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Festival: Rewire 2024 – Sound & Music Programme Highlights

Text by Martyn Riley

Rewire, April 8, 2022. Photo credit: Pierre Zylstra

The perennial (ad)venture in sonics and performing arts, known as Rewire, continues undaunted since its inception back in 2011. Always explorative with little need to explain or pander to genres, as this is a festival for the future of the sonics with a relevant and pragmatic nod to artistic foundations of the past. The 13th iteration continues to curate for all the senses and not just sound and visual. Three days of probing experiences between artists, collaborators, and audiences alike, and as of previous years, there will be special commissions, world premieres and collaborations throughout. 

Centre stage, with daily associated performances, will be a special focus programme involving Annea Lockwood, and what better way to start the festival off with a piece that this iconic artist will notably be associated with; Piano Burning, a piece born in the late-sixties which initiated the Piano Transplants series of works. Lockwood will be present throughout, with a performance with the MAZE Ensemble, scheduled artist talks, and a presentation of the intimate tete-a-tete, a very personal piece created with the late Ruth Anderson.

Opening night also presents a reimagining of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s 16mm film Last and First Men, scored by the renowned late artist along with Yair Elazar Glotman, who will be performing alongside the sparse narration of Tilda Swinton based on the original ‘30’s cult novel. It promises to be a rich mix of sound, image and contemporary choreography, with Neon Dance performing against this cinematic backdrop choreographed by Adrienne Hart and wondrous costume design by Ana Rajcevic. 

As ever, the breadth and diversity of festival debuts and premieres continue just as they have in previous years. Autechre creates a sensory connection with audiences with one of their now legendary performances in a total blackout. In contrast, a juxtaposed experience of the senses brings visual artist Freeka Tet to accompany Oneohtrix Point Never for a set of almost timeless warping of future/past refrains. On the dancefloor side, Olof Dreijer, one half of The Knife, will perform a DJ set full of joyful concatenation of bass music, house, R&B, and ghetto tech, always adorned with his iconic saw-tooth synthesis stylings.

Rewire regular Mabe Fratti joins Mexico City-based artists in a literal experimental super-group ensemble of Gibrana Cervantes, Concepción Huerta and Camille Mandoki. Whilst Shanghai-based 33EMYBW brings their evolutionary mutated percussive beats in partnership with a new collaborator, sculptural visual artist Joey Holder. Rafael Toral will perform music from his long-anticipated new album Spectral Evolution. The latest release on Jim O’Rourke’s Moikai label, after a 22-year hibernation, is a wonder of peaceful, microtonal ambient music, where reverberating and long-sustain guitars interweave with what sounds like birdsong.

Artists exploring the voice in differing ways include the debut European performance from Ben Vida with Yarn/Wire and Nina Dante for their brand of rhythmically-driven spoken and chanted pieces. The artist and musician Lonnie Holley brings emotive depths with his creations of spoken and sung compositions from the highly rated recent album, Oh Me Oh My. More intense vocalisations will be offered up by PHEW, Hiromi Moritani’s decades-spanning project finding a collaboration with another giant of experimental multi-instrumentation, Oren Ambarchi. Nailah Hunter will be performing songs revealing her voice’s incredible power, nestled among ambient soundscapes of echoing pads and gorgeous harp compositions.

Physical textural and askewed vocalisations within liminal spaces will be to the fore as K Baird performs their recent release, Bearings: Soundtracks for the Bardos. Creating dynamic tensions between the analogue and electronic, Cello Octet and visual artist Nick Verstand premieres Cocon, an anticipated premiere of compositions for the cello by wide-ranging experimental artists that include Caterina Barbieri, Kara-Lis Coverdale, the duo of KMRU & Abul Mogard, Jesse Broekman, and Qasim Naqvi. Cellists will perform and interact with lighting design and robotics that aim to create a state of metamorphosis. 

Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy, Alabaster DePlume, who will present his latest and critically acclaimed album, Come With Fierce Grace, full of distinct, spectral jazz sounds for saxophone and a full live band, and South London collective Speakers Corner Quartet presenting their reverberating brand of experimental, lo-fi jazz and hip hop, are other of the names added to the final lineup.

Evian Christ. Rewire Festival 2022. Photo credit: Stephan C. Kaffa
Tzusing. Rewire 2023. Photo credit: Stephan C. Kaffa

A whole host of AV premieres include a performance of Under the Sun, which pairs Maya Shenfeld and visual artist Pedro Maia for a sci-fi-infused blend of tonal textures; Hypermobility by Myriam Bleau will cast out an immersion of laser projections throughout the auditorium with their individual brand of hyper-minimality. Jlin’s new album AKOMA is performed with their customary kinetic and percussive energy in tandem with live visualisations by Florence ToNo Plexus also return to the festival to tease their next sonic direction in the form of a new experimental audio-visual performance in collaboration with stage designer Emmanuel Biard. Meuko! Meuko! will present alongside NONEYE the live A/V show Invisible General – a sequel to Meuko! Meuko!’s 2018 album on Danse Noire, ⻤島 Ghost Island.

Another highlight amongst the many sees Roméo Poirier and Ohme mixing generative sonics, light microscopy and digital generations to create Tales of Entropy, something of a transcendental eloquent clash of sound and image. Feedback and noise will be well represented, of course, with none other than Sunn O))) scheduled to bring, as the classic duo line-up of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, a customary profound invocation of volume and distortion to proceedings.

Bringing ritual and fantasy is Parkman, who, by absorbing a tradition of Irish folk songs with experimentations in electronics and dark metal, brings something rich to The Hague’s Grote Kerk venue. Another artist melding doom and drone is Ian Lynch with his epic One Leg One Eye project. While Plus44Kaligula’s theatrical and moving performances interlock wafty, glistening, experimental pop with the immediate physicality of her singing and movement, lit by the peculiar alien assemblage of her microphone-as-sculpture.

The opening performance is not the only foray into choreographed human movement. A drum-kit and kinetic light source will blur performative boundaries for performers. Mette Ingvartsen & Will Guthrie’s, for All Around, creating an absorption of experience between artists and the audience. 

A theme of tradition versus new, which is present in many pieces at Rewire, is in evidence in Brìghde Chaimbeul’s collaborative performance of Where the Veil Is Thin, with performers Maëva Berthelot & Temitope Ajose creating an ode to a Scottish mythical one-eyed giantess. 

Chamaeleon-like experiments in future-pop are set to be performed by Julia Holter, bringing her latest release to a live environment, and the similarly undefinable Jenny Hval will return once again to Rewire to present a theatrical and sonic response to poet Heiner Müller’s Die Helmutmaschine (1977) with I Want to be a Machine. A long-awaited live debut by Bristol-based bass producer Simo Cell is much anticipated, along with the new joining of Rainy Miller and Space Africa with a rare performance of their 2023 release, A Grisaille Wedding.

Rewire is set up to be a rich tapestry of the performing arts, including Ben Frost & Greg Kubaki with Tarik Barri on live visuals, nostalgic sonic futures of the Palestinian duo Maya Al Khaldi & Sarouna, Gazelle Twin, freeform improvisational bliss with the Australian trio The Necks, free jazz expressions of Saint Abdullah & Jason Nazary  Aunty Rzar, Venus Ex Machina, HUUUM, Iceboy Violet, and of course, many more will grace this year’s festival. 

(Media courtesy of Rewire)
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