Sonar 2010: 18 June

Within the abandoned aircraft hangar Joy Orbison has his set ruined and Aeroplane starts flying solo

Feature by Ray Philp and Chris Duncan | 30 Jun 2010


Say what you want about the BBC´s music coverage, but their showcases at this year´s Sonar have thus far been right on the money. Nedry – a London trio who have given the forlorn trip-hop genre a firm punt in the Biggie Smalls – continue the hot streak here as they attract a swarm of sun-beaten revellers away from the shade of the trees at SonarVillage. Far from being the gentle, lugubrious affair that many seem to expect, Nedry show themselves to be capable of the feral and the ethereal in equal measure. Ayu Okakita’s slender voice drifts effortlessly over pulsing electronics and elegant melodies alike, and for the next hour or so the heat doesn’t feel so oppressive. 4/5

King Midas Sound

As SonarHall is quickly enveloped by jets of smoke, piercing sirens and the violent echo of helicopter blades, the sense of menace that King Midas Sound seek to convey seems at odds not only with the generally convivial atmosphere, but also seems to create a conflict within the trio itself: Hitomi’s stark wail, for example, sounds like it would benefit from a more sympathetic foil than Kevin Martin (aka The Bug) will otherwise allow. Roger Robinson looks more at home in Martin´s sonic sludge, but the lack of daylight amongst the melody-free void of King Midas Sound’s set eventually begins to sap the energy from SonarHall, which by this stage looks and sounds like a scene straight out of Apocalypse Now. And much like the aforementioned film, King Midas Sound offer a worthy account of themselves here, even if they are somewhat exhaustive and unrelenting in their bleakness. 2/5

Nosaj Thing Visual Show

Closing the second day is the highly anticipated audio-visual show from young American upstart Nosaj Thing. A huge white projection screen fills the wall of the SonarHall and acts as a backdrop to Nosaj Thing’s minimal set-up of a laptop and couple of midi controllers, whilst visual artist Fair Enough sits offstage controlling the creations of light being painted across the room. Even at close range the sonic sounds of Nosaj Thing are astonishing, with 1685/Bach being a particular highlight. The accompanying visuals set the tone well but move independently of the music, creating something of a clash alongside the soundtrack. 4/5


If a week is a long time in politics, it only seems fair to apply the same rule to the world of music. Only one week ago Belgian duo Aeroplane appeared in front of a delighted and sizable crowd at Rockness, in spite of being up against a rare appearance by The Strokes. But now, less than a week later, one half of the duo has broken off citing creative differences. The solo set is well planned, featuring Aeroplane's remix of Breakbot and their house hit Caramellas. For tonight, in front of this small early crowd, Aeroplane still have what it takes. Whether it will last after their debut LP surfaces? Only time will tell. 3/5

Joy Orbison

For the sake of conveying how a hypeman can ruin your enjoyment of, well, everything - but especially Joy Orbison’s Sonar By Night appearance - I’ve decided to employ one to accompany [uh huh, uh huh, yeah] this review. So anyway, outwith the almighty buzzkill [buzzzz!] of Orbison’s obstreperous sidekick [hey, that’s me!], Pete O’Grady’s stellar offerings remain impressive, in isolation at least [uh huh, yeah, what, bass in the place!]. Hyph Mngo, inevitably, is the evening’s euphoric denouement [uh huh, here’s me talking some more pish!], but by the end it’s all rather incidental [yet more vapid filler, uh huh!], because by this time all you want the guy to do is shut the fuck up. 2/5

Flying Lotus

Saddled though he is with the misfortune of clashing with both the soon-to-be-defunct LCD Soundsystem and Minus bulwarks Magda and Plastikman, Flying Lotus’ exuberant melange of anvil bothering basslines and Technicolour samples are witnessed by a remarkably respectable turnout, and those that forego the more traditional Sonar pit-stops are handsomely rewarded with one of this year’s festival highlights. Although Cosmogramma forms the substantive pivot for Flylo’s abstract hip-hop odyssey, double-time percussion and ‘roid rage bpms both inject an urgency to songs from the relatively smooth, ‘headphone’ pace of his latest LP, while the freight cargo bass drops do the rest. In a word, sublime. 5/5


Regardless of your opinion on minimal techno (wait, the notes you don't hear?) and its place in modern electronic music, there is no denying the sheer scale and majesty of the Plastikman live show. Encased within a semi-circle cage of LED lights Richie Hawtin is barely visible, a mere silhouette surrounded by laptops and drum machines to create a full and deep sound the fills the huge outdoor space. The whole performance is captivating, building and morphing into what could be misinterpreted as something similar to dubstep. This isn't the case, instead there are so many layers of sounds working together at the climax of the set it's almost impossible to focus on one aspect of the set. The result, everyone walks away discussing different aspects of the sound but joined in the agreement that the visual side of the show is retina-scorchingly wonderful. Finally, Hawtin emerges in front of the cage with a 909 drum machine for a well deserved encore of Spastik accompanyed by a frantic light show. Simply stunning. 5/5

Hudson Mohawke

As predicted, the LuckyMe collective are out in force. Their takeover of the SonarLab stage doesn't even take place for another 24 hours yet their members are milling around showing support for their golden boy Hudson Mohawke. Joined on stage by Oliver Daysoul for full-bodied vocal support to the dubstep spine that runs throughout HudMo's set, the only gripe being the stop/start flow of the evening when some people on the crowd were clearly expecting a 45 minute display of his turntablist skills and unique edits. 3/5