Music Review – Moogfest 2019 thoughts – Chill #55 is uploaded on mixcloud.com

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Faten Kanaan – photo by Chad Wadsworth courtesy of Moogfest

Well, Moogfest 2019 is a wrap.  The three and a half day festival as usual did its job in providing a vast amount of workshops, discussions and live performances where if you’ve done enough research to determine if its worth your while – and this year was no different – you’d ask yourself did you select the right shows, should you have fit in another workshop available, should you have stuck around longer for that discussion.  How about that documentary?  Three and a half days isn’t enough for a festival like Moogfest, you need two weeks for the advanced, and a month for an environment sucking idiot like myself.   Anyhow this is based on the artists that will be on episode Chill #55.  It wasn’t too difficult to pick them out either once you knew who they were, probably the best since Moogfest 2016. Listen to the link at the end of the feature or visit the This is Chill # page on Mixcloud.com.

Within the anticipation and settling in Downtown Durham, the concept of the 15th anniversary of Moogfest felt secondary and it was business as usual. You’d think there would be a sense of visceral display but there wasn’t. I suppose they’ll wait for the 20th anniversary.  That said, this year I actually stayed in Downtown and with Motorco and other venues nearby left out for whatever apparent reason, I was really in walking distance of all the venues – except for Durham Fruit.  Maybe it was me, but on the first day all the events just trickled in as the afternoon went by.

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Matthew Dear photo by Garret Poulos courtesy of Moogfest

Keep in mind this only applies to the artists that are on this episode.  I’ll eventually share some other footage on this page without social media assistance.  Like I said earlier honestly, once I took time to check bios and play their music, it wasn’t difficult to find chill related artists for this round-up.

So Thursday afternoon turns to the evening and I’m already at my first scheduling plight.  Before the trip, I assumed would be watching Matthew Dear Thursday evening, especially since he would be playing live (with a DJ set later in the night). First off if you’re disproving he doesn’t record chill related music, research again.  Then again the point is missed.  I don’t mean to digress.  That was until I sampled some music from Brooklyn based composer Faten Kanaan.  Now her bio, to be honest, didn’t explain much beyond gimmickry.  Then I listened to her 2018 release “Foxes” and it spoke volumes. It was a mix of dark ambient and Celtic electronics.  It sounded majestic.  Those were thoughts that flooded my head instantly.  The start times separated each other by ten minutes.  How did it end up?  A mixed bag to be honest. I made it to Matthew Dear with minutes to spare. His performance started slow and I was only there for 15 minutes tops.   It didn’t mean it was horrible, but more inconclusive. As for Faten Kanaan’s performance?  There were some tracks where the cinematic atmosphere resonated at Pinhook, but other times it felt dispassionate. Questioning her appeal to the crowd would be an insult, with her poses of what appear to be archery like.  I felt a little bland after both outings.  I still hope to see them under different circumstances.

One of the uncommon shows of the event is the annual sleep concert that happens on Thursday night since the move to Durham in 2016.  This year it moved to Friday, not really any explanation but my opinion?  Except for tradition, at least right now, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Besides Matthew Dear had a late night DJ set.  This year’s sleep concert performer William Basinski performed last on the Carolina Theatre stage on Thursday night, with music from his latest release and a taste of what to expect at the sleep event. Before I move on, for a music artist in a genre like ambient, only Brian Eno compares when it comes to pageantry….and he used to be in a rock band…sorta.  He satisfactorily made it up for what happened earlier in the evening.

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William Basinski credit – Pooneh Ghana courtesy of Moogfest

The second day of Moogfest felt like slipping of time.  Workshops were filling up, discussions were happening, etc. Still, I was able to witness the discussion of this years Moog Innovation Award winner Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) with Mute Record founder Daniel Miller.  Some of the topics discussed were Gore’s old band. He talked about playing guitar before synthesizers.  He talked to the audience about his first synth.  In a sense of irony, he humored the audience about where he met his bandmates (in church). He discussed his days with Vince Clarke (founder of Erasure), meeting Dave and his direction towards digital synths.  Afterward, he was awarded the Moog Innovation award.

UPDATE 5/14 – A 50 plus minute video of the two at Moogfest 2019 was uploaded on 4/28/2019.

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Daniel Miller talks to Martin Gore above – credit Chad Wadsworth courtesy of Moogfest  – video below is Drum & Lace at 21c Durham – Moogfest 2019

 

As the evening loomed, I stuck around the 21c for a couple of shows before the 8PM hour. Originally I selected the Field (as well as fellow Kompakt label artist GAS on Saturday) as the show I would be waiting for. During the afternoon – and before that honestly – there was talk on the streets of the Los Angeles based producer and composer Drum & Lace , especially at the Meyer Sound with Steve Ellison at the Armory in a discussion of spatial sound.  During the wait, I also listened to Berlin-based music artist Lucretia Dalt and considered watching before the Field went on.  Actually, as I was considering the Carolina Theatre, at the last minute, I was compelled to cross the street back to the 21c to watch Drum and Lace. It was a good decision to watch the electronic music artist and composer’s cinematic and lush set.  Unfortunately, time constraints moved me over to the Carolina Theatre for Lucretia Dalt and her brand of minimal electronics and unsettling lyrics.  Eventually, I made it to the Field probably 10 minutes late but with the closeness of the venues, it was pretty accessible.  I remember in 2016 walking back from Motorco to watch the Mad Professor outside of Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub – walking up and down hills and inclement weather.  That’s supposed to be a 15-minute walk.  Most of the walks were usually under 10 minutes tops.  Carolina to the Armory was less than 5 mins.  Results?  It might have been the best two hours of all the times I went to Moogfest.  I avoided certain regret by watching Drum and Lace and Lucretia Dalt without canceling out the Field.  Tim Hecker and the Konoyo Ensemble seriously was an exclamation point to a good evening.

