Review Body & Soul Festival 2013 June 21st – 23rd

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How Does It Feel To Be Lost In The Woods
Lost In the Woods

Like the psychedelic poet and musician Syd Barrett said, “How does it feel to be lost in the Woods…” At Body & Soul you just do not want to be found.  And so begins another pre-fest journey for the summer watching the festival get pieced together, stages getting put up and the lights getting switched on and by Friday morning the sound systems booming up, for us pre-festers this was exciting as we had finished our work and had time to take it all in.

Pre-Festival

Monday 17th June

We arrived down for 9 am at the Bone Yard (Production Office Area) so that Kevin could register and sign in for his shifts, throughout the day I met Jelena, Megan and some of the pre-event volunteers.  I met some charming girls who were working in the Decor team in the big barn and we talked about the excitement of the oncoming festival.  I put up Kevin’s and my own tent to the pumping soundtrack of Jon Hopkins Boiler Room set from earlier this June, one of the sets of the weekend I was most looking forward to.

Tuesday 18th June

Met the volunteer team I was going to be working with over the next few days and they are some of the soundest dudes around, I mean you cannot go wrong with a music taste of Gong, Floyd and Aphex Twin, soul buddies we are.  Matt, Taro and Sam, it’s actually very, very rare to find other people who love Gong the band as much as I do.  To most straight folk, Gong (Daevid Allens Gong) would sound completely loopy and druggy, but to Gong fans they are one of the tightest craziest bands in existence who turned psychedelia into a comedic art form, but who also done incredible ambient pieces.  I hung about with the lads in the adjoining crew camp site for the remainder of the day blasting them with my media library and my bodhran.  The tasks for the day was that we were posted on the route leading to the Boneyard, we had to make sure the traffic knew where it was going.  Me and Matt were put at the gate leading to the boneyard, it was easy enough work but with it being dry, it was very dusty with all the articulated lorries arriving.

After having not ate much the day before, I was determined to hitch to one of the nearby towns after my shift to get some food supplies as there was no way in the world I was going to pay the twelve euro asked for an evening meal at the crew restaurant.  I mean come on, why do festivals think volunteers are here, it’s because they cannot afford to normally go to the festival, they might be on the dole or be a student with a very, very tight budget.  I’m  not asking for a breakfast and evening meal like most of the rest of the crew camp with the voucher system but maybe a sandwich per shift like at Life Festival.  And I guarantee that, that incentive works wonders for a volunteers morale.  It was quite dehumanising in some ways to be in that crew cafe when others were eating (not their fault) and myself with my silly pot noodle.  Thankfully Brian, our site supervisor kept us hydrated with free bottles of water during our shifts.

I hot footed it to Athboy, all of the eight kilometres and bought bread, butter, ham and cheese and helped myself to a Donner kebab.

Taro, Sam & Matt

Taro, Sam & Matt

Wednesday 19th June

Today we got a bit of physical work instead of just directing traffic, Brian took myself and Matt up to the carpark area where we helped him map the lanes with traffic cones, later on we were given the job of erecting fencing around the golf flag areas, to prevent cars from driving up on the more delicately trimmed grass.  My shift ended with a small job sitting by the roadside with Taro, making sure that traffic aimed for the Boneyard got to the Boneyard or that people due accredition were parked up on the grass verge.

When we went to get the wristbands I met Neil Dowling who I worked with at Liss Ard festival last year, he was doing the wristbands for Body & Soul too.  It was a nice exhilarating feeling to be finished our shifts, I played Matt, Taro and Sam their first time hearing a proper live Gong album, the album in question was Gong Est Mort, Vive Gong, the last proper PHP show organised by the French fans of the group in Paris, 1977.  The lads were suitably impressed.  Kevin came to join us in the tent, he had just finished the third of his four shifts.

DSC03876

Kevin, Sam, Matt and Taro

Thursday 20th June

Today was spent locating the crew showers and taking in some of the visual scenery that was starting to appear throughout the woods.

A simple but effective piece of art, destroyed later on through the weekend

A simple but effective piece of art, destroyed later on through the weekend

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I met Andy in afternoon who I worked with during the pre-fest for Electric Picnic last year, he was also involved with this one.

Andy.

Andy.

