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The “Creative Europe”-supported SHAPE platform announces a large showcase at Urvakan festival in Yerevan, Armenia, May 5 – 9. This will be the fifth large SHAPE showcase outside of the EU after Montréal’s MUTEK, Rio De Janeiro’s Novas Frequências, Jinja, Uganda’s Nyege Nyege and St. Petersburg’s GAMMA. Counting 15 SHAPE artists in Urvakan’s line-up, this will also be the largest SHAPE guest showcase so far.

The inspiration behind the name “Urvakan” (which means ‘ghost’ in Armenian) comes from the festival team’s interest in revitalizing the country’s abandoned and deserted sites and their ambiguous state of being neither completely ruined, nor truly alive as they were decades ago. In a bold attempt to bring them back to life, some of these locations will be turned into one-of-a-kind centers of cultural attraction by serving as venues for the festival’s kaleidoscopic music program. Backed by public discussions, site-specific art installations and exhibitions, food vendors, and many more, these sites will hopefully inspire festival visitors with their uncanny beauty and encourage the public to discover their hidden potential, yet to be realized.

Urvakan’s music program blends together ongoing projects of more than 80 artists from 22 countries, highlighting current trends in sonic arts, contemporary electronic, instrumental, avant pop, and club music.The festival also aims to spark exchanges between local musicians and established artists, curators, and independent music industry professionals from around the world.

The line-up up of the SHAPE x Urvakan 2020 line-up is as follows:

Animistic Beliefs: Animistic Beliefs were born to perform, they live to play live and they thrive on a stage. Hailing from Rotterdam, they flourish in any dark, strobe lit basement during the supernatural witching hours. It is in these settings that they breathe new life into electro by twisting, warping and contorting it into contemporary and spellbinding, occult structures. They tinker with fluid melodies and rehash them into new entities, experimenting with textures whilst effortlessly deviating from meditative to manic, destructive to danceable in an instant.

Animistic Beliefs

Dorota: What turns a one chord song into a spiritual practice? What connects improvisation with gang vocals, sufi rave music to tape loops? A music, far beyond form and emptiness. Dorota was founded in 2009 by three Hungarian musicians, Aron Porteleki, Daniel Makkai and David Somló. With the success of their first untitled adventurous art-rock album, and their second triple(!) album Frik the band has become a major player in the experimental music scene of Budapest, and is celebrated as one of the most unique contemporary bands in Hungary.

Elvin Brandhi: An improvising lyricist, producer and sound artist from Bridgend, Wales, who builds aberrant beats from field recordings, tape, vinyl, instrument and voice. Using sound and voice as an expansive language transgressing intrinsic systemics and inherited syntactical etiquettes, her live shows are unyielding bursts of erupting animation where her caustic stream of consciousness cavorts with restless, glitched out heaviness.

Farida Amadou & Steve Noble: Farida Amadou is a self taught bass player based in Liège, Belgium. The electric bass is her main instrument since 2011.  Steve Noble is London’s leading drummer, a fearless and constantly inventive improviser whose super-precise, ultra-propulsive and hyper-detailed playing has galvanized encounters with Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Stephen O’Malley and many more. They have been performing as a duo and as part of several trios since 2018.

Hugo Esquinca: Hugo Esquinca’s research-as-intervention/intervention-as-research in sound focuses on exploring different degrees of exposure to erratic processing techniques, indeterminate occurrences, spectral de-gradation, abrupt irritation, the potential of involuntary modifications, opaque functioning and excessive levels of amplification.

Jay Glass Dubs

Jay Glass Dubs: Dimitris Papadatos aka Jay Glass Dubs was born in the USA in 1981 and subsequently moved to Greece where he grew up. Though his work as a composer, musician and sound artist he has become one of the leaders in experimental dub electronics and a core member of the Bokeh Versions squad.

kӣr: kӣr is the solo production epithet of Bane Jovančević, resident live artist and program manager of Belgrade’s club Drug§tore. His first release Imrali was on Creme Organization and second one Mramorje was released on Yerevan Tapes. By combining traditional and experimental influences in electro-acoustic music, Kӣr creates the sound in which drone-navigated post-industrial logos transgresses into a tribal mythos, in search for the traces of future.

