Due to the global health concerns related to Covid-19 our team is working from home.
We are very grateful to those of you that want to support us by buying merchandise but be aware that you may not receive your items for up to 14 days.
Tickets: £34.50 each. Meet and Greet Upgrade £125 each.
Warwick Arts Centre, in association with Supersonic Festival presents a live retrospective from cult film-maker, producer and composer John Carpenter.
To support his latest release Lost Themes II, The Horror Master, Carpenter will be accompanied by a full band, playing a selection of his own classic music alongside clips and excerpts from his films.
Known for his minimalist film-making style, Carpenter’s scores feature distinctive synthesized scores to some of the best known horror and science fiction films of the 1970s and 80s including Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. His work has gone on to inspire a generation of filmmakers and musicians alike.
Capsule have been busy behind the scenes, and are happy to announce the return of Supersonic Festival in 2017.
There’s much more information to follow in the coming weeks, in the meantime, we’re pleased to announce an official launch party on 4th and 5th November in the intimate surroundings of the Centrala Gallery space in Birmingham to celebrate the return of the festival.
The launch, much like the festival, features a variety of exciting talent which Supersonic would like to shine the limelight on, including local musicians and artists from across the globe. This event is the first of manu collaborations with Milque & Muhle, be warned capacity is super limited and advanced tickets are advised.
Details as follows:-
SUPERSONIC 2017 LAUNCH PARTY
FRIDAY NOV 4TH LINEUP: Xylouris White (Jim White from Dirty Three + George Xylouris, Cretan lute player) Sex Swing Mothwasp
SATURDAY NOV 5TH LINEUP: Giant Swan Rattle Kuro Bismuth Rainbow Grave Stinky Wizzleteat
+ Sausage DJ’s
Milque & Muhle pop up record stall
Unit 4 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, B5 5RT Birmingham
We’re delighted to announce that we are partnering with Supernormal Festivalas part of a 2 year programme, which will develop collaborations between organisations and platforms from cities across the UK. In uncertain and challenging times, we must work together to support each other to continue to forefront the boundless innovation and diversity that thrives within this scene.
As part of this programme Supersonic Festival will be presenting two live immersive AV performances in the Vortex space as well as bringing another one of our raucous Supersonic Kids Gigs to this years festival.
Supernormal Festival takes place on the 5-7 August at Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, tickets can be purchased from HERE
Mothwasp descend from the long line of leather-and-denim clad noise-mongers that post-industrial Birmingham is so fond of producing, yet remain the Midlands’ “least tattooed rock band”. Combining the brute force of drums and guitar, experimental film soundtrack techniques and audio-responsive video experiments derived from defunct analogue projection apparatus, the duo sculpt movies for the ears and soundtracks for the eyes.
MOONSEER A live visual and music performance conceived by artist and film maker Conny Prantera as part of her MOON series which includes MOON RA and MOON ROSE. Uniting a group of musicians with her seductive and disquiet visuals the performance tells tales of earthly wonder and ethereal relics to an ecstatic ritualistic climax within the wink of a third eye.
We’re delighted to announce that our next Supersonic Kids Gig will be taking place at the mavelous Sineater Festival in Shropshire on Sunday 19 June. Featuring a live performance by Tor Invocation Band.
Ever since Schoenberg and Kandinsky became pen pals back in 1907, avant-garde art and experimental music has been attempting to find some common ground. But, it’s not been easy. Here’s Capsule’s contribution towards a solution: Supersonic Kids Gigs ‘Big Sounds for Little People’. If you couldn’t guess from the snappy title, it’s a gig for kids and their families, which aims to introduce children to experimental music at an early age. Kids Gigs provide a fantastic opportunity to show children the beauty of live music.
Recommended for kids under 10
Tor Invocation Band is an ever evolving project led by Jake Blanchard, the music is largely improvised and the lineup for the band is ever-shifting and has involved members of Woven Skull, The Family Elan, Core of the Coalman, United Bible Studies and Sam and the Plants amongst others. Mangled dilapidated drone meets ecstatic disintegrating psychedelia.
The Times guide to the 50 best events this summer – in at no.2 Supersonic “For Curious Audiences, announces the poster for this inner-city Birmingham festival. From Ethiopian wandering minstrel Afework Niguisse to Oregon space rockers Eternal Tapestry, this is a celebration of the expressive, challenging and generally out there music.”
Supersonic are beyond excited to host this first time live collaboration of The Bug vs Dylan Carlson of Earth. It’s a collaboration that simply cannot be understated. Dylan Carlson and Kevin Martin are both long established figures presiding over the radical fringes of heavy music, holding the attention of curious minds and audiences for over twenty years worldwide. Carlson, the mainstay of Seattle’s Earth, has created a volume of daring work that originates in distorted drone and expands over cinematic Americana, folkloric balladry and proto-rock, whilst Martin (as The Bug, Techno Animal, Ice, King Midas Sound) gained notoriety producing hulking hyrbids of dancehall, dub and techno that are unparalleled in tactility and dark aggression. As The Bug vs Earth, they released Boa / Cold for Ninjatune in December (listen here), and it is with great pleasure we can announce that they will be performing together for the first time ever, especially for Supersonic Festival. Following this performance, The Bug shall be joined on stage by Flowdan to round up proceedings on Saturday night in style.
The Bug vs Dylan Carlson add to an unmissable line-up, which includes the avant-pop cerebral sound manipulator Holly Herndon (as announced last week on Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone), the anticipated opening concert with the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, post punk provocateurs The Pop Group, Liima, a new collaborative quartet formed of Danish indie-pop trio Efterklang and Finland’s finest improvisational percussionist Tatu Rönkkö, post-everything black metal lone wolves Liturgy and label mates, psych rock explorers Eternal Tapestry. Six Organs Of Admittance (Ben Chasny) will be performing, dissecting and demonstrating The Hexadic System whilst other welcome additions include the uncompromising and unmissable Gazelle Twin, and Flamingods who shall be bringing a welcome and vibrant splash of day-glo to the main festival programme, alongside Swedish maxi-experimentalist duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums, the Franco-Scottish hedonism of Glasgow’s Happy Meals, super-kinetic London future jazz outfit Tomaga and the anonymous sundrenched sounds of Slow Magic. We can also highly recommend grit’n’synth solo punk Apostille, the brightly coloured prickly post-pfunk of Ravioli Me Away, maxi-percussionist Danes Selvhenter and mysterious organ and saxophone possessing super-duper-group Sex Swing. From Northern Ireland, manic, droning interpreters of local mythology and instrumentation Woven Skull and the striking Circuit Des Yeux.
