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FESTIVAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC PUTS POP SONGS IN A BLENDER

Meet the next stars

FATE has smiled kindly on Bratislava this year. The next NEXT festival, a celebration of new and experimental music, will feature its largest, and most star-studded programme in its history, bringing artists instrumental in shaping the music of tomorrow to the floor of the A4 centre for contemporary culture.
On Thursday, December 2, the event opens with its big stars - Ikue Mori and Zeena Parkins - veterans of the New York improvisation scene who are certain to convince visitors of the quality of the rest of the festival.


ZEENA Parkins and Ikue Mori kick off the festival Thursday.
photo: Courtesy of Mego

FATE has smiled kindly on Bratislava this year. The next NEXT festival, a celebration of new and experimental music, will feature its largest, and most star-studded programme in its history, bringing artists instrumental in shaping the music of tomorrow to the floor of the A4 centre for contemporary culture.

On Thursday, December 2, the event opens with its big stars - Ikue Mori and Zeena Parkins - veterans of the New York improvisation scene who are certain to convince visitors of the quality of the rest of the festival.

These two long-time collaborators, recently featured as the cover story for The Wire magazine, the international standard for coverage of new music, teamed up to create music as delicate, beautiful, and dangerous as a plummeting diamond chandelier. On the resulting album, Phantom Orchard, Mori, one-time drummer for the legendary No Wave band DNA, uses her laptop to lay percussive weight to Parkins’ hyper-angelic electric harp and keyboard.

The following days will reveal an exciting cross-segment of new music.

“The major focus of the festival is to present maverick artists that have created some interesting projects or albums in the current year,” explains Oliver Rehák, one of NEXT’s organisers and a director of Atrakt-art, the non-profit organisation that puts it on.

On Friday the irrepressible Jason Forrest of the US will hit the stage like a torpedoed tanker full of your favourite soft drink. Formerly known as Donna Summer (one wonders who twisted his arm to drop that moniker), Forrest is a celebrity among electronic artists for his extensive knowledge of popular music, which he dismantles and reassembles into something sinfully listenable. What does that mean? Imagine putting your CD collection and every pop song that ever got stuck in your head in a blender and discovering that the result had the effect of a triple espresso.


PHILIP Jeck, a turntable-artist.
photo: Courtesy of MSCHarding

Saturday will feature English turntable-artist Philip Jeck, who uses discarded turntables, worn records, and a few other accoutrements to create transfixing, moving atmospheric music.

Supersilent, an improvisational quartet from Norway, will end the festival with its combination of instruments and electronics that loops and manipulates their trumpet, keyboard, and drums, and electronic “audio virus”. Their emotional and responsive style, forged through a career of playing freely without ever composing a song, can attract those interested to classical music, audiences who enjoy the smooth jazzy electronic beats of Massive Attack, and punks alike.

“One of the major reasons we decided to organise this festival was to present the music we are writing about in Atrakt-art’s magazine 3/4 Revue, a journal of contemporary artistic culture. To involve Bratislava in the community of ‘advanced’ music centres was a secondary aspect,” Rehák says with a wink.

On the contrary, the larger size of this year’s festival and its cooperation with A4 and likeminded organisations in Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic suggest that the festival has become increasingly established over the past years and this latter goal, humility aside, is on the way to fulfilment.

The festival runs December 2 to 5, starting at 20:00 each day except December 4, when it starts at 19:00. A4 is located at Námestie SNP 12, Bratislava. Tickets are Sk200 a day, Sk450 for the entire festival.

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