NEXT explores the margins of experiment and pop, organ minimalism and immersive audiovisual performances
NEXT Festival returns to Bratislava’s stages from 27 September to 2 October, presenting a cross-section of the finest acts on the international and local inspiring new music and sonic art scene. This year’s edition will feature Tirzah, Blackhaine, Evian Christ, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Frédéric Blondy – Éliane Radigue, DJ Haram, Jakub Krejčí, Julia Reidy and many others.
On 28 September, NEXT 2022 takes off with a concert by musician and singer Tirzah at the Pavol Orszagh Hviezdoslav City Theatre. Her two albums on Domino have been called tender, glimmering masterworks. London-born Tirzah Mastin can capture the most complex of emotions in simple, repetitive phrases. “Her music is generous even through its haziness,” wrote Pitchfork in a Best New Music review of her release Colourgrade. The night will open with a performance by Kyiv composer and musician Heinali, who will play a modular synth solo set.
Variety will be in no short supply at this year’s NEXT Festival. Seven venues in Bratislava (A4, Slovak National Gallery, Kunsthalle, LOM, Faculty of Architecture and Design STU, Slovak Radio, Clarissine Church) will spotlight artists hailing from seventeen countries and presenting diverse creative approaches: from audiovisual performance, through vocal experiment, field recording, improvised music and music-dance performance to a broad-ranging club line-up. NEXT will also offer a rich program of workshops, lectures and debates.
Multimedia artist Ryoichi Kurokawa explores the relationship between nature and artifice through a perspective of architectural scale. The result is a fascinating audiovisual performance incorporating 3D scans of abandoned buildings, multi-channel sound and strobe lights. Rie Nakajima will star in a site-specific performance at the Slovak National Gallery. Her sonic performances are composed as direct responses to unique architectural spaces such as Tate Modern or Tokyo’s Hara Museum.
No doubt one of the crowd-pullers of Thursday’s program, the festival will welcome a recent sensation from the British underground scene Blackhaine, a project by distinctive English rapper and dancer Tom Heyes. In concert, Blackhaine channels post-Brexit desperation and forges it into explosive to cathartic moments, combining industrial drill-rap with unsettling choreography inspired by Japanese butō. His physical art has appeared in music videos for Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert.
An organic blend of physical theatre and concert will be offered by Norwegian composer Fredrik Rasten and an international ensemble of dancers, or rather moving guitarists, in a piece titled Six Moving Guitars. Somewhere between Rasten and Rie Nakajima, the festival features Chinese London-based duo Mengting Zhuo a Li Song with an intimate sonic performance in Kunsthalle Bratislava.
Once again, NEXT will mediate a new perspective on traditional instruments. Australian guitarist and composer Julia Reidy will premiere Non–Linear Stages, their new piece for a re-tuned electric guitar and spatial sound.
Limpe Fuchs, by now a legendary German acoustic and visual happening composer, will arrive in Bratislava with her impressive collection of curious percussive instruments. Finding unique ways of playing traditional instruments is also the point of focus for Norwegian impro trio Skavhaug Nergaard / Lindvall / Abrahamsen Garner.
Two vocal experiments done differently – this encapsulates American Lyra Pramuk and the project Slumberland ft. Sainkho Namtchylak. A fresh, alluring collaboration between well-known Tuvan singer Sainkho Namtchylak and Belgian artist Jochem Baelus, AKA Slumberland, blends traditional Tuvan praise songs and ancient vocal technique with avantgarde approaches.
Lyra Pramuk’s debut album Fountain consists solely of vocal recordings. Fusing elements from classical vocal training, pop structures and electronica, her sound could be described as futuristic folk.
For the first time, NEXT will dive into the current club scene for not one but two nights – in MMC Club, as well as the unique boiler-room spaces of Kotolňa at the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU. Friday will beam the spotlight on DJ Lycox as one of the pivotal names associated with the Portuguese label Principe and kuduro. Still, his compass as a producer is much broader – ranging from introspective Afro house through cinematic jungle excursions, slower but more melodic to euphoric productions. The night’s program also features De Schuurman, a key club music figure on the trailblazing label Nyege Nyege, with DJ seafur representing the local scene.
Saturday’s club line-up is poised to demolish genre boundaries, with Evian Christ, DJ Haram and the Swedish project SHXCXCHCXSH. Evian Christ is an extremely gifted DJ, whose sets appeal both to larger festival audiences as much as to people who spend their nights browsing soundcloud. From contemporary club to Middle Eastern traditions and back again – DJ Haram’s sets are known for their versatility and explosive energy.
The festival has again scheduled to feature a number of premieres and commissions. Slovak Hague-based sonic artist David Petráš will join hands with photographer Lucia Nimcová and introduce a collage of field recordings done in Ukraine several weeks ago. ̶S̶l̶o̶v̶a̶k̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶p̶o̶s̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶a̶r̶t̶i̶s̶t̶ ̶A̶l̶e̶x̶a̶n̶d̶r̶a̶ ̶C̶i̶h̶a̶n̶s̶k̶á̶ ̶M̶a̶c̶h̶o̶v̶á̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶s̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶n̶e̶w̶ ̶a̶u̶d̶i̶o̶v̶i̶s̶u̶a̶l̶ ̶3̶D̶ ̶i̶n̶s̶t̶a̶l̶l̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶.̶ Created for the Visegrad residency program at A4, Czech artist Jakub Krejčí will premiere his piece Kittychaosplanet, an expedition to the limits of virtuality and reality, imaginative fantastical worlds and intuitive mind spaces.
For one of the most remarkable concerts and to tie up this year’s NEXT at the Slovak Radio’s Large Concert Studio, Frédéric Blondy will perform Occam XXV, a piece co-authored with renowned composer Éliane Radigue. Occam XXV is the composer’s first ever work for the organ, written specifically for Frédéric Blondy on commission by the London festival Organ Reframed in 2018. It delves into the author’s fascination with microtonal sub-bass. A highlight of contemporary minimalism appearing for the very first time in Bratislava.