Sonar 2009 Part 2 – Gaslamp Killer, Joker, Rustie, Fever Ray

In the day time on Saturday in the white marble catacombs of the Sonar By Day complex they had a big exhibition about the future of synthesizers. I’m not much of a synth geek, so i found it a real eye opener…

I discovered, as this photo shows, that one day in the distant future all electronic music will be made by tiny gas-piston hammers hitting giant metal chimes that in turn make monitor screens stolen from from a 1993 PC change colour, all triggered by a midi keyboard.


I also witnessed a demonstration of this crazy new spacey synth called a Reactable – Bjork and Daft Punk are championing – it’s basically a giant game of drafts, where each piece controls a different instrument/effect/filter etc. It pulled by far the biggest crowd in the whole exhibition, so perhaps this one really is a window into the future of everything.

If that’s the case, I can announce one and all, that if you commandeered a time machine and traveled into the furtherest reaches of what’s to come that you’d find that lining the 25th Generation ipod’s of the tinsel-haired half-android tomorrow folk is….DRUMROLL… minimal techno!!

Sonar might as well have been retitled: ‘The Global Evolutions of Dubstep Festival’ this year. But I guess if it had been it would have meant it was 95% full of squatty ex-graffiti artists with aggressive B.O., that is, instead of being 65% full of them.

Above is Gaslamp Killer, he played at the request of the luverly Mary Anne Hobbs (best DJ left on Radio 1? Yup, probably) on her BBC Radio 1 endorsed stage of guess what? Yup, global dubstep evolutions. He’s what happened when Mala from DMZ mated with Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Mixmaster Mike. He utilises his silly hair by moshing round the stage to mash-up mixes of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Fire’.


He makes Rusko look like a Zionist. Also on that stage was Joker whose trying to inject some flirtiness into what I overheard one grumpy disco sod backstage refer to as “the most sexless dance movement on earth”.

Some IDM dudes inside did an incredible note perfect job of creating a giant A/V version of the loading screen for a ZX Spectrum.

Over on the Sonar Pub stage… You’re never gonna believe this, but yes, more ever intriguing hybridisations of dubstep!

Glasgow’s Rustie did a set, which I was actually really enjoying – a mixture of his own creations: acid-rainforest pitter-pattering mid-range ‘wonky’ dubstep, cut-n-paste with trancey E’d up Southern-fried hip hop. I say I was enjoying it, that was until my girlfriend said he was the fittest DJ she’d ever seen. Then I spent the rest of the set trying not to nod my head and calling him a one-dimensional Warp-geek-fad…

The best thing I saw all night was Fever Ray. Her set was basically the most enveloping show I’ve witnessed for as long as I can remember, I can’t gush enough… Think the Brothers Grimm take Peyote then put on a conceptual West End show about Native American philosiphies of motherhood, with Jim Henson’s workshop circa 1984 on the set and costumes.

She had one onstage member whose sole job was to menacingly brandish a voodoo doll above her head at all times. He was my favourite.


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