More than four weeks ago I went to Mannheim to join my youngest brother for the annual independent and electronic music festival. It was celebrated for the seventh time and the more it takes place the more it became popular. Some papers say that it is probably the best festival taking place in Germany. Not because main acts will appear on stage, it is more that it is a forum for young and fresh bands. I started my journey at Friday after working in the office to watch the first bands appearing on various stages. I reflected the days and was not sure if I should feature any band I've seen during the three day or if I should reduce my impressions on acts that impressed me so much that I would listen to their songs after a few weeks.
The program announced Voodoo Jürgens and Bilderbuch as the next big thing from Austria. Both are famous at my neighbor's place of their freshness of their sound. But for me they were just boring and not inspired. Jürgens gambles with fresh lyrics I used to know from Austrian artists during the last decades, the other ones play music that are dully like in the late 90's. But there were some highlights I would like to lose some words about them.
J. Bernardt is one of the masterminds of Belgium folk/electronic band Balthazar. Taking a rest of his band he made his first solo album under his own name where he moves away from his folky roots to make a more relaxed sound with ingredients of slow rhythm and blues crooning and stripped electronic sounds. Music for the twilight hours.
So I left the tent after a few songs to get me something new on the next stage. The program announced the next artist with the key words 'pop-noir', 'Sideway Blues' and 'Gothic Folk' that was more interesting for me as CAS. Gemma Ray is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist, film composer and producer from Billericay (Cheers to Ian Dury) being in the scene for almost 10 years and worked together with Wim Wenders and Calexico. To be honest I didn't heard anything from her before but what I heard was fantastic. Songs from a deeply tempered guitar straight out of a Tarantino movie she sung with a bluesy voice. It worked live very well and it works at my place still. One of my finds this year.
The next artists was introduced to me by Martin, who saw him not for the first time. I couldn't imagine anything about Sohn and his music. The program announced him as a fantastic combination of electronic, ambient and alternative rhythm and blues. Never heard this combination before but it sounded interesting. And so it was. Christopher Michael Taylor aka Sohn is a British singer, songwriter and producer living now in Vienna, Austria. Signed by 4AD-label he makes his very unique mixture of his absorbing, soulful voice that flows around organic drum machines and minimalist sythie lines , while the multi instrumentalist with a lot of feeling in his fingertips lifts the beats and basses and take the song from the chamber on the dance floor. Dubstep for adults.
Main act of the first day was Anders Trentemoller, probably one of the best and versatile electronic acts these days. The Danish producer and multi-instrumentalist convinced me with his live appearance. 80 minutes of pure beats with a great band in the back and lots of great ideas in his songs made this appearance something very special and unique. Not only for fans of great guitars. Every minute was great to listen to. A real highlight round midnight.