence of amusement park music to mind. But more important than that, James Blake seemed to be equally interested in defining the future as Squarepusher. He deliberately took away dramaturgic elements from his music to have a skeleton-like sound architecture.
The Electronic Beats festival in Gdansk was equally diverse and exotic.
Next up: Electronic Beats Festival Prague on 5th May 2012.
Photos: © Adam Burakowski / Lukasz Jasza / t-mobile-music.pl.
With only five more days to go until our first Electronic Beats Festival of the year, excitement levels are rising. We hope to see all of you at Centrum Stocznia Gda?ska on Saturday, when James Blake, Squarepusher, Digitalism, Jazzanova Live feat. Paul Randolph and Dillon will be bringing their music to the stage.
In case you can’t make it to Poland or couldn’t grab a ticket, we’re delighted to announce that you’ll be able to watch big parts of Electronic Beats Festival Gda?sk 2012 via our live video stream straight from the venue. The stream will be accessible through www.electronicbeats.net and www.facebook.com/ElectronicBeats.
Also, you’ll be able to share the stream with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or host it on your blog if you like. We’re also inviting you to join the public discussion: by posting your impressions on our chat tool next to the streaming client, by adding wall posts to our Facebook page, or by sharing your Tweets with the hashtags #EBFest12 or #EBGdansk right on the festival site.
If you don’t have access to a computer, iPad, iPhone or Android phone, you can also listen via Berlin’s radio station FluxFM, who will be streaming a special broadcast via terrestrial radio (and a live audio stream, of course).
Make sure to visit www.electronicbeats.net on Saturday from 8pm GMT+1, or bring your Smartphone to the festival, where you can connect and check in via Foursquare or Facebook.
See you soon – either IRL or URL!
Intuition tells us you potentially take offense at being inundated with images of multi-pastelled eggs and bunny rabbits. We feel the same. Nevertheless, in keeping up with our pan-religious agenda (re: last December’s 8 classic Kraftwerk Hanukkah album reviews/month-long post-sundown Ramadan postings), we’re proud to present to you our Easter Special – an in-depth look at the four pillars of the Electronic Beats cosmos: EB Radio, EB.net, Slices, and EB Magazine. This moveable EB smorgasbord will be our first, but by no means our last. So whip out your lunisolar calendars and be on the lookout every first Sunday after the full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox, regardless of whether you’re hunting for eggs, the afikoman or tail at this year’s SNAX.
You might already be familiar with Electronic Beats’s festival activities, but we want to make sure you’re 100% in the loop about every EB live event, which will go down in Spring 2012. As you might know, Electronic Beats has a long and rich live history, with the first big festival happening in Cologne 2001 – pretty much 11 years ago.
On May 24, 2012 we’ll be returning to Cologne’s E-Werk with live shows and DJ sets by The Kills, Miike Snow, Austra, The Hundred In The Hands, Citizens! and Coma. Also, we’ll be bringing Electronic Beats Festivals to Gda?sk (April 24), Prague (May 5), Bratislava (May 12), and Graz (May 16), and we cordially invite you to join us. And since we know that a festival is always better with a good friend, we’re giving away two tickets for each of the festivals during our Easter special.
Simply fill in the form below, tick the festival you’d love to visit, keep your fingers crossed and maybe win the tickets. For those of you who also answered the optional question (Hint: have a look at our Facebook timeline), we’ll throw an extra two tickets in.
We’re looking forward to all of the Electronic Beats Festivals in 2012 – hope to see you there!
– – – Competition is closed, winners will be notified – – –