UK’s experimental techno producer Powell (a.k.a. Oscar Powell) is one of the first artists to be confirmed for Skaņu Mežs’2015 festival for adventurous music (Riga, Latvia). He will be performing at the first concert night of the festival – October 2. Other dates as well as venues will be announced in the nearest months.
Powell established his Diagonal imprint in 2011 as an outlet for two acclaimed 12s that merged a personal fetish for No Wave, Post-Punk and EBM with a future-facing appreciation of outer dancefloor styles. He has since contributed EPs to Mute’s Liberation Technologies and the Boomkat-affiliated Death of Rave. In all of his tracks, live instrumentation, destitute samples, raw synth tones and quickfire bursts of analog noise jostle around sinister, muscular grooves that drift across unconventional rhythmic structures. His DJ sets are fast, unpredictable and surprising — with few records off-limits. He prides himself in merging disparate references into something intense, coherent and unexpected.
Here’s how music critic Rory Gibb of The Quietus describes Powell’s music in his review of the “Untitled” EP: “Like the undead creatures he invokes, there’s something about Powell’s sound that just feels instinctively wrong. It shouldn’t quite exist in the form that it does: its constituent parts have a bolted together, Frankenstein’s monster kind of feel, lending the final results a sickly and unnatural hue. [..]Paradoxically, however, all four tracks on this new 12″ positively crackle with life force. Opener ‘A Band’ further consummates Powell’s long-distance relationship with techno via a flat four-to-the-floor thump and blurts of caustic distortion, before escalating into a penetrating scream, the sound of his machinery wrenching control away from its master. But it’s as far from your typical club-friendly fare as it’s possible to get: above the monotone throb of the track’s chassis, funk bubbles out at the surface as snide prickles of plucked guitar and dead-eyed chants.”
Powell’s performance at Skaņu Mežs festival is a part of the project “Experimental Music Lighthouses”. The project will take place between November 1 2014 – October 31 2015 and will be available to the greater public in October 2015 during the Skaņu Mežs festival in Latvia, as well as at the Insomnia festival in Norway shortly thereafter. The aim of the project is to promote a four part cooperation between Skaņu Mežs and Insomnia. This includes, amongst other things: the production of a Latvian/Norwegian composition; an exchange of Latvian and Norwegian musicians between the programs of the festival; creating a mutual festival program; the exchange of new compositions between Riga and Tromsø with the help of artists’ residencies. The unique soundscapes of both cities and their symbiosis is the emphasis of each of the exchange.
The project is co-financed by the European Economic Area’s (EEA) Financial Mechanism programme “Conservation and Revitalisation of Cultural and Natural Heritage.” The grant is made up of 84.236,74 EUR from the EEA (consisting of money from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), an allocation of 14.865,31 EUR from the Latvian national budget and 15.625,95 EUR of Skaņu Mežs’s, own means.
Skaņu Mežs’2014 is supported by EU programme “Creative Europe”, Riga City Council, Latvian State Endowment for Arts (VKKF) and others. Skaņu Mežs is a member of ECAS – European Cities for Advanced Music association for experimental music festivals as well as the SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art.