Skaņu Mežs’2018

Skaņu Mežs, the festival for adventurous music, will take place on October 6 as well as on October 12–13.

Thurston Moore, frontman of legendary indie rock group Sonic Youth, will be performing at the festival. He has multiple times been mentioned as one of the world’s best guitarists magazines such as Spin and Rolling Stone. Moore will be performing together with multi-talented Swedish experimental musician, Mats Gustafsson. Gustafsson started his career in free improvisation, but now also takes part in various projects including noise, experimental metal, minimalist and chamber music. He will play electronic and wind instruments.

Legendary ambient music composer William Basinski will also be performing at the festival. Basinski’s ambient classic The Disintegration Loops has been called one of the three best ambient records of all time by Pitchfork who described it thus: “It’s the kind of music that makes you believe there is a Heaven, and that this is what it must sound like.” Vice, meanwhile, has called Basinski’s music “the saddest music in the world.”

For another guest at Skaņu Mežs’18 Basinski has served as an inspiration – the experimental dream pop singer Grouper who combines ambient music with dream pop in her work to create songs which dissolve to create a sorrowfully misty atmosphere. In April, Pitchfork published a list of the 30 best dream pop albums which included two of Grouper’s albums: Ruins (2014) and Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (2008).

Los Angeles rapper Busdriver will be the sole hip-hop act at this year’s festival. He is often described as a hyper-intellectual rapper, particularly skilful in how he uses diction and speed. In his work, he makes use of dense texts, stream of consciousness and grammatically complex lines.

The festival’s guest of honour this year is French composer Tristan Murail. Alongside Gerard Grisey he is considered one of the creators of spectralism. Murail will give a lecture at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, and on October 12 Quatuor Diotima will play his music. Quatuor Diotima has been named “Frace’s top string quartet” by the LA Times. Spectralism is a compositional technique developed in the 1970s which uses computer analysis (like sonographic representations and mathematical analysis) to make compositional choices based on quality of timbre.
Both evenings will be opened by Latvian musicians – pianist Rūdolfs Macats, who will be playing both a grand piano and a modular synthesizer, and cellist Ēriks Kiršfelds, who will be premiering a piece by Linda Leimane.

The first collaboration between the Grammy Award-nominated Mat Maneri and RED Trio can be considered a special highlight of the programme – one a free improvising microtonal viola player, and the other an ensemble from the currently especially vital Portuguese free improvisation scene.

The festival concludes with a program of rhythmic music on October 13 featuring Regis, pioneer of the so-called Birmingham sound and a master of dark techno, and RP Boo, pioneer of the footwork sub-genre dance music, which is closely related to ghetto house.

SHAPE is a platform for innovative music of which Skaņu Mežs was a founding member. The platform will be represented at the festival by several musicians: electronic music composer Caterina Barbieri whose album Patterns of Consciousness was included in The Wire Magazine’s list “Top 50 Releases of 2017”; Polish-British noise music duet NAKED; Latvian experimental metal group TESA; N1L, a.k.a. Mārtiņš Roķis, who participated in the 2015 festival and whose music has been released by UIQ, Opal Tapes and Where To Now?.
Both one and two day passes to the festival are available on the Biļešu Serviss website:

Skaņu Mežs is one of the founding members and coordinators of the music platform SHAPE which is considered the most extensive event for avant-garde and adventurous music in the Baltic States.

October 12, 8:00 PM, Music Hall Daile, K. Barona iela 31, Riga
· Rūdolfs Macats

· Tristan Murail – “Sogni, ombre et fumi” performed by Quatuor Diotima

· Caterina Barbieri

· Thurston Moore + Mats Gustafsson

· Busdriver



October 13, 7:00 PM, Music Hall Daile, K. Barona iela 31, Riga
· Linda Leimane – “Geometry of Endless Solution” performed by Ēriks Kiršfelds

· William Basinski

· RED Trio + Mat Maneri

· Grouper

· RP Boo

· Regis

The platform SHAPE, and all the artists performing at Skaņu Mežs, are supported by Creative Europe, a culture cooperation programme of the European Union.

The Skaņu Mežs festival is supported by the Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation, the Municipality of Riga, the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, the US Embassy in Latvia and the foundation Trust for Mutual Understanding. The festival’s commercial supporters are iRobot, the Red Bull Music Academy and the brewery Valmiermuižas Alus. Skaņu Mežs is part of the international network ICAS (International cities of Advanced Sound).


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