On Sunday 14 June Richard Dawson curates an afternoon show named after his infamous podcast the DELIGHT IS RIGHT. With a number of rare UK performances by artists handpicked by Dawson, the line-up reflects the diversity of sounds that feed into his own songwriting which includes performances by Afework Nigussie, Jiří Wehle, Rhodri Davies, Phil Tyler and Angharad Davies.
Supersonic Festival are delighted to confirm that internationally versed sound manipulator Holly Herndon shall practice her neuro-dissecting electronic anomalies on patrons at this year’s event, in support of her recently announced second LP, Platform. Herndon has become a leading light in contemporary music by experimenting within the outer reaches of dance music and pop songwriting possibilities. Herndon makes music that is impossible to ignore and could be viewed as the 21st century’s answer to the protest singer, tackling a host of topics ranging from systemic inequality, surveillance states and neo-feudalism. Her tactile live shows recast the laptop as an untapped physical instrument, to be used in the limbo that links noise, dance, avant and pop.
Whether you’ve been to every Supersonic that ever was or this year you’ll be dipping your toes into our welcoming waters for the first time, we are sure you’ll love our unmissable line-up which already includes the anticipated opening concert with Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, post punk provocateurs The Pop Group, Liima, a new collaborative quartet formed of Danish indie-pop trio Efterklang and Finland’s finest improvisational percussionist Tatu Rönkkö, post-everything black metal lone wolves Liturgy and label mates, psych rock explorers Eternal Tapestry. Six Organs Of Admittance (Ben Chasny) will be performing, dissecting and demonstrating The Hexadic System whilst other welcome additions include the uncompromising and unmissable Gazelle Twin, and Delight Is Right, an afternoon curated by Richard Dawson (which includes performances by Afework Nigussie, Jiří Wehle, Rhodri Davies and Phil Tyler).
Flamingods shall be bringing a welcome and vibrant splash of day-glo to the main festival programme alongside Swedish maxi-experimentalist duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums, the Franco-Scottish hedonism of Glasgow’s Happy Meals, super-kinetic London future jazz outfit Tomaga and the anonymous sundrenched sounds of Slow Magic. We can also highly recommend grit’n’synth solo punk Apostille, the brightly coloured prickly post-pfunk of Ravioli Me Away, maxi-percussionist Danes Selvhenter and mysterious organ and saxophone possessing super-duper-group Sex Swing. From Northern Ireland, manic, droning interpreters of local mythology and instrumentation Woven Skull and the striking Circuit Des Yeux.
As it stands, the Supersonic Festival 2015 lineup is this:
Apostille / Afework Nigussie / Circuit Des Yeux / Eternal Tapestry / Flamingods / Gazelle Twin / Happy Meals / Holly Herndon/ Jiří Wehle / Liima – Efterklang + Tatu Rönkkö / Liturgy / Phil Tyler / Ravioli Me Away / Rhodri Davies / Richard Dawson / Selventer / Sex Swing / Six Organs of Admittance/ Slow Magic / The Pop Group / Tomaga / Wildbirds and Peacedrums / Woven Skull
More of the line up, musical and extra curricular still to be announced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, after reaching the target set by the earlybird kickstarter campaign, we are pleased to announce that general tickets are now on sale. For weekend tickets: www.supersonicfestival.com/tickets
Supersonic Festival, an internationally-renowned experimental music and arts festival with genre-bending sound and performance at its heart.
Whether you’ve been to every Supersonic that ever was or this year you’ll be dipping your toes into our welcoming waters for the first time, we are sure you’ll love our unmissable line-up, that already includes an opening concert with Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, post punk provocateurs The Pop Group, Liima, a new collaborative quartet formed of Danish indie-pop trio Efterklang and Finland’s finest improvisational percussionist Tatu Rönkkö. post-everything black metal lone wolves Liturgy and many more, and is bolstered by today’s batch of artist announcements. Without further ado…
Supersonic are pleased to announce that Gazelle Twin, the creation of producer, composer and artist, Elizabeth Bernholz shall be performing at the festival. From the start, Bernholz has utilised the anonymity provided by costumes, masquerade-like, to assist in her performance. Her unnerving, Cronenberg-inspired craft is, according to Bernholz, ‘like a shedding of skin’, creating an uncompromising and unmissable live set.
That’s not all – grit’n’synth solo punk Apostille (also of London ear-graters The Lowest Form and label boss of Night School Records) will be pummelling samplepads and synapses for the cathartic good of everyone involved; Ravioli Me Away bring their brightly coloured prickly post-pfunk; maxi-percussionist Danes Selvhenter explore the field between repetitive, drone-like compositions, strong beats and free improvisation. Mysterious organ and saxophone possessing super-duper-group Sex Swing (members of Dethscalator, Part Chimp, Mugstar) and, from Northern Ireland, manic, droning interpreters of local mythology and instrumentation Woven Skull are both crucial components of this year’s Supersonic Festival.
Circuit Des Yeux is another welcome addition, Haley Fohr’s striking, impassioned baritone is the centrepiece and guiding force, gravitating towards singers like Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, Etta James and Billy Holiday. Fohr’s songs tap into the stark imagery of pre-war blues, folk and jazz, as well as also being influenced in equal parts by her study of ethnomusicology.