I went with Matt and co to Clonmellon as this town was only three kilometres away from the festival site, so we took a leisurely walk to get more supplies, Taro for his breakfast roll and me for a decent Americano coffee and filled roll, the lads wanted to top up on tobacco too.

later on at night time we wandered aimlessly about the festival site, myself with the ipod dock blasting out Aphex Twin from the Forbidden Fruit festival 2011.   Whilst passing the barn with the decor people, they were blasting out Syd Barrett’s second album, Barrett to my pleasant surprise.

I posed the question to the lads about what Body & Soul meant to them or what they hoped for and filmed it.

I also took the opportunity to interview the person behind the Gameltron installation, while he was setting it up.

Friday 21st June

Opening Day, get yer wristband.

Opening Day, get yer wristband.

Friday morning was spent stuffing my face with cheese and ham sandwiches and eating peanuts, as it was still a while away till the main food vendors opened up, the biggest gripe was coffee, still no espresso machine on site.

I had a blether with some of my camping neighbours, some of the weekend volunteers who were either doing shifts today or tomorrow.  Charlie Smith with his didge, Aoiffe Rafferty, Simon Outram and James Fahy were in all good spirits and looking forward to the fun and festivities.

Charlie, Aoife, Simon and James.

Charlie, Aoife, Simon and James.

Wandering through the main arena, some of the tents started testing the sound systems and the festival hadn’t opened to the public yet , while I was marvelling at the size of the Midnight Circus tent, one of the sound engineers slipped on Windowlicker by Aphex Twin on the sound system, boy, I was in my element giving it serious moves.  The only thing though was I was the only one freaking to the music, everyone else was working away.  I went up to the Wonderlust Stage to talk to Toss, a friend of Kevin’s who worked at stage set ups for Electric Picnic/Body&Soul, the Wonderlust stage was formely known as the Bamboo Stage from last years Picnic.  The lads were busy screwing parts of the roof and sides of the stage together.

getting the Wanderlust Stage together.

getting the Wonderlust Stage together.

The Wanderlust Stage.

The Wonderlust Stage.

Matt, Taro and Sam wanted to move into the main camp site as their significant others would not be permitted into the crew camp because of their wristbands so I set out to find them later on in the afternoon.

I waited with Matt at the main entrance for his Chinese/Irish girlfriend Aimée, so I took an opportunity to snap the wristbanders and security dealing with the arriving festival public.

There wasnt a hell of a lot on the agenda music wise, a few notable DJ sets, I was more keen for Donal Dineen in the Midnight Circus Tent, that is until I met Aminah and Salim Dastan and their friends, the music scope had just widened considerably, dub and blues mixed with some of the finest shimmering world and Arabic music.  The Fusion tent was a paradise I would discover very soon.

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Right; Aminah, Salim and friends

I managed to direct Aminah and Salim to the Fusion tent so that they could set up later for the gig, I took a short film of the tent to the soundtrack of the Congos Fisherman.

The Fusion Stage / Tent

The Fusion Stage / Tent

It’s a gorgeous venue with coffees, teas and delicious vegetarian food on offer.  I wondered if indeed it was the same tent that was used at Life festival for the Lectrosoul Chill out tent, a very characteristic white cottage looking tent.

Seeing that I was in a suitable reggae mood after my visit to the Fusion tent I thought I would check out the Port Royal Jamaican Village.  This time I wanted to get a good chunk of the area on video rather than just the dancing area, the idea is to eventually to lead to the source of sound, so its like a little journey rather than just being there, I’m working as a pair of eyes just floating slowly between the stages.

My House and the Reckless in Love Stages in the woods had sizable portions of people going mad to the music.  My House was like a classic hits thing or like the Vintage TV Channel, except that the DJ would put an extra fuzz tone on the sound making it heavier than normal.  Whilst the Reckless in Love stage had live acts most of the time but also DJs too.

Shane Mannion (Dissonance) – Midnight Circus 7.30 pm – 9 pm

I caught a bit of Shane Mannion’s set, his set ranged from minimal techno to ambient techno, he had a nice pace going with a few throwing shapes on the floor.  Its nice to see some Irish DJs in amongst the international calibre for weekend and giving it socks too.

http://www.lowerstate.ie/tag/shane-mannion/

Myself, Matt and Aimée went for a lark in the woods, to take some photos of the floodlit trees and strange items and installations dotted throughout.

