Pulsating music, a nip in the December night air, swaying bodies, historic Rajasthan and high spirits — the three-day Magnetic Fields music festival transports you into a trance.
Organised in the 17th century Alsisi Palace in Shekhawati, Rajasthan, the festival is a visual dream and a surreal experience. Dance under the stars, wake up in the desert with the first ray of the winter sun, unravel the secrets of the bedouins and most of all, hear the freshest sounds from the Indian alternative music scene. This year the festival is during 18-20 December. In case you’re heading out there, here are some of the artistes to watch out for.
An American rocktronica band, Ratatat have made a name for themselves by making instrumental music that has personality and is expressive. They build sleek, propulsive instrumentals using a spare palette of guitars, synthesizers and simple percussion in such a way that the music sounds both triumphant and understated. In 2015, Ratatat have played at some of the world’s biggest festivals like Glastonbury, both the weekends at Coachella and at Primavera Sound in Barcelona. Their fifth studio album, ‘Magnifique’ was released earlier in the year.
Regarded by many as an inventive DJ and producer, DJ Koze or Stefan Kozalla is a name most serious dance music fans are familiar with. Voted as the best DJ for years by Spex – a music magazine in Germany – Koze’s music and sets have humour, weirdness, personality and style in plenty. Not fond of colouring between the lines, over the years, Koze has forged a sound that’s psychedelic, funny and highly functional, moving effortlessly between hip-hop, house and pop.
HUNEE & ANTAL (will be playing a back-to-back set at Magnetic Fields)
HUNEE and Rush Hour’s ANTAL back-to-back sets are fast becoming the stuff of legend, with them both being renowned crate diggers. Weaving through disco, funk, techno, afro and more their sets embody all that is good in dance music period.
Hunee pretty much operates on his own terms, in his own world. Since a first release in 2009 he has been in no rush to make it big, but instead has slowly seeped out into the world his choice cuts of rhythmically playful and super-soul infused house music on labels like Rush Hour, Future Times and W.T. As a DJ, too, he is tireless and visibly enthusiastic at every gig. He will happily drift from hands-in-the-air vocal 1980s’ disco to deep dark classic chicago acid with relative ease and he has a very unique ability to make these drastic changes flow flawlessly.
Amsterdam’s Rush Hour founder Antal is a hugely versatile DJ that can weave together house and techno or Afro and disco just as ably. For those in the know, Rush Hour – the label he runs with a close group of key people – is a faultless record label and cherished store. As well as releasing the most exciting new music, the label is famed for its on-point re-issues of forgotten old classics whilst the shop stocks records bought on crate digging trips around the world.
Having caught attention for his bass-heavy productions that he intended as a pastiche of dubstep conventions in 2011, Objekt’s debut album, Flatland – released in 2014 – swayed more towards convoluted forms of techno, dazzlingly detailed and full of rippling, snapping rhythms. In parallel, Objekt has built up a reputation as not only a technically skilled but also regularly surprising and well-informed DJ. His sets, while broadly focused on techno, frequently duck and dive between the hypnotic and engrossing, incorporating off-kilter broken beats, breakneck electro, acid, noise, house, EBM and anything else necessary to illustrate his version of events, sometimes taking large jumps in tempo and drawing fully from the last 30 years of recorded electronic music.
This supreme beatmaker and Brainfeeder affiliate is second to none when it comes to tastes and track selection. Kutmah is a DJ and artist raised in Los Angeles who in the late 90s and early 2000s became an intrinsic part of that scene’s evolution and growth, both as a DJ and the driving force behind the Sketchbook nights, LA’s first beat party.
Shigeto is Zach Saginaw’s middle name; it’s also his grandfather’s name, a tribute to the Japanese branch of Zach’s family tree. Shigeto also means “to grow bigger” — appropriate, given Zach’s premature birth-weight of less than a pound. Today, Shigeto stands for Zach’s vividly beautiful electronic music. His music has always cross-wired a host of different musical influences. Beat-driven but given to richly textured sound design, rhythmically fractured but melodically sumptuous, Shigeto’s music is a bridge between the past and present, bringing the artist face to face with a creative legacy that spans decades.
RUDOH & TMPST
Forever South is a collective of electronic beat musicians from Karachi, Pakistan but are not limited to just that. Their beats are undefined but defined via vibe. Their specific collection of musicians make up this vibe and one part of the brains behind Forever South is Bilal Nasir Khan, who happens to be a drummer for Mole and releases electronic music as Rudoh.
Rudoh is a music producer and audio engineer, who combines his influences of hip-hop, LA beats, house, soul, and jazz to form a strong sound of heavy poly-rhythms, squelchy bass lines and space pads with some blipity bloop sounds.
TMPST is the moniker of producer/musician Asfandyar Khan, who also records ambient music under his own name. As TMPST, he’s been making music since 2012, and is part of the Karachi electronic music collective Forever South.
Two of the most cutting-edge musicians in India, Sanaya Ardeshir, AKA Sandunes, and Jivraj Singh, AKA Jiver, recently launched a brand new, collaborative project, Perfect Timing. Their individual influences spanning music ranging from jazz to noise music and hip hop to traffic sounds blend together seamlessly for a final product that’s hugely imaginative and exciting.
BLOT! or Basic Love Of Things, is a one-of-a-kind live mixed media and music performance ensemble. The audiovisual experience that Gaurav and Avinash Kumar set out to deliver in 2007 has developed a strong underground following across the country. They never shy away from transgressing the tight boundaries between genres and disciplines, whilst continuing to define its music through a multitude of mediums.
BLOT! has made appearances at venues like Tresor and Bar25 (Berlin), as well as global festivals like C/O Pop (Cologne), Electron Festival (Geneva), Berlin Music Week (Berlin), Reeperbahn Festival (Hamburg) and Nuits Sonores (Lyon). They are currently working on a video game based on the mathematician Ramanujan.
Tanvi Rao’s sultry vocals layered over Rahul Giri’s minimalist production creates an innovative template of sounds which allows the two to play out extremely compelling tunes. Arguably one of India’s distinctive talents, Sulk Station are creating their own brand of lush, moody and hypnotic music set in a heavenly ambience. Their songs are a mix of contemporary electronic genres (trip-hop/ambient) with traces of Indian classical music, rendered by Tanvi, and unlike anything coming out of India.
Nicholson is a composer, singer-songwriter and keyboardist based out of Mumbai. His original compositions are a blend of electronic and organic sounds and are a direct reflection of his outlook on life and love. He grew up playing piano in Pune and later honed his skills at the St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada where he studied Jazz piano for four years.