Sonar 2006 Event Report - Day 1

Sonar began in 1994 as the creation of Sergio Caballero, Enric Palau and Ricard Robles. Palau and Caballero were experienced music makers, constructing soundtracks and original compositions while Ricard Robles was a professional journalist. It may have been the attributes of the individuals themselves, or the wide spectrum of art and music afforded by the vibrant backdrop of their local Barcelona, or even the transitions in technology that characterised the later stages of the 1990's that enabled Sonar to develop into a truly original festival concept. In reality it was probably a combination of all of the above.

Regardless, Sonar, with the guidance of Palau and company, has evolved from humble beginnings into the premier electronic music and multimedia art showcase in the world today. This argument is supported by the increased attendance figures, with just over 5,000 in 1994 to an estimated 91,000 in 2006. At the very start of the journey, an experimental music policy was the core component of Sonar and this is a theme that has continued throughout its history. So too has been the refreshing approach of treating DJ's as performers, not just somebody who plays other people's records. This has resulted in the most diverse schedule of the festival season, with DJ's allowed the artistic freedom to perform live, or to introduce new concepts with the full support of Sonar as a platform.

This creative impulse has made Sonar a truly unique experience for both the artists and the audience. It is a quality that facilitates a special moment for everyone who attends - performer and fan alike. Due to variety on offer - this moment is always different for every person - something personal and moving. This is what makes Sonar so exceptional every year. Unfortunately with every great event comes several downsides, and Sonar has plenty to offer. The increasing popularity has meant that the by night framework has had to relocate to the large scale and peripheral Fira Gran Via. Logistically this is problem as transporting thousands to and from the venue is far from straightforward. This is especially apparent if you have ever tried to get on the buses heading back into Barcelona in the early morning. However, Sonar has the ability to produce highlights that make all the queues and bad memories dissolve into the background. Sonar 2006 managed this once again - with standout performances from a diverse selection of artists and DJ's. These experiences resulted in Sonar becoming, once again, the benchmark for the summer season and a true musical highlight of 2006.

Beat Factor's Sonar 2006 Diary

Sonar By Day - Thursday 15 June 2006

Entering Sonar By Day is one of the nicest festival experiences available. Becoming familiarised with the clean casing of the MACBA and CCCB is always a treat, an art inspired construct complemented by the sun that constantly streams into the SonarVillage area. This village space, open air and framed by bars, operated as the unofficial meeting place for Sonar attendees - a busy hub where people met and planned their daytime approach. But with the beautiful weather it was often the case that large numbers decided to settle and enjoy the interesting SonarVillage atmosphere and music programme.

Beat Master G provided the soundtrack to the first afternoon. The American beat generator entertained the eager crowd with an impressive beat box and scratch performance with the assistance of the San Francisco based DJ Jet-eye. Beat Master G may have lacked the clarity of some of the top beat boxers but he still provided an important display - although his rap compositions, presented late into his set, were far from inspiring lyrical deliveries.

One of the best, and most overlooked, features of the day programme is the record fair - tucked away at the top of the CCCB. Once again this year, endless stalls contained large volumes of records from a wide selection of labels (like Minus and Cocoon) whilst music companies including Beatport were present alongside equipment manufacturers who provided test drives of the latest gear. Despite the bright weather the record fair area still managed to create a bustling atmosphere throughout the first day, offering DJ's and music fans a chance to keep up to date with the latest releases from a wide selection of genres. Even further away from the more obvious aspects of Sonar By Day stood the editorial fair in the lobby of the MACBA. Providing an exhibition of national and international publications, the editorial display offered plenty of free magazine materials and the opportunity to discuss generic music and journalism themes with the diverse professionals in attendance. The editorial fair is yet another strand of Sonar that sets it apart - offering an important link between musical and professional objectives.

The SonarDome stage, a temporary structure adjacent to Placa Dels Angels, started in fine form also. The music was predominantly down tempo but extremely interesting and varied - with hip-hop, breaks and minimal glitches courtesy of Inch Time and Static Caravan DJ's.

Sonar in L'Auditori

In keeping with experimental music and art concepts, each year Sonar occupies the impressive L'Auditori in the heart of Barcelona to provide an exclusive showcase. Last year saw Richie Hawtin demonstrate his surround sound 'DE:9 Transitions' project before it was released worldwide. For 2006 the special Thursday night slot was filled courtesy of Japan - with 'Insen' by Alva Noto and Ryuchi Sakamoto; billed as a 'hi-tech mediation exercise' that promised to dissect piano chords before recycling these sounds via micro loops and rotating rhythms. 'Insen' proved a unique and interesting experience although it lacked the presence and spectacle of previous displays. The surroundings of L'Auditori would have been much more suited to a live performance of Jeff Mills ground breaking 'Blue Potential'. Mills' orchestral reconstruction of his techno productions deserved more than just a broadcast in SonarCinema.

Soma Party @ La Terrazza

Fresh from 'Insen' Beat Factor decided to continue the night at the established Soma party in the legendary outdoor club space La Terrazza. The Soma party has become something of a Sonar tradition and the sense of anticipation was high upon arrival. Last year's event had to be transferred to Club Fellini at the last minute due to sound problems at the outdoor club, so everyone in attendance this time around were particularly excited. Unfortunately the 'atmospherical fun club' was far from atmospheric. Severe sound problems ruined Dave Congreve's set, with the music stopping for long periods between prolonged low volumes. The levels did improve as the night progressed, with Alex Smoke hitting the right notes. That said the volume never reached the right heights to fully move the packed dancefloor.

Beat Factor full Sonar 2006 coverage:
Sonar 2006 Event Report - Day 1
Sonar 2006 Event Report - Day 2
Sonar 2006 Event Report - Day 3

Sonar 2006 Event Report - Day 1

July 11, 2006 at 1:43 PM CEST

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