Cut-up is a technique of literary creation, according to Wikipedia, it involves cutting-up a text at random and then rearranging it to create a new text. This technique was first employed by the surrealist Tristan Tzara and later developed by authors like Brion Gysin, who found that by cutting out newspaper articles and reordering random juxtapositions he could come up with entirely new ideas. William S. Burroughs was a fan of this technique, to which he attributed the ability to predict the future, which seeped through the cut-up lines according to Burroughs. From the surrealist literature to the Beat generation the technique passed to Rock, when artists like Genesis P. Orridge, David Bowie and more recently Radiohead used the Cut-Up technique to compose lyrics.
How is that connected with Primavera Sound? Just like every year we try to summarize what we think are the most important acts of the festival, this time around we’ll do it at random: first off we’ll take 5 headline names from the programme, this year topped by Radiohead, 5 artists from the second tier and 5 from the fine print section, the acts that are completely unknown by 99.99% of the general public, and see if the stream of consciousness approach provides a better way to come to terms with this huge programme, which will take a lot of energy and research to be enjoyed fully, or the other way around by ignoring it entirely maybe we’ll discover something unexpected, like the future that emerges from behind these clipped words.
The fine print:
As fate would have it we kick off with Baby Dee, a unique post-modern cabaret act and former street artist who used to play the harp while riding a tricycle through the streets of New York City, and who has the distinction of being a transsexual woman, and is also a friend of the artist formerly known as Antony, who was responsible for connecting Dee with David Tibet and his Current 93 project, who gave her her first recording contract in 2001. And it’s Tibet who is responsible for bringing Baby Dee to the festival this year, having curated some of the invited artists including his own band, Angel Witch, as well as Six Organs of Admittance. And on the subject of the festival patronage Jessy Lanza is a young Canadian singer-songwriter who became known with her first album "Pull my hair back" back in 2013 which was produced by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, releasing her work on the Hyperdub label in the UK. With this background it’s clear that this is one of the most exciting new vocal artists on today’s electronic scene: her music includes dub, dubstep, disco, hip hop as well an ethereal wailing: we’ll leave comparisons with other similar artists up to individual readers. Moving on now to Moses Sumney, who has practically nothing or very little electronic content: basically a folk artist of colour brought up between Ghana and Los Angeles, with strong soul influences and a soft, ethereal voice that seduced singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens to name just one who made Sumney into his official opening act. Understated music, anyone who wants to catch up with friends or make conversation is recommended to go somewhere else in the festival. Which is worth repeating because there are many occasions when it seems that the Barcelona public likes to make a lot of chattering noises at concerts, which can be very entertaining in a bar with there’s a punk band screaming in the background, but is really annoying for anyone who wants to listen to the music when you have artists like Tori Amos and Rufus Wainwright on stage for example. (Which happens fairly regularly at Primavera Sound). After mentioning the word "local" and just by coincidence the cut-up that appears is Double Pletina, the highly recommended Barcelonan band led by Laura Antolin and Marc Ribera, purveyors of a delicate acoustic pop that will not disappoint anyone who’ll be discovering them for the first time, for fans of silky and instantly memorable melodies.
Midday down the programme:
Primavera Sound is an eclectic and multi-genre festival, but sometimes the inclusion of more black artists would be an idea, even though hip-hop as a genre is usually well represented with several of the most important names from both back in the day and today, as with past performances from Public Enemy and Kendrick Lamar. Jay Rock could not be more of his time, right now, this 31 year old Californian artist released the somewhat dark album "90059" last year and it's like a We Are The World of modern hip hop with contributions from the aforementioned Lamar, Busta Rhymes and other important voices of rap today. Another of today’s most important hip-hop figures is Hudson Mohawke, the English producer of dubstep and hip-hop characterised by zoomy synthesizers and deep bass sounds, he’ll be performing here as a DJ and is enjoying enviable success producing tracks for superstars such as Kanye West and Drake and co-producer together with Oneohtrix Point Never of the ANOHNI sound, the name of Antony Hagerty’s new project who quite possibly has turned her back on the Johnsons now forever.