On Sunday Richard Dawson curates an afternoon of performance, named after his infamous podcast, Delight Is Right. The programme will play host to a number of very rare live UK performances by artists handpicked by Dawson, those whom he holds dear and sites as an influence on his own songwriting.
These include Ethiopian free spirit Afework Nigussie, who plays a range of traditional stringed, woodwind and percussive instruments. Many people are familiar with the Ethiopian music of the golden seventies; Nigussie’s music both harks back to this era and innovates the ancient Azmari tradition. An artist for over fifty years Jiří Wehle is a Czech street musician from Prague who specialises in ethnic and Medieval instruments. Also performing is harp liberationist Rhodri Davies and fellow Tyne folk narrator Phil Tyler.
As it stands, the Supersonic Festival 2015 lineup is this: Apostille / Afework Nigussie / Circuit Des Yeux / Eternal Tapestry / Flamingods / Gazelle Twin / Happy Meals / Jiří Wehle / Liima – Efterklang + Tatu Rönkkö / Liturgy / Phil Tyler / Ravioli Me Away / Rhodri Davies / Richard Dawson / Selventer / Sex Swing / Six Organs of Admittance/ Slow Magic / The Pop Group / Tomaga! / Wildbirds and Peacedrums / Woven Skull
In addition to this, Supersonic reveal the first of the extra curricular goings on across the weekend. In partnership with Many & Varied, Supersonic are delighted to present Bees in a Tin 2015 as part of this year’s festival. Taking place during the daytime on Friday 12th June, Bees in a Tin is a gathering for people who make or are interested in unique interfaces for the world around them, featuring talks and workshops from key makers and thinkers from around the country. If you’re interested in the spaces where the arts, science, technology and games crash into one another, then this is for you.
Audience participation is a key element of what makes Supersonic so special, and this year we have two projects in particular which embody this approach. Firstly we present a new commission by Circumstance titled A Folded Path – a pedestrian speaker symphony, a soundtrack for a city, carried through the streets by a participating audience, experienced by everyone it passes. Comprising of 30 custom-built, location sensitive portable loudspeakers, each plays a different element of the music. The speakers are highly directional, so the movement of the people within the group changes the acoustic relationship between them, the audience become the orchestra.
Secondly, taking inspiration from Capsule’s artwork for the Supersonic 2015 edition, we bring the Dirty Electronics Horn & Bells Workshop. Audience members are invited to build a three-dimensional sound-object. The sound object will feature printed circuit board artwork and a DIY piezo flared horn that omits bursts of noise and generative electronic bell-like sounds. It also comes with a rustic stick beater! Dirty Electronics have become synonymous with DIY electronic sound and a music that is born out of hand-made machines. In Dirty Electronics, process and performance are inseparably bound. The ‘performance’ begins on the workbench devising instruments and is extended onto the stage through playing and exploring these instruments.
“Birmingham’s Supersonic Festival occupies an exalted position at the vanguard of the festival circuit. And rightly so. Since its inception over ten years ago, it has maintained a staggeringly focused and intelligent curatorial policy, transcending the music and art worlds to present a programme teeming with invention, audience participation and a certain amount of unpredictability. It’s also a bloody good knees up.”
– THE SKINNY
Capsule bring you Supersonic Festival, an internationally-renowned experimental music and arts festival with genre-bending sound and performance at its heart. Over the years, Supersonic Festival is privileged to have garnered an incredibly loyal audience and is widely regarded as one of the best experimental arts festivals in the UK, last year selling out in record time.
Whether you’ve been to every Supersonic that ever was or this year you’ll be dipping your toes into our welcoming waters for the first time, we are sure you’ll love our unmissable line-up.
Kicking off proceedings on Thursday 11th June will be an opening concert at the legendary Birmingham Town Hall, an impressive Grade 1 listed building which has seen past performances by the likes of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Supersonic are delighted to host the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble. As one half of the electronic music sensation Goldfrapp, Will Gregory is passionate about creating new sounds and reinventing old ones. Here a stellar line-up stretches the possibilities of the Moog synthesiser through newly composed music, transcriptions of classical works, and their own versions of music from popular culture and film. Marvel at 10 musicians on stage, including Portishead’s Adrian Utley and composer Graham Fitkin, performing works by Bach, John Carpenter, Burt Bacharach and Oliver Messiaen on a fascinating array of vintage instruments. Moreover, a new piece by Will Gregory features a clocking device specially built for the ensemble that enables all 10 synths to be synced, producing music previously impossible to perform live.
Following on, Post punk provocateurs The Pop Group will be bringing their pioneering throb to Supersonic. Drawing on an eclectic range of influences from free jazz, conscious funk, heavyweight dub to avant-garde experimentalism, alongside contemporaries like Public Image Limited, This Heat and Throbbing Gristle, they were at the forefront of a musical period marked out by its ground-breaking innovation. With a legion of admirers, they have inspired many from Nick Cave to Fugazi. As dissonant as they are danceable, they recently released their first single in thirty-five years, ‘Mad Truth’, proving as relevant now as they ever were.
Six Organs Of Admittance (Ben Chasny) will be performing, dissecting and demonstrating The Hexadic System – the name of his soon-to-be released album for Drag City, and a malleable, open-ended process that Chasny developed for song-crafting, taking in aspects of language, graphics and chance. Decipher the workings for yourself at a limited workshop Chasny will be hosting.
Also announced to play across the weekend are Liima, a new collaborative quartet formed of Danish indie-pop trio Efterklang and Finland’s finest improvisational percussionist Tatu Rönkkö. Liima is the Finnish word for ‘glue’, and this is an apt metaphor for the band’s combination of processed vocals, guitar, looped percussion and complex interweaving synthesised sounds, which create a free and emotionally raw live experience.
The esteemed Thrill Jockey record label has two artists present for the festival – Portland’s psych rock explorers Eternal Tapestry will be making the journey across the Atlantic to fry some synapses in support of their new album Wild Strawberries, whilst post-everything black metal lone wolves Liturgy will showcase their detailed dissections of cross-fertilising hardstyle beats and occult-orientated rap present on their soon-to-be-released LP, The Ark Work.
