Strange Sounds From Beyond is set to return on Saturday, June 22, 2019 for our annual summertime gathering at NDSM / Noorderlicht in the creative hub of Amsterdam North. As we approach our fourth season, we continue to pride ourselves on offering music fans a worthwhile diversion from the typical electronic festival experience, variegating the spotlight to include not just headlining acts, but also offstream artists and novel sounds from the outer edge.
Back to one day this year for a more intimate and immersive affair, the event will take place for the first time on a Saturday. This edition’s performances will be bolstered by a constellation of 22 multifaceted artists from around the globe, playing out across three stages hosted by our friends and partners Rush Hour, Red Light Radio and The Rest Is Noise.
From legendary acts and niche favourites to homegrown talents, this summer’s thoughtfully curated programme pitches together artists representing an expansive range of genres including jazz, ambient, dub, electro, electro-punk, post-punk, electro chaabi, reggaeton, hip-hop and Tuareg music. Live performances are in abundance, making up the bulk of this year’s programming, and for the classic ravers at heart there will be no shortage of straightforward dance numbers to indulge in.
With a discography in excess of a dozen albums and a career shy of four decades, legendary ensemble African Head Charge will be gracing Noordelicht for the very first time with the objective of openly amassing more converts to their signature brand of polyrhythmic outernational sounds. Led by Jamaican percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah, the London-based psychedelic dub-reggae emsemble features a revolving cast that includes members Prisoner, Crocodile, Junior Moses, Sunny Akpan, Skip McDonald, and Jah Wobble. One thing is for certain. They won’t sound like anything you’ve heard before, so get ready for a system-wide sonic cleanse.
Bbymutha has been giving the hypermasculine hip-hop genre a facelift with her sassy pro-women, sex-positive messages, and the southeastern Tennessee, black and single rapping mother of four manages that simply by being her unapologetic true self. Savvy, ambitious, sexual and vulgar, her gutsy unfiltered approach is a breath of fresh air that is clearing new paths for a new generation of rap artists to come. As one reviewer puts it, there are no sugarcoated fantasies here, just ‘hell-hot words drenched in a Black mother’s reality’. When summer arrives, it’s time to get real with mama Bbymutha.
Not your average jazz quintet is Mabuta – the latest incarnation of award-winning South African jazz bassist Shane Cooper and his friends. Fashioned after the Japanese word for ‘eyelid’, the band’s crowdfunded debut Welcome to This World, put out in 2017, saw the quintet freewheeling between jazz, folk music and electronics to produce a synth-fuelled, afro-inflected sound that is highly singular yet approachable. Something tells us a jazz renaissance is on the horizon.
Egypt is a hotbed for birthing new, exciting music forms at the moment, and Islam Chipsy and his band EEK are at the forefront of this revolution. The trio’s reputation precedes them, their niche sound of electro chaabi reverberating off Cairo’s streets, well-honed at the many open-air weddings and street raves where sending masses into a state of delirium is a given. With Islam Chipsy operating the keyboard at breakneck speed, matched only by the relentless percussive storm exacted by drummers Khaled Mando and Islam Tata, prepare for a multi-sensory onslaught like no other.
The importance of laughter cannot be overstated when it comes to Laraaji, the musician, mystic, laughter therapist and one-time comedian who has devoted himself to uplifting people. Since the fateful day almost four decades ago when Brian Eno discovered the New Age icon busking on the streets of the Big Apple with his zither, he has built a musical legacy around otherworldly, eclectic sounds and vibrations that transcend listeners to a soft state of pure, collective bliss.
From playing at lavish weddings in the deserts of Central Niger to sold-out stages around the globe, Mdou Moctar has come a long way from the 10-year-old boy who secretly taught himself to play after assembling his own five-string guitar out of wood and bicycle cables. That early resourcefulness displayed by the young Tuareg has been a recurring asset throughout his artistic evolution, endowing the experimentalist with the grit and originality to buck strict traditional confines to become one of the most innovative figures in the modern Tuareg guitar movement. Nothing about Moctar’s journey is conventional – from catching his big break after becoming a viral sensation in underground cellphone mp3 trading networks, to using auto-tunes in Tuareg folk melodies, even starring in Niger’s own remake of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’.
