With last year’s blissful edition setting Festival No.6 apart as a true summer highlight, Getintothis’ Tom Doyle picks six of the best from the 2015 bash that’s only just around the corner.
After headlining the main stage in 2014 Beck described Festival No. 6 as the “coolest, most surrealist, freakiest, best festival in the world”. The self-styled bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture has gained considerable momentum since its inauguration in 2012 and, with this year’s instalment set to be the biggest and best yet, the snowball should keep rolling.
With a line-up boasting the likes of Belle & Sebastian fresh from owning it at Sound City, Grace Jones in her usual unremitting form and Metronomy‘s return to the live circuit, along with the likes of James, British Sea Power, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Mark Ronson, Portmeirion’s looking to be in rude enough health to top even these high expectations this year.
With a veritable cornucopia of less established, but by no means lesser acts also on the bill across the four days, there’s still ever more to uncover, so without further ado here’s the Getintothis picks 6 of the very finest artists to look out for in Portmeirion come September.
Hailing from the renowned underground music scene of Belfast, the crisp electronic melodies and addictive chord progressions of Bicep will be gracing the Late Night Pavilion at Festival No. 6 this year.
Having previously flirted with everything from Detroit techno to New Jersey garage, the now London-based duo’s latest EP sees them attempt more complicated song structures with assured results. When heard in all its sonic glory on Sunday night the title track from Just, with its uplifting rhythm and almost haunting high notes, will be perfectly suited to the by then dark and atmospheric tones of Portmeirion
While most confirmed artists have chosen images of themselves to cover their brief introductions on the festival’s website, Benjamin Garret, the absorbing multi-instrumentalist behind Fryars, has opted for a photograph of Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet.
Like Thomas, Fryars cannot be pigeon-holed into any genre imposed on him, demonstrating styles ranging from baroque-pop to flat out dance. And although the compositions vary throughout his work the intelligent lyrics, elegant melodies and versatile vocals are a constant reminder of the Londoner’s song-writing prowess. Catch him at the i Stage on the Saturday.
3. Ghost Culture
Also based in London and following in the footsteps of other one-man electronic orchestras in the same vein such as East India Youth and Hudson Mohawk, Ghost Culture creates beautifully layered electronica that builds in melancholic intensity. With James Greenwood’s material being released on Erol Alkan‘s Phantasy Sound label, and that material being as strong as it is, things are looking very promising for the 25 year old. Greenwood will be displaying his futuristic symphony from the i Stage on the Friday night.
As Ghost Culture departs the i Stage, Shura will make her Festival No. 6 debut. Born in Moscow, growing up in Manchester and honing her song-writing skills in the Amazon Jungle, it’s safe to say Shura – aka Aleksandra Denton – is well travelled, and this mixed heritage has influenced her music greatly, and the material is auspicious to say the least, fusing 80s style pop with a contemporary synth edge.
The only act in this list to feature more than two principal songwriters, Haelos are a London based trio making dark, euphoric electronica on a grand scale. They artfully combine stratified vocals, reverberating rhythms and industrial percussion to create something quite outstanding.
They’ve long been seen as a SoundCloud mystery, yet Haelos have recently signed with Matador. Joining a label that has the likes of Kurt Vile and Queens of the Stone Age on their roster gives substantial weight to the belief held by many that this triumvirate has great things on the horizon. They’ll be playing the Sunday, also on the i Stage.
6. Motor City Drum Ensemble
Motor City Drum Ensemble is the moniker of Danilo Plessow, the German producer and House DJ, and the only artist mentioned here to come from outside the UK. Plessow grew up predominantly in Stuttgart – known as Germany’s ‘motor city’ due to it being the home of several automobile HQs – and over the years has acquired an extensive collection of retro drum machines, which the producer believes to be the “technical backbone” of his music.
Like so many of other acts on this list, MCDE’s output is both powerful and eclectic, and it can be heard in full-force during his headlining slot at the Studio 6 Stage on the Sunday.