The Sónar festival of arts, design, and electronic and advanced music, which won the Time Out Barcelona Award for 2018, fills up the summer in the city once again – from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 20, this year a month later than usual – with top-notch artists such as American rapper A$AP Rocky and London grime producer and MC Skepta, as well as emerging stars like Ross From Friends, Octavian, Murlo, Bad Gyal and DJ Andy C.
Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican international superstar, singer and producer who moves between pop, trap and reggaeton, and he’s one of the big draws to Sónar by Night this year. As for experimental music during the festival, Sónar closes out this year’s edition with The Matthew Herbert Brexit Big Band on Sunday July 21 at the Teatre Grec, where the Herbert is accompanied on stage by more than 20 musicians and 50 voices from the local Pilot Choir from the ESMUC music school.
The audiovisual projects from Daito Manabe and ZA! show us how music affects our brains, and audiovisuals also play a part in ‘Flamenco is not a crime’ from Los Voluble (who you may have caught if you were at Sónar in 2015). They’re added to a line-up that also includes performances by avant-garde pioneers in Spain Macromassa (Víctor Nubla and Juan Crek), Eastern rhythms from Acid Arab, and sessions by Louie Vega & Honey Dijon, Jarreau Vandal and DJ Krush, among others.
Other big draws to this 26th edition are British band Disclosure with their quality house with mainstream potential and a new DJ show, and the new live show from Paul Kalkbrenner, one of the most homegrown producers on the Berlin techno scene, with his eighth effort, ‘Parts of Life’ (2018); performances by Four Tet (in their only festival show in Spain this year); Arca, presenting new material; hip-hop hero Vince Staples; a session from DJ Koze; an audiovisual show from Underworld; Holly Herndon, accompanied by an ensemble of vocalists, musicians, and AI machines; and live acts by Jlin, Kaytranada and Fennesz.
As for the DJ sessions, watch out for Dixon, closing out Sónar by Night on Saturday, the six-hour set from Floating Points, Maya Jane Coles (presenting her project of urban bases, Nocturnal Sunshine, during Sónar by Day), Amelie Lens, Artwork, and Blawan & Dax J. More recently added to the line-up of DJ sets are Daniel Avery, Erol Alkan and Body & Soul, and the live shows from Dengue Dengue Dengue, Kelly Moran (with a spectactular Grand Piano AV Show), and Red Axes.
As usual, the audiovisual shows are also a big attraction, like the one being debuted by British producer Actress, who will perform live with AI software, the one from Tunisian producer Deena Abdelwahed, and the one from Berlin art-grime figure Lotic.
You’ll also be able to check out live shows from Nicola Cruz, K Á R Y Y N, Mans O, pianist Bruce Brubaker (who, along with electronic music producer Max Cooper, recreates ‘Glassforms’ by minimalist composer Philip Glass), FKJ, Slikback, Hibotep, Catnapp, Cecilio G, Brat Star and De Valentina.
Another of the festival’s strengths is the Sónar+D congress dedicated to creative technologies, which this year is now in its 7th edition and on from July 17 to 20, bringing together key people and projects that are shaping the future of design, music and creative technologies.
Highlights include the design of experiences with teamLab, an interdisciplinary study of immersive digital technology recognized worldwide as the most influential in the field of digital creation, and Japan’s Daito Manabe and neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani, who will present their unique research to visualize our thoughts.
You can also learn about the success stories of CANADA (tops in the field of directing videos), Teenage Engineering (Swedish synthesizer design company), and the multi-award-winning artistic videogame Gris.