After Mutant Beat Dance unleashed an opulent 25-track debut on Rush Hour last year to much critical brilliance, the trio will take their game out of the studios onto the big stage come summer. The self-proclaimed ‘weirdos that fiend for the machine mechanics of the early age of analog’ are a glorious accident waiting to happen. Expect all-new material and an unadulterated, boundary-smashing experience. Perfect for those of us seeking an alternate route to losing our minds!
To Joy Orbison aka Peter O’Grady we owe ‘Hyph Mngo’, the 2009 dancefloor anthem that secured the London producer a spot in UK’s electronic music hall of fame. Far from being a one-hit wonder, O’Grady has continued to churn out trailblazing productions over the years, further cementing his spot as one of the seminal figures in dance music’s evolution. His emotive and highly percussive dancefloor mutations artfully navigate the space between UK garage, dubstep, house, techno and jungle to create timeless pieces that keep us on our toes. After a long-running collaboration with Boddika, ‘Joy O’ got back to putting out solo material in 2017 and boy were we ready for that!
This supposedly Russian producer’s true identity may be shrouded in a mysterious fog of his own doing, but there’s no doubting Gesloten Cirkel’s well-tested reputation as a techno cult hero since 2009 when he burst into the scene with a self-titled 12-inch. Word is his debut record was the sole reason I-F’s Murder Capital label was brought back from years of inertia. With releases also on Moustache Techno and Berceuse Heroique, Gesloten Cirkel’s output can be considered sporadic, though ‘quality over quantity’ is definitely at play here. Every release by the genius behind the mask has been met with rave reviews. Raw, menacing, caustic and definitely not designed with the faintest of hearts in mind.
It’s hard to figure out where music ends and emotions begin for Sassy J – the Swiss sound weaver who wears her heart on her self-designed shirt and record sleeves. Born Judith Biffiger, she’s truly a ‘Judith’ of all trades. Since her early teenage exploits to London that connected her to the ‘music cosmos’, her creative pursuits have seen her through the roles of dexterous DJ, handcraft artist, part-time school teacher and a decade-spanning love affair as a promoter of her clubnight Patchwork. Having traversed the globe and performed her sublime curations on renowned platforms as the Red Bull Music Academy, De School, NTS Radio and Sonar, she’ll be bringing her ‘dancefloor meditations’ to Noorderlicht next.
A poster boy for versatility and self-reinvention, Swedish producer Peder Mannerfelt seemed to ace it whether he’d be churning out dancefloor stompers for pop stars the likes of Fever Ray, Lykke Li and Britney Spears, or charting off course in his experimental solo projects. His decade-long multi-faceted productions came to a head with the latest LP Daily Routine, said to be his most extreme and cohesive to date. If that’s anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat. Of the floor-shuddering and menacing kind, that is!
Making a return appearance is Maryisonacid and Dauwd of Berlin’s infamous African Acid Is The Future parties. Maryisonacid started her AAITF party five years ago in the iconic Herz bar in Neukölln, Berlin. Later joined by partners Romain and Dauwd, the parties are starting to become some of the most talked about in the city. Known for their electric atmospheres and tolerant clime, it features an open-minded music policy centering on psychedelia and influences from the Nile Delta to the Cape of Good Hope.
A familiar face at Red Light Records and a respected name among those in the know is Calypso Steve aka James Pole. Definitely one of the unsung heroes featured on this year’s line-up, the digger’s digger has already garnered huge stamps of approvals from his peers for his on-point selections and impeccable curation.