 

 

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Returning back to the sleep festival, I have never stayed an entire night at one and it’s safe to say I didn’t stay the whole night this year either.  It’s a first come, first serve sign up event and usually they fill up during the online registration.  It’s filled so fast, you hope they don’t show up and your number is called on the waitlist.  It works out something like that.  Also, something to be aware of, unless you are the Moogfest media, cameras are not allowed.  Last year the Bedroom Community were semi-lax on the pics.  As for Robert Rich, here’s my write up.  This time host William Basinski insisted on none, also mentioned something about licensing.  Anyhow, I was able to sit in for a while and thought I had it in me to fall asleep on the chair I was sitting on. Considering I was living off of energy drinks and red eye (coffee and espresso), plus my eyes were dozing off, but in the end…it didn’t happen.  I viewed a petite woman to the left of me buried under blankets on the floor.  When a mattress freed up, two women who arrived later woke her up and guided her there.  She passed out in no time.  After watching some random walk in and take a mattress, I got kinda grumpy and decided to leave….but not for the night eventually.

 

I went back to the hotel and fell asleep, but woke up before 5am and decided to walk across the street to the 21c again.  Like I did earlier I found the same chair in the same spot and sat down again. Apparently the door person was gone for the night and only the host was there.  I saw an empty mattress not too far away and decided to lay down on it.  I think it’s safe to say its the latest I ever stayed there.  If you were wondering what they were playing I apparently can’t say because of licensing reasons, just joking.  Seriously, it was lulled loops of echoing piano, now that I think of it, some of it reminds me of “the Disintegration Loops”.  Earlier he said this was unreleased music from various pasts.  Anyhow I laid there, fell asleep for a while before waking up around 615am.  There was no one manning the DJ booth up front.  Whoever was leftover – and there was a lot – were still asleep as I gathered my denim jacket to walk towards the door.  As I approached the windowed door, the sunrise was in view.  It was comforting and awe-inspiring simultaneously like a feeling of accomplishment, a box-checking moment.  I walked out and saw William Basinski wearing a hoodie, smoking a cigarette (or vaping).  It was a hell of a contrast to the one I saw escorted to his stage on Thursday night.  I said “good morning” and he said “good night”, then I crossed the street back to my hotel.

 

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Saturday resulted in a little conflict of who to see live.  The only problem was relying on the Moogfest Twitch account because I was running late to see Kelly Moran.  Unfortunately, the audio wasn’t working during the live stream.  I was able to eventually make it but not enough to warrant any conclusion or thoughts. I did like the bluish imagery she was surrounded by.  It had a lush atmosphere.

Artists like Wolfgang Voigt‘s (aka Gas) existence is to debunk a musical timeline. For example, using Brian Eno’s remix of a couple of tracks of Slowdive’s Souvlaki caused a diversion in shoegaze. Well, when one can counter that by saying GAS’s usage of shoegaze loops was already happening well before Eno’s remixes. That said, it was a privilege to watch this on a Saturday night in Downtown Durham’s Carolina Theater, with GAS staged on his right, dark-toned nature images mixed with colorful light designs projected on the movie screen. While his muted ambient and vibe seemed to inevitably emerge into full dance beats, GAS kept it subdued and emphasized dreamy and modern outer space atmospherics, very appropriate for a sit-down crowd versus the general admission standing for Kompakt protege the Field at the Armory.

Ouri was the last of the artists to write about for this post Moog related episode of Chill.  The Montreal based producer, who has been recording since the mid 2010s, had a late set at the Durham Fruit.  Her mix of the quirkiest and atmospheric elements of the electronic spectrum was a breath of fresh air and invoked much needed misty sensuality, a catalyst to differentiate from the rest of the list that played at the Durham Fruit venue earlier.

While I personally won’t discuss anything on this latest episode of Chill – that’s why I posted above – listen to music from the artists who were there.


 

 

Chill #55 playlist

Ouri – trance parent
Drum and Lace – ae
The Field – pink sun
Lucrecia Dalt – Tar (Jan Jelinek Remix)
William Basinski – 02_4_E_D_4_ER_EPR
Faten Kanaan – pendulum
Kim Moran – autowave
Martin L Gore = featherlight (logan 47 remix)
The Field – cupid’s head (gas ambient mix)
Tim Hecker – that world
Martin L Gore – compulsion
Matthew Dear – deserter


all images and video courtesy of Moogfest

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