OFF Sonar Barcelona – Diary

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Review – Edyta Marszalek

After my Sonar experience in 2013, this summer I decided to face the OFF Sonar week in Barcelona. When I found out that my three favorite labels held events one after another, there was no doubt I had to be there. Looking at my printed tickets since March, the only thing I could do was picture myself dancing tirelessly until sunrise with a drink in my hand.

Off Sonar week 2017 took place from Monday 12th of June to Monday 19th. It is a very special week for electronic music fans, with parties ranging across rooftops, beach clubs, abandoned monasteries and secret events. Gigs from sunrise to sunset and in the next morning. Personally speaking – HEAVEN!

On landing at the airport I couldn’t wait to leave behind my regular-civilian-boring clothing and get myself ready for my music adventure.

Friday 16th: Diynamic Outdoor (labels summer open -air concept).

My first night would be spent at Parc del Forum.It was an amazing spacious outdoor venue with two stages near the sea, with access to a private beach! And of course, most importantly, with Diynamic family music.

The first thing I noticed in this place was the atmosphere, smiley relaxed people and the space I had around me. I could enjoy the music dancing with my eyes closed without fear that anyone would bump into me. Got a drink, as I didn’t want to say to myself “Sorry I’m Late”,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwZbonjAlPc

And ran straight to the main stage when Christian Hilscher and Nico Plagemann (aka Kollektiv Turmstraße) had just started their live set. This one-hour journey offered me a taste of their unique & emotive sound – meandering, bumping and naturally flowing, peaking with their iconic track Sorry I’m Late.  It was my fifth time seeing them performing live and each time was extraordinary. I immersed myself inside once again.

Solomun begins his set with deep and funky tracks. With the baselines rolling and the vocals caressing, he took the audience on a three-hour journey with his sensual style where deepness and human vocals go hand in hand. Mabiisi – Baakoya (Armonica Remix)

https://soundcloud.com/808coug/mabiisi-baakoya-armonica-remix

Is one of the earliest memories from that night? A mix of the deepest melodic moments, it was definitely the set of the night!

The melodies from the entire Dynamic family, coupled with the sound from the majestic sound system, paired perfectly with the sun setting over the water. That night fans of the Diynamic label had the privilege to hear:

Karmon, Undercatt, Kollektiv Turmstraße (live), Adriatique, Solomun, H.O.S.H, Johannes Brecht, Magdalena, Lehar, Musumeciil,

Solomun https://be-at.tv/artists/solomun

Kollektiv Turmstraße https://be-at.tv/artists/kollektiv-turmstrasse

Saturday 17th: Pampa Records

Dj Koze, Robag Wruhme, Axel Boman, Isolee, Sophia Kennedy, Jackmate, Ada Die Vogel

On Saturday leaving my friends behind, jumping between taxi and metro (get a taxi in Barcelona during the OFF week is impossible)

I arrived at the complex El Poble Espanyol located on the Montjuic Mountain. With a beautiful panoramic view of the city, it is probably one of the most atmospheric and intimate (about 1000 people capacity) party locations in the city, where the energy and chemistry are at their very best.

Pampa Records at El Monasterio was one of five events being held by Indigo Raw this year at OFF Sonar. A cement path widened up to the monastery forming the dance floor. On either side, grassy hills completed the intimate arena in front of the booth and sound system. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it all a bit magical. The crowd was mature, no drunk messy kids. The drinks of choice were mojitos and beers. No Jäger-bombs or Sambucas here!

They are only a few DJs who make me want to quit my job, sell my soul to Satan, and rave forever. One of them is definitely Robag Wruhme. This gentleman is one of the few elite DJs in the world that earns your trust even before heading into anthems. Who else would edit this legendary minimal techno track of Oxia- Domino and turn it into a unique remix.

https://soundcloud.com/search?q=robag wruhme oxia domino remix

Gabor once again had won my heart with his sentimental, mature grooves and sophistication.

Stefan Kozalla aka DJ Koze is a well-known kinky and provocative musician. He made his set a very interesting mixture of the genres.

That night he hit me with another essential minimal tech house set with ultra funky touch. A very happy, vocal, and bumpy set  – enjoyable at the highest level.

In a scene in that is serious about labels, Pampa’s showcase was refreshingly carefree about categories and genres. It was post-cool and self-assured in a way that only comes with age.

https://soundcloud.com/pamparecords

Sunday 18th: Innervisions

Innervisions picked the last day of this special week and this was the night I’ve been waiting for probably the most. They don’t do a lot of recorded mixes, preferring to weave their magic in the clubs and festivals. I was curious.

When I arrived, Kristian Beyer (DJ side of Ame duo) was on the stage, the sun was rising in Poble Espanyol, and he was smiling, dancing and sharing the energy among the crowd. Throwing out tracks full of tribal beats and fractured vocals. Throughout the session he straddled the perfect balance between house, techno and tribal, creating a frenzied but controlled atmosphere with more groove-laden peaks, twists, and turns than a bumpy Himalayan highway. A deep and magical soundscape coming out of tracks like:

 &ME Avalon https://soundcloud.com/search?q=%26me%20avalon

or

Rampa – Bimma Hall Violence.

https://soundcloud.com/search?q=rampa bimma Hall of violence

After that, it was only getting better and better Schwarzmann (live) (Frank Wiedemann & Henrik Schwarz)

John Talabot who was probably the best one that night or maybe the most unexpected surprise with the most bewitching tracks of the event

We Can Do It – Der Geist in der Muschel (ID edit or remix)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3KWapP7ljc&list=PLg8IG2m5prZPqq50qSTomylyUYCLDV6Kz

and

Hilbert Space- Johannes Regained (Massimiliano Paliara remix)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2NjUNr0Rp8

Closing set was in Dixon’s hands and it was a journey like no other.

I felt like he was performing for me, or for everybody, but individually. He took my hand and guided me through an introspective path with the way he pleases. At the end he let me reach his world with the group, together but one by one. Because deep down that’s what we do: together we dance alone.

The Innervisions crew guys are incredibly complete and skilled, with limitless knowledge of music, preferring the latest releases, and as always, the unreleased ones (many of which for an indeterminate time you won’t even know title and artist).

But these I know like pure vocal with frenetic beats Depeche Mode Cover me (Dixon Edit) or DJ Hell–Car Car Car (Phil Kieran’s Autobahn Remix) https://soundcloud.com/dj-nigel-see/dj-hell-car-car-car-phil-kierans-autobahn-remix will stay in my head for a long time now.

A big part of their current DJ sets is Secret Weapons project that gathers amazing talents who produce innovative and fresh sounds.

https://soundcloud.com/innervisions

Danke Innervisions!

The music was a ridiculously high quality; there were plenty of moments of euphoria and enjoyment in particular. Those three events I experienced were an almost perfect vision of exclusive and community focused shows, and this was what I came to OFF Sonar to find. I was leaving Barcelona with an incredibly personal selection of happy memories, musically full filled, planning to come back here next year, only, this time for a full week.

Edyta Marszalek

https://www.facebook.com/edyta.marszalek.1

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Mike Moggi Mannix is the CEO founder Publisher and Editor of Iconic Underground magazine

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