It’s hard to believe that Sónar+D is only in its third year of infancy. Its compelling content and impressive roster mirrors that of cutting edge festivals ten times its size.
The festival runs parallel to Sónar by Day and merges creativity, music and technology through workshops, keynotes, panels and live performances. Speakers and organisations in attendance included Native Instruments, Ableton, Resident Advisor, Wired, Vimeo, Chris Milk, Holly Herndon and Carl Craig. Below are some of the highlights from this year’s edition.
Creative Technologies Café – Joanie Lemercier
Sónar is famous for its impressive AV shows, with arresting backdrops adding to the physicality of the sonic experience. During the Creative Technologies Café, attendees had the chance to hear some of the industry’s finest visual artists demystify what goes on behind the smoke and mirrors following their performances at the festival.
The renowned French artist Joanie Lemercier spoke of his humble beginnings in the Bristol club scene collecting clips from the Internet and sticking them into a PowerPoint. He then upped his game, layering structure, patterns and minimalist forms, and gained residencies at various Dubstep and Drone nights in Bristol. As his career progressed, he realised that projections needn’t be confined to flat surfaces and started projection mapping onto sculptures for both music shows and art installations.
This year he teamed up with British musician James Ginzburg (one half of Emptyset) to create a unique AV installation exclusive to Sónar 2015 called ‘Blueprint’ which explained “the immateriality of space, architecture and causality, through choreography of structural elements”. The monochrome projections morphed from infinite geometric tunnels to old architectural ruins and were accompanied by Ginzburg’s textured beats.
Emmanuel Biard + Koreless
During the session, Biard explained how he was inspired by the parabolic mirrors used in flight simulators and decided to create the illusion of a well using a large circular one combined with lasers. As Koreless played hypnotic basslines and shimmering synths from well-known tracks such as Sun, the parabolic mirror was moved – resulting in an optic frenzy, which left revelers in a trance.
Resident Advisor Machine Love – Voices From The Lake
The festival featured various music technology demos including Pioneer’s Analog Meets Digital session and Native Instrument’s launch of their new multi-channel audio file Stems. Resident Advisor took their Machine Love series on the road and invited Voices From The Lake to take the stage following their performance at the festival.
The duo of Italian producers warmed the eager audience up with a 20-minute jam before RA’s tech editor Jordan Rothlein started proceedings by asking them to explain their set-up. Neel commenced, detailing the various elements of his complex modular arrangement with Donato then outlining their working partnership – Neel starts by creating the sound on his synthesizer and then Donato mixes it to a harmonious blend of textures and pulsating rhythms.
They work so well together that they actively try to surprise one another – Neel boasted, “He doesn’t know what I put on the box” – referring to what he has recorded onto his modular prior to the show.
Another contributing factor to this hectic hybrid is their equipment, which varies from set to set with the exception of their Midas Venice mixer and their 808 & 909. This controlled chaos forms an integral part of their sound and means that they play and record almost everything live – as they did their last 2 releases.
This was also the case for their showcase at Sónar inviting the audience into a living and breathing melodic journey. They opened by immersing the crowd into a sea of rhythmic fluidity, which gradually built up during the course of the set culminating in a near (but-not-quite) climax. This sent half the audience into disarray with many rising from the seated auditorium to dance. A deeply satisfying experience.
Discover more about Sónar+D on their dedicated website.