After a successful round of funding, Rafael Anton Irisarri’s third Substrata Festival has announced it’s long anticipated line-up. Given many people contributed to this festival without even knowing any performers until now, is high praise for Rafael and his curation skills. But now we’ve got the names, I thought it’d be nice to take a little look into what’s in store.
Some familiar acts for sure, but also some relatively unknown artists that I could do with exploring a bit more and this is the perfect opportunity. I won’t go into too much detail about each of the artists and their background as you can find all of that on the Substrata line-up page. Just think of this as the tip of a very big trove of talented artists you can go away and explore, or even see live this July as part of Substrata.
As most of you know by now, i’ve recently moved to Portland, Oregon and before coming here I was fully aware of one of it’s most notorious experimental artists, Liz Harris. I had hoped to see her billed somewhere local but haven’t seen even the slightest of mentions on paper yet, so it was a nice surprise to see her announced as part of Substrata 1.3. I’m no expert of the extensive Grouper back catalogue, but it boasts releases on Type (home of Biosphere) and Kranky (a home to many greats in the past including Loscil, Benoît Pioulard and Tim Hecker).
Liz’s sound is a mixture of ethereal, dreamy vocals and delicate guitars wrapped in warm reverb. Rarely does she stray too far from what she does best, it’s a unique sound that you’ll find many ambient lovers including in their sets as inspirations. Take 36’s or Loscil’s isolatedmixes for example. I’m looking forward to Grouper’s vocals wrapping around the audience of Seattle’s intimate Chapel Performance Space.
A bit of digging around reveals Kim Cascone is quite the sound designer. The Substrata line-up page details that Kim’s provided academic studies and developed a sound-art festival alongside his releases on 12K and Raster-Noton. I don’t know much of Kim’s stuff, but going through a few pieces now, it seems like an intimate gig at Substrata is going to be quite the audio experience. This track, ‘Polygon Witch’ seemed to be one of his less experimental tracks available to explore, and rather lovely too.
Jacaszek is one of those artists that I really haven’t given any deserved attention to on his own. Michał is a regular feature in many ASIP mixes (Bulb’s and Rafael’s for example) and this live snippet gives us a taster of his live electro-acoustic work. His most famous piece is the track, ‘Lament’, cited by many as a big inspiration and a defining example of modern-classical or modern-acoustic music.
Jacaszek is planning to play Substrata alongside Kelly Wyse who recently provided some wonderful piano pieces on Loscil’s recent ‘Intervalo’ EP.
I’m pretty excited to see Christina play at Substrata; she’s another artist who is relatively new to me. With releases on Ghostly and Kranky, her back catalogue, additional projects and her creds on the Substrata festival certainly portray her as one heck of a talent.
Below is a piece of her work alongside Adam Wiltzie (of A Winged Victory For The Sullen) as the duo, ‘The Dead Texan’. Enough said really.
Sarah Lipstate sounds like another artist who is set to saturate the Seattle Chapel walls with reverb. “Lipstate summons a sonic palette so rich as to challenge the listener to conceive of how it’s housed in a single instrument manipulated by a solitary performer” as quoted from the Substrata site. I’m looking forward to hearing how that one plays out.
For a man that plays in a rock-band, tracks like the below ‘Birthday’ paint a nice picture of this man’s talent and music taste. ‘Trance-induced moods’ just about sums this one up, alongside quotes such as”…the psychedelic meditations of 70’s krautrockers Popul Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel – producing a charming ambient”. Charming indeed, and after what looks to be a heavily experimental-focused festival, it’s going to be quite the release to hear Ken’s artfully crafted psychedelic pieces played live on stage.
It was a nice surprise to see Yagya announced at Substrata this year. Many of you will know how much of a fan of Steini I am, and for years now I haven’t been anywhere close to seeing him live. I could post any number of Yagya tracks, those from Rigning, or the recently repressed Rhythm Of Snow, but instead i’ll go with an instrumental version of a track taken from his latest album, ‘The Inescapable Decay Of My Heart’. This album was met with mixed reviews after the addition of vocals to Steini’s signature sound, but there’s no doubting just how addictive his productions are when you listen to them at the core and I can’t wait to see what he does live.
A local from Seattle, I haven’t heard Sean Curely’s productions before, so I’m hesitant to dig into his catalogue too much, as it’s always nice to hear an artist for the first time live. Described as “one of the Pacific Northwest’s most interesting guitarists” tracks like the below have certainly got me intrigued and excited.
Another Portland local, Tim has just released an album on the notorious Kranky that i’m yet to wrap my ears around. Going by the below however, it seems as though im missing out on something seriously special so im about to right that wrong. From what i’ve heard so far, Tim is queued up to be one of my favourites at the festival, crossing the ambient/dub-techno divide which suits me down to a T, and in which case i’ll be tracking him down for a beer or two in Portland to talk even more music!
The Sight Below
Last but by no means least, the Substrata curator himself, Rafael Anton Irisarri. I guess Rafael had to make a decision whether to play as RAI or as The Sight Below (or even alongside Benoît Pioulard as Orcas) but i’m pretty pleased i’ll get to see his more electronic, darker side as The Sight Below. Another artist with just too many favourites to choose from, but here’s one from the vaults with Rafael covering Joy Division’s ‘New Dawn Fades’.
If you need more of the same, try Rafael’s Substrata dedicated isolatedmix.