The second half of day 4 was closed with what I consider the absolute best set of the entire week, Richie Hawtin be damned…the true honor goes to LUCIANO. There exists a strong consensus among those of us who have seen him on just how undeniable his talent is. Indeed it is essential to be one of those lucky individuals to have seen him live to be able to even comment on the caliber of his artistry. Simply hearing his sets or an odd track will never convey how fully he envelops you in the passion that emanates from the depths of his soul. He doesn’t play anything particularly cerebral or complex; he is just pure fun, always lively and completely intoxicating. The first time I saw Luciano in 2011 his relatively empty tent was an oasis at Electric Zoo, a frenetic EDM festival in New York City. This introduction was enough for me to seek him out at The BPM Festival two years later, where he curated one of the greatest 10 hours of my entire life. Sorry you missed it.
At Sonus, the Cadenza showcase was scheduled the same night as Seth Troxler and Ricardo Villalobos, both DJs that come highly recommended both for their talent and their eccentric drug-fueld antics. I tend to prioritize artists that I’ve never seen before so I made it a point to be at Aquarius beach club for the start of Seth. Thankfully he wasn’t on my vibe and made it easy to beeline to Luciano. As is his style, the sexy Swiss bumped dirty and tropical from start to finish. Not one single person in that entire venue was standing still, not even for a minute. Everyone was grooving and whooping and jumping and completely enraptured. I managed to record a few videos, but this was one of those times where I just couldn’t be bothered to pull my elated attention away from the present beats. In the second video you can hear a track he played near the end that I’ve become obsessed with, yet don’t know the name of. Once I discover what it is I’ll be sure to post it. I think it perfectly captures Luciano’s essence. I hope one day you will be in the crowd when he’s pumping out the dopeness, sweat dripping from his furrowed brow, a cigarette between his lips and his hand circling above him, directing the crowd like a conductor in front of an orchestra.
Len Faki was undoubtedly one of the most impressive acts at Sonus Festival this year. I had heard his name in passing yet never paid a listen, as one tends to do facing such a deluge of DJs out there. But thankfully a friend from Faki’s homebase of Berlin (a city I have heard is just as gritty and effortlessly cool as BK) said he is a must-see. Germans definitely know their shit when it comes to techno. Faki was superb. He built up incrementally and with such savvy. As my fellow attendee put it: “he read the crowd so well.” He both perceived and molded the intensity and direction of our energy. He thumps hard, but with nuance. His elements were trippy, eerie and incredibly moving. So much so that the crowd cheered, clapped and whistled for the entire last hour. I hope for all of your sakes that he uploads that set. Until then, have a looksy at this clip from his show and take a listen to his set at Awakenings.
The 4th day of the Croatia-based techno playground known as Sonus deserves a 2-part entry. On this day the beats were especially on point. Which is saying a lot considering the entire week featured such high caliber work by all of the artists. But day numero 4 hosted Pan-Pot, Monika Kruse and my Swiss-Chilean future baby daddy Luciano.
I was backstage at Papaya early enough to catch some local Croatian talent: Lovro K. Not bad, but Pan-Pot came out blazing. I only saw 1/2 of them at Hyte, thus didn’t realize how damn good they are together. Although I must admit that a few short moments feeling like a boss behind the DJ booth are not worth the crappy sound backstage. I also really dislike being behind the artists, versus in front where you can purvey their intensity and watch them groove along. Unless i’m giving a surreptitious BJ to some sexy foreign musical genius under the decks, i’ll keep my techno tramping in the crowd where it belongs.
I left an hour in to catch Monika Kruse: a lady DJ who I support fully for her raw talent, honed over an impressive length of time in such a male-dominated field. For many of my friends she was the best set of the entire festival. She brought such an atypical sound handled with precision and elegance that was decidedly feminine and enormously successful. One of my favorite sections was towards the end of her set when she let Oxia’s “Domino” flow through the crowd, building steadily and with such emotional finesse that one couldn’t help but be incredibly moved. There was this pervasion of drama and elation that stirred everyone to their very core. Indeed the crowd cheered relentlessly throughout the entire beautiful stretch, and when the beat throbbed once more: euphoric release.
I truly cannot wait for her to come to Brooklyn in September. Keep an eye out here in the coming weeks as she’s agreed to speak with us before her gig.
I will sully my own good name and admit that I am not into pure heavy techno. I can appreciate the subtleties of the more pounding style but I need copious changes and several layers that diffuse ones attention, pulling you away from the main bassline and making the sound much more intriguing; be they short clangs, words, or strange noises. Even better, an artful weaving in of additional, complementary basslines.
I bring up this point because on the 3rd day of Sonus, I saw techno titan Chris Liebing twice. I thoroughly enjoyed his day beats, which possessed all of the aforementioned qualities. But at night, I just couldn’t get into the assault of aggressive bass, despite his obvious adeptness in choosing and manipulating such minimal elements. I suppose it is the Latina in me that desires more cacophony. I left relatively early that night (6am) and got some much needed rest.
But not before I caught some of Dixon. Of course I was intensely curious about this man: Resident Advisor’s Top DJ in 2013. He played as described, using “melodies, warmth and vocals to tell his story.” Listening to him, I was definitely able to comprehend the accessibility and eclectic sense of taste which has earned him throngs of fans, and filled Aquarius to the rafters that night. Yet there was nothing truly exceptional about what he was doing, and there was just so much left to be desired. After all, RA gave him the title of the best out of such fierce talent in the world. Perhaps I should give him a second chance…on super trippy drugs.
There is no denying that the international techno crowd is composed of some of the coolest fucking people in the world. This is of course amplified in Europe where festival attendees are seasoned pros, making their rounds across the party circuit on every continent. They love music deeply and do not miss a single beat. At Sonus Festival I half expected people to clear out after sunrise, but they stayed until everything shut down, even loitering at the beach hungry for more. Here are some brilliant shots Kate, a bad ass Croatian friend, took one morning when everyone lingered on the festival grounds hoping for an after hours, which sadly never materialized.
After the perfect first night of great music and good vibes the threat of rain on the second night loomed over the ecstatic festival goers. But thankfully the weather was perfect during the day parties, Joseph Capriati ripped through a really inspired, multi-faceted set. It had just a touch of edge, yet remained rolling and bouncy and even a little ethereal with the astute addition of Chus & Ceballos’ track “Soledad” which features dreamy spanish-language vocals.
At the same time Marco Carola was playing Papaya. I have only seen him b2b with Loco Dice, and thus was eager to see what he would bring.
Unfortunately, the rain just wasn’t down with that. A torrential downpour swept over Zrce Beach and we huddled under what little cover there was. This proved futile as the rain started pouring through the palm thatched roof. Giant puddles formed everywhere and we huddled together for warmth; so miserable that we almost gave up. But the techno gods smiled on us as we discovered that the John Digweed party at Aquarius (the venue next door, which is actually a huge emptied out swimming pool) had moved inside.
What an amazing reprieve! After close we headed to the afterparty at NOA where a DJ named Aldo Morro rolled out the perfect after hours beats until 10am: so smooth with a touch of funk.
We couldn’t help but congratulate ourselves for being warriors and not running back home like a bunch of amateur pussies. As if a little rain could stop the beats….
Here is video of Capriati on point during Sonus 2013:
The past week has been a beautiful crazy whirlwind and I promise to tell you all about it by next week. But now, I must be off to make the most of the final day of Sonus.