LYZZA: At just 19 years old, born-and-raised Brazilian LYZZA is taking over the experimental club scene. She’s a DJ – Producer – Vocalist and curator with ties to ​Fade to Mind (US)​ and ​Bala Club (UK)​. She’s become a familiar face during radical and underground club nights as a DJ and has been seen on line-ups alongside names like ​Fatima Al Qadiri​, ​Evian Christ​,​Le1f​, ​Yves Tumor​ and ​SOPHIE.​ Since recently also Mykki Blanco’s tour DJ.

Marta De Pascalis: Marta De Pascalis is an Italian musician and sound designer living in Berlin. Her solo works employ analog synthesis and tape loops, incorporating free playing into steady, repetitive patterns. She has produced two albums of minimal synth excursions: the self- released Quitratue (2014) and Anzar (The Tapeworm, 2016). Her new piece Her Core was published on spring 2018 by The Wormhole. 

Poly Chain: Poly Chain is a project of Sasha Zakrevska – a composer, curator, DJ, designer and radio host from Kyiv, Ukraine. Sasha started her musical journey at the age of 4, taking piano classes. After school she continued in a psychedelic rock/shoegaze band named ‘Summer God Teachings’, where she began to explore the world of synthesizers. She’s also composed tracks for theater and museum performances, working with local and international dance crews. 

Rian Treanor: Rian Treanor re-imagines the intersection of club culture, experimental art and computer music, presenting an insightful and compelling musical world of fractured and interlocking components. Having left a vivid impression in 2015 with his debut 12″ ‘A Rational Tangle’ and 2nd EP ‘Pattern Damage’ on The Death of Rave. Warp sub-label Arcola relaunched with his single ‘Contraposition’ in 2018. His debut album ATAXIA was released on Planet Mu.

Rojin Sharafi

Rojin Sharafi: Rojin Sharafi is a sound artist and composer of acoustic, electro-acoustic, and electronic music. Her music crosses borders of different genres and keenly grabs from many musical buckets such as noise, folk, ambient, metal, and contemporary music. Her recent album Urns Waiting To Be Fed debuted in September via Zabte Sote / Opal Tapes labels and reviewed by The Quietus as “the unexpected” and “one of the most ecstatic and fiercely original hours of music”.

Virgen Maria: Virgen María is the musical project of producer, DJ and performer María Forqué, from Madrid. María’s new musical project leaves behind her previous experimental / performance-based project ‘Beta_0<3’ in search of creating future EDM. Her EP G.O.D. makes a clear statement about the path electronic music will take in the next couple of years, mixing latin-rhythms, experimental production and dance structures, created to fall in a meditative trance where the audience and the artist make a direct connection of sexuality and inner exploration while still set in the most mainstream musical form.

xin: xin is a Berlin-based artist, writer and musician. Their debut LP, MELTS INTO LOVE, was released by Subtext in 2019. The record is released solely via independent platforms, with all proceeds going to Eden Reforestation Projects. Previously, they released their first solo EP, To Shock the Earth and Shake the Sky, and they also contributed to compilations on Genome 6.66mbp, Intruder Alert and AN BA.

Yann Gourdon: Yann Gourdon is a French hurdy-gurdy player, composer and sound artist. One third of the drone trio France and part of the La Nòvia collective, his practice focuses on acoustic phenomena and dynamic relationships with the environment. Having learned to play traditional music from Auvergne by listening to field recordings, Yann recontextualizes tradition via minimalism, honing in on a place or location’s unique vibratory fields, volumes and surfaces.

Click here for more info on Urvakan festival.

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Hear our latest Resonance FM show with kӣr, FOQL, Animistic Beliefs, Lyra Valenza, Peter Kutin