Glasgow’s Happy Meals, life-partners since high school finding expression in cosmic pop form, will be bringing their sophisticated Franco-Scottish hedonism to the festival.
While super-kinetic London future jazz outfit Tomaga, the anonymous sundrenched sounds of Slow Magic, and Swedish maxi-experimentalist duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums shall all also be in attendance.
Flamingods, Bahrain-born, Brixton-based troupe take African rhythms, repetitive grooves and a pleasure-seeking sensibility to form a riot of sound and fury that’s both sonically adventurous and feverishly compelling. Bringing a welcome and vibrant splash of day-glo to the main festival programme, they will also lead the Supersonic Kids Gig – Big Sounds For Little People, a special show for the under 7’s.
On Sunday 14th June, Richard Dawson curates an afternoon of performance, named after his infamous podcast Delight Is Right. The programme will play host to a number of very rare live UK performances by artists handpicked by Dawson, those whom he holds dear and sites as an influence on his own songwriting. The skewed troubadour shall also be performing on this day. His shambolically virtuosic guitar playing is at once charming and abrasive, stumbling from music-hall tune-smithery to spidery swatches of noise-colour, swathed in amp static and teetering on the edge of feedback. His songs are both chucklesome and tragic, rooted in a febrile imagination.
Ever looking forward, Supersonic is re-imagining its format this year. The 2015 edition will be relocating to ‘The Crossing’ in Digbeth which is a brand new venue and one of Birmingham’s hidden venue gems with state of the art sound, lighting and a/v gear specifically designed for live amplified music. The second stage is located a minutes walk away in Boxxed, a post industrial warehouse space where the festival has taken place in previous years. These spaces will play host to live performances, a market place, talks, workshops and the famous Supersonic Tea Room full of epicurean delights.
You can expect PLENTY more from the festival in the way of dance and debate, participation and observation, as well as more acts to be announced in the coming months, so do keep tuned lest you miss out on what marvels are in store.
Early-bird packages are available via our Kickstarter campaign which has been launched to offer unqiue treats to those who wish to purchase these advance tickets.
We’re delighted to be able to announce the dates for Supersonic Festival 2015 11-14 June
Tickets will go on sale at 9am on Friday 13th Feb – when we reveal the first tranche of confirmed artists.
For now here is a little reminder of last years festival which sold out in record time.
On Wednesday 12 of Nov we are delighted to present a very special performance which will take place at Eastside Projects –Ben Frost will be joined by Greg Fox (Liturgy) on drums. Capacity is limited so we recommend advance tickets from our friends Milque and Muhle based at the Custard Factory or via theticketsellers.
Born in 1980 in Melbourne, Australia, Ben Frost relocated to Reykjavík Iceland in 2005 and working together with close friends Valgeir Sigurðsson and Nico Muhly, formed the Bedroom Community record label/collective.
In 2010 he was chosen by Brian Eno as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protegé program for a year of collaboration, one of the outcomes of which was Sólaris; a re-scoring of the Tarkovsky classic for Poland’s Sinfonietta Cracovia. Eno and Frost continue to work together on a range of projects.
Frost regularly works with other musicians and artists; in the production of studio albums such as Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath1972 and Virgins, SWANS The Seer, Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare, and on various Bedroom Community releases. On the stage Frost has produced scores for Choreographers including Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Akram Khan, and german Director Falk Richter. In film, he composed the score for the Palme d ́Or nominated Sleeping Beauty by Julia Leigh, and Djúpið by Icelandic Director Baltasar Kormákur (with Daníel Bjarnason, for which the pair won the Icelandic film award for best score in 2013). And in the visual arts, where, with artist Richard Mosse, Frost travelled deep beyond the frontlines of war-torn Eastern Congo to produce The Enclave; a multi-channel video and sound installation that premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
2013 also marked the première of Frost’s first Opera, based on Iain Bank´s infamous 1984 novel The Wasp Factory. The project also marked his debut as a Director.
These various collaborations and alliances underline Frost’s continuing fascination with finding ways of juxtaposing music, rhythm, technology, the body, performance, text, art -beauty and violence- combining and coalescing the roles and procedures of various artistic disciplines in one place.
A massive thank you to all the artists, our incredible team, especially the amazing Supersonic volunteers and of course our audience for making this years Supersonic Festival Ltd Edtn a truly remarkable event. It is always such a pleasure to welcome back old friends and make new ones. Thank you & we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
We will start posting up our Supersonic Collective memory over the next few days, so feel free to send your comments and blog post links and photos to us, let us know your highlights. Supersonic photos should be added to our Flickr group (if you could tag them with band name & supersonic 2014)
Ex Easter Island Head – Katja Ogrin
We know that people who come to SUPERSONIC are a knowledgeable and opinionated lot so we’d like to ask for your assistance to develop and improve the next festival by answering a few questions about you and your experience. This should take no more than a few minutes of your time, and your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Your answers here will aid us in keeping our work going and in making sure new and interesting artists will keep coming to the festival – so your input really does matter in making SUPERSONIC work.
I’m Stuart Maconie’s guest on the 6 Musics the Freakier Zone next Sat (7 June) from midnight – so make sure you tune in
Previews Culture 24 -“Annual muso-art factory of wonders Supersonic returns to Birmingham at the end of this month. The line-up is as intriguing as ever.”
The Skinny – “Birmingham’s Supersonic Festival occupies an exalted position at the vanguard of the festival circuit. And rightly so. Since its inception over ten years ago, it has maintained a staggeringly focused and intelligent curatorial policy, transcending the music and art worlds to present a programme teeming with invention, audience participation and a certain amount of unpredictability. It’s also a bloody good knees up.”
Polaroids and Polar Bears – “For over ten years, Supersonic Festival, one of the feathers in Capsule’s eclectic cap, has specialised in provocation and revelled in showcasing some of alternative culture’s most bizarre curios to the world. In its consistent championing of music and visual art’s wackiest, most abrasive and avant-garde performers, Supersonic is a festival re-made and re-modelled for the modern age.
