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Decibel Festival: Seattle’s answer to Spain’s Sonar

Tuesday 16th, September 2014 / 19:43
By Sami Shams
Photo: Dave Matthews, courtesy of Decibel Festival

Photo: Dave Matthews, courtesy of Decibel Festival

VANCOUVER — As the summer winds down and festival season draws to a close, Decibel – entering its 11th year – stands ready to unleash a relentless assault on Downtown Seattle from Sept. 24th to 28th. Over the years Decibel has gone from relatively unknown to festival juggernaut and now places as one of the most forward-thinking festivals for electronic music, visual arts and new media in the world. With 25,000 people ready to descend onto Seattle, Decibel has kept up their policy on booking local, global and superstar artists to their 12 venues they have on hand this year.

This year sees Decibel move into a new home, the EMP; Seattle’s Gehry-designed Guggenheim-esque music museum. This beautiful building will play home to dozens of conferences, workshops, showcases, AV & Optical events and the Opening Gala featuring local boys Sabota. The EMP will be loaded up with a state-of-the-art sound system, a “65’ high ceiling sky church” venue with a 60’x33’ (yes, that’s feet, not inches) HD LED screen.

Straight off the get-go, Decibel will be hosting an array of workshops in their 2014 space. The tech guys and girls can drop into workshops ranging from “Get your VSTs in Ableton to give you that faux 303 acid line” to “cleaning the dust of your first Synth purchase.” Talks from DJ Pierre and Spank Spank, together known as Phuture stand as a highlight in the workshop/conference side of Decibel.

On the music side of matters Decibel has delivered 150 artists divided into 40 showcases, each of which have been put together by some of the finest promoters, labels and crews bouncing around in today’s electronic music scene. From the likes of Ninja Tune, Hotflush, Osgut Ton, Resident Advisor, Crew Love and Hyperdub to name but a few, your hours between 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. are well looked after.

Wednesday starts off with a bang, with the EMP hosting the Opening Gala with Max Cooper’s brand new A/V show a highlight. Cooper’s stripped back, melodic techno is beautifully entrancing and with the mammoth HD LED at the Sky Church his new A/V show will be something not to miss.

Thursday warms up for the weekend with the fantastic Letherette and their live show of awesome-packed chopped-up hip hop samples, beats, synths and filtered funk for the Ninja Tune showcase. Following is the mighty FaltyDL and now US-based German producer Martyn, who will round off the night’s activities with his own brand of forward-thinking techno. Manchester based Andy Stott brings his signature live rolling dub techno for Modern Love’s showcase at the EMP as part of an extensive US/Canada tour for the label.

Following the standard hourly showcases, Decibel has a new look after-hours table with one show a night for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Focusing heavily on the techno side of the musical spectrum with a heavy European contingent the likes of Recondite and Kink (Thursday and Saturday @ Q Club respectively) will keep you moving till the bars reopen.

One look at Friday’s schedule is enough to make any glazed-eyed festival-goer drool. Simian Mobile Disco and friends bring their full analog arsenal to the EMP for the Hardware Showcase. Having long left behind their previous life as electro-pop crossovers, SMD will be delivering their ferocious live show in support of their latest full length offering Whorl. The Gui Boretta and friends showcase opens with the brilliant South London Ordnance, who is on the ascendancy coming off the back of a fantastic slot at Hawtin’s Enter @ Space, Ibiza and Hotflush release Contact/Sabre. Following SLO is the mighty Dense & Pika (Glimpse and Alex Jones of Hypercolor) and their live underground U.K. techno style – be prepared for a filthy hour and half of top-shelf U.K. techno here. Gui Boretta is tasked with filling Scuba’s boots after a cancellation to pick up where SLO and D&P leave off.

Heading over to The Q Nightclub sees their Friday night billing start with the Crew Love Showcase: positive vibes with Wolf & Lamb and Soul Clap bringing their disco-infused house game for a good old-fashioned leg shake. Following Crew Love is one after-hours showcase that has the attention of many an attendee: The Osgut Ton will take over. The Berghain resident trio of Steffi, Anthony Parasole and Marcel Dettmann will be at helm guiding us through the peaks and deeps of Berlin’s infamous techno scene on the Friday night. Dettmann, who has seen a humble rise over the past 15 years, reached new heights this year with a highly acclaimed Fabric 77 mix and Essential Mix, making him one of the most in-demand producers and DJs in the circuit today.

Saturday keeps the ante high with the superstar status of Guti & Richie Hawtin in the EMP Sky Church. Hot Creations label co-owner Lee Foss calls on Shadow Child to help bring their Ibiza loving house vibe to Level 3 of the EMP. The Hyperdub crew – in support of their 10-year anniversary – take over the Crocodile with their catalogue of grime and bass from label head Kode 9 and Scratch DVA, as well as some ghetto house and juke from founding TekLife member DJ Spinn. If you fancy yourself at the high seas, boat parties featuring Young Marco, Matrixmann and J.Alvarez will be sure to get you wavy.

Decibel is set up to be one of the best festivals of this summer, a European-inspired, city takeover with a collection of some of the most in-demand acts from around world. If you harbour even an inkling of love for electronic music and the visual arts you have no reason not to make the trip down to Seattle. Don’t grab your umbrella, just your passport and we will see you down at the front right speaker.

Photo: Susanne Strong, courtesy of Decibel Festival

Photo: Susanne Strong, courtesy of Decibel Festival

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