Aimee delightly lost in the woods

Aimee delightly lost in the woods

Matt & Aimee inside an installation

Aimee & me

Aimee & me

Some random people traipsing through the floodlit woods

Some random people traipsing through the floodlit woods

At some point with Matt I stumbled across a cute hippy clothes stall called Inspired Earth in the Walled Garden area that had the most adorable teapot hats, I was going to save my funds for a Body & Soul t-shirt, but I was not impressed with the new ones after last years lovely design, so the teapot hat became my Body & Soul souvenir, plus they gave me a reduction because we were volunteers.

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http://www.inspired-earth.com/splash2.html

I also took it upon myself to pay tribute to the group Gong and their album from 1972 called Flying teapot by singing a verse of the PHP Song to the bewilderment and amusement of the stall holder with Matt providing a fake saxaphone solo.

James Murphy – Midnight Circus 10 pm – 12 am

Having seen the LCD Soundsystem three times at various Picnics and numerous clips of the James Murphy set, I was looking forward to his set.  Oncoming heavy rain showers guaranteed a fairly wedged tent, it was fairly stifling in there.   I thought the set would be cool ambient electronica techno like I had seen on previous clips of his Picnic set, but it was nothing spectacular I’m afraid, it was quite generic techno with a bit of funk and Madonna remixes, whats a punk doing playing Madonna, where is the hard ass stuff like Loosing my Edge.  His set did not really do anything for me, although he was keeping the masses bopping but catering more for a girly crowd.

http://lcdsoundsystem.com/main/

All Tribes vs Dubble Up – The Fusion Tent  12 am – 3 am

Now this was a lot more exciting this was Salim Dastan and friends doing a three-hour set.  There was Arabica/World music mixed with the deadliest dub reggae and dubstep to help wash the memory of these Madonna remixes away in one of the most gorgeous tents of the festival.  Salim loves his roots reggae and world music and he weaved his beautiful magic to an earth pounding bass, yes, this was more like the Body & Soul I love.

http://madumusic.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-elders-yard

Donal Dineen – Midnight Circus  12.30 am – 3 am

Donal Dineen is a true master of the electronica world, he makes beautifully blissful ambient techno but he can set you on fire in an instant with his drops, he is the perfect big tent closer and the lovely Aminah Dastan joined him on vocals for a few tracks.  Dineen is a reliable Body & Soul favourite who will always have a huge fan base, where ever he plays he will have you stomping.

https://www.facebook.com/DonalDineen

It was back to the Fusion tent with Kevin until it closed down at 3am as it was lashing down outside, we headed off to the wood to spend some time at My House and relax on the sofas there.  On the way back to crew camp we spotted a lovely sitting and chill out area with a camp fire, this was called Earth Spirit and reminded me of what Glastonbury festival goers refer to as the Stone Circle area, a place to unwind and talk with complete randomers into the small hours.  Of course security came and spoiled it by telling everyone to go home at 4 am but I suppose the Earth Spirit people wanted to get some shut eye, so what can you do.  We retired ourselves, a day and night fully spent.

Saturday 22nd June

Got up about 11 am and with Kevin already awake we set off for some decent coffee and a bite, the weather was fairly iffy at times hot burning sunny spells, followed by lots of clouds and drizzly to heavy rain, add the occasional gust of wind and you get the picture. This didn’t bother us too much as you could find shelter in the woods or the Midnight Circus tent and of course, the Fusion tent the first venue for us today.  Aminah was singing vocals with Salim’s dub reggae sounds, so effectively one half of the Madu band was present without the brass section.  There was Aminah’s blues/soul vocals mixed with what sounded to be like an Eastern stringed instrument mixed with the dub, a bit like the Buddha Bar or the Thievery Corporation’s Mirror Conspiracy.

I went for a wander up to the holistic area, Green Crafts was there this year, last year they were opposite Mandala Nature near the crew camp.  Anyway I wanted to take as many video clips as possible of different parts to the festival, here is one of Green Crafts, very much an eco friendly and recycling arts craft community.

http://www.greencrafts.ie/home.html

Overhead, the Albatross – Body & Soul Stage  2.30 pm – 3.15 pm.