Remaining stoutly averse to the suffocating strictures of the mainstream, Supersonic’s line-ups have always been flavoured with misfit geniuses and musical visionaries. Since its inception, it has become celebrated for providing a platform for those artists who proudly choose to thumb their noses at convention.”
The Quietus– “For a festival to survive it has to keep evolving, challenging itself as much as its audience.”
The Guardian – “Birmingham’s alternative festival goes bespoke this year with a “limited edition” event, a smaller two-dayer with a capacity of just a few hundred, and a stellar lineup.”
Reviews BBC 6 Music – “Lisa Meyer the brains behind Supersonic Festival, one of the leading experimental music events in the UK joins Stuart with some records.”
The Arts Desk – “two days just isn’t enough when the entertainment’s this good.” 5/5
The Times – ” this unique boutique festival has long provided a fertile meeting point between hard rock, experimental techno and avant-garde art. Returning in a new springtime slot after a sabbatical in 2013, the weekend’s streamlined two-day event promised exotic musical genres including “hate sludge”, “fog beat” and “derelict electronics”. Excellent.” 4/5
Ninehertz – “Long may Supersonic reign, there’s nothing like it in the world and we like it that way.”
Left Lion – “a mixture of eclectic, obscure, strange and wonderful sounds for curious audiences.”
The Skinny – “The festival prides itself on multi-disciplinary approach to programming but this surely applies to the bands themselves as much as the staggering range of events on offer; almost every musical performance seesaws – often at ear-shattering levels – between some of the most high-altitude electronica and rock currently being imagineered, and some of the most aesthetically challenging on stage performances currently being thrummed out anywhere.”
The Birmingham Press “their refined curating abilities always reach their peak for Supersonic, where time is allowed for contrasts and combinations.”
Drowned In Sound – “Yet it is an undeniably marvellous and hugely entertaining spectacle.”
The Quietus – “Supersonic 2014 was a revitalising and refreshing weekend of challenging – and incredibly good fun – music in excellent company, and a pleasing air freshener against the stench of nostalgia one all too often encounters elsewhere. Here’s to 2015?
Echoes and Dust – “What’s great about Capsule is how self-effacing they are – they go to great lengths to make clear that this is a limited edition festival, much smaller than it would usually be. They do this while providing two days of what would be a world-class line-up for any festival, let alone one taking place under a railway bridge in Digbeth. ”
All About Jazz – “With all that organizational sensible-ness taken care of, the platform was clear for the controlled chaos of the music, the sculpted anarchy that stands as the majority approach. If acts are making a hellish din, it helps if their loving attention to sonic distress is captured with all its warty textures intact, laid out for targeted cranial bombardment.”
Bass Explorer– “Supersonic does things right, sometimes very right. Sometimes the festival will present you with an act that will stretch your brain across internal spaces while rocking you back and forth to a rhythm that you can’t be sure exists. It seems pretty self-evident that an experimental music festival lives or dies by the ability to find acts that can hold a whole mess of contradictions in constant tension: If an artist armed with a synthesiser can simultaneously wash your soul down with an ocean of bass fuzz and brutalise your body with a sound that forces you to work to find the beat in amongst a forest of disorientating percussive stabs, then they’ve succeeded. Happy to say, Supersonic delivered.”
Our annual programme of big sounds for little people returns! These Supersonic Kids Gigs act as an introduction to experimental music for children and their families. Taking place on Friday May 30th in the foyer of Symphony Hall , kicking off at 10:30am. This is a free event and recommended for children under 10 and their families.
Leading this Kids Gig is artist Sarah Kenchington who makes, designs and adapts acoustic musical instruments. She performs on a semi mechanical pedal powered orchestra, designed to be slightly beyond her control, creating a mixture of dirty noise and plaintive almost tuneful melodies.
As well as her solo performances Sarah has performed and recorded with a range of musicians from Glasgow’s vibrant experimental music scene including Daniel Padden, Mark Vernon and Luke Fowler. She also builds large scale instruments and installations, including ‘Wind Pipes’ for Edinburgh art festival, made from salvaged church organ pipes. And ‘Sound House’ for Modern Art Oxford, an instrument made from a house.
Back by popular demand and after a successful 10 years of existence, Supersonic Festival return and are taking the event back to its core values by curating ‘Supersonic Festival Ltd Edtn’ an intimate two day event. On 30th and 31st May, Capsule present Supersonic Festival Ltd Edtn and shall return to the Custard Factory where it all began.
Since the inception of Supersonic Festival in 2003, Capsule have firmly established the event as a unique, inner-city festival, with an undeniably vibrant atmosphere, always presenting a variety of performers – the inaugural event featured the bewildering blend of Coil, DJ Food, LCD soundsystem, The Bug and more – and where the film programme, workshops and exhibitions are as paramount to the event’s atmosphere as the live performances. Year in, year out, Capsule unite discerning music fans, embracing eclectic tastes and have over the years adapted a creative space for music lovers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, record stalls and independent businesses to thrive.
As this is a limited event, there are only 400 weekend tickets available at just £45 and they will be going on sale on Friday morning at 10am, so grab them while you can via the www.theticketsellers.co.uk
Swans/ Matmos/Wolf Eyes/Ex Easter Island Head/Sleaford Mods/Agathe Max/Basic House/Jenny Hval more tba
Supersonic have already confirmed the billing for the event, which will take place at a new space within the Custard Factory, and are delighted to welcome back Swans. Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica are no strangers to Supersonic Festival, and are thrilled to play host to their infamous, dominant and strikingly powerful live show.
Baltimore duo Matmos shall bring their dizzyingly diverse assemblage to Supersonic Limited in support of their 2013 album. Their music comprises stomping techno, eerie synth jams, musique concrete, Latin rhythms, and Ethiopian music, at once at home in the academy, the art gallery, the nightclub and the noise warehouse, perfect fit for the festival then.
