The 19th edition of Riga, Latvia’s Skaņu Mežs festival for innovative music will take place on October 8 and 9 at concert hall Hanzas Perons (16a Hanzas street) with a free-entry opening event on October 2 at event space Fantadroms (74a Gustava Zemgala street, building „Heinrihs”). Tickets can be purchased at www.bilesuserviss.lv. One-day tickets cost 15 EUR, whereas a two-day pass costs 23 EUR.
Attendance to the festival will be available only with a valid Covid-19 digital certificate, confirming that the visitor has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has tested negative or has recovered from Covid-19. Therefore the festival may only be attended by persons 12 and up this year.
The second wave of artists includes Lotic, Alvin Curran, John Wiese, GUO, Julia Reidy, Nordra, m.a.t.a.d.a.t.a., ELVI and Lunt.
After a decade of personal hardship, a continental leap from Texas to Berlin and an ever-circulating reputation as one of today’s most exciting producers and performers (just ask Björk), J’Kerian Morgan aka Lotic has stuck to the constant rule of flux. She now shapeshifts into her purest form yet with „Water”, an album that is as elemental as it is complex; a grand and defiant statement sent straight from the core of Morgan’s being. ”Water” is out October 29.
John Wiese is one of the most consistently compelling composers/improvisers of the US noise scene. Wiese’s prolific output ranges from long-running projects Sissy Spacek and LHD to collaborations with C Spencer Yeh, Lasse Marhaug, Pain Jerk, Kevin Drumm, Wolf Eyes, Yellow Swans and Evan Parker. Joe Davenport of Tiny Mix Tapes once wrote the following: „Wiese’s solo work – developed across albums such as Soft Punk (Troubleman Unlimited), Zombie (Presto!?), Circle Snare (No Fun/PPM), and Seven of Wands (PAN) – is detailed, organic, and insistent, delicately balanced between compositional clarity and tonal abrasion.”
Democratic, irreverent and traditionally experimental, Alvin Curran travels in a computerized covered wagon between the Golden Gate and the Tiber River, and makes music for every occasion with any sounding phenomena — a volatile mix of lyricism and chaos, structure and indeterminacy, fog horns, fiddles and fiddle heads. He is dedicated to the restoration of dignity to the profession of making non-commercial music as part of a personal search for future social, political and spiritual forms. Curran’s music-making embraces all the contradictions (composed/improvised, tonal/atonal, maximal/minimal…) in a serene dialectical encounter. His more than 200 works feature taped/sampled natural sounds, piano, synthesizers, computers, violin, percussion, shofar, ship horns, accordion and chorus. Whether in the intimate form of his well-known solo performances, or pure chamber music, experimental radio works or large-scale site-specific sound environments and installations, all forge a very personal language from all the languages through dedicated research and recombinant invention.
Julia Reidy makes music for processed and acoustic instruments (mostly guitars). Their recent recorded work — „brace, brace” (Slip 2019,) „In Real Life” (Black Truffle 2019), and „Vanish” (Editions Mego 2020)—can be described as a series of non-traditional song forms which combine unstable harmonic territories, rhythmic elasticity and abstract narrative over stretched, episodic forms. They have performed at Tectonics Festival (SCT), Send/Receive Festival (CA), Mona Foma (AUS), Berlin Jazz Festival (DE), Angelica Festival (ITA) and Borderline Festival (GR).
GUO is a multidisciplinary duo formed of guitarist, singer/songwriter Daniel Blumberg and saxophonist, improviser, writer Seymour Wright. They have collaborated with filmmakers Brady Corbett and Peter Strickland. Their full-length album GUO4 has been released by Mute records in 2019.
Nordra is the solo project of composer, programmer, and activist Monika Khot, who is also half of the avant noise duo Zen Mother. As Nordra, Khot uses guitar, trumpet, voice, synthesizers, and other electronic and acoustic instruments to craft exploratory, inquisitive music that is both cerebral and soulful, combining post-industrial elements with musique concrète and gently melodic ambience.
Lunt a.k.a. Žils Deless-Vēliņš has a mystical relationship to sound and music since he was a child and his crafting of music can be compared to a construction kit game, where music as a whole is more than the sum of sounds. For him, sound has some sort of kinship with the concept of pneuma in Stoician philosophy. Sound expects to be found to become music, lying there in an intuitive background. He worked on a wide range of experimental projects, as a songwriter, sound engineer, and co-founder of French-based label We Are Unique! Records.
Victoria Shen is an experimental music performer, sound artist, and instrument-maker based in San Francisco. Shen’s sound practice is concerned with the spatiality/physicality of sound and its relationship to the human body. Shen’s music floods its location acting as a form of sculpture. Her music features analog modular synthesizers (Flower Electronics), amplified objects, and other self-built electronics. These instruments are designed to electronically reproduce chaotic systems, systems which are highly sensitive to small changes in their initial parameters. The resulting music eschews conventions in harmony and rhythm in favor of extreme textures and gestural tones.
ELVI is the performing and producing entity of the Rigan disc jockey Elvi Soulsystems. His current method is to use low fidelity field recordings as the only sound source – these are recorded sounds of urban and rural habitats, industrial sounds, the sound of the human voice (mainly his own). These recordings are manipulated using primitive modulation – space, repetition, speed, phasing via improvised performance. No instruments – electronic or acoustic – seem to feature in his music. His approach is to always create a tension between opposites – the raw and the pristine, the calm and the aggressive, the minimal and the oversaturated, light and dark. Some angle of the method is captured in a recording released via the newly founded digital label _toocontemporary in 2020.
The author of the project m.a.t.a.d.a.t.a. describes it with the following statement – ”m.a.t.a.d.a.t.a. is a manifestation of an energy from one of the parallel dimensions in the form of brain breakdance music. It is a transfer to the origins of consciousness. Or not.”
Given the difficulties caused by the global pandemic of the Covid-19 virus, and the fact that the program of the Skaņu mežs festival consists mainly of foreign performers, we ask visitors to keep an eye on possible changes in the program.
Julia Reidy and ELVI are artists of the SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art, co-supported by the „Creative Europe” programme of the European Union and the Latvian Ministry of Culture.
The Skaņu mežs festival is supported by the State Cultural Capital Fund, the Riga City Council, the Ministry of Culture, Goethe-Institut Riga, the Trust for Mutual Understanding Foundation, and the US Embassy. The sponsors of the festival are iRobot and Valmiermuiža. Skaņu mežs is a member of the international network ICAS (International Cities of Advanced Sound).
- Ocotber 2, “Fantadroms” (Gustava Zemgala gatve 74a) 18:00
Jānis Petraškevičs – „Madman’s Glove I” (izpilda Magdalēna Geka, pasaules pirmatskaņojums), „Madman’s Glove II” (izpilda Ivars Brīnums, Latvijas pirmatskaņojums)
GUO (Seymour Wright & Daniel Blumberg)
- October 8, „Hanzas perons” (Hanzas iela 16a) 18:00
Still House Plants
Anthony Braxton Diamond Curtain Wall Trio with Adam Matlock and Susana Santos Silva
- October 9, „Hanzas perons” (Hanzas iela 16a) 18:00
JACK Quartet play Xenaxis, Ligeti, Rodericus and Braxton