This weekend is a transformative inspiring one for the city of Gdansk, perhaps best known from its many years as a grey Soviet port. For the fifth year in a row, SpaceFest! takes hold and lovers of shoegaze, space rock and psychedelia flock to the city for a weekend's worth of sonic bliss.
The undisputed highlight of the first day are the legendary The Telescopes, a UK band who have been mining a unique anti-myopian seam of highly influential experimental, drone, noise, dream and psych for over 20 years. The group, who were a staple of Creation Records, has toured with the likes of Spacemen 3, Primal Scream and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Later on, they would play together with Ride, Slowdive, Whipping Boy, Bleach, and The Cranes.
The headliner of the second day is Finnish group Kairon; IRSE!, whose fog-fuelled space jam sounds bring to mind 1970s progressive rock and 1990s alt-rock vibes. When the band’s guitars are not beautifully whining in shoegaze mode, roaring waves of krautrock crash over the audience. The band has a solid sound, with glassy vocals and stunning arrangements.
The festival also features Wales' Lights That Change, a special delight for fans of ethereal dream pop and shoegaze, beautiful female vocals and anybody appreciative of 4AD Records' early output (think This Mortail Coil, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins), as well as TAU, a project spearheaded by Shaun Nunutzi from Dead Skeletons, who previously played SpaceFest! two years ago. Their sound is a collage of trance-inducing, hypnotising soundscapes inspired by indigenous shaman songs.
Other visiting bands include DYN, a garage-psych-experimental lo-fi duo from Berlin. The line-up also showcases some gems from Poland, such as Folder – an alternative group popular in the late noughties, who have come back for just one show. A particular highlight is Snowid and DJ Mushroom Man, whose pagan-occult-cosmic electronic sounds are bound to bring us into a state of interstellar trance.
SpaceFest! is also showcasing two groups selected in the young bands competition: Zimowa, a band (from Wodzislaw Slaski), whose music is a mix of fuzzy guitars and melancholy electronica with subtle, sensual vocals and Lotry (from Krakow) with their dirty, chilled out, psychedelic rock.
For dessert, Dr Switchoff serves us his eclectic DJ sets showcasing the best and worst in weird music from all over the world, using broken hi-fi equipment, analogue Soviet synths, field recordings and unidentified sound objects.
As in other years, the festival's concert schedule is preceded by rehearsals of Pure Phase Ensemble, a group created especially for SpaceFest. For one week, musicians are going to work together to create a concert's worth of original material and then perform it live at SpaceFest! Last year, Pure Phase Ensemble's frontman was Mark Gardener of Ride. The year before, it was Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab. This year, it is Australian singer and guitarist Hugo Race, known i.a. from The Bad Seeds and The True Spirit. This year's incarnation of the ensemble also features Polish musicians from Lord & The Liar, Ze Velocipedes, Daktari and C4030. The line-up will be completed by Karol Schwarz from Nasiono Records, who has been responsible for the coordination and musical cohesion of the PPE project from the very outset. We shall hear the results in the final hours of the festival, which will be recorded and released in physical form in mid-2016, helping others to join in the SpaceFest! journey through time and, perhaps most importantly, through space.
Check out the Festival Lineup and announcement trailer below!
For more information on the festival, visit www.spacefest.pl