By Hollie McGowan
October 7-8, 2016
VANCOUVER — New Forms’ prime objective is to create a space for artists and attendees of the festival to explore the very meaning of its title, “new forms” of electronic music and media. This year, at the former A&B Sound building on Seymour Street located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the New Forms Media Society showed patrons exactly how far they were able to go with the concept.
The location itself was covered in black with each room decorated with different colours of glowing neon adding a fun and lively touch to the festival. One of the smaller rooms just off to the side even had one of its walls painted like a giant luminous watermelon. Another one of the smaller rooms was home to an interactive art installation created by local Vancouver-based artists Laine Butler, Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber. The only white room in the building, each wall was used as a canvas for projecting images generated by the movement of two swings hung in the centre of the room. As people swung, the images moved and created a trippy kaleidoscope-like variety of patterns to marvel at.
Highlights from Friday included a set delivered by minimal techno legend Robert Hood that was so melodic and well layered that even those who tend to bore quickly of classic techno were held captive by the man’s power behind the decks. On the other hand, Lee Bannon’s set, who now goes by the name Dedekind cut, was a force so powerful that one could almost cut the soundwaves with a knife.
Saturday was a testament of just how expansive electronic music has become both in terms of sound production and in execution during sets. When Deft took to the stage in the main room, he took the time to take the crowd through a proper sonic bass music journey; blending the new with the old. At the same time, Pacific Rhythm roster regulars Koosh and DJ D. DEE rinsed out some smooth house in another room while Pye Corner Audio held his audience captive upstairs; dialled into his pulsating ambient sounds.
Although each act brought their own individual talents that pushed the boundaries of music and art, it was Untold who really encompassed the overall vibe of the festival. In a recent lecture that the artist gave at Red Bull Music Academy he stated that he liked to make and play music that intended to shock people. Closing out the main stage on Saturday night, the British post-dubstep bass music icon did just that. Introducing the crowd to music that not only defied the limits of musical categorization, but also in a way that challenged the notions of how one should play electronic music. Untold was definitely something Vancouver music lovers needed to take them out of their comfort zones and into new, uncharted waters of electronic sound.
Over the course of the weekend, New Forms 2016 showed Vancouver exactly what it promised with its title, a multitude of “new forms” in art, design, concept, and music. Always one to encourage the city to go out on a limb and challenge itself to try something different, the New Forms Media Society have been and continue to be a crucial element in the development of Vancity’s arts, culture, and nightlife.A&B Sound building, BC, British Columbia, New Forms Festival, New Forms Festival 2016, New Forms Media Society