From Iceland — From One Extreme To The Other

From One Extreme To The Other

Published February 21, 2013

From One Extreme To The Other

Saturday at Sónar was typified by extremes. It swung from extremely sublime, to extremely annoying, to extremely crazy, to extremely awesome.
After Friday’s festivities, it was nice to start Saturday with some more genteel performances. Therefore we found ourselves in the Norðurljós recital hall and settled in some comfy seats for Ólafur Arnalds and then Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Ólafur Arnalds’ set was wonderful. Really rather pretty. The highlight were the new songs he performed with singer Arnór Dan Arnarson of Agent Fresco. It is readily apparent from Agent Fresco that Arnór has a really great voice, but Agent Fresco are far more baws oot than these collaborations with Ólafur. These songs are far more tender and, at points, Arnór’s voice was truly spine tingling.  
In fact, it was so good that it nearly topped Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s performance. Nearly. Their performance was one of the best at Sónar (alongside James Blake last night and Squarepusher). It was a stunning display of control, gorgeous piano playing and redolently threatening electronica. Their performance of “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence” was the highlight, but the whole set was fantastic.
Once finished, we made our way to Silfurberg for the second of James Blake’s performances at the festival. Although more of a fan of his earlier EPs (I would have been stoked if he had played “I Only Know (What I Know Now)” for example), I still had high hopes for his set. Instead, the people who actually wanted to listen to his set, were ‘treated’ to a bunch of blithering dicktards talking through the majority of it.
Note: If you are not a fan of swearing, it might be for the best that you skip these next two paragraphs.
I fucking solidly do not get the motivation of some useless little dickhead who speaks all the way through someone’s performance. I can only, and fairly, assume that your parents are utter fucking failures, who never taught you any manners or respect and that you were able to live a facile childhood and touch your pee-pee whenever you wanted and not get slapped for it, even though it really is a terribly impolite thing to do in public. You do whatever you want to do, and damn everyone else. Self-gratification is all that matters. What a selfish cunt. Why the fuck would you spend so much money to talk through a set? Why would you not just stand outside? Are you so entirely devoid of sense that you would think to go outside and talk there? Maybe I should have moved. WHY THE UTTERLY TWISTED FUCK SHOULD I? You are the one who does not want to be there.
Seriously, I do not have a problem with a person getting into a set and shouting out, or whooping or even singing along, but why have a full-blown conversation? Or take the piss out of some vocal harmonies? Or, most ridiculously, start talking in a mockney accent about “tea and crumpets” because James Blake is British? Jesus fuck. Is that really how poorly developed your mental faculties are??? I still cannot get over how undeniably stupid that comment was. I have never before had to tell someone to “shut the fuck up” at a concert. Not least after multiple other people had also told this person to shut up. He was not the only one talking, but he was by far the most annoying. Scum, subhuman scum.


Okokokok. So James Blake’s set was pretty good, but as predicted it was very much focused on the newer stuff. Fair enough. What musician would want to keep playing their old material over? We were even gifted the performance of some brand new tracks. Personally, I was not enjoying them too much. They sounded borderline like lovers rock meets electronica. Really far too saccharine sweet for my tastes. The apocalyptic live version of ‘CMYK’ was wonderful though.
And so to Squarepusher, who was the highlight of Sónar 2013 for me. Be-masked, hyperactive, schizophrenic, crazed, ADHDHDHDHDHD to infinity… we all kinda knew what to expect, but he did not disappoint. Located near the subwoofers, my head was destroyed, shaken and refreshed.  It was a set that was to be endured as well as enjoyed. Yes, perdurabo. His hands were a blur. That’s why I took my position where I did. To take in the work. And for the bass to knock the cold out of my head. But mostly to watch the madman at work.
It was worth it.
Kudos to the crazy bastard who was wearing a vest, shorts and deck shoes on Friday. I didn’t see him on Saturday. Presumably pneumonia got him. RIP.

Clyde Bradford is a music nerd. He owns far too many records and constantly upsets his girlfriend with how many he continues to purchase.

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