Festival guide: Rokolectiv 2016, Bucharest

Festival guide: Rokolectiv 2016, Bucharest

Written By:

The Attic


April 12, 2016

1. Native Instrument

From 21st to 24th of April, the annual Rokolectiv Festival brings to focus a mixed program of performances, installations and special events, tracing new directions in electronic music and its socio-cultural backgrounds. The 11th edition showcases artists from all over Europe, from Norway to Poland, Sweden to France, Italy and, of course, Romania.

Due to the tragic and unfortunate events from last year that happened in Bucharest (the fire in Colectiv club), many bars, clubs and venues have been closed. The subcultures attached to them are being threatened by the sudden revitalized mania of regulations and, according to the organizers, Rokolectiv has been deprived of its mission to activate alternative spaces. Therefore, the festival will be hosted this year by Control Club, with an Opening Night at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Here are some projects and special events that you should not miss at this year's edition of the festival. Check the official website for the entire program.


Native Instrument is a Berlin based sound collaboration bringing together the field recording archive of Felicity Mangan and the precise, minimal vocabulary of Stine Janvin Motland. Their music is built from electronic and vocal adaptations of animal and insect recordings originating mainly from the Australian and North European fauna.

The organic mix of bug beats and atmospheric soundscapes uncovers a sonic ambiguity between rural nature, electronics and the human voice, creating a peculiar musical universe with references to low-fi pop and techno.

This year’s edition of Rokolectiv is partly shadowed by a general state of broken allegiance and inadequacy created by the gap between a relaxed and rapidly growing artistic scene in the past years, and the lack of physical spaces left behind by the Colectiv fire.

2. Peder Mannerfelt: Swedish Congo

Peder Mannerfelt’s release for Archives Intérieures takes us back to Belgian Congo in the 1930's.

This adventurous album, The Swedish Congo Record, finds its roots in a very obscure 78 rpm record, put together by Belgian filmmaker Armand Denis - one of the first Europeans to capture the incredible sounds of Central Congo. These recordings were published in 1950 as The Belgian Congo Records.

Mannerfelt is an avid collector of African tribal music. When he came across this record he was immediately intrigued by the complexity and rendition of these recordings of Congolese music. His initial idea was to use the original album as a sample source, but this concept was quickly abandoned and Peder decided to recreate the album using only synthesizers.

The Swedish Congo Record is first and foremost a thrilling, refreshing album. However, it is also an unintentional critique on a dark passage in Belgian history. The colonial times are marked by a violent, shameless exploration and exploitation of resources and people. On a humanitarian, political and social level a deep scar was left behind by this period of Western European Colonialism. Still now Western economic interests continue to influence the fate of central Africa. Simply sampling the original album could be seen as another way of colonising or disrespectful appropriation. However, by re-sculpting the album, reshaping its original musicality into a wild electronic universe of his own, Mannerfelt pays tribute to the traditional and folkloric meaning of the dances.

The nature of this tribal music pushed Mannerfelt to further explore his unique sense of rhythm he’s known for with Roll The Dice, as well as with his solo work. The Swedish Congo Record also bears his signature way of combining skilful productions with a touch of humour, which results in a multi-faceted, daring album.

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IVVVO or "e-vo", as how one pronounces the musical moniker of this Portuguese native, is a purveyor of some mightily impressive techno tones. There’s a lot more going on with IVVVO than riding the "death of rave" zeitgeist, his productions & DJ sets are moody and eclectic.

IVVVO is the co-founder of the record label Terrain Ahead. His music has been released by a number of different labels, including moun10, Opal Tapes, Public Information, Fourth Wave and more recently Aisha Devi’s label, Danse Noire.

4. Paula Temple

A refreshing high-voltage output has rapidly placed Paula Temple at the forefront of new techno. She started ten years ago, then she lost interest in electronic music and she became a teacher for unprivileged children. Then she came back again with outstanding productions and hybrid live/DJ sets that became a sensation in such scene bastions as Tresor, Berghain or Unsound.

A self-confessed noisician, Paula Temple obliterated 2014 with Deathvox, her second release on the legendary label R&S. Her debut Colonized EP made one of the biggest statements in 2013 for uncompromising techno, followed by remixes for avant-electronic acts The Knife, Perera Elsewhere and Planningtorock.

For her own record label, Noise Manifesto, she launched a very special and unique collaboration series called “Decon/Recon”, with select showcase events only.

5. Perc

Perc is all about dance-floor mayhem, rotting sound and political frustration. “If I'm trying to portray some of the frustration with the political system in the UK at the moment, it’s just that kind of guttural, primal scream kind of thing” says Ali Wells (aka Perc) for The Quietus. So first comes the music, then political interpretations.

Perc released his debut single “I Make Nuclear “ in 2002, before creating his own label, Perc Trax, two years later. Since then he’s built a foundation for forward-looking, dark and mesmeric electronic grooves, dropping releases from Sawf, Truss, Forward Strategy Group, Ekoplekz, as well as Perc himself. Perc’s own music is inspired from such industrialists as Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, bringing a dose of their dark humor and raw aesthetic to the dancefloor. His sophomore album “The Power And The Glory” took Perc’s evolving sound further into that dark and noisy territory, marking him out as a torch bearer for tomorrow’s techno.

