DIARY
Prague’s Lunchmeat Festival 2016

Prague’s Lunchmeat Festival 2016

1. An expressionistic Disneyland

Not long before my trip to Lunchmeat, while still in Berlin counting the days left until the festival, I met a Prague based experimental collective in the aftermath of an Eastern Daze Festival concert night. I remember someone mentioning that the Czech capital is an expressionistic Disneyland, to answer my questions about what to expect from the city and its scene. And this form of foreshadowing set a proper tone for enjoying the brilliantly styled line-up of Lunchmeat Festival, as well as the breathtaking accompanying AV shows.

I can not stress enough the importance of the local context of dance events that happen outside the generally acknowledged “capitals” of musical abundance of excess. Living in Berlin for almost a year, I tend to acknowledge a heightening of standards and a devaluation of the enthusiasm factor in the eyes of audiences that have been exposed for too long to so much – which oftentimes comes hand in hand with a failure to acknowledge the tremendous efforts which independent organizers invest in bringing something new and thinking a concept into a danceable reality. This may just be a necessary evil, but outside the overstimulation bubble, both organizers and audience don’t have it just as easy. The struggle of organizing an event that can compete and even outsmart “Berlin-level” bookings, technical resources and logistics is even harder in places where the scenes are smaller and either haven’t been there forever, or haven’t received the attention and support you’ll see in those cities that have been using electronic music traditionally as a token of spastic tourism and popularity.

Traveling to Lunchmeat Festival along a Berlin crew I was sincerely wondering at some point if they are going to have fun, at all – and if that would only label the festival as just another pretty party. My curiosity was even more ardent thinking of the crowd I will encounter at our destination. Prague has a history of art collectives whose articulate discourse exudes a passion for exercising philosophy as well as a love for culture. Before the festival I came across Czech avantgarde documentary RAFANI: 31 Endings / 31 Beginnings, whose soundtrack was signed by Nurse With Wound familiar Aranos – which came to no surprise since the people featured sounded already very compatible, in their expression and approach, with the experimental side of music, that including also the sort of conceptual music that we hear in clubs, but aims much deeper nowadays.

2. A cutting-edge blend

Adding up to the context specificity, an element that makes Lunchmeat unique is its yearly frequency, punctuated by the just as impressive Lunchmeat warm-up respectively after-party events, that happen within the month preceding the festival, as well as the month after. Even if the only party I attended was the main, dusk-till-dawn Lunchmeat night, the mental notes that previous attendees shared with me were enough to make me very curious. The warm up party this year, for example, saw the likes of Group A, Opium Hum, Machine Woman, mobilegirl and more, in a Berlin Current collaboration with CTM, the most trusted entity to differ axiology in new electronic music.

Lunchmeat channels sustained effort throughout the year, being far from a one-night wonder. In 2016 they mediated performances of Zola Jesus, Lakker, A Made Up, Sound, Gaika, Lotic and even controversial Internet grunge troubadour Jam City. Checking the constancy of the tasteful curation demonstrated, the festival nurtures a feeling of trust that can be demonstrated only by a long term, active commitment to creating something bigger than a club brand.

Back to the main event this year, the line up was a cutting edge blend of everything the heart desires. The program reunited techno veterans like Silent Servant, AnD, Legowelt and Objekt, witchy energies by SHXCXCHCXSH, Samuel Kerridge and Roly Porter’s Third Law (AV collaboration with M.F.O.) and nerdy, heady treats via Raster Noton sensation Kyoka or CDM.link / Establishment Records founder Peter Kirn. The club deconstruction floor was put in charge the genre’s strongest players, such as Ziur, Kablam, Amnesia Scanner and a long and satisfying Herr Records showcase that lasted up to late morning hours.

3. Getting there

Getting there right before the performance of Peter Kirn and Czech visual artist Gabriela Prochazka I made my way through the fairy tale-like, entangled corridor of the Lunchmeat dome, looking for stage Neone, which is a concert room / club of its own within the building. I came across two main dancefloors and rooms throbbing with screens and installations which would record your image real time and pulverize it into pretty, pixelated data. The main entrance showcased interactive installations as well as beautiful visual data poetry showcased by Berlin-based AV label Crazy Language.

