Skaņu Mežs, the annual festival of adventurous music and related arts, will take place in the „Daile” concert hall in Riga, Latvia, on October 10 and 11. In addition to the duo Xeno & Oaklander, whose participation has already been announced, the first round of artists has now been confirmed: singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler, electronic music composer Keith Fullerton Whitman, cello improviser Okkyung Lee and experimental dance music innovator Andy Stott. Tickets can be bought at www.ticketservice.lv and cost EUR 20 per day or EUR 30 for both days.
Riga, as European Capital of Culture 2014, has incorporated the 12th edition of Skaņu Mežs into its official program. The festival’s main performances will take place on October 10 and 11, and the venue will be the “Daile” concert hall. These events will be characterized by a subtle balance between the electronic and the acoustic, the improvised and the tightly woven, the obvious and the abstract. These contrasts will be reflected both in the program of the festival as well as within the individual performances. This perspective is important in order to assert the idea that progress and innovation in music are dependant first and foremost on bold ideas and flexible language and not just on technology.
Below you can read about each of the first confirmed artists of Skaņu Mežs 2014:
Marissa Nadler (born April 5, 1981) is an American singer-songwriter based in Boston. Active since 2000, she has released a number of studio albums. Lyrically her music has American Gothic themes as well as personal and introspective elements. The narrative aspects of her songs often span a number of albums in a style often described as “dream folk”. Nadler has received wide acclaim for her vocals. The Boston Globewrote, “She has…an intoxicating soprano drenched in gauzy reverb that hits bell-clear heights, lingers, and tapers off like rings of smoke.”. Her voice was described by Pitchfork as “a voice you would follow straight into Hades”, and also “textured and angelic, with just a hint of pain captured within her iridescent falsetto.” She has referenced poets such as Edgar Allan Poe in her music, and has revealed that the characters and scenarios in her lyrics are often based on her real experiences.
„July” is Marissa Nadler’s sixth full-length studio album that was released February, 2014. „July” has received mostly positive feedback from music critics. At Metacritic, they assign a “weighted average” rating out of 100 to selected independent ratings and reviews from mainstream critics, and the album has received an Metascore of a 83, based on 25 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim.” „July” debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard Folk Albums chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums chart.
Keith Fullerton Whitman is a musician currently based in Cambridge, MA. Starting in the mid-1990’s while working on a “Music Synthesis” Degree at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Keith began exploring electronic music’s many facets, eventually yielding dozens of full length albums, singles, remixes, and compilation appearances of a decidedly off-kilter nature for influential labels such as Kranky, Planet µ, Editions Mego, PAN, NNA Tapes, No Fun Productions and many more. These days his creative energies are largely put into the continued development of a truly “Live Electronic Music,” incorporating an ever-changing hardware-based modular system that allows for a complexity of sound & vision that had previously only been available via software-solutions. This work has recently manifested itself as a pair of albums for Editions Mego entitled “Generators” & “Occlusions” ; both utilizing similar setups to yield vastly differing music.
A native of Korea, Okkyung Lee has been developing her own voice in a contemporary cello performance, improvisation and composition for more than a decade by blending her wide interests and influences. Since moving to New York in 2000, She has released more than 20 albums including the latest solo record „Ghil” procuded by Lasse Marhaug on EditionsMego/Ideologic Organ, „Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer)” on Tzadik, „Wake Up Awesome” with Lasse Marhaug and C. Spencer Yeh on Mexican Summer/Software Studio, and been touring extensively in the United States and Europe.
Okkyung’s versatility has led her to collaborate with numerous artists such as Laurie Anderson, David Behrman, John Butcher, John Edwards, Douglas Gordon, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Christian Marclay, Thurston Moore, Ikue Mori, Lawrence D “Butch” Morris, Marina Rosenfeld, Jim o’Rourke, Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith and John Zorn to name just a few.
As a composer, she has received a composer commission from New York State Council On The Arts in 2007 and Foundation For Contemporary Arts Grant in 2010 in Music/Sound.
Andy Stott is a producer from Britain who has released the mini-albums “Passed Me By” and “We Stay Together,” as well as the critically acclaimed “Luxury Problems.” This album combines a brooding darkness with the light touch of the artist’s more expressive, joyful sound. Stott has grounded a reputation as an electronic music innovator and a one-of-a-kind stylist. The website Pitchfork characterises the album “Luxury Problems” as a recording which is “delicate and gorgeous but has an undercurrent of menace.” Pitchfork and the experimental music magazine The Wire have both placed the album in its lists of best albums of 2012. The techno music website Resident Advisor has named it the fourth best album of the year. Stott describes his creative stance for the magazine The Quietus: “From an artist’s perspective […] when you’re making music, you’re putting your personality out there, you’re putting your ideas out there, you’re putting dark shit from the back of your mind out there. But that’s where I’m at, at the minute: something really beautiful. I prefer something that really melts you.” These words are emphasized by the unusual and natural vocals of Stott’s childhood piano teacher, Alison Skidmore, set against the backdrop of complex electronic music.
Skaņu Mežs’2014 is supported by EU programme “Culture”, Riga City Council, Latvian State Endowment for Arts (VKKF), Trust for Mutual Understanding, US embassy in Latvia, iRobot and others. Skaņu Mežs is a member of ECAS – European Cities for Advanced Music association for experimental music festivals.