Analogue and digital get their dramatic due at the New Forms Festival
Although the public perception of the New Forms Festival is that it’s primarily devoted to media art, here’s a little secret: it’s actually the electronic-music fest that Vancouver otherwise lacks. Delivering everything from abstract blips to pummelling beats, it offers an exciting survey of both analogue and digital experimentation.
One of the most hotly anticipated events is a rare public performance by Donald Buchla, a true legend in the arcane world of modular synthesis. The 76-year-old Californian performs and records so infrequently that only electronic obsessives have heard his music, although in terms of synthesizer design, he’s rivalled only by Robert Moog. Buchla’s gone even further out, however: one of his devices, for instance, is billed as a “source of uncertainty”. All we’re sure of, then, is that he plays VIVO on Friday (September 13), and tickets are going fast.
At 50, Jeff Mills is a younger veteran, but has made a similarly significant impact on electronic music as one of the architects of Detroit techno. His contribution to New Forms is the world premiere of Star People, which draws on First Nations legends that tell of interplanetary visitors. A five-part undertaking in the Afro-futurist vein of such pioneers as Sun Ra and George Clinton, it’s at the Centre for Digital Media on Thursday (September 12).
On the more danceable side of things, there’s a lot of buzz about Khan, a young DJ and producer out of Bristol, one of the U.K.’s most multicultural and musically fertile cities. He’ll be joined by rising-star MC Rider Shafique at the Centre for Digital Media on Saturday (September 14) in what promises to be a wild journey through rap, dubstep, and other forms of bass-heavy dance music. And if all that time in the Centre for Digital Media’s aptly named Hangar has you longing for the great outdoors, don’t miss New Forms’ concluding event: a free concert at New Brighton Park on Sunday (September 15), with Neu Balance, Rod Skimmins, Daniel Wang, and VUSI.