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"plug and play parties" - st. petersburg (december '02)
posted on 16-Jan-2003 by anton

this installment of "plug and play parties" series, organized by cheburec took place in a hotel 40km outside of St. Petersburg (Russia). the concept of this event was quite intriguing - about 30 musicians gathered in an isolated retreat outside of the city (those of you that remember cheburec's "out to city" compilations will appreciate the irony) for the celebration of "listening" electronic music.

as we entered a tall hotel building in (what seemed like) the middle of snow-covered woods, we were immediately greeted by the sounds of warp and rephlex artists, a (much needed) warm welcome after an adventurous search for the appropriate transportation from subway station in -15C weather.

the performance space was divided in three parts - a dancefloor/dj area, a chill out with a video projector and plenty of seats, and a large movie theatre with a stage. on one hand having three "stages" made it impossible to fully enjoy some of the overlapping acts, hence I had to compromise between journalistic curiosity and egoistic desire to stay for my favorite musicians. on another hand, this setup is perfect for this kind of music marathon, where one can switch between different music styles, wander around and socialize (with frequent stops at the bar, of course).

the evening started for me around 10pm with a set by syntetika at the movie theatre against the backdrop of tarkovsky's solaris. lena's live keyboards and overall spacey, serene sound of their set matched perfectly with the visuals, providing one of the best introductions to the festival and one of the most memorable performances of the night. it was such an amazing experience to sit back in the amphitheatre in front of the large movie screen and completely immerse in their music.

next was eu with their improvised set based on the new material off warm math. although I do like the album quite a lot, the live performance was a bit of a disappointment. somehow the set did not "click" completely - it turned out to be a very bleak performance; I cannot tell whether it was due to the sound, or to my overall mindset that was not fully "in tune" with their music. somehow I kept craving for more melody and more accentuated rhythms, perhaps missing a lot of the subtleties in my agitated state of mind (the usual drawbacks resulting from being an opening act?).

somewhere in between these sets I ventured out to the dancefloor area to see toyshop perform. I was impressed with his very professional, very clean and fast-paced idm with the usual balance of melodic urban naiveté and heavy crunchiness. too bad it was so reminiscent of many other idm acts; in other setting I would have enjoyed his set quite a lot, but this time around my journalistic zeal carried me away from the stage.

in the chillout area a few djs were entertaining the public with a very good assortment of "classic" idm, later followed by live sets from novel23 and ambidextrous. I am a bit surprised by the choice of the performance space, since I would have loved to dance to both acts, but this will remain as one (of the very few) gripes against the organizers. a dancefloor would have been of much help during novel's set, since he played a very energetic and high-quality material that did not deviate much from the studio recordings.

ambidextrous followed shortly afterwards with heavily remixed versions of his older material and brand new stuff from the upcoming album on shaped harmonics - more rhythmic, and at times even electro-sounding tracks with a slight funky touch. it was nice to witness this impressive progress, compared to the older material, and once again I wished for louder sound and bigger space, capable of accommodating his music.

fizzarum was another highlight for me, roughly half of their tracks were perfect, providing a nice balance between melody and crunchy processed dsp trickery. I thought I was past that stage in idm, but their take on it was very appropriate in the setting of the movie theatre, and I just kicked back in the seat and enjoyed the sound manipulations, tasting every detail and appreciating those moments when a melody would emerge from these layers.

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related links
cheburec website

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