No Idols? Lunchmeat 2017
Last month I had the chance to see a group of "non-idols" from the world over unleash the underground earthquake that was Lunchmeat, Prague's annual festival held from 19 to 21 October emblazoned with a passion for avant-garde music and new media art. This year's theme was that of idols.
To reach the epicentre of this epic earthquake, first, I had to delve deep beneath the large palace of the Prague National Gallery. Just through the door, before treading down below, is the Jedna cafe – an area that hosted projections, talks and discussions each afternoon with some of the festival artists but which also acted as a cosy place to eat, have a beer, relax and absorb a little light before diving into the darkness.
Other peripheral pleasures included Holešovická Šachta: an exhibition space with an exhibition focused on the perception of selected works by Jan Kulka, Gene Kogan, Pete Kirn and Gabriela Prochazka, Jakub Pesek and Zuzana Badinková. And a showcase of record label Stroboscopic Artefacts made by visual art collective Oblivious Artefacts.
But let's return to the heart of darkness...
As I traversed deep below the National Gallery, the vibrations began to resonate with the fibre of my being more and more. Hungrily seeking the source, I enter into a dark room: a console equipped with synthesizers, drum machines, pedals and other electronic monsters, with a big screen behind it welcomed me, this room clearly had one sole focus.
And it hit the mark from the get go. And Lunchmeat began with Dnè's piano and electronics with Gabriela Prochazka's visuals, passing to Lumisokea & Legoman's machines with in a truly vibrant live set that set the scene for the rest of the festival.
I danced deeper into a cement amphitheatre, pausing to sit down to fully embrace the experience.
Not soon after, electricity charged the room as Roots in Heaven, a masked character from the Stroboscopic Artefact crew, begun his set boxed in between the visuals of old scriptures and Ignazio Mortellaro's dark worlds – subsequently taking everyone on a trip to the latter.
Act after act punctuated the level of experimental talent Lunchmeat had on offer. Visionist & Pedro Maia followed by Clark meant that the crowd were enraptured, alien to any notions of not dancing. Clark, accompanied by two masked dancers and an exquisite LED show, undertook a performance that shook the entire palace, illuminating the crowd in a calibre of audio-visuals that is rarely seen.
Then, when I thought the day couldn't get any better – there was DJ Lucy, ready to finish the night with a 3-hour set.
Opening the gates of our sensorial perception were the sounds and voice of Laurel Halo, accompanied by drummer Eli Keszler, who blended the digital and organic in a triumph of impressionism. Meanwhile, Jaques Greene went on to make the dance floor his own: R & B, Deep House, and electronic vibes abundant.
The kinetic grooves of Jlin swam through the crowd as he jokingly playing with his samplers, and, followed by lasers and new rave sound of Lorenzo Senni, together reaffirmed that I had made the right decision to venture far for this festival.
Pantha du Pince raised the stakes and played a set that was amongst the best of what Lunchmeat had on offer. Enchanting everyone with his spellbinding sounds, magically weaving them together with his own voice: creating a mesmerising clubbing experience where it was impossible to stay still.
Lost already in this dark cave, the light diminished further, and a figure with long black hair entered.
The figure took us by hand and accompanied us deeper into the darkest night. An experimental techno live set, obscure as the light provided by Orkhan Mammad's visuals, the figure was revealed to be Rrose.
The last day was as busy as the others and began with Sky to Speak live followed later by Novi Sad & Ryoichi Kurokawa – a special performance wherein everyone sat down and got lost in their own heads. Second Woman & Pfadfinderei were next, and they made sure that we didn't sit down for long.
Then came Robin Fox's RGB show. A spectacular audio and visual sculpture created with three lights, an experience to try in person as no video or article can really do it justice.
Then on the amphitheatre stage, a transparent screen was mounted in front of the big screen. In front of it, the show by Ben Frost & MFO, which between amplifiers and electronic instruments lurched into a storm of sounds and reflective lights, bringing the audience into the midst of a frozen sea, where they clung to the mast of an unmanned boat alternating between moments of calm and hectic hedonism.
After the storm clouds faded. The sky remained, stained, black. Pact Infernal entered, two mysterious figures, two ghosts that between powerful deep bass kicks and visceral sounds finished off the beautiful wreckage wrought unto the amphitheatre beforehand with a stunnign selection of scenography.
Then on the LED screen began to speak to the crowd as Powell, who also armed with modular synthesizers, presented his New beta project focussed on communicating with both words as well as with his music.
The night continued with M.E.S.H, followed by Not Waving with other "non-idols" seeing us through to the first light of the new Lunchmeatless day.
No idols? Lunchmeat brought the mavericks of the music world together, and created an intimate, spiritual space that took you to the farthest edges of the mind. It was great.