Once gotten to Neone club, which has its own separate entrance from outside the building, I was welcomed by abstract, suspenseful ambient techno which materialized into an aggressive groove. This was the live act of Kirn and Prochazka, wich coordinated minimalistic visuals to the energetic machine music. The Neone room was full, and so was the main room – which was my second stop, because veiled silhouettes whose name shall not be spoken, SHXCXCHCXSH were starting a suspenseful performance, poetic and fragile at times and dare I say dark. The black and white visuals flickering on the big screen contrasted interestingly with the Swedes’ shadows which almost felt part of the visual frame.

It wasn’t even midnight when Warp darlings Patten delved into otherworldly sensibilities, which lived up to the London based duo’s manifesto, who describes its work as “future-facing”. Brain-tingling strobes tracing visual structures on a transparent screen, poignant lyrics of heart shattering beauty flashing on screen which synchronized with the real life and emotionally charged spoken word delivered by the feminine half of the project (their names, as well, shall not be disclosed). The fact that Lunchmeat decided to book them for this edition speaks volumes about the music proficiency and the informed decisions of the staff – this was one of my favorite performances and the intense poetry of the performance burnt it forever in my long term memory.

4. Magic realism

Kyoka’s performance was syncopated and smartly layered, where unpredictable beats aligned into a coherent bouncy groove with abrasive noise undertones. The visuals were neon colored, geometric and simple, reminding of 80s futuristic cyber imagery – especially combined with the clean-cut, converging perspective of the ceiling tiles. The sound and AV elements integrated holistically into the space, creating that immersive alternate reality feeling.

Roly Porter unleashed the ghosts over the main room, with its simulated flight perspective visual spectacle, where we advance at accelerating speed against lightning-shaped space invaders, all perceived through a first-person pilot angle, while crossing a scary night time sky. The most expected part Third Law presents is that last act, when strong white light is supposed to shine strong at an audience urged to keep eyes closed. “You will see with your eyes closed” is the promise Roly Porter keeps, and even though the visible part is majestic by itself, the subjective perception of the unseen is always stronger.

Kerridge was in for the kill with a fast-paced, dissonant, glitchy take and minimalistic visuals, and you may remember that being his specialty if you already got to see him anywhere performing Fatal Light Attraction. Honestly, I dare say that’s what works best with its introspective, dramatic vibe. I remember one recent performance of Kerridge during Krake Festival, where the 29nov films covered the visual part and even if by themselves the visuals were good, they didn’t seem to feel on the same page due to the intense sound’s tendency to monopolize everything.

Crazy visuals, on the other hand, were those during the AnD performance in Neone room. The high definition, complexity of patterns demonstrated a dynamic of blinding colors coordinated by algorithms that pleased vision and thought.

Legowelt teamed up with Blur Boyz, turning the main room into a post-digital paradise, with a big block of lights synchronized to colored lasers shining at the ceiling, crossing the room to create a Sci-Fi spider web of thin lights.

Kablam started her set with a calming and transforming tune that sounded a bit like Hildegard von Bingen and ventured into a mad spree of perfectly matched sounds of sacred and profane; Objekt was amazing, making ends meet with the most eclectic, energetic, vibration heightening selection that prolonged the party long after sunrise. That’s when I was really grateful that Neone is a separate club, with its own porch area where one can sit down and watch over the city. The limit drawn by the sidewalk, at the side of a bigger road, neighboring the business center and its mirror-glass towers felt like the border between two magical worlds.

On one side, the city’s beautiful shapes, old and new, catching the first rays of the morning Sun, on the other, this crowded universe of no space and place, where strobes, laser weaves and immaterial imagery intersects with the momentary certainty that sound could be the sole source of life nutrients in a possible breatharian human future.
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photo credits: Prague Up & Coming & Lunchmeat Festival Facebook page


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