I don’t know if Overhead are Pink Floyd fans but you would certainly get that impression with the band’s  name, which is the opening lyric to Floyd’s Echoes.  But lets leave that comparison aside, Overhead make a nice indie rock sound with a serious rhythm section, in fact nothing like the Floyd but good catchy indie pop rock.  This opening band for the B&S main stage pulled in a decent enough number despite the horrible downpours that occurred throughout the set.

http://overheadthealbatross.bandcamp.com/

http://overheadthealbatross.com/

I had my bodhran with me and I was hoping to have a tune with fiddler Gerry Harrington, he was one of the resident musicians hired to play at the intimate Mended Drum Stage which was next to the My House stage, although I think he ran the place with some other people and a charming Scottish girl.  I found sometimes that there was a serious noise bleed from the My House stage.  I got talking to the person running the venue on Thursday where he explained to me that the stage and venue itself was made mostly of recycled trampolines, absolutely fasinating stuff.

The Mended Drum Stage.

The Mended Drum Stage.

Anyway myself and Kevin went up to the Mended Drum to see if there was a session up there, but only a play on stage instead which was fairly interesting nonetheless, that I filmed a short piece.

RSAG – Midnight Circus    8 pm – 8.45 pm

This is my second time seeing Rarely Seen Above Ground, the first time I caught him was at Castle Palooza festival in 2008 and back then he was easily one of the highlights that year.  Five years later he is even better and has a fine crowd transfixed with his show.  RSAG is a multi-instrumentalist, he plays guitar, keyboards, bass and especially drums, wait! you say, so does he play them all at the same time, well, sort of.  He records all the individual instruments in separate tracks, films videos close up of fingers playing strings and keys and incorporates them all into his software, videos beamed on a huge screen behind while he plays the drum kit like a man possessed and sings a mighty fine vocal.  I really hope RSAG becomes huge as he is immensely talented and deserves to succeed.  How would you describe the music, well, pretty rocky but with funky dance overtones, he is very entertaining to look at, he uses so much energy in his performance that you cannot fail to be impressed.

http://www.rarelyseenaboveground.com/

Charles Bradley – B&S Stage   9.15 pm – 10.15 pm

Caught a little bit of Charles Bradley’s set, Bradley has a fine set of lungs and can sing the blues and soul effortlessly and he had a fine backing band right up behind him.  He also pulled a sizable crowd to the gig despite again the unpredictable weather situation.

http://thecharlesbradley.com/

Mmoths – Midnight Circus – 10.30 pm – 11.30 pm

I checked out one of the most talked about musicians playing all the Irish electronic festivals, Mmoths, this was the first time apparently that the producer/DJ had teamed up with a band.  The music was like a swirly ambient shoe gaze sound, a kind of softer more ambient Death in Vegas sound.  It didn’t seem to be Kevin’s type of music, so we went wandering after a few numbers.

http://mmothsmusic.com/

I havent talked about food yet, but was feeling a little peckish for something to eat before we settled down to the main stage for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.  Kevin loved the chicken wings from the Chicken Wing stall just near the Midnight Circus tent, I thought they made the best chips I have ever tasted and for three euros you got a nice box of them which is extremely good value for a festival.  A special mention too for the Steakhouse burger and hot dog stall in the bottom of the Walled Garden area, a great satisfying bite.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – B&S Stage   11.00 pm – 12.30 am

Nick Cave is an out and out entertainer with a voice that can seriously rock, this was my fourth time seeing him, he has come a long way since I saw him first back in 1983 with his first band the Birthday Party and a serious bunch of hench men backing him with a nasty gritty sound.  He gave us generous selections from his recently released album Push the Sky Away as well as some classics spanning his career.  Alice Glass from Crystal Castles should take note, Cave did not require to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels before climbing over the audience and security never cut his set short as he is a seasoned pro who has stage dived and crowd surfed over a thousand times or more and handles it with startling aplomb. Yep, Cave definitely earned that headline spot.

http://www.nickcave.com/

George Fitzgerald – Midnight Circus   12 am – 1.30 am

I caught the last 30 minutes of Fitzgerald’s set and, man, could he make the audience move, Fitzgerald was playin some tasty house and garage music with a nice understanding of dubstep and techno beats.  The weather had improved since Cave’s set but the bulk of the crowd remained in the tent as the music was so good.  I only discovered Fitzgerald today so will be looking out for stuff from this guy, he is worth checking out.