Liverpool based ensemble, Ex Easter Island Head, will bring their expanded Large Electric Ensemble which includes twelve prepared electric guitars and drums to create a maximalist wash of amplified strings and droning overtones. The ensemble adopt a new vocabulary of playing based around various guitar preparations, from billowing harp-like arpeggios to ‘bowing’ the strings with allen keys to produce luminous upper register drones. Microtonal intervals create shimmering tones akin to the struck metallophones of Balinese gamelan, whilst the thrum of electrified strings creates a dense undertow of singing harmonies. Scored in custom notation the piece places free flowing passages alongside conductor cues, allowing the players to collectively create a distinctive sonic landscape. What Supersonic event would be complete without something special such as this?
Supersonic are pleased to welcome back, the infamous blistering noise of Wolf Eyes. From touring with Sonic Youth and Andrew W.K., Wolf Eyes have crossed borders into popularity which few other such confrontational units of their ilk have been able to and kept straight and narrow on their blazing path, and are on top form. The overwhelming force of Wolf Eyes must be seen to to be believed.
Sleaford Mods will bring their aggressive verbal onslaught to the Custard Factory, a great setting to spout about all that is contrived and connected to the day-to-day hammer of low paid employment and domestic situations arising from that trap.
Also returning to the festival, is French artist Agathe Max. With an elegant command of melody and a strident use of rhythm, Max creates dynamic, fast-flowing loop pieces that encompass noise, post-classicism and krautrock with nods to the High Lonesome Raga as filtered through Henry Flynt.
We warmly welcome a rising talent to this rich mix in the form of Basic House, the work of the UK’s Stephen Bishop, the man behind the ever more impressive label that is Opal Tapes and also vocalist of Drunk In Hell who played an unforgettable set at Supersonic in 2012. His textural and rhythmic explorations are fast growing in acclaim, described as “somewhere between Kassem Mosse, The New Blockaders and Zoviet*France.”
Finally, provocative Norwegian singer, composer, lyricist and writer Jenny Hval shall perform at Supersonic. Multidisciplinary and transgressive are words often employed to describe her art, but Jenny Hval’s polyphonic artistry is in fact seamlessly interwoven between musical, literary, visual and performative modes of expression. Despite her young age, she has already infused, carved and modulated an artistic voice that is altogether present, accessible and obscurely complex at the same time. We cannot wait!
Let’s not forget the other elements which always make Supersonic so special, the workshops and participatory events. Supersonic have selected If Wet to feature at the festival. If Wet is a monthly event of sonic exploration, usually held in a rural village hall; chaired by musical instrument designers MortonUnderwood. Part show and tell, part test bed, part salon. A place for artists to showcase their latest sonic works and research. A place to revel and discuss. After a successful inaugural season MortonUnderwood have decided to extend the reach of If Wet beyond the village hall and it is with great pleasure that they will transport their distinctive event to Supersonic 2014.
Supersonic Ltd Edtn will launch Capsule’s inaugural ‘Labs’ (artist development and commissioning scheme) devised to create more opportunities for commissioning experimental, cross-disciplinary art. More information about this will be coming soon.
Bill Drummond: The 25 Paintings
Legendary musician and artist Bill Drummond will begin a twelve year ‘World Tour’ under Spaghetti Junction marking this momentous event with an exhibition at Eastside Projects.
The exhibition focuses on ‘The 25 Paintings’, a series of artworks that signpost actions Drummond will perform across Birmingham during his three month stay in the city including, but by no means limited to, giving away bunches of daffodils, discovering Dead Oak Rings, building rafts, hiding in cafes, making beds, sweeping the streets clean and brewing tea. Also on show will be The SIXTY Posters, The 25 Sixty Second Films, an evolving selection of photographs, a globe of the world and a large map of the city. www.eastsideprojects.org
Supersonic Tea Party with The Outcrowd by Katja Ogrin
Merzbow joined by Eugene + Niko from Oxbow by Katja Ogrin
Supersonic Kids Gigs
Supersonic Sonic Feast
This year was a very special edition of the festival, marking our 10th anniversary and we were delighted by so many unexpected moments which made this our most memorable event to date. Over the next couple of weeks we will begin to collate a collective memory of reviews, photos and video footage, please feel free to add your own highlights and photos etc.
From all at Capsule HQ a massive thanks to our wonderful audience, artists and team x
Previews The Guardian – “Birmingham’s Supersonic Festival has quietly been doing its thing for 10 years. One imagines that’s the way they like it, but theirs is work that should receive all the acclaim possible.” Culture 24 – “It seems clear that once again the Capsule arts and music organisation have ensured that their autumn festival, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, retains the commitment to outsider creativity in all its forms that has made the event more than just another blip on the crowded UK festival circuit.” Culture 24 – “Supersonic is perhaps the British festival of choice for your discerning underground listener, and their art programme is equally distinctive for 2012.” Clash Magazine – interview with Lisa co director The Line of The Best Fit – “The festival has always showcased an impressive, obscure, challenging and fascinating range of acts, and also offers festival-goers the opportunity to attend a range of classes on everything from fanzine-making to electronic instrument creation.” Stool Pigeon – “Now a decade in the running, the Birmingham festival has helped foster a new tradition of experimental and avant-garde music, with artists and fans both from the UK and further afield making an annual pilgrimage to the site in Digbeth.” Brum Notes – “Supersonic is a festival that will surprise and astonish, so expect the unexpected…” The 405 – “There’s a multitude of reasons why music and art fans travel from across the world to Birmingham’s oldest quarter for Supersonic each year; adventures in sound and vision delivered by some of the most exciting and imaginative artists performing and practicing only just begins to describe this live and electrifying festival experience.” Trash Hits – “Supersonic pushes the boundaries of what you can do with a music festival in ways that traditional metal fests can’t even dream of.”
