The Latvian festival for unconventional music, Skaņu Mežs, will this year occur on October 10 – 12 with the finale concert taking place in various venues on October 27. The first performers confirmed for the festival’s official programme are two British dance music projects; Demdike Stare, a duet associated with the renaissance of dark electronic music, and Andy Stott, a techno music innovator from Manchester.
The 2013 festival will be Skaņu Mežs’ eleventh with a programme spanning several days starting off with an evening of both acoustic and electronic music on October 10. The festival’s rhythm music event will take place the following day, on October 11, in the concert hall Palladium and a contemporary music concert will take place on October 12 in which both non-academic experimental composers’ as well as academic avant-garde composers’ pieces will be presented. The end to the festival’s events will be celebrated on October 27 with a finale concert. The performances at this concert will reflect the avant-garde themes underpinning this year’s festival – experimental pop, noise rock, free improvisation, contemporary composition and radical computer music.
Educational satellite events will be highlighted at the festival’s finale – amongst those lectures by musicians and talks with the audience, as well as installations and a symposium.
But first, briefly about the first confirmed artists who will be performing on October 11 in the Palladium concert hall:
Demdike Stare is an audiovisual duet often mentioned in connection with the so called renaissance of dark electronic music which has also touched the field of contemporary dance music in the last few years. In addition to being one of the most sought out projects in its curious genre of occult electronica, Demdike Stare is also undoubtedly the most original. This is possibly due to the fact that both of the group’s members are seasoned vinyl record collectors. Both musicians’ incredibly vast knowledge of music lets them create very precise moods, at times menacing, but always sonorous. Depending on the duet’s aesthetic influences at the time their pieces oscillate between the most varied contemporary electronic music forms without losing the authors’ signature sound, like dub, atmospheric drone or jittery and danceable musical collages. The duet is valued for the visual aspect of their performances and recently participated in the media art festival, Transmediale, in 2013 in Berlin, with a critically acclaimed performance dedicated to the director Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Andy Stott is one of this year’s Skaņu Mežs bright stars 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 top 20 lists of best albums of 2012. The techno music website Resident Adviser 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.
As the festival draws closer, more news about participating artists as well as new venues will be released.
Skaņu Mežs is a member of the European association of experimental music festivals, European Cities of Advanced Sound. This network is supported by the EU Culture Programme 2007-2013 as well as the Latvian Cultural Ministry. The festival is also supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation, Riga Municipality as well as a string of international cultural institutions and embassies. The main commercial supporters are iRobot and Red Bull Music Academy.