Venom could not be further from the worlds of hip-hop and electronic, the extreme metal band was formed in Newcastle back in 1979 and has gone through a thousand different line-ups since then, they’ll be warmly welcomed by fans of the genre coming to the festival, although there is always a pretty heavy metal band on the programme usually ignored by the general music press. I remember the shock caused a few years ago with the performance by the gothic band Mayhem who decorated the stage with hanging pig heads! something similar could happen this time round. Last year's cancellation of the Ben Watt performance came as a disappointment, at fifty-odd years and several decades since the break-up of Everything But The Girl as a band (although he is still happily to Tracey Thorn) Watt is undergoing a second flush of youth with two great solo works of classic British pop; "Hendra" (2014) and the recently released "Fever Dream" that includes a live collaboration with Bernard Butler, Suede’s talented first guitarist and musical magician who was responsible for the sound of the debut album and "Dog Man Star". Oh by the way, Suede will also be at the festival with their current line-up and excellent new album. We close this paragraph with a question mark over the Cabaret Voltaire performance, the mythical English group who pioneered the industrial-electro punk sound and who broke up in 1994 but have reformed since 2014 as a solo project by Richard H. Kirk playing all new material without revisiting their classics, the show includes machinery and projections directed by Kirk. It could be awesome or then again maybe not.
We’re just taking it for granted that no reader needs an introduction to Radiohead, but luckily as it happens our random approach dictates that we should talk first about John Carpenter, a true cinematic living legend, author of some of the best fantasy and horror films of the 70s and 80s, who terrified us and made us scream out loud with his cinematic masterpieces such as the original Halloween and the apocalyptic Escape from New York with Kurt Russell. It turns out that this genius not only directed but also composed the soundtrack for many of his classics, so in 2015 he decided to focus on music, and in collaboration with his son Cody released "Lost Themes", which is followed this year with "Lost Themes II", a genuine delight for lovers of analogue synthesizer sound in its most sinister expression. Having the opportunity of being just a few meters from such an icon of popular culture justifies the entrance fee alone. Another universal cultural stalwart is "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys which this year celebrates 50 years since its original release, and the main figure behind it, the incombustible Brian Wilson will be playing live. That level of success does not come along without its problems and Wilson paid the creative price with many years of fighting powerful personal demons, so the fact that he’s still with us playing those unforgettable songs is something to celebrate and be thankful for. PJ Harvey should also be mentioned, after her triumph five years ago with "Let England Shake", she’s released another album under the name "The hope six demolition Project", proof positive that we are dealing with a highly important artist, the Patti Smith of this generation, an essential voice that’s always great to hear.
Australian band Tame Impala are perhaps today the most important exponents of psychedelic rock on the planet, which has been exquisitely mined with their latest work "Currents" released last year, reaching the lofty compositional heights bringing them to the attention of a wider public, even global pop star Rihanna, who covered a version of one of their tracks on her "Anti" album. These guys are guaranteed to deliver, as are the next up LCD Soundsystem, who had allegedly been disbanded by band leader vocalist James Murphy back in 2011 with no way back but, surprise, surprise have returned only five years after that final farewell; it was even recorded on film with a final concert. Murphy has given a thousand creative and ethical reasons for this unannounced return which has been seen by some fans as a desperate attempt to raise cash, but fair is fair: they are the best band of their generation, and a great live performance is a given: with a rock solid and incombustible back catalogue that remains current and compelling. Welcome back to the rodeo!
Bonus Track; Beach Club
Some two years ago Primavera Sound partnered with sound company Bowers & Wilkins to stage a "techno" festival, an idea that has gone down really well with the festival’s public with the added bonus and luxury of having one of the best sound systems that’s ever been heard in these latitudes. This year they’ve gone one better: putting together a stage right next to the photovoltaic panel at the Parc de la Pau de Sant Adria beach in Besós, offering concert goers the chance for a swim with changing areas and towels with an 18 hours daily schedule of electronic music from 12 midday to 6 am. The schedule is hardcore, with DJ Erol Alkan, Todd Terje sessions, Mano Le Tough, DJ Koze andr Maceo Plex back to back with Maars, plus DJ sessions from musicians like Bob Mould, Bradford Cox and Faris Badwan of The Horrors. Quite possibly more than a few will want to stay the whole festival there and avoid long walks from one stage to another and that’s maybe the best option out there.
- From June 2nd till 4th at the Forum Park
- Consult the programme for complete listings and times at https://www.primaverasound.com/ Season tickets are sold out. As we go to print only entrances for June 2nd are available.