Sonar 2010: Off Sonar Parties

Sonar by day and night is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to musical offerings in Barcelona this weekend. Here´s three other parties that come highly recommended

Feature by Ray Philp | 17 Jun 2010

Hyperdub @ Mondo, Thu 17 June

Given that 2010 should shape up to be Hyperdub’s annus mirabilis – largely thanks to last year’s release of their fifth anniversary compilation Five: Five Years of Hyperdub – it seems kinda odd that King Midas Sound are the London label’s sole standard-bearers at this year’s Sonar festival. And then you realise that the balmy dusk of an Off-Sonar party seems a far more natural setting for a label that prides itself on eschewing the limelight. One of this year’s most anticipated Off-Sonar parties has Ikonika front and centre – one of a select few on the Hyperdub roster to be granted a full-length LP (Contact, Want, Love, Have) – alongside label boss Kode9. The Mondo bass bins can also look forward to a severe workout from Cooly G and Darkstar, serving up funky house and sci-fi dubstep respectively. Room 2 also hosts ‘UK vs, Spain’, where Bristol boy Guido engages in a (bloodless) battle with experimental Galician beatsmith Mwëslee.

Cocoon presents Ricardo Villalobos @ Ghoa Beach Club, Fri 18 June

Every once in a while, a minority of dissenting voices (Krafty Kuts’ Fabric 34 mix, anyone?) seek to deride the widely perceived uniformity of the minimal techno landscape. As sweeping statements go, it’s fairly Dick Van Dyke in scope (wildly inaccurate cockney vowels and all), but Ricardo Villalobos has always remained the exception to a largely apocryphal rule: simultaneously at the heartbeat of minimal and also utterly transcending it, Villalobos remains the omnipresent and definitive Last Word on minimal techno. Preceding soundbites are offered by Istanbul native Onur Özer, whose reputation was greatly enhanced by his excellent inaugural mix for the Watergate series, which has since featured the likes of Ellen Allien and Sebo K. A host of like-minded DJs presented by Barcelona sweatbox Raum, now in its fourth year, make up the remainder of Ghoa’s minimal extravaganza; of note, Chico Late’s earthy minimal percolations evoke welcome echoes of a proto-Alcachofa.

Sub Club @ BeCool, Thu 17 June

Sub Club’s Off-Sonar showcase is something of a haven for tech-house dyads: Poker Flat figurehead Steve Bug’s elegant and accessible take on minimal techno and house music segues rather neatly with fellow headliner Milton Jackson’s off-kilter and slightly more aggressive approach; something he makes plain in a quasi-synaesthesic way via a series of album sleeves from his Crash EPs. Veteran Subculture curators Harri & Domenic, leaning more on the house end of things, also dovetail nicely with their Sensu counterparts – made up of Junior Ingram, Barry Price and Esa – who offer a similar style of eclectic deep house offerings. Sensu are also notable for the range of guests they have welcomed into Jamaica Street’s bass dungeon; Magda, Loco Dice and Jay Haze, for example, are among those who, by proxy, have shown Sensu’s openness towards the more minimal end of the house spectrum. So, what was the Catalan for ‘yaldy’ again?