Within the eclectic musical landscape that already marks WOMAD out as a champion of music and culture from around the world, a corner of Charlton Park has still managed to carve out its own distinctive contribution to the weekend’s musical palette. With sonic landscapes, audiophile standard speakers, and a distinctive programme of artists, the d&bSoundscapestage continues our journey bringing more art and less noise to blow festival-goers away with audio extravagance and immerse them in sound.
Named after the flagship sound system that industry moguls, d&b audiotechnik,have pioneered, Soundscape takes sound back to its basic, primal roots. This year festival-goers will experience how hearing is truly supposed to be, as the cutting-edge technology bridges the gap between physics and creativity, putting artistic engineering at the centre of the sound production process. Removing the sensory disconnect between the eyes and ears that most people don’t even realise is there, the experience at the Soundscape stage will be truly supersonic.
With the incredible sound system as a backdrop, a phenomenal set of artists take to the stage, with each set following a set of themes that will run throughout the weekend. Experimental composition and performance, artists in conversation, new jazz flavours, the fusion of music and technology and late-night dancing set the musical agenda.
The early afternoon slot each day (2-3pm) will be headlined by the artists breaking new ground in the realms of experimental, virtuoso performances using technology to push the boundaries of what one performer and their instrument can do. Opening with off-kilter Scandinavian pop from Jennie Abrahamsom, her sharp-edged indie synth sound with a strong melancholic undertow appeals to the brain as well as the body. Joining her will be professional cellist and multi-instrumentalist Rob Lewis, who has collaborated with everyone from SBTRKT to Noel Gallagher to Massive Attack with his unique style that puts a contemporary twist on classical music. One of Ireland’s leading traditional fiddle players, Caiomhín Ó Raghallaigh, fuses traditional music with contemporary and electronic influences to create a unique and otherworldly sound that will transform the d&b Soundscape stage into the world’s coolest ceilidh.
Music and discussion intertwine late in the afternoon as between 4-5pm each day the stage will see different artists whose work all intersects closely with nature; starting with musician, songwriter and sound engineer extraordinaire Leafcutter John aka John Burton whose exclusive performance for Soundscape is inspired by the coastal paths of his adopted home, Norfolk. He will be utilising field recordings made across the flatlands, as well as his six-years-in-the-making modular synths, to create a sound-world taking us to England’s eastern edges. Erland Cooper will also be discussing the role environmental factors have on the creation of music and performing songs from his new album Solan Goose, exploring the balance between alternative, electronic and classical music, while one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena Chris Watson presents Riding The Silver Tidea celebration of the glorious ensemble of songs and signals that sweeps through a diverse range of British habitats (from Scotland to Cornwall) during the dawn chorus of early summer.
The evenings begin (6-7pm) with music and musicians Unbound by Convention, taking audiences on a journey of musical discovery. Low Island, the Oxford-based, future-facing four-piece fired by the flames of youth and endless possibility, see no contradiction in slipping between uplifting electronica and intimate indie – or merging the two.Mammal Hands are a three-man outfit on a mission to bend jazz a little further and redraw its boundaries to forge their own path away from the musical mainstream. Expect a hypnotic live show that showcases their powerful group dynamic.Joining them are the Richard Spaven Trio; consisting of one of the most adventurous drummers around Richard Spaven, guitarist Stuart McCallum and bassist Dan Gulino who make music that narrows the percieved gulf between jazz and dance music.
As the sun fades and the neon lights start to sparkle (8.30-9.30pm), each day will see female artists take centre stage. Noga Erez,a singer-songwriter from Tel Aviv who uses her knife-sharp electronica sound to confront what is happening in her homeland kicks things off, before Moonlight Benjaminshares her soul with the crowds, blending her rhythmic Haitian sounds with Afro-Caribbean poetry that is an ode to her beloved country.
Each day comes to a close with a specially curated DJ. South African dance producer Muzi will bring his intoxicating amalgam of Zulu vocals, deep house and kwaito music to the decks, followed by the continent-crossing collective Owiny Sigoma Band. Six years since they were last at the festival, this two-way collaboration between UK and Kenyan musicians makes a welcome return in their DJ guise. Richard Spaven collaboratorJameszooand self-styled exponent of “naîve computer jazz” will showcase his experimental jazz-electronica, free-flowing and packed with unexpected musical twists and turns, whilst the DJs of Strut Recordswill bring the same attention to detail and unerring ear that has driven their hugely successful compilations and crate digging record label to a set of super-tight, vintage dance-floor fillers.
The Soundscape stage closes on Sunday night with Mitú, the Colombian duo who excel at a fascinating, dance-floor friendly face off between roots and electronica.
In addition to all the above Saturday and Sunday will both begin with special presentations by d&b to explore the Soundscape sound and vision