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Festival: L.E.V. 2024 Gijón – Sound & Audiovisual programme highlights

Text by CLOT Magazine

Vesta, Sophia Loizou

DATATRON collective, the Spanish pioneer of experimental electronic sound, audiovisuals and digital art, launched the L.E.V. Festival eighteen years ago. The festival showcases two major events yearly in Spain: L.E.V. Festival in Gijón and L.E.V. Matadero in Madrid. After announcing the first batch of names—Aïsha Devi, Martin Messier, Evian Christ, Myriam Bleau & Nien Tzu Weng, RRUCCULLA, Sin Maldita & Lei, Cachito Turulo, Riccardo Giovinetto, Jacques, Puce Mary, LCY, and Bromo—the festival is now revealing the rest of this year’s names: Noémi Büchi, SYNSPECIES project, Dengue Dengue Dengue, Kessell & Kerqus, LOREM, Scanner and Sophia Loizou.

With the support of Gijón’s Town Council and the Principality of Asturias, the festival will host a five-day line-up in different spaces and cultural centres. Live shows will include local, national, and international artists, featuring live shows and audiovisual performances that will turn Gijón into a point of reference for electronic sound experimentation and contemporary audiovisual, scenic, and digital creation.

Once again, Teatro de la Laboral will be one of the most essential spaces of the festival, with live shows on Friday, 3 May and Saturday, 4 May. With her new and anticipated album Death is Home (Houndstooth, 2023), her most intimate and revealing work so far, Aïsha Devi leads the L.E.V. Festival lineup at Teatro de la Laboral with a live show. This creation reflects on her artistic growth and her struggles. The album expands her unique Aetherave sound to immerse the audience in a dynamic and vertiginous atmosphere, where she reinterprets outdated cultural biases with her modern, ornate language and spooky architecture. 

The Teatro de la Laboral’s program will also feature the world premiere of Second Self by Myriam Bleau in partnership with Taiwanese-Canadian choreographer Nien Tzu Weng. The performers explore the symbols of the mirror, the mask, and social interactions as they wear LED touchpads on their bodies like small extensions, engaging with the visual and sound aspects of the show. The last phase of this project will happen at an artistic residency in Gijón a few days before the festival.

Noémi Büchi will perform live renditions from her latest album, Does It Still Matter? (OUS Records, 2024). This album defies convention, offering an avant-garde experience transcending the pursuit of novelty. Her compositions layer analogue synthesisers, crystalline tones, and raw, almost primal noises while maintaining a compositional structure reminiscent of pop songs.

The world premiere of Bromo’s new work, CRISPR the pattern of life, will also take place at Teatro de la Laboral. This work explores and reflects on the CRISPR DNA-editing systems, one of the most breakthrough advancements in biotechnology. This musical and visual journey is rich in meanings and messages, unreal landscapes, generated images and transformed environments that will lead the viewer into the world of synthetic biology and the evolution theory.

Martin Messier will showcase his new project, 1 drop 1000 years, based on a vital life balance process: homeostasis. This phenomenon allows an organism to keep the right temperature applied to ocean currents. An expanded version of F E M I N A, an audiovisual show by Riccardo Giovinetto, a visual and multimedia artist, a physicist, and a university professor, will be presented at the L.E.V. Festival in Gijón. The performance investigates the concept of virtue and how it is shaped by the perspective of the Renaissance era, using the fictional journey of an AI as a medium.

The SYNSPECIES project (Elias Merino and Tadej Droljc) is a rich tapestry of sound and visuals that transcends reality. Within this fictional universe, they will unveil the world premiere of Asbu, an enigmatic audiovisual narrative that delves into the very origins of this cosmos. The SYNSPECIES is co-produced by L.E.V. Festival, INDEX Biennale, WeSa Festival, SnaporazVerein, and NODE Festival in a collaboration with Basemental.

