Festival Review: Unsound Adelaide - Day 2
Unsound Adelaide. Photo by Piotr Jakubowicz, Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Festival Review: Unsound Adelaide

Unsound showcases just a tiny fraction of international electronic music, with the 2nd day featuring Forest Swords, The Bug, Shackleton, Atom and Robin Fox.

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Unsound Adelaide. Photo by Piotr Jakubowicz, Adelaide Festival of Arts.
Unsound Adelaide. Photo by Piotr Jakubowicz, Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Presented by Unsound Festival and Adelaide Festival
Reviewed 13 March 2015

Presented over three nights, Unsound Adelaide brings us music from as far Germany, the UK and Japan.

Unsound showcases just a tiny fraction of the world of electronic music, featuring some of the most influential and celebrated electronic producers of the past half a century. This reviewer went along to day 2 of Unsound Adelaide to catch Forest Swords, The Bug, Shackleton and an intense audio-visual presentation by AtomTM and Robin Fox.

The first set of the night was by Matthew Barnes, the atmospheric and moody drone/R&B/dub producer out of Liverpool better known as Forest Swords. Listening to Forest Swords is like venturing in some sort of electronic heart of darkness, a jungle of electronic sound that might as well be inhabited by long-lost shamanic tribes who worship the holy synthesiser. Employing heavy use of smoke machines and some mystifying visuals, Forest Swords creates a heavy and sensual atmosphere. It’s tempting to slow dance to some parts of Forest Sword’s repertoire and then head bang to the rest.

After this mesmerising set, audience members were treated to the highlight of the night: an audio-visual collaboration of laser and video from artist Robin Fox and experimental producer AtomTM. The Adelaide Festival commissioned work, entitled Double Vision, pushes technology to its limits with lasers, powerful video art and monumental levels of bass. There is a deep symbiosis between these two artists, with neither audio or video competing for our attention, but working as one incredible whole. The high-point of this set was an ode to the RGB colour model, in which a Big Brother-like image appears on screen and sets off a series of blindingly brilliant laser images onto the back of the hall. I’m no technician, but I’m honestly surprised nothing exploded during this set!

The Bug rocked the stage after this, bringing his signature brand of gritty, urban dub. With air sirens and bass kicks, The Bug (AKA Kevin Martin) injected some brutal energy into the night and appeased the hip-hop fans in attendance with samples from popular rap acts such as Death Grips and live support from Manga and Miss Red. The two live rappers spat their lyrics with unbelievable accuracy and passion, even managing to overshadow the big-name producer at points.

Finally, Shackelton sent the audience into a dancing frenzy with his tightly produced beats. Shackleton’s long club dance set was a great cap for the whole night, but proved too much for many as the crowd began to thin out. His deceivingly simple yet deeply compelling tracks could keep one dancing for hours, if you have the energy. What was a little disappointing was the lack of any visual effects over the course of the hour-and-a-bit set. Despite that, I think Shackleton’s music speaks for itself. There was no need to be flashy here.

Kudos to curators David Sefton and Mat Schulz, and everyone else behind the organisation of this festival for their marvellous taste!

Reviewed by James Rudd
Twitter: @james_wrr

Rating out of 10: 9

Venue: Freemason’s Hall, North Terrace, Adelaide
Season: 12-14 March 2015
Duration: approx. 5 and a half hours per night, with breaks between sets
Tickets: $35-$69
Bookings: Book through the Adelaide Festival online or through BASS online, phone 131 246 (booking fees apply)

 

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