Sónar Reykjavík

Sophie The Game Changer

Words by
Photos by Gabrielle Motola
 
Sophie The Game Changer
 

Let‘s talk about Friday night at Sónar Reykjavík 2015 in no particular order
First of all, it was a dirty shame that Jimmy Edgar couldn’t make it to the show. Extremely interesting musician pushing the envelope with his brand of funky techno. This and TV on the Radio pulling out are clearly the low points of a weekend that’s otherwise up to a great start.
Sophie. Sophie. Sophie. If you weren’t there then I’m mentally muting you next time you lean in for some inspired heart-to-heart about your opinions about the future of electronic music. I get that there’s a lot of controversy and mixed feelings about PC Music, A.G. Cook, Sophie, and that whole genre which I see is now being called “bubblegum bass” on Wikipedia. It can be a really challenging listen and at times it’s flat-out unlistenable. But when everything clicks into place dear sweet robot Buddha that shit will melt your brain, freeze it, break it up into legos and reassemble it as a beautifully discordant sculpture.
Sophie is a genderless, faceless, nameless mass of pop culture smashed at Hadron collider speeds to see what happens. But it’s not just that, it’s the approach to the music, it’s how it’s being assembled, the structure of the set. It’s always teetering on self-parody but never lost the audience attention. It’s genuinely inspiring and utterly representative of the times we live in while still being way ahead of its time. Some of it may be down to influences from Japanese and Korean pop culture are largely lost on me but I suspect that many of the younger kids there have a lot easier time engaging that part of Sophie’s music.
To many Sophie is blip on the musical radar that will leave no lasting impression. On the basis of last night’s performance I couldn’t disagree more. I am 100% convinced that I’ve been watching the birth of a significant genre with this and I will stake my reputation on it. I called it with Hudmo, I called it with Arca, and I’m calling it here. He’ll be producing a Kanye album before you know it.
SBTRKT delivered a workmanlike and pleasant set, pulling out all the stops with their usual masks, vocals and percussions. But with all those bells and whistles they still cam woefully short of the frontal lobotomy Sophie delivered while standing silently from behind a handful of basic gadgets.

My second favourite act of the evening was Nina Kraviz. An astronaut dentist with model good looks, she delivered a crushing techno set with a bass heavy enough to burp a baby. A cold mechanical palate cleanser following SBTRKT’s try-hard shenanigans.

Tonik Ensemble delivered a surprisingly good set (I haven’t seen in him a long time and was a little underwhelmed back then). Beautiful build-ups, crisp, nuanced. Catch him if you can.
Páll Ivan frá Eiðum’s music feels vaguely disposable and frivolous but there are good pop songs tucked away in there and he delivered a very entertaining set while passing out notes with song titles and pulling friends of his on stage following personal anecdotes involving them.

A great night overall.

Posted February 14, 2015