Reviewed: MIRA Digital Arts Festival
The MIRA Digital Arts Festival was held last week at the Fabra i Coats creation factory in Barcelona. With a varied offer, combining music, visual arts and technology in equal parts, the festival hosted for three days various facilities and conferences beyond the live performances of artists such as The Bug & Miss Red, Coucou Chloe, Gaika or Nicolas Jaar, who presented his new project ‘¡miércoles!‘ with the dancer Stéphanie Janaina.
The festival, celebrated in an old textile factory turned into a creative space for local artists, offered in its eighth edition its most ambitious lineup, settling once again as a reference space in terms of experimentation and the mixture of disciplines, united throughout technology. During the three days of the festival, we were able to enjoy facilities such as Nick Verstand‘s and Salvador Breed “Imaginary Limit”, performances like the one from Virgen Maria and exhibitions such as ‘Buzz’, created by Catalan artist based in London Maria Roy, who explored technological hedonism as a way to re-educate the senses and explore new sensations.
The music started in the 3D sound space, voiced by 50 surround speakers, with the new project of the artist Nicolas Jaar, in collaboration with the Mexican dancer Stéphanie Janaina, under the name ‘¡miércoles!’ A very personal project in which the improvisation of both artists was developed during 3h uninterrupted. After them, we could enjoy the live performance of Eartheater, which was accompanied by an artist to the harp. A curious detail of the festival is that the artists who collaborate on stage have not usually done it before, which maximizes the strength of each performance. Something we could see very present at the end of this performance when both artists gave each other an endless and intense hug.
M.E.S.H. took over in the Main Room with a completely different live, full of industrial sounds, deconstructed beats and apocalyptic musical environments, full of devastating basses that made the old factory crystals wobble. With a similar speech in terms of sound, it was followed by the Berlin duo Amnesia Scanner, who explored a diversity of more danceable Rave sounds, from Jungle or Breakcore to Acid. All the scenario was turned into a halo of lights and smoke that turned the artists into silhouettes, shaped in front of screens full of barely perceptible subliminal messages.
Closing the day in the Main Room we could see Gaika’s live, perhaps the easiest listening of the whole day. The Warp’s label artist alternated intimate with more introspective, in which he seemed to act for himself, turning his back on the audience. Using his voice as an instrument thanks to the vocoder, Gaika moved through rhythms ranging from the most minimalist Dancehall to deconstructed beats, always with an epic background generated by the effects that maximized his voice.
Friday acts were very interesting, with several performances that made us especially excited to see, such as the Catalan artist Cauto, member of the collective and local label Ochomel, who started the activity in the Main Stage. Accompanied by the visuals of Anton Babinski, his live show took us from organic and ethereal landscapes, created with layers of modular synthesizers, to more Dubby tracks with a Techno drum base that prompted us to start moving the skeleton.
After him, we could see the live performance of the Swiss artist Aïsha Devi, accompanied by the visual artist Emile Barret. Aïsha has become in recent years one of the highest references in terms of experimental electronic music. Thanks to her way of creating, starting from a spiritual point of view, she uses vocal mantras mixed with lines of synthesizers and hypnotic beats, seeking to expose the audience to an immersive experience. As she herself describes, the sensation she seeks to provoke is that of the deep mental states generated through meditation and the consumption of certain psychotropic drugs such as Ayahuasca.
With the end of the live show, we prepared for one of the main dishes of the festival, the German group Tangerine Dream. Pioneers of ambient music and krautrock in the 60s, the group presented itself with a display of synthesizers, sequencers and analog mixers that took half of the stage. His live set was exciting and possibly the most beautiful of the festival.
After a break in which we were able to enter the Dome, created by the local creative studio Eyesberg, we went back to the Main Room to see the Coucou Chloe live show. The French woman performed a hybrid Live, alternating the DJ set with moments when she went out to sing and dance on stage. The prominent bass and the effects on the voice made it float on dark and industrial Trap bases.
The Bug took the relief with the Israeli singer Miss Red. The duo, confirmed at the last moment by the festival – replacing Venetian Snares – was perhaps one of the most predictable direct, that no less exciting. After meeting unexpectedly in Israel in 2012, after a live performance by the singer, the couple has not stopped working together and playing all over the world. Being one of the least experimental direct was perhaps the one that connected the most with the audience, who danced (a rare phenomenon in the festival) and sang some of the best-known songs, such as ‘Diss Mi Army’ or ‘Mi Lost’. To close the day, we returned to the 3D Sound Room, where we could see the end of DJ Stingray, who true to his style delighted us with the most forceful set of the day, navigating the sounds of Detroit Techno.