Reviews Stool Pigeon – “Evolving, challenging music that demands interaction from the audience is Supersonic’s speciality.” Quaint Living – Explore both the festival and city Beard Rock – “the best experimental music festival in the world right now.” Lumber Jack Joe – Created one of our fine Supersonic illustrations this year Totally Dublin – an overview of all that they saw & heard Domestic City – “For a festival that maintains a consistently prolific line-up, it’s quite hard to believe that they’ve hit this milestone so soon.” Nine Hertz – “And what a way to celebrate ten years of diverse, unique and bonkers music than to fill it with one of the most engaging line-ups yet. ” Culture 24 -“Much like the festival itself, it’s loud, innovative, occasionally disorienting, and very enjoyable – the perfect way to celebrate ten years of sonic and artistic adventure.” Musique Machine – “Contrast, without which we cannot perceive the world, is a phenomenon that defies homogenisation, where pleasure is relief from pain, and pain can be a prime for pleasure; where art is opposed to commerce, and the mundane is pushed back, often all too temporarily, by creativity. Capsule, the curators of the annual Supersonic Festival clearly understand this: from the coarse granularity of its urban, industrial environment so strongly set apart from the fallow fields of most other festivals, to the finer details of its handpicked programme of new music, installations, workshops, walks and talks, all deftly juxtaposed across a long weekend, the festival never fails to nurture new connections and rupture old ones.” Kindermuzik – a Dutch magazine “What festivals – a few exceptions, such GOGBOT in Enschede and the Tilburg Roadburn – here in the Netherlands their ear increasingly hanging to commercial interests and thus come up with a program that correspondingly more to the larger denominator is directed, find in Birmingham a highly fertile ground for a wide selection that even the most die-WIRE reader can pick up the heart.” Louder Than War – “Louder Than War’s Adrian Bloxham returned to Supersonic Festival for the third time this year. As ever (and as anyone who’s ever been) he was utterly blown away. Here’s his review.” Vice – John Doran writes another edition of Menk from the festival Felix – “Since the line-up was announced some months ago, I had been excited about attending. The slogan on a lot of the commemorative t-shirts was ‘celebrating 10 years of adventurous music.’ My experiences ranged from the obscure to the experimental to the just plain weird, so the slogan seems apt.” KYEO.TV – “It’s hands down the most musically adventurous and enjoyable festival I’ve ever been too, and it’s friendly, well-run and inventive to boot.” E-Festivals – “The music is definitely only half the story of this festival though, it was hard to find time over the weekend for many other parts of the programme that sounded appealing; notably the talks, theatre, historical walks and hands-on workshops.” Happiness In Uppsala Part 1 + part 2 – French Magazine review of Friday + Saturday at the festival – They particularly love Richard Dawson from what I can translate Sleeping Shamen – The writer is less than keen on Birmingham itself but has nothing but praise for the festival “Salutations to the organisers and all the superb bands who truly make it (drum-roll for the appallingly cheesy ending) both SUPER and SONIC.” Art Rocker – “whatever shape Supersonic takes we are confident it will remain the very best place to discover and celebrate pioneering experimental music.” Area Magazine – Read the magazine online and on page 34-35 there is a review of the Sonic Feast created by Companis with photos by Katja Ogrin. Brum Notes – Read the November issue which includes a review of Supersonic by Ross Cotton The Quietus – “To imply that Supersonic 2012 was the best ever would imply that the festival has nowhere left to go or nothing else to improve upon. To have reached its second decade is precisely the challenge that Capsule is more than capable of meeting.” Drowned In Sound – “We thrust ear-plugs into our pockets and head to a Custard Factory in the hope of feeling something, anything, for a taste of the experimental, the inspirational, the innovative, the…” Ponto Alternativo – Portuguese magazine covers day 1 + day 2 + day 3 of the festival Thumped – ” Refreshing, challenging, thought-provoking and a whole lot of fun, Supersonic 2012 was the best festival I’ve attended in a long time. Ten more years of this please.” Link 2 Wales – “This eclectic, eccentric weekend festival celebrates its tenth year and I join them for my third one-day-only visit over that decade.” Raw Nerve Zine – “The only criticism I could make of Supersonic is there is almost too much. And that isn’t really a criticism at all.” Middle Boop Mag – “The amazing festival was over, leaving everyone craving for more Supersonic goodness.”
Blogs The Hub – Get your aural 5-a-day!- write up about our Art of Listening Panel World of Fox – talks about his experience of being part of the Lash Frenzy performance Toastie Music – The guys from Jabberwocky describe their weekend selling toasties & our crowd Ore – Tour diary rehearsing with the Oxbow Orchestra + performing with KK Null Felix – The student voice of Imperial College London since 1949 Stranger Passing – ‘‘Festival’ could be interpreted as a slightly patronising term for Super Sonic Festival because its ambitions go well beyond the boundaries and resemblances of the summer festivals we have all become accustomed to seeing.” Stephen Fowler – Describes his experience of bringing the Wildman life drawing class to Supersonic Mr Underwood – an epic tale of creating our birthday noise boxes, performing as Ore, collaborating with KK Null and then joining the Oxbow Orchestra – boy we make him work hard! Crossroads of Sabbath – Black Sabbath historian Rob Horrocks has collated some short reviews of his walking tour Rocket Recordings – home to the likes of Goat + Gnod pull together a round up of their artists at Supersonic French – aka Richard Sayer describes the work he contributed to our exhibition + his noise box design Free School – A round of acts that Free School saw at the festival after they performed on the Friday night Creaking Hovel – “A sonic accumulator that awakens once a year in the form of Supersonic festival, and spews forth an extraordinarily diverse spectrum of innovative and adventurous sound.”
The almighty Kings Of Deathpunk play a UK exlusive headline performance at Supersonic 2011. Bringing all the glam, good tunes and great vibes (and hopefully hordes of denim-clad followers) we couldn’t be more excited!
A Norwegian punk band formed in 1989, their style infuses glam rock, punk rock and hard rock into a style the band calls ‘Deathpunk’.