Asbu, SYNSPECIES project
Kessell & Kerques

The nighttime line-up at Nave de LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial on Saturday, 4 May, will be headlined by musician, producer and music programmer Evian Christ. During the last few years, he has directed a series of projects exploring the legacy of trance in contemporary cultural life. His album Revanchist (Warp2023) explores the latent potential of the genre to evoke a full-fledged feeling of sublime beyond euphoria. 

Aelcrush is an audiovisual project by music producer and artist Sin Maldita and multimedia artist Lei. In it, they explore themes like escape and burnout, balancing the chaos of an audiovisual club with stunning beauty. RRUCCULLA will present a performance featuring tracks from her new album, Zeru Freq, in a modern, avant-garde audiovisual show that combines lifelike textures and shapes. 

LCY will make their first appearance at the festival with the world premiere of their audiovisual live show. They are famous for their dark, broken sets, honouring the UK’s club music scene. Jacques will play his new show, Videochose, an amalgam of fragments from films, documentaries, YouTube videos, and even footage from his daily life, cut, looped, and set to music to turn them into musical instruments, accompanied by his usual artefacts.

On Saturday, 4 May, the Muséu del Pueblu d’Asturies will host several daytime shows by Puce Mary, Dengue Dengue Dengue, a tropical bass two-piece, Kessell & Kerqus will display their dominion in the ambient, dub and experimental genres in their first joint album, Druid; and Cachito Turulo, a musician from Mieres whose artistic incarnation opts for a futuristic, sordid sound, in debt to footwork and drill, related to the most avant-garde electronic sounds. Festive, wild energy, stories about the night and the streets, over frantic rhythms and abrasive synths.

On Wednesday, 1 May, and Thursday, 2 May, Caja Escénica del Teatro de la Laboral will host Romeo Castellucci and  Scott Gibbons. Romeo Castellucci will showcase The Third Reich, a frantic, performative video installation based on the spectral representation of all the substantives in the Italian dictionary, projected on a gigantic screen at a very fast pace, one by one, to force the audience into losing their perception. With sound composed by Scott Gibbons, this project is the image of an imposed, mandatory communication of the explicit violence of a single, mass-produced language. 

From 1 to 3 May, L.E.V. presents the project Distrust Everything by Italian artist LOREM. There will be free access and different sessions at the stage box in Teatro Jovellanos. Distrust Everything traverses the boundaries of our imagination, a portal through which we slip away from the shackles of mundane reality. This multichannel installation delves into the intricate dance between the human subconscious and its algorithmic counterpart. 

L.E.V. returns to Laguna Boreal del Jardín Botánico Atlántico on Sunday, 5 May, with a live matinee featuring two avant-garde electronic visionaries, Scanner and Sophia Loizou. Equipped with wireless headphones, attendees can wander freely through the distinctive landscape, their movements harmonising with the rhythms of innovation. In this symbiotic dance, we revel in artistic expression and tread lightly upon the earth, minimizing our environmental footprint.

Scanner’s How to Craft Art from Life (Guided by the Whisper of Ghosts) is an intimate live performance transcending mere auditory experience. Binaural recordings weave an ethereal thread within its immersive embrace, binding the listener to their surroundings. Sophia Loizou will showcase Vesta, an immersive work about the hidden dimensions of sound.

Every year L.E.V. Festival, in collaboration with Centro Cultural Antiguo Instituto, offers a free-access installation from 2 to 12 May. This year they present Guillaume Marmin’s Oh Lord, an audiovisual installation created in collaboration with the Observatory of Paris Meudon and the Grenoble Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics, using several databases about sun observation to create a device that materialises and animates light beams.

L.E.V. Festival continues to establish itself as a key platform for audiovisual innovation and emerging electronica worldwide. As in previous editions, throughout the five days of the festival, different spaces of the town will host several audiovisual installations and activities related to extended realities, such as virtual or augmented reality.

L.E.V. Festival Gijón takes place from 1 to 5 May, 2024. Tickets will be available from this link

(Media courtesy of L.E.V. Festival)
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