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/georgefitzgerald

Iron Curtis – Midnight Circus   1.30 am – 3 am

Like Fitzgerald I had no idea who Iron Curtis was but he played some electrifying dance music, he covered many ranges, minimal techno, house, ambient stuff and some bass heavy grooves to keep us on our toes, to tell you the truth though I was ready to flop down any minute and Kevin wasn’t too far behind me, but we managed to stay till the last note and then headed for the soft seats at My House.

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/ironcurtis

We just sat there soaking up the sounds, Pump up the Volume by M.A.R.R.S was playing and a suitable crowd going loopy.  It seemed nice to end the night again at the Earth Spirit fire, even a more chiller out space than the chill spaces we just come from.  I was talking to Jeff O’ Riordan about his mandala installation and how I wanted to inteview him about his involvement with Body & Soul and other festivals he was workin with, so we arranged an interview for Sunday.  This was another action packed day for the curious music journalist, myself and Kevin called it a day and hit the sack preparing for day 3.

Sunday 23rd June

Sunday morning or afternoon I can’t remember, but I remember playing Jon Hopkins Boiler Room set from earlier in June for about the twenty-fifth time along with Nicolas Jaar’s Sonar festival set from last year, two of the most anticipated artists to see in my list.  I seeked out one of these black coffee espresso stalls for my caffeine fix and sat down to drink it at the main camp site with the lads, Taro, Sam & Matt with their girlfriends.  I entertained them with a few songs on the bodhran, Erin Go Bragh and I think Johnny Jump up among others.

Playing the bodhran and singing for the lads & lassies.

Playing the bodhran and singing for the lads & lassies.

I met Kevin later and we took a stroll to the Earth Spirit area, finally I was there for the proper daylight so decided to take some pictures.  The one with the spiral I’m especially pleased with as I got a glimmer of the sunlight in the middle.

The Earth Spirit Area.

The Earth Spirit Area.

The Earth Spirit Area.

The Earth Spirit Area.

I also heard a session in the area, I picked out wood wind instruments and tin whistles, of course, I didnt have my bodhran at the time but there was already a bodhran player there, so I snuck up beside them and filmed a bit then I withdrew from the area slowly to take in a bit of the seating area and fire.

Armada or Pirate theme. I cannot remember.

Armada or Pirate theme. I cannot remember.

The woods, glorious woods.

The woods, glorious woods.

Natasha's Kitchen

Natasha’s Kitchen

Ryan Vail – Midnight Circus  5.30 pm – 6.30 pm

Ryan Vail had a pleasant sound, they are from Northern Ireland, Derry I think, the duo of Ryan Vail DJ / Producer & Katie Cosgrove on flutes and guitars.  Their sound could be described as a pastoral ambient sound scape held together by a selection of electronic synths and break beats.  It was an unusual combination but it worked, pastoral ambient techno music for the future.  Hoping to catch this group again.

http://www.ryanvail.com/

Went to the Fusion tent for a bite to eat, I wanted to set myself up proper before the Congo’s set on the B&S main stage.  I went for the Japanese vegetable curry which was absolutely gorgeous, not too hot and spicy but not too weak either.

Fish Go Deep featuring Tracey K – Midnght Circus   6.30 pm – 9pm

Cork based DJs Fish Go Deep had a nice buzz going in the circus tent, I caught a bit with Kevin, they were playing some pounding house music and they had a fine crowd keeping up with them too.  I wanted to catch the start of the Congo’s set, so Kevin remained with another buddy to watch the end of the Fish Go Deep set.

http://www.fishgodeep.com/

The Congo’s – B&S Stage  8.15 pm – 9.15 pm

When I came down to the main stage some of the members of the Congo’s were sound checking and already there was a barmy army of Irish fans gathering in their finest Rastafari colours at the front of the stage.  This was my second time seeing the Congo’s, the first time was at Electric Picnic where they were supposed to do an hour set, but for delays or whatever they only managed to play a 25 minute set.

When the set kicked off it was just the instrumental players, the cool Jamaican hatted guitarist, the younger bassist, drummer and keyboard player.  The idea was that they warm up with the sound, they were joined by four vocalists of varying ages later, elder statesmen from the mid 1970s Jamaican music scene.  Grey beards and grey dreadlocks, having seen Max Romeo and Lee Scratch Perry last year, all of the older reggae generation seem to be making a popular comeback and they all still have voices like velvet.

