Text by Corld Witizen
When people think about Spain’s music scene in general, Valencia is one place that instantly pops into the mind of the music connoisseur. This region on the East Coast of Spain has been one of the hotspots for festivals, clubs and music movements since the 90s. It currently hosts one of Spain’s most innovative and forward-thinking boutique festivals: VOlumens.
The festival was born in 2015 as an initiative of the local promoter, artist, art commissioner, cultural curator and entrepreneur Antonio Albertos, aka H4l9000, who, along with his team, has since been defying conventions in each edition. VOlumens, with its avant-garde ethos of displaying technological innovations and their uses in music, has always championed the creativity of the most experimental projects, seeking to set itself apart from the mainstream tendency.
Meaning: VOlumens is more than just another fast food music festival. VOlumens likes to bring to their crowd some of the most advanced concepts in the music scene, specially those which have an audiovisual component. VOlumens was born with the idea of uniting three fundamental concepts: the concept of volume, referring to sound; the idea of lumen, referring to light and AV installations; and the concept of volume, as the spaces the festival commissions each year.
Its multidisciplinary vision of mixing contemporary digital art, science and technology – with music as its central axis – has made it reach different audiences with its intervention in emblematic spaces of Valencia each year. Places as MuVIM, Centre del Carme de Cultura Contemporanea, Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències or this 2023’s La Mutant, Las Naves, La Fabrica de Hielo, Zeus or Sala Hot. This 2023 has been a year that many will remember as the one that brought us confirmation of the AI takeover. As such, VOlumens, in its mission to bring light to the most innovative technologies, decided to center most of its activities around this phenomenon that has acquired unexpected relevancy and that is set to change our whole way of working and living in the upcoming years.
Some years ago, AI was something that you could only think of as crazy concepts from a Schwarzenegger movie. Nowadays, it’s present in many of our lives and even taking over some parts of our jobs. And the experts predict its influence will go deeper and deeper into our daily routines. So, on the first day of this 7th edition of VOlumens, on Wednesday 20, 2023, they explored and displayed different immersive cinema experiences to showcase the work of AI filmmakers such as The Visiblemaker, Mike Ramos or Alexander Zorilov. On Thursday, 21, 2023, as part of the AVM-VOlumens Campus (the collaboration with the University of Valencia), we had different AV performances from upcoming projects such as BiteByte, Instintos Tropicales, Untitled or Entre Prompts Y Data.
On Friday 22, 2023, the festival switched venues to La Mutant, a space created specially to display different types of artistic projects, where we could see experimental and exciting performances, such as Ferrán Belmont‘s exploration of sound wave behaviour with 3D graphic representations; or DotZeroSix’s offer of visual mapping experiments, where we could see a 3D vectorial representation of a Gotham-like city.
After their performance came one of the afternoon’s highlights: Liquid Sky Analogic + Teslaradio, the music created live by Teslaradio was joined by the visual experiments of the three visual artists composing Liquid Sky Analogic, mixing images displayed onscreen by two vintage overhead light projectors with an old analog video mixing console. It was a work of passion that was far more appealing and beautiful than some of the millionaire, gigantic LED-screen visuals we had, proving that imagination and creativity are all you need to make truly unique experiences.
One of the top performers of the day was the Swiss artist Feldermelder who created an amazing stroboscopic, light and flash show that created a truly mind-blowing and epic ambience on the theatre, which I’m indeed induced more than one out-of-the-body and dystopian, dream-like experience in the crowd.
Saturday’s schedule was packed with exciting lectures and performances during the day and, at night, VOlumens closing party at one of Valencia’s staple venues, Sala Hot. As we arrived at the Zeus space in the Port Area of Valencia, and the music of local DJ Nathalie Emmanuel was playing in the outdoor space, we entered the lecture room to witness the interventions by designers Jessica Travieso and Favsto Furioso, followed by Laura Ibañez, engineer specialised in deep learning in the creation of music; and topped with the awaited lecture by AI expert and content creator Carlos Santana.
The venue, part of the Marina Area in the Port of Valencia, holds one of Valencia’s many technological enterprises, Zeus, a data analysis and consulting company. Its large main room, which has a massive LED screen, was perfect for the next part of the afternoon: the AV performances. We experienced the exciting performance of the duo Naloxona, who brought their AV artist and performed an enjoyable live set of pitched-down electro and underground breakbeats with colourful, glitch-like visuals. Local hero Pépe was next on the agenda. He is one of Valencia’s most interesting underground artists, and thanks to his unique take on making music, he delighted the crowd with a breakbeat live set loaded with lustful, organic and warm melodies.
German legend Byetone followed with his usual display of dexterity, creating music as he handled his visual performances, surely inspiring many of the young members of the crowd as they watched in awe and danced to Olaf Bender’s music. As he was finishing his set, everyone was already waiting eagerly for the next headliner of the festival: Cora Novoa.
Cora is one of the most beloved artists in Spain, with a solid career in the underground music scene, plus being acknowledged for her avant-garde take on design and fashion. Her live set was a wildly crafter master of techno, which got tainted by some technical issues the festival experienced. After the hiatus, she managed to resume her set with the same level of energy as her trippy, dreamlike and Daliesque visuals – which were a mix of robot arms, King Arthur-themed helmets and swords, tribal-inspired typography and naked men floating – kept being displayed on the massive led screens.
After Cora unleashed her whole arsenal of bangers, Nathan Fake was already warming up. The iconic British artist is amongst the brightest minds in electronic music, always managing to create advanced, beautiful and aesthetic compositions. This time, in the visual side of his performance, Nathan displayed a mix of Crystal Vision-inspired images, along with more glitchy, geometric, yet super trippy sequences. His performance was a tremendous introspective combination and aesthetically beautiful.
VOlumens is a festival that allows you to understand the evolution of music in real-time, from conceptualisation that could be seen during the first days to the application and execution of those concepts to the final development of full-fledged AV shows, with their narrative and image. It has proven itself as one of Spain’s most forward-thinking, boutique underground festivals, whose ethos seeks to champion talent and innovation while maintaining its own identity. Having chosen a path of sustainable growth, it is essential for the future of music creativity that initiatives such as VOlumens keep growing, inspiring and challenging the stars of tomorrow.