Now in its seventh year, Simple Things has become not only a Bristol institution but one of the UK’s most consistently forward-thinking festivals, showcasing only the finest of warped instrumentals, DJ selections, hedonistic noise, and lyrical barrage for one Saturday every October.
With this year’s line-up being just as varied as previous editions, including the likes of indie darlings Wild Beasts, techno originator Juan Atkins, Syrian vocalist Omar Souleyman, and trance purveyor Lorenzo Senni, we’ve put together a shortlist of vital acts to see you through on the 21st October.
Warp Records’ Clark embodies a true sense of artistic creativity. Having released his debut LP, Clarence Park, in 2001, he has since gone on to create a prolific flurry of forbidding productions, emotive soundscapes, and testing mind-melters. This year’s Death Peak, his ninth full-length release, is an exploration of a heavier, rave influenced sound replete with hardware synths, punchy drum programming and euphoric melody. In the midst of an extensive live tour of the record, his Simple Things show is bound to be an audio-visual assault for those keen to leave their inhibitions at the door.
One of the most innovative of the new generation of footwork producers, Jlin’s instrumental masterpieces consistently straddle the boundary between aural-induced panic attack and meditative trance-state, all while keeping the audience dancing to the genre’s inimitable beat. With the release of her acclaimed second album, Black Origami, earlier this year, she collaborated with fellow electronic experimentalists Holly Herndon and William Basinski to push her sound beyond the cultural specificity of footwork’s Chicago birthplace and onto the global stage. Expect a live set of polyrhythmic percussion, jittering kicks, and the sounds of the future.
3. Intergalactic Gary
Aside from having one of the best stage names in the business, Intergalactic Gary is a true stalwart amongst selectors. Starting out in the early ’90s with heavy influences from the burgeoning Italo disco scene, Gary soon established himself as one of the foremost names in electro, EBM, and sci-fi techno, playing residencies everywhere from The Hague to Berlin. Experience and years of crate digging has bred a live presence of technical mastery and the perfect orchestration of audience emotions; catch Gary for extended edits, unexpected dancefloor catharsis, and propulsive movement.
4. Kelly Lee Owens
Meditation might not be on the menu for most attendees of Simple Things but Welsh producer Kelly Lee Owens is bound to place you in a meditative state with her rich arrangements and impeccable instrumentation. Having released her debut album earlier this year, Owens has carved out a unique space for herself amongst her peers and collaborators Daniel Avery and Ghost Culture. Taking their propensity for acid bass and adding to it a psych-infused palette of drones, ethereal vocals, and textured atmospherics, Owens’ Simple Things set is bound to be an introspective trip of the best kind.
The term ‘pioneer’ is bandied around so much it’s lost its meaningful sheen. Yet, for certain acts it’s the only moniker that seems to stick. Such is the case for production duo Leftfield. Key proponents of ‘90s UK dance, their Simple Things appearance will be a rare live performance of their seminal debut Leftism. Their act will be a must-see for anyone wishing to witness the history and lineage of today’s electronic music, in all its diverse glory. Spanning dub, house, trip-hop, and rave, their headline act will have something for all dancefloor tastes.
Simple Things Festival takes places across various venues in Bristol on October 21. More info here.
Words: Ammar Kalia