For ten years now the Supersonic Festival has been bringing its adventurous and experimental line-ups to Birmingham. The resolutely urban weekend, in the heart of the city’s Custard Factory, has gone from strength to strength. The festival has always showcased an impressive, obscure, challenging and fascinating range of acts, and also offers festival-goers the opportunity to attend a range of classes on everything from fanzine-making to electronic instrument creation. Taking place from 19-21 October, tere are some of our picks for likely highlights this year.
This much talked-about world-music-meets-psychedelia act come from a remote and mysterious part of northern Sweden. Pretty apt that they themselves are remote and mysterious then. If they can channel the creative energy of recent album World Music live, then this should be an incredible show.
Guitarist Ben Chasny’s main vehicle, Six Organs of Admittance are often associated with “New Weird” Americana, although the music is as much endebted to eastern influences, with its evocative blend of drone, chimes, and hypnotic percussion. East meets West in a hypnotic, enthralling melange.
Sonic Youth‘s Kim Gordonneeds no introduction, and she’s all over the schedule for the Supersonic weekend. Performing with free-noise guitarist Bill Nace as one half of the duo Body/Head (described by the festival organisers as “unpredictable”), she is also bringing her Reverse Karaoke (a collaborative installation with artist Jutta Koether) to Supersonic.
An act with an uncompromising aesthetic, Gnod’ combine their “psycho-delic, doomsday motorik” with improvisation and bizarre half-human toasting. Indescribable, unsettling, eerie and mind-bending, this is a band to witness in a darkened room, as your head spins and your bowels quite possibly shake.
Kazuyuki Kinshino from Tokyo is a Supersonic favourite. This multi-instrumentalist and experimental musician makes it his business to explore the relationships between traditional rock and extreme noise . Anyone who witnessed his show-stopping collaboration with Lash Frenzy at 2010′s event might just about have a graspe of the dramatic and disorientating work that he is capable of.
Some no-less thought-provoking, but rather gentler, lighter musical experimentation is available once again this year, in the form of the charming Modified Toy Orchestra. The clue’s in the name: the orchestra explore the hidden and latent potential inside redundant technology, such as abandoned children’s electronic toys, producing curious and often impressively sophisticated new musical instruments. A beautiful, impressive and highly entertaining show ensues.
Tickets are still available from the Supersonic website.