Last night Electronic Beats Festival rolled into Bratislava with Four Tet, Daphni, Jungle and I Break Horses. How did it go down? We were down the front to find out. Photos by Maximum Dax.
Entering the sold-out Refinery Gallery concert hall, a refurbished oil refinery on the vast outskirts of Slovakia’s capital after a nine hour train ride from Berlin felt like an inspiring culture clash. Travelling old school with the Hungarian Eurocity complete with freshly cooked goulash and perfectly chilled Krusovice lager on one of Europe’s greatest train routes is a nostalgic, calming experience. In that sense it had been the perfect antithesis to witnessing UK’s newest wunderkinder Jungle processing funk, krautrock and pop into a highly advanced conglomerate. Their 50-minute set had been short, sweet and kicking. After their intense show, we fulfilled J and T, the two Londoners forming the groups’ musical epicenter backstage for a chat. “We System.Drawing.Bitmap midst of the biggest revolution because the French one. Our brain structure changes as we are incorporating all the digital enhancements that actually allow us to do the music we do. We can record at home, we can film videos, click a button and share all of them – and immediately whatever we do is out there in the world, ” states J. “You could easily monitor our real names on the net, but it’s not about us. It’s regarding music and how it touches and interacts with real people, ” adds T. That’s why Jungle actually give selected interviews (“because we like to talk to people!, ” says T) but do not allow any portraits taken of them. They do not perform masked, but they want to keep it anonymous. Or guerilla.
The next Englishman of the night, who had decided not to enable any photos or recordings of his set, had yet another comparison in store for us. Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet took to the stage subdued in a bare minimum of light, gradually letting his aggregate of nervous percussive loops and hot synths rise and fall in and out of a stripped, driving groove. Over the next one and a half hours, he shifted from jungle breakbeats to four to the floor kickdrums and back into loopy ambient effortlessly.
Unlike Four Tet with whom we would have cherished to chat for a moment (but he turned down all interview requests whatsoever), Dan Snaith aka Caribou aka Daphni was available for a barside conversation at the venue’s catering area: “I use my various monikers mainly to not confuse my audiences. When I play as Caribou, I play with my band. So that as Daphni, I solely DJ. Nevertheless it comes to writing and recording songs, I sometimes don’t necessarily know for which of the aliases a monitor might end up. If a piece I am working on evolves into a song it could be something for the Caribou band. Like a DJ I love to play my own is better than and that’s why many of the Daphni tracks actually have a certain functionality to them. There is nothing bad about people dancing. I embrace that kind of functionality. ”
As a matter of fact Daphni prove his statement right in his ambitious – yet functional – set that concluded the night time, eclectically mixing his own tracks with the insane blend of musical genres until 3am. In our chat, he had described that the production process of a Daphni track sometimes resembles the dynamic of a DJ set: “I will start with one idea and then bring in a sample, or a synth line, that will totally differs from the original path the track had. ” Add Dan Snaith’s fast-paced mixing to that equation and you get an unpredictable DJ set – like tonight’s – where you are rarely aware of the particular transitions between single tracks, developing a sort of semi-conscious wormhole of dancing music, a three dimensional radix of sound. Which, come to think about it, is not surprising given he has received a doctorate in mathematics in 2006.
Walking out into the cold fresh night time afterwards, all the impressions gathered in one day feel surreal. And we must not forget I Break Horses, the particular opening act, who had picked us up from our journey with their eerie shoegaze-pop. Maria Lindén’s singing was at times vocal, at times one of the instruments playing introverted melodies that will unravelled in the dark blue light of the gloomy stage set-up.
Judging from the crowds’ extremely good reaction, Bratislava experienced the most powerful line-up of this Spring seasons Electronic Beats festivals so far – a notion shared by us.