Hong Kong gigs

Squarepusher, Floating Points join Sónar Hong Kong Festival 2018 line-up

UK breakbeat innovator Squarepusher and symphonic electronic composer Floating Points join an already strong line-up for the March event, while a talk from Hong Kong-developed robot Sophia will open the Sónar+D programme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 5:13pm

New headline acts including breakbeat innovator Squarepusher and jazzy symphonic electronic composer Floating Points have been added to the line-up for this year’s edition of electronic music festival Sónar Hong Kong.

They join previously announced performers including veteran genre-straddling, jazz-flecked DJ Laurent Garnier, crowd-pleasing US house DJ The Black Madonna, and unclassifiable UK post-dubstep artsy experimentalists Mount Kimbie.

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The second edition of Sónar Hong Kong takes place across three indoor and two outdoor stages at Hong Kong Science Park near Tai Po on March 17.

Other new names announced in the second and final tranche of Sónar performers include UK grime MC Ms Banks and Malaysian off-kilter techno producer Tzusing, bringing the total number of performers to 41. Eleven of them are appearing in Hong Kong for the first time.

The grandaddy of electronic music festivals and the one by which others tend to measure themselves, Sónar was launched in 1994 in Barcelona and has since spread to more than 50 cities around the world. The Hong Kong edition is organised by local partners Magnetic Asia, the people behind Clockenflap.

Typically for Sónar, the Hong Kong line-up is an eclectic one that veers between radio-friendly and accessible to wildly challenging. “We really want to get across that the spectrum of electronic music is so wide and has a lot more dimensions and nuances than what a lot of people hear,” says Justin Sweeting, music director at Magnetic Asia.

Foremost among the innovators on display will be new headliner Squarepusher. For more than two decades, the UK performer has been pushing back the boundaries of breaks, infusing a sort of denatured drum and bass with elements of ambient, techno, jazz and acid house. “He’s one of the really few people in the echelon of legendary acts, a pioneer in his field – and his audiovisual show is really engaging,” Sweeting says.

Also pushing back boundaries, the music of Floating Points – British electronic musician Sam Shepherd, who is also a neuroscientist – exudes organic warmth and prominent jazz and classical influences. Ms Banks, meanwhile, is one of the hottest names in grime right now.

The line-up for this year’s edition of the Sónar+D programme – which promotes innovations in creative technology – will be headlined by a talk from robot Sophia, which was designed by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics and recently made a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

Among other +D events will be an audiovisual performance from Leafcutter John using a “light controlled musical interface”; the retro-futurism of Japan’s Open Reel Ensemble, with a show featuring reel-to-reel tape decks and other obsolete technology; and a workshop where visitors can make their own light-sensitive musical instrument, the DIY Mutan Drone-Light Synth.

The first round of Sónar Hong Kong 2018 artists was announced last month. As well as The Black Madonna, Mount Kimbie and Sónar Barcelona regular Garnier, the international acts due to visit include Canadian house and techno DJ Heidi; Japanese post-rock band Mouse on the Keys; hip hop-influenced Canadian electronic trio Keys N Krates; UK dubstep star Mala; Iranian-Dutch experimental-pop singer-producer Sevdaliza; and French artist Jacques, who makes a sort of musique concrète techno. Local performers already announced include rapper Fotan Laiki, eclectic tastemaker Tedman Lee, techno producer Basil Tam, and house DJ Sunsiaré.

Among the acts to perform at last year’s inaugural Hong Kong edition of Sónar, which attracted 5,000 people to the Science Park, were Dave Clarke, DJ Shadow, Gilles Peterson, Lady Leshurr, Ellen Allien and Daito Manabe, who also led the +D programme.

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As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, Sónar this year is also giving Hongkongers the chance to launch their music into space. It plans to send a selection of tracks in the direction of GJ273b, a planet potentially suitable for life 12.4 light years away. The three best compositions submitted to will join those from the likes of Garnier, The Black Madonna, Kode9 and Manabe on their way to the planet, with the winners also receiving pairs of free VIP passes to Sónar Barcelona in June.