The Latvian experimental music festival Skaņu mežs will celebrate its 20th anniversary from 23-24 September at the Hanzas perons concert hall (Hanzas Street 16a) in Riga.
Tickets are on sale at Biļešu serviss outlets and at www.bilesuserviss.lv.
The price of a two day ticket is EUR 30.
Last year, Chicago music critic Bill Meyer described Skaņu mežs as a “world-class experimental music festival”. In turn, his counterpart Estonia-based critic and activist Artemy Troitsky has said of the festival that, “Skaņu mežs is an exemplar that amazes and inspires. […] Latvian music lovers are very fortunate.” For the past 20 years, Skaņu mežs has continually kept track of changes across the most diverse range of contemporary music genres.
Guest performers at this year’s event include Los Angeles experimental hip-hop group Clipping., producer duo Space Afrika, avant-garde composer Peter Ablinger, techno producer Perc with an experimental live set, prepared specifically for Skaņu mežs, and others.
Alya Al-Sultani, Mariam Rezaei, Yuko Araki, Sote and the group [Ahmed] will perform at the festival as part of the REMAIIN project, which examines the influence of the music of other continents on the European avant-garde. It is supported by the EU’s “Creative Europe” programme and the Ministry of Culture.
Alya Al-Sultani, Mariam Rezaei, Yuko Araki and [Ahmed] will all play on either September 23. or 24 – the central concert evenings of the festival. Sote, however, will play at the free-entry opening event of the festival – recalling the festival’s origins in Āgenskalns, on 16 September at 18:00, a free Skaņu mežs opening concert will take place at the refurbished Āgenskalns Market.
According to New Noise Magazine, Yuko Araki “is one of a number of young, female artists emerging from Japan that are redefining the outer boundaries of noise, post-industrial techno, and experimental electronics.” Araki’s debut album End of Trilogy was released by Room 40, the label run by Australian musician Lawrence English.
Trained as a pianist, Araki switched her attention to non-academic music after being captivated by metal and hardcore punk rock. Her solo project is characterized by samples of traditional Japanese music instruments and idiosyncratic layering of sounds, reminiscent of “a choir of noise”. Listening to Araki’s music, there are times when it’s impossible to tell if the electronic signals are imitating the rustling of a thousand leaves, or if the rustling sounds of a thousand leaves are mixed so that they sound like electronic signals.
Improvised music will be represented at the festival by the أحمد [Ahmed] quartet, which was described in its August edition by The Wire magazine as “one of the most advanced jazz groups on the planet”. The ensemble is led by Pat Thomas, who The Guardian has described as “a virtuoso pianist, who is also a wizard with synths and live electronics” and “a central figure in British and European improvised music”. Although the group draws the inspiration for its fusion of improvised music and Arab music from the oeuvre of multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, it reduces Malik’s compositions to fragments of sound repeated with aggression and growing energy. The group also includes saxophonist Seymour Wright, drummer Antonin Gerbal and double bassist Joel Grip.
The improvised duo of vocalist Alyah Al-Sultani and turntablist Mariam Rezaei is documented in the Cafe OTO-related Takuroku release “Sister”.
Alya Al-Sultani is a dramatic soprano, composer of opera and producer based in London, UK. Her first musical experiences were Iraqi folk songs sung by her great grandmother and radio broadcasts of classical Arabic music. After leaving Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, her family settled in Tottenham, North London where she began to discover the incredible new sounds of the 80s, hiphop, jazz and music from the Caribbean.
Apart from working on her own projects, Alya enjoys debuting new music for contemporary composers and experimenting with opera, including the integration of improvisation techniques, microtonal ideas and Middle Eastern influences. Jazz is a constant thread through all of the music she makes – method, aesthetic, structure, rebellion, politics.
In December 2019, she completed the first phase of R&D of a new opera exploring the self-discovery of a Muslim gay man at a perfume counter in Broadway shopping centre in Bradford, commissioned by Freedom Studios.
In 2020, during lockdown, Alya wrote and began R&D on a new full-length opera, Two Sisters, with Arabic libretto. The opera explores the human feelings and decisions around human migration and home, the bond between women and human resilience. She will be developing this opera further over 2020 – 2021.
Recent projects have included debuting music for experimental composer Joseph Namy, recording for composer Clemens Christian Poetzsch in Berlin and performing at the London Bel Canto Festival. She has sung in masterclasses in 2018 – 2019 with Aprile Millo, Bruce Ford and Kenneth Querns Langley.