She’s an authority on reggaeton with sensational vocals to boot. He’s a groundbreaking EBM producer treading with finesse that fine line between dancefloor friendliness and unchecked experimentalism. Together they’re future-proof dancehall mutants Clara! Y Maoupa and they’ve got plenty to say. So you best sit up and listen, though we can’t promise you’ll be able to keep still for more than a few seconds long – Meneo, the Brussels-based duo’s 12-inch EBM-reggaeton hybrid dropped last year on Editions Gravats has already gotten tongues wagging worldwide. It won’t be long before you’ll get to catch them in the flesh, live at SSFB 2019.
Istanbul’s best kept secret is out, and it’s chock full of leftfield goodness. Going by Ece Özel, she represents one of the positives emerging off Turkey’s backdrop of political upheavals. The local heroine was behind Istanbul’s Özel Zevkler parties at the infamous MiniMüzikhol club, which provided a platform for many a local talent. She is also one-half of Müstesna Records, home to underrated and as-yet-discovered sounds that are right up our lane!
Brilliant in their own lanes and positively electric together are KAMMA and Masalo, two burgeoning Dutch DJs on the vanguard of a new wave of artists representing a fresh Amsterdam aesthetic. Twice a month, they come together to run Brighter Days, a dance party series. This summer, the power duo will be pooling their individual music styles, personalities and deep crates to deliver an organic compendium of sounds, energy and emotions we won’t forget anytime soon.
Their dalliance is but one big ongoing party. On this next leg, SSFB residents Lulu & Mata Hari will be working us up an appetite with a rich selection of abstract electronics and off-kilter goodies.
Hailing from Hamburg, resident of the Golden Poodle Club Nika Son will be hypnotising festival goers with Musique Concrète-inspired sonic collages from manipulated and fragmented field recordings, interweaved with analogue synth lines, broken rhythms, rare voice scraps and filtered tape layers.
Four-to-the-floor hasn’t a place in the musical vocabulary of this relatively new kid on the block, who has all but declared war on the conventional. When subjected to Parrish Smith’s world of avant-garde experiments, he puts you right smack in the eye of a storm, vicariously exposing you to wild guitar acrobatics and grinding body music that pose a challenge to all your senses. The Dutch homegrown maverick producer and one-half of Volition Immanent is a force to be reckoned with, having already bagged releases on acclaimed labels as L.I.E.S., Knekelhuis and UFO within the span of a few short years.
Ironically, the highly synthetic electronic soundscapes conjured up by Sign Libra are such that they arouse visions inhabiting rather the more organic corners in the spectrum of things. Think of the lush, vivid rainforests romanticised in nature documentaries, and you’re pretty close. The natural world is what has been nourishing the alter ego of Latvian artist and sound designer Agata Melnikova. You may feel the urge to levitate when bathed in her transcendent sonic choreography. All you’ve got to do is fully succumb to it and let her warm, mesmerising grooves guide you towards that sweet, magical spot.
For some serious analogue play we won’t need to look further than cassette DJ Tapes – long-time Jahtari affiliate well-versed in all corners of the dub universe and beyond. Also known as Jackson Bailey, the elusive London producer performs almost exclusively off cassette decks and analog devices. Ever since he won us over with his 2009 debut Hissing Theatricals, we couldn’t get more of them spaced-out tape jams and mutant riddims thrown in our direction.
There is nothing ordinary about Vanligt Folk, the Scandinavian trio whose band name translates to ‘Common People’. Contradiction at its finest, the digital noise by Andreas Carlsson, David Sundqvist and Jonas Abrahamsson is hard to pigeonhole, probably best described as their own twisted take on EBM and Swedish folk. Their latest release Hambo is an acquired taste that has all the ingredients to win the award of ‘most absurd record out there’. Some Intoxicating stuff to be expected!
The festival will be situated once again on the green grounds of Noorderlicht by the banks of the River IJ. Surrounded by repurposed warehouses and located right next to the NDSM – a former shipyard turned cultural and creative hotspot, the unique location doubles as an ideal backdrop for an SSFB event.
SSFB 2019 Full Line-up:
African Acid is the Future
African Head Charge
Clara! Y Maoupa
Islam Chipsy & EEK
KAMMA & Masalo
Lulu & Mata Hari
Mutant Beat Dance
Tickets are available here.