The line up includes, Tony Sylvester (Vocals), Happy Tom (Bass), Euroboy (Guitar), Pål Pot Pamparius (Keys/Guitar), Tommy Manboy (Drums/Percussion) and Rune Rebellion (Guitar). Tony Sylvester comments on playing the festival:
“I was so chuffed that Lisa and Jenny asked Turbonegro to headline Supersonic and that the first show with the new line up in the UK will be there. Not only are they the best promoters in the UK, but I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved with the festival itself since its second year: announcing bomb threats, swimming in the fountains, playing Northern Soul, arguing on panels, you name it. This will be the first time I’ve actually played there however!”
For more information you can visit www.turbonegro.com and follow them on twitter @TurbonegroHQ.
Take part in building the Mute Synth and a large group performance with Dirty Electronics. The Dirty Electronics Mute Synth is a hand-held touch and tilt instrument with copper etched artwork and contoured printed circuit board that was designed in collaboration with Mute and graphic designer Adrian Shaughnessy. The instrument brings together many Dirty Electronics aesthetics and instrument designs into one device in particular creating an instrument of the hand (in terms of both playing and building), a noise-based device that utilises feedback, and exploring the relationship between artwork and circuit board. It combines sound synthesis with a sequencer/pulser, and it is knobless. The Mute Synth is controlled by using the conductivity of the human body to complete the instrument’s circuit when the copper etching is touched. There are touch points on both sides of the circuit board, and the instrument is designed to be played with thumbs and fingers. Two tilt switches on different planes allow for gestural control of the sequencer. Pulsating brilliant white noise and grunge in the hand!
This workshop costs £15 to weekend ticket holders and spaces are limited. Please email [email protected] to book a place.
Since 2003, John Richards has been exploring the idea of Dirty Electronics that focuses on face-to-face shared experiences, ritual, gesture, touch and social interaction. In Dirty Electronics, process and performance are inseparably bound. The ‘performance’ begins on the workbench devising instruments and is extended onto the stage through playing and exploring these instruments.
The Dirty Electronics Ensemble is a large group that explore these ideas and whose members are often made-up of workshop participants. The workshop is central to the Ensemble in that all of the musicians have to build their own instrument for performance. In 2008, the group performed pieces specially written for the Ensemble by, amongst others, Japanese noise artists Merzbow, Pauline Oliveros, Howard Skempton (founder member of the Scratch Orchestra), Gabriel Prokofiev and Nicholas Bullen (ex-Napalm Death and Scorn). Other notable collaborations include working with Rolf Gehlhaar (original Stockhausen group), Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle, Keith Rowe, Anat Ben-David (Chicks on Speed) and STEIM (Amsterdam). In 2011 Dirty Electronics created a specially commissioned hand-held synth for Mute Records. Workshops and performances with Dirty Electronics have taken place internationally including: the Southbank Centre (London), FutureEverything (Manchester), Short Circuit Festival, the Roundhouse (London), Bent Festival (Los Angeles), Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) (Germany), Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) (London), Supersonic Festival (Birmingham), Tokyo University of the Arts (Japan), University of the Arts (Berlin), and IRCAM (Paris).
As well as performing at the main festival, Lucky Dragons and The Berg Sans Nipple will be performing a special Supersonic Kids Gig this year, exploring experimental music aimed and kids and their families.
Saturday 22nd October
Lucky Dragons’ performances put the audience at the heart of the show, and encourage participation with the artists and with each other. Playing together whilst engaging with new sounds. The artist duo regularly conducts workshops to find new ways to engage people in experimental sounds
The Berg Sans Nipple is Lori Sean Berg and Shane Aspegren. The former is a suave Frenchman from the dirty rues of Paris, the latter hails from the dusty plains of Nebraska. Two drums, synths, samples, a ton of percussion and vocals hardcore kids gone gamelan, caught in devastatingly beautiful melodies and a mind bending rhythm section.
Alva Noto is a stage name of sound artist Carsten Nicolai who uses art and music as complementary tools to create microscopic views of creative processes. He is a member of the music groups Signal (with Frank Bretschneider, AKA Komet and Olaf Bender, AKA Byetone) and Cyclo. (with Ryoji Ikeda).
Nicolai transforms sound by looping oscillators and tone generators. He does not use sequencers, but edits his work to give his compositions rhythmic structures. Clicks and glitches are not used as ornamental additions to the compositions but make up the essential rhythmic and harmonic elements of the work.
“Nicolai, along with sometime collaborator Ryoji Ikeda, is in the vanguard of artists whose work represents a genuinely experimental fusion of visual and sound art.” The Wire
TONY CONRAD is a giant in the American soundscape. Since the early 1960s, he has utilized intense amplification, long duration and precise pitch to forge an aggressively mesmerizing “Dream Music. “Conrad articulated the Big Bang of “minimalism” and played a pivotal role in the formation of the Velvet Underground. Conrad continues to exert a primal influence over succeeding generations with his ecstatic oscillations and hypnotic drones.
“Tony Conrad is a pioneer, as seminal in his way to American music as Johnny Cash or Captain Beefheart or Ornette Coleman, one of those really savvy old guys whom all the kids want to emulate because their ideas, their style are electric and new and somehow indivisible.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Conrad invents a new musical language … unbearably intense and gloriously ecstatic.” The Wire
Secret Chiefs 3 were founded by guitar and sax player Trey Spruance and are based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Their music styles vary throughout their albums with their performance of surf rock, Persian, death metal, and other various styles – the only thing unifying the diverse range of styles they play is how precisely and accurately they play them.
Some of the members were also key members of Mr. Bungle.
The heaviest band in the world. The oblivion and ecstasy of crushing doom and high grade marijuana, a sonic aural trip far, far away from this world, where only cyclopean walls of crackling vintage valve amplifiers set to the full overdrive and primal ritualistic beats can wash away all the filth and drudgery of everyday life. Our music is DoomMetal, the only true definition. We toll the bell of hell, our sound is a crushing behemoth of funeral march psychedelia.
Violent, bleak and ritualistic, we bow to the black altar of the RIFF. We do not rock, we kill!