Trans Musicales Preview // Editor's Picks & Playlist
Trans Musicales, or to give it it's full title of Les Rencontres Trans Musicales, is a music festival with an illustrious history held in Rennes yearly since 1979, and prides itself on uncovering hidden acts waiting to burst onto the musical world. Just like The 405 ay? A kindred spirit of philosophie in terms of undiscovered artists should very much make for a joyous experience for the time period of December 1st-3rd.
An exhausting one at that too; the first act I want to see on the Friday are on at 2:30pm - and the final act at 5am; caffeine, you'll be an intimate friend for a few days. A perfect opportunity to hone the coffee-chique pose on a cafe corner somewhere.
The line-up very much represents this underground aesthetic; although a smattering of familiar acts are present (such as SBTRKT, Zomby, Factory Floor etc - though you'd hardly call them mainstream) it has ultimately proved to be rewarding to work through a list of bands with unfamiliar names, the kind of homework that is a labour of love. The 405 are to cover the festival in wintery Atlantic-carving Brittany, if my arteries make it out the other side after no doubt copious amounts of cheeses, meats and rich red wine.
Schoolboy Franglais: Mastered. Clash finder: Printed. So, if you're going to Rennes take a look at some acts we've picked out for you to see this week; though if you're not, take a look at some of the acts that you will no doubt hear about in the future.
If you've not experienced Factory Floor live, you've probably heard the rumours of what they can do to your body; playing ping-pong with your internal organs whilst your exoskeleton gets to dance by the riveting, rhythmic post-punk disco sound. Yup, they're pretty fucking loud.
The London-trio aided with Stephen Morris of New Order on producing duties have recently been signed to NY label DFA - a rare British signing - but a marriage that makes sense upon thought. The first single for them is the house-tastic synth-monster of 'Two Different Ways' released a couple of weeks back - though personally I cannot wait to experience one of the tracks of 2011 in 'R E A L L O V E'. Another one of the other tracks of 2011 is the remix of 'R E A L L O V E' by Optimo by the way.
They close the Thursday night in Hall 9 - at 4:35am. Ouch.
No, not a "whatever-wave" genre name gone wrong, Splash Wave are named after a track from the 1986 Sega Master System game Outrun. I vividly remember sitting for hours with mon frère ainé on his bed in a council house in the suburbs transfixed by the blocky California-soaked pixels in the very game, getting into fights over what track to play on the in-game car radio which you could choose at the start. Never would I have thought some twenty years later I'd be revisiting such a memory, still listening to Splash Wave.
Thankfully the outfit from Rennes avoid the pitfalls of the previously described easy, cheap nostalgia - no 8-bit nonsense here thank you - but rather influenced in a deeper aesthetic prevalent in the 80's and done well. It's more like if cold-wave popped a valium and cheered the fuck-up, with a luscious and thickly layered hazy noise; the sound of melodic electronic ice melting on a close sun-kissed day. They are now on Beko DSL - check out 'Shake The Razor Wheels' if you can.
...and a special mix for Trans Musicales:
'where were U in 92?' asked Zomby infamously a few years back. I kinda just answered that question in the Splash Wave bit really. The enigmatic, somewhat mysterious figure has carved quite the reputation for himself via a paradox of a few brutally honest and unusual interviews coupled with a highly private personal life, summed up with the masks he generally dons for press shots.
But yes the music. A legend in sui generis genre-crossing, taking influence in the rave scene of the 90's with contemporary influences of grime (he's a big admirer of Wiley) and the good parts of dubstep. Think of an evocative warped pill comedown integrated with a weed haze, dripping in thoughtful urban dystopia. If you can. Zomby certainly can. With three albums to his name after the release of Dedication in the summer, and a myriad of EPs and other releases, it'll be fascinating to experience and the direction taken; though a slight oddity to be the opener on Friday evening at 9pm.
Right, at last a French act. Souleance consist of the duo Fulgeance (producer, beat maker) and Soulist (a DJ from Paris) hence the spoonerist name, and are signed to UK-based First World Record. They currently have two EPs to their name in 2010's Le Monde EP and the effortless smooth six-track EP Soupape.
Soupape in particularly is a spectacularly produced affair, bleeding soul and permeating funk, whilst layered with devastating hip-hop beats - a kaleidoscope of styles yet acutely blended. Universal and pop-based in sound, yet somehow so fucking cool it could only have been crafted in France.
Put simply, Shabazz Palaces have released the hip-hop album of 2011 - and hey, one of the albums of 2011 - in Black Up. Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler of Shabazz Palaces has previously built a reputation with is work for Digable Planets, and has taken the decision to play things very low-key, declining interviews and avoiding photographers and thus choosing to let the music do the talking. And my how it gabbers away.
The duo (percussionist Tendai Maraire the other half) create idiosyncratic, yet often subtle grooves where tracks have a tendency to meander and not stick to formulas. A feast of earnest artistic expression and iconic flow - wider hip-hop take not please, this is how good it can be.
Best of the rest
There are a wealth of electronic acts mainly found in the wee hours (can I name them the yes hours?), from the type capable of out-and-out electro bangers to a moire nuanced minimal-tech approach. For the latter, look no further than Agoria who is a master in his field. Often minimalist, but with dirty moments too. For evidence of this see the amazing Fabric 57 mix, and Agoria: At The Controls. Oh and Todd Terje with his heroic moustache is highly recommended too.
College conjure an alarmingly overt pop retro-chique, the sound of the future created if the future was created in 1983. They featured in the Drive soundtrack this year with 'A Real Hero' (feat. Electric Youth), which feature pop-synths so ice-cold it can freeze time itself.
A French festival wouldn't be a French festival without some cold-wave right? Bonjour La Femme, who continue to pillage the decade, though with more dark, hurried undertones and sounding helluva sexy.
One act I'm hugely curious to witness are Parisian trio Antilles; little information is available on them aside from a sole video, but if that hypnotic behemoth is anything to go by I feel a need to experience the kraut-rave portentous noise-fest for myself. It definitely destroyed an important part of my being. Holloys could be another psychedelic whirlwind also, though perhaps without the brain-volcano headfuckery.
Two heavyweights what feature from the UK are Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (or TEEDS) and SBTRKT (or subterkerat), and are both highly enjoyable performers in a live setting and will have no problems whipping malleable young French types into a rave. Though somewhat annoyingly TEEDS have a clash with Factory Floor. It's a festival, these things happen right? C'est la vie.
Other acts which have caught the ear include 50 Miles From Vancouver, Hospital Ships, We Are Standard, Shiko Shiko, Kitsuné darlings Juveniles and Hold Your Horses! - not to be confused with the lovely chaps of UK-based Hold Your Horse Is. They have the light, joyous air of Team Me about them - and if you get anything from this article make sure to watch the below video. It's like if Michel Gondry and Terry Gilliam had a psychedelic love-child in the halls of The National Gallery. Stunning:
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