I only have the Congo’s Fisherman EP in my collection, so a lot of the material covered I had no idea off.  What I do know was that the Congo’s were vastly entertaining with a very tight band backing.  Sometimes there was false starts to their tracks but this was done like a comedy routine, signified by the main lead singer waving his arm in a Pete Townsend motion, this was the signal for the drummer to clash the drums and to restart the beat, this was evident in their final track Fisherman.  What can I say about the Congo’s though, they put on a terrific show, their voices are still in glorious form despite their age and they were very funny and their music remains timeless.  My only qualm was that they missed out in the Congoman Chant song which they ran through briefly in the sound check beforehand.

https://myspace.com/congoscongos

I took a trip back to the woods to relax at the Earth Spirit area and met Jeff O Riordan there, seeing that the daylight was fading slightly I decided to do the interview with Jeff because if I didn’t do it now I was never going to do it otherwise.  The film is a little dark but Youtube helped make it more visible.

He explained that he and his collective liked to put their love for geometry into their chill out area.  I posed the question to him about the Body & Soul festival, asking him what it was like to be working as part of this cool little festival.   He explained that there was a lot of people involved, he put it simply that when you set up the installation its nice to say hello to your neighbour.  That the atmosphere was so much better as everyone got on well with each other and often greeting each other with, “Hey whats the craic?”  He added that there was a lot of effort put in that the regular festival punter does not see.  Jeff was explaining that he was still working on the mandala designs whilst the festival was filling up on Friday so that people could see that it was still an on going process.

I asked him if he was working at other festivals for the summer.  Jeff: “Knockanstockan, that’s basically part of the planning at the start, we are going to do a nice chill out spot in the main camp site area with live interesting alternative musics, it will go on to about 1.30 am and after that it will become a chill out spot and a place to relax.  We will have some people over from England doing live AV sets, like DJ and live visuals at the same time.”

Jeff explained that the most important aspect of their mandala installation was, “The whole point about the mandala, the stones on the table is that nothing is permanent.” He explained that during the duration of the festival some of the installations will eventually get damaged, so his point was that they didn’t really care if people came and messed up their work as the point was that it wasn’t supposed to be permanent anyway.”

He talked about some of the reactions from people to their installation. “The reactions from some people are so different, some people go up and touch it and feel like they got zapped by electricity, some people walk up to it and say that’s a Satan symbol, whats that all about, some people just want to jump on it like it was a trampoline.  He added lastly that some guy walking by the installation the previous day shouted over to him, “If you are jumping up and down on your bed eating pizza you are living the American dream.”

https://plus.google.com/photos/116055169065025667393/albums?banner=pwa

The Lucent Dossier Experience – Midnight Circus   11.15 – 11.45pm

I had lost Kevin for the moment so I decided to make for the big circus tent to get a good spot near the front of the stage for the Jon Hopkins set, in the process I managed to catch one of the half hour sets from the amazing circus art collective the Lucent Dossier Experience.  What a show it was, they are sorely missed from the Picnic since they split a few years ago.  There was death-defying gymnastics, tight rope walking and one of the most unbelievable displays of fire-breathing and juggling I have ever seen.  They are quite different from a normal circus troupe, they are camp, punky, burlesque, very hedonistic in art and costume and very rock and roll to say the least.  Well lets just say there was liberal doses of edgy dubstep in their soundtrack, this is an act not to be missed.

http://www.lucentdossier.com/

Jon Hopkins – Midnight Circus    11.45 pm – 1 am

How do you describe the Jon Hopkins sound, you see there is a difference between DJing and being a producer, if you are a dance producer it means you have served your time as a DJ and you can put your hand at any type of dance music.  Multi-tasking so to speak, the likes of Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Seth Troxler, Amon Tobin or Modeselektor can drop from house or techno straight into drum n bass, dubstep or to the softest shimmering ambient sound effortlessly,  Jon Hopkins comes from this same school of thought, he is making proper emotional new dance music with the crisp understanding of rhythm and glitch.