“The kind of techno I like at the moment is where all that overly atmospheric fog and fluff is stripped away, and things are much more visceral, much more clear. That's what I'm into. Otherwise it's just a sea of almost nothingness”.

6. T'ien Lai

Polish quartet T'ien Lai combines drones with spiralling psychedelia and live percussion to create heavily distorted, ritualistic dance music. The project borrows from Le Corbusier's brutalist architecture and the materialist side of magic realism, turning it into what they call magic brutalism.

T'ien Lai was founded in 2012 by Kuba Ziołek (of freeform improvising collective Innercity Ensemble and Stara Rzeka, a one-man band combining drone, prog rock, and black metal), and Łukasz Jędrzejczak (So Slow, Alameda 5). Their debut album, released the following year on Monotype Records, leaned heavily on the sound of old PRL Śnieżka radio receivers. Processed through guitar effects and layered over synthesiser loops, the LP's layers of noise were said to conceal mystical themes.

In 2014, the duo expanded into a foursome with percussionists Rafał Kołacki and Mikołaj Zieliński. T'ien Lai describe the resulting sound as "quasi-shamanic trance, raw, almost industrial rhythmic electronic music" with modern techno pastiche. Their second album, “RHTHM”, was laden with glitches and plunderphonic samples, and saw an official release in fall 2015.

7. Voiski

The French DJ and producer Voiski has steadily built a name for himself over the course of a nearly seven year career. Having shifted from a more brazenly experimental persuasion to a still slightly disarrayed but ultimately slick production style, his merciless output has thus far been picked up by an array of labels such as L.I.E.S., Construct Re-Form and Sheik N Beik.

Within the large spectrum of his deep murky interventions, Voiski stands out for the rigour of his infinitely repetitive loops. These, combined with acerbic drum beats, construct an analog excitation that carries his music to the heart of futurist and sentimental layerings.

Voiski delivers a challenging treat of techno-gone-astray. Delving deep in steely industrialism and slashing anti 4/4, the three cuts snipe a hail of grainy grooves for wild club ravings.

8. Rrose

Rrose came to the attention of the worldwide techno scene in 2011 after the release of three EPs and an album on the Sandwell District label. Densely textured and experimental yet wholly at home on the dancefloor, Rrose’s music channels the spirit of techno’s roots while injecting influences from pre-techno electronic music and the avant-garde. Other identifying features include a focus on the tactile qualities of sound and the integration of gradual, interconnected transformations of material.

In 2012, Rrose launched Eaux, a label devoted to solo productions and collaborations. The 2015’s EP output has seen him master supple techno forms drenched in reverb and soot black atmospheres. The sounds of dark, intense and monolith techno, as well as obscure and raw atmospherics mix with concrete and hypnotic rhythmic patterns, providing a coherent journey into surreal depths.

“I stole the name because I like the way it looks, the way it feels, and the endless pool of imagery and ideas it suggests. It's absurd to connect techno to Duchamp. Which is also part of the point, I guess”… “It forces me, and the audience, not to take my identity and gender for granted. And it makes me feel like I'm in some kind of weird parallel dimension while I'm performing”… “I'm concerned with perception above all. I hope to confuse the listeners' faculties such that they question their place in space and time. While making them dance, of course.”

9. Charlotte Bendiks

Best known for spreading out positive thinking at festivals in Europe and beyond, Charlotte Bendiks is one of the more recent Comeme family members, as well as Norway’s best ambassador when it comes to music of “sensual physicality”. Doing live vocals and percussions as well as integrating other musicians, whether it’s disco, African, Latin grooves or classic house, Charlotte’s DJ sets have become somewhat of a trademark.

From 2007 to 2009 she organised underground A/V house parties under the name “Moist”, long after official closing times, thus contributing to the health of the Norwegian scene. Her solo release “Afterhours” EP was out on Mental Overdrive’s LOVE OD Communications label in January 2013, followed by the second EP “Aurora” a year later, which was much like an echo of a Chicago that has been abandoned and moved to become a ghost town deep in the Arctic.

“If you, like us, still have any senses left intact, you will no doubt listen and obey”.

10. Borusiade

It has been a great year since Borusiade's morning gig at Rokolectiv’s 10 year anniversary. The five track EP released in the beginning of February 2016 on Cómeme, the invitations as a SHAPE artist, the mixes and podcasts evoking a feeling of darkness and psychedelia, the frank, charming interviews and public appearances turned her into one of the favourite upcoming female musicians on the club scene.

As the story goes, Borusiade was personally recommended to Matias Aguayo by Lena Willikens after the Cologne selector discovered her through the female:pressure platform. It was a wise move.

Described by the label’s ever-amusing press department as five tracks of “baroque and dark slow techno jams,” “Jeopardy” finds Borusiade channeling Front 242, John Carpenter and The Cocteau Twins. The EP is, by turns, “brooding, gothic and even a bit silly, with dark disco basslines and haunted-house synth chords bringing to mind giallo movies and arcade games about jumping on ghosts in creaky castles. An air of soft horror prevails this record, at times wry and comic but sometimes genuinely (if gently) unnerving”. XLR8R

Listen: The Attic Podcast: 16. Borusiade

Check the whole Rokolectiv 2016 program on the official website.

Read also: Interview with Rokolectiv from 2015

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