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Sonar Festival 2012

And so it began. Cava-tinged breakfast on the beach then slow ambling towards the W Hotel near Barceloneta. An imposing figure on the landscape, an avant-garde design by Ricardo Bofill that rises up out the sea like an unfurled sail – a fitting location for the weekend ahead.

It was sad that the party wasn’t high up in the sky, instead on a mezzanine level, split in two. One half bathed in sun, the other basking in shade. Just shy of 2pm, it was slow to populate.

The sun-filled half was starting to sway to the hypnotic sounds of Mark E, before Cobblestone Jazz emerged with something altogether more nuanced; experimental collisions seamlessly ping-ponging in and around jazz and funk groove waters. By this point, the space filled up and was positively pulsating to Lawrence – he treated the crowd in the palm of his hand to suitably apt classics such as Larry Heard’s ‘The Sun Can’t Compare’.

Moments later we sat in a speeding cab towards MACBA for Sonar By Day. Thundercat was on stage, decked out in an old-school Spanish football shirt, six-string in hand. Stephen Bruner’s music is a pure sleek dream, his easy mastery of bass guitar and soft grooves felt wonderfully natural – ‘Walkin’ shone out as a highlight alongside a segue into Mmm Hmm; his collaboration with Flying Lotus present on Cosmogramma.

Flying Lotus was up next and was in typically storming mood. He always plays to the crowd, admirable given his abilities. His set played out in two halves, the first solo, cycling through a mélange of his back catalogue (‘Breathe’), crowd-pleasers and tracks from his forthcoming record. Technical problems abated and briefly interrupted proceedings, before Thundercat returned to the stage (this time in gold power-ranger garb) accompanied by Dorian Concept. Eyes were made at Giorgio Moroder with Midnight Express; swiftly followed by some Jackson Five, roughly interspersed with freestyle sonic pervasions of their own.

We returned, recuperated and geared up for an Off Sonar finale to the day – taking in the Numbers Showcase at Nitsa. Jackmaster & Joy Orbison went back to back resulting in their gifts dissolving nicely in the club, ‘Too Long’ from Daft Punk playing out against a backdrop that exuded maximalist confrontational vibes.