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Numusic Festival, Scandinavia's biggest electro event, kicks off in Stavanger, Norway
50 acts scheduled for the event, including Karlheinz Stockhausen
50 acts scheduled for the event, including Karlheinz Stockhausen

As the heavens opened in Stavanger, Norway, on Wednesday the don of ambient electronica Geir Jenssen a.k.a. Biosphere gave an electrically charged concert at the town's cathedral. In a powerful late-night opening concert of the West Coast Festival of numusic, Scandinavia's biggest electronica showcase, was officially open.

Biosphere performed new material, in large part from the forthcoming 'Dropsonde' album, of almost chillingly portentous qualities to reflect not simply the arrival of autumn gales outside, but the great, near-quiet eeriness found in the eye of a hurricane. Tension mounted as Jenssen drew up a series of swelling, foreboding scenarios from which he let arise tones, whispers and pulses as suggested by the subtle, ambient climatic throb.

With a programme of over 50 stage acts plus supporting events, this year's numusic is certainly the biggest to date and features a very rare three-night, six-concert appearance by the internationally lauded avant-gardist and acknowledged progenitor of electronic music, Karlheinz Stockhausen - his first ever concert on Norwegian soil - as well as exhibits, creative sound workshops, installation art, micro-surround sonic 'zones' and graffiti in several locations throughout the city. David Toop will host a 'numusic' symposium, and is also due to give a DJ set on Saturday. Other highlights are Carl Craig, Chicks on Speed, Michael Rother & Dieter Moebius, Jamie Lidell, Luke Vibert, The Bays, Mara Carlyle, Tussle, the N Collective, Max de Warner and Xploding Plastix, as well as Norwegian and Nordic notables such as Datarock, Elektrofant, DJ Strangefruit and Goodiepal.

The main venues are located within the Tou old brewery from 1899, on Stavanger's east side. numusic is rapidly gaining international recognition as a spearhead annual event in new electronic music, and is the labour of love of two local sonic entrepreneurs, Stein Bjelland and Martyn Reed, the latter a respected DJ and events man in this diminutive Norwegian city.

Karlheinz Stockhausen's arrival signals an important step up for the festival. His work has inspired the very genesis of popular music and artists as diverse as Bjork, Madonna, Sonic Youth, and the Beatles, who included his picture on the 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' album cover (back row, fifth from the left). Starting on Friday the 77-year-old will perform works from the 1950s to the present, including the seminal 'Kontakte', 'Octophonie' and 'Gesang der Junglinge', in a show of generosity that is rumoured to have been influenced by a deeply felt email sent by the organisers.
~Tor Solberg
written by on 8/25/2005 12:00:00 AM

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