From the opening notes into Breathe This Air from his new album Immunity there was a collective sigh of relief in the audience, here was the moment that we have all listened to on that Boiler Room set and having it transferred to the majesty of the Midnight Circus sound system, bombastic and delicious.  Hopkins is a glitchtronic genius, simple sounds such as the opening of a lock, opening a safe door, changing the clutch in the car or even the sound your waterproofs make when you are walking.  These sounds (or the sounds I am imagining anyway) were built up layer upon layer to make cool clanky rhythms.  During the start of Collider you can hear this at first, what sounds like African rhythms using marakas.  The clanky sound made me imagine a bunch of fellahs with a large bag of spanners each, all shaking them in precise time to the sound.  Of course, when the bass boom kicks in it becomes a different animal, Hopkins builds up the reverberations and backward loops into a lovely chord sequence that always effortlessly bounces right back onto the main bass groove.  And thats what dance music should be or should do, to be mysterious, unpredictable, surprising and ecstatic.

When he dropped Open Eye Signal it was like one collective volt of electricity going through the audience.  That motor car synth changed the face of music since ZZ Top’s Eliminator came out in 1983 and Hopkins has turned this sound into a bass propellent for this track, the way he works through these three bass notes by the time he is about to hit the lowest note he twists the sound to make it sound more organic.   I can imagine this track cropping up on the soundtrack of BBC’s Top Gear sometime.

That is also the thing with Hopkins, he does use a lot of technology but it by no means cold, he uses very warm ambient synths and piano textures to his music that reminds me of the Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol 1 and Brian Eno & Harold Budd.  Take the opener Breathe This Air, the first part builds up frenetically and suddenly it changes to a treated tinkly piano until it builds up subtly to storm force again.  Another thing about Hopkins was that he was no slouch bag sitting behind his laptop pressing play and talking to his mates on Facebook, he acted out to his glitches, at sound effects he would jump up and you could really tell that he enjoyed the performance looking like he was a busy robot jumping about the place.

I could spend all night talking about this gig, I will leave it short and tasteful, check this guy out if you get the chance, maybe he will do a few more festivals for the summer.

http://www.jonhopkins.co.uk/

Kevin had located me at the Hopkins gig thanks to my teapot hat, so we made a beeline for the B&S stage to catch the last hour of Nicolas Jaar.

Nicolas Jaar – B&S Stage    1 am – 2 am

This was my second time catching him, he was with a guitarist and saxophonist last year at Liss Ard festival and he was doing much slower and ambient stuff.  This time it was just himself and the beats were more uptempo, there was a massive crowd gathered and everyone seemed to be pulsing to the sound and, man, the sound system had a killer bass.  Considering that we had just come from Hopkins, Jaar delivered in spades and kept the momentum going strong.  Jaar still had some nice ambient phases in the set, but he was very tight on the drops, the bass absolutely pummeling us.

http://www.nicolasjaar.net/

After that we went to the circus tent to watch a bit of the Michael Mayer set, but I was very much pummelled by then and so was Kevin.  It would have been hard to top Hopkins or Jaars sets, but Mayer and Kompakt Cologne had a determined crowd wanting to keep the party going and they were delivering high octane dance music.  I think we stayed till the end, but I must have looked like a zombie by that stage, I had a sore back anyway from all the standing and dancing.

http://www.kompakt.fm/artists/michael_mayer

Alas the night was drawing near to an end, myself and Kevin headed up to the favourite, My House, I kind of wished I had taken a photo of the area.  Anyway, the sofa chairs were a little wet tonight but I was past caring and flopped down on one content to watch the world go by me whilst nodding my head to the cool sounds.  It was on from there then that the last pit stop before bed was to go to the Earth Spirit campfire area to have some banter.  I cant remember any conversations that transpired after that but I do remember Kevin saying that we should hit the sack and that was about ten minutes to 4 am, duly we did and that was the end of Body & Soul festival 2013.

Monday 24th June

We woke up and I headed to the volunteers office while Kevin went to the production office to get our bonds back, but unfortunately we were going to have to wait a week or two before we got them.  Thankfully there was a coffee stall nearby as all the ones near crew camp and in the woods had their generators shut down.  Once we were sorted with the caffeine fix it was offsky out of Ballinlough for another year.

Roll on 2014.

If there is someone good at windows movie maker maybe they can download the video below and possibly add a segment of Jon Hopkins Collider, I think that would be a fitting way to end the B&S 2013 review.

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About niallmcquaid

Music lover and musician. Love writing about music and events, I am a keen writer.
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