Alya recently worked at Britten Pears on new compositional and performance methods in working with people living with aphasia and continues to work on development non-hierarchical methods of music making.
She has performed at the Bahrain International Music Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Jazz in the Round and in multiple music venues across the UK and Europe with her trio SAWA and solo projects.
Her work with her trio SAWA was featured as part of the BBC Radio 3 session at the Wellcome Trust and she has performed for BBC radio 3 in live sessions. She was also featured on BBC’s Middle East Beats and Al-Arabiya television.
Alya’s other life-long passion is electronic music and is producer and co-owner at South London Space Agency, a new grime label she runs with GRANDMIXXER. She is currently experimenting on integrating electronic sounds and grime energy in her opera composition. She and GRANDMIXXER recently debuted their duo project.
Mariam Rezaei is an award winning composer, turntablist, writer and performer. She leads experimental arts project TOPH, who curate TUSK FRINGE and TUSK NORTH for TUSK Festival. (tuskmusic.org) . Her music has recently been described as ‘ genuinely ground-breaking’ (London Jazz News 2022) and ‘high-velocity sonic surrealism’ (4* The Guardian 2022). Recent releases include ‘SKEEN’ , ‘Veil’, a collaboration with Stephen Bishop on TUSK Editions, ’SISTER’ with soprano Alya Al-Sultani, and TECHNOPOWER on Tusk Editions
Mariam presents a podcast on contemporary turntablism called ‘These Are The Breaks…’ and is guest DJ on’ Radical Scotland’ by Stewart Smith, both on repeater-radio.com. ‘BOWN’, the third album in the triptych ‘BLUD : SKEEN : BOWN,’ is due for release, 2022.
Recent notable works include; ‘SADTITZZZ’ LCMF 2022, BBC Radio 3 After Dark Festival, April 2022, Tusk North April 2022. ‘The Sound of Hate’, EKKO Festival, Nov 2021. ‘We Are Not Finished’ with Fevered Sleep, Nov 2021. ‘Wolf’s Tail : II’ for Archipel Festival, April 2021. ‘Paradoxes’, West Den Haag, Jan 2021. Duos with Cath Tyler and Stephen Bishop for TUSK VIRTUAL 2020 and BBC Radio 3 Late Stages, Oct and Nov 2020. BBC Radio Freeness ’SKEEN’, July 2020. ‘AGENCY-SKEEN’, AMPLIFY 2020. ‘The 42 Mirrors of Narcissus’ TUSK Festival 2019. ‘Wolf’s Tail’ HCMF 2019. ’TOP///‘ at Tectonics Mosaic/Cresc. Festival 2018, Wiesbaden, for Ilan Volkov, and Ensemble Modern.
Ata Ebtekar aka Sote (b. Hamburg, Germany) is an Iranian-American electronic music composer and sound artist based in Tehran, Iran.
In the past 30 plus years, his music has been published by various companies, such as Warp Records, Sub Rosa, Opal Tapes, Diagonal, Morphine and Repitch among others.
(11 albums, numerous eps, singles and compilation appearances)
Global cultural exposure through transmigration has been a significant stimulant for his aesthetics. Sote’s goal is to create unique and timeless pieces of music that are not available anywhere except in his mind.
His compositions and multi-channel installations are sonic tales synchronously decoding and regenerating customary pattern of thought in nature; aural designs of crisis and harmony where contempo aligns with folklore, orchestrating an artificial saga with a variety of illuminations and analyses. His passion for all music especially, all forms of electronic music, and his extensive involvement in the sound art academia world, has led him to compose in a wide variety of musical styles with a strong emphasis in electro-acoustic techniques, microtonal systems and polyrhythmic motifs.
He has a firm conviction that rules and formulas must be deconstructed and rethought; hence he alters musical modal codes from their original tonality and rhythm (tradition) to achieve vivid synthetic soundscapes.
In order to accomplish dynamic expression on electronics, gesture and texture, he employs various synthesis languages and dsp techniques in a modular sound environment.
Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar believes that music is a cultural habit of sound and anti-sound (silence). Therefore, he generates music without a specific culture, which he believes to be “the other sound.”
For more info on Skaņu mežs, visit www.skanumezs.lv