Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Certain things in life are overrated. The Ramones, for instance. The Inbetweeners. Most American foods. Free periods at school. All might seem "cool" or "sexy" or "big and clever" at first, but when it comes to pouring the milk on the cornflakes they're exposed to be stale and unsavoury, and you find yourself miserably tipping the contents down the plug-hole. Bestival, however, is truly a pint of Cravendale's finest. Run by Radio 1's Rob Da Bank (who, by the by, recorded a damn fine Fabric Mix which is well worth tracking down) and set on the (probably) picturesque Isle of Wight, Bestival is a festival that transcends the usual festival experience and offers you a vast array of treats and distractions - so much so that you might well find yourself wandering around a forest the whole day, sitting on plastic toadstools and pretending to be a little fairy man, before slumping back in to your tent in a blissful daze and drifting off in to a contented slumber, thus entirely missing a whole Saturday's-worth of music. Including The Sugarhill Gang. And Aphex Twin (not together, you muggins). IT DOESN'T MATTER THOUGH, as all of this is wrapped up neatly in a bundle of good vibes and friendly atmospheres, so any music that may be going on is simply a nice little bonus to the already great times that you will be having. However, having an amazing array of music on the line-up sure does make that nice little bonus all the sweeter.

Here are a selection of acts on this year's bill that I think are well worth checking out if you're going, or cyber-investigating if you're in the sorry position of not having a ticket and aren't already aware of them. Needless to say, Elbow will not be appearing on this list. In fact, they should have led the list of 'overrated things' at the start of this post; they are truly cack. Since they won the Mercury Prize and were added as headliners to my two festivals this year, I've been earnestly trying to 'get' them, to appreciate their music as seemingly everyone else does. However the fiendish little buggers have consistently withheld any indication of their quality from me, and even after patiently standing through their headline set at Benicassim I am still none the wiser as to why they have not been chased from this country and sent in to exile in Boringville. Underworld headlined the Sunday last year: mind-bogglingly immense. Elbow this year: may the Lord have mercy 'pon our souls. Hopefully the following acts should shine some sunlight out of the musical arse that is Elbow.

Kate Bush-obsessed Swedish techno producer The Field is definitely in my Top 2 to see this year. Following ultra-amazing debut album From Here We Go Sublime in 2007, he's just released the follow-up entitled Yesterday and Today, which I have just downloaded but haven't listened to fully yet so I dunno if it's good. From a bit of listening though I'd say it certainly is. If you haven't come across him already and were put off by the 'techno' of the opening description, then allow me to clarify a bit. His songs are really a bit of techno, a bit of shoe-gaze, a bit of trancey stuff, a bit of ambient bizniz, and, er, all seem to lead back to Kate Bush. Well not ALL of it, really just a couple of tracks on the first album. And his MySpace profile quote. But it's all good stuff, and you should check him out. Here's a track from his new album, a cover of The Korgi's classic 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime', which will unfortunately probably be best known for Beck's not-very-good version used in Michel Gondry's not-very-good film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

And here's a track from debut From Here We Go Sublime: Silent

Right, moving on to...

Diplo/Mad Decent Soundsystem/L-Vis 1990

The Bestival line-up has 'Diplo presents The Mad Decent Soundsystem' listed, which I think is fair to presume is just a glorified way of saying "Diplo's DJing". Which is good, 'cos Diplo is bloody nifty. I saw him at Wax:On in Leeds earlier this year where he was ace, and his Radio 1 Essential Mix from a couple years back is really most enjoyable: http://fiftyonefiftyone.com/2007/09/diplo-essential-mix-91507.html
His Mad Decent label has released a steady stream of bad-ass tunes over the years, including recently the work of Major Lazer, consisting of Diplo himself, along with Switch. Two DJs who are both individually great, but seem to have given birth to a distinctly average creation in ML. Their tropical-infused songs seem more fitted to the dancefloor rather than bedroom listening though, and I will be looking to give them another chance as the Lazer are also playing Bestival this year.

If you've read any music blog in the past 6 months or so then you'll most likely already be clued up to the eyeballs about L-Vis 1990, and until I've finished sifting through the contents of his wheelie-bin then there's really nothing else about him I can add here. For now all you need to know is that I spent ages trying to find this particular tune to upload on here, but have discovered that it's been completely wiped off the face of the free file-sharing world. Which, I'm sure I'll come to realise someday, is probably a good thing. Anyway, here's the YouTube video of United Groove: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI2lUIsSdPs


Now, be warned, in this next bit I'm gonna 'go there'. That's right - 'there'. So just a heads up before we go any further. Right - In my opinion, dubstep, 'the sound of the summer', is getting boring. I'm not saying that new dubstep releases are more boring than they were, say, two years ago, I just think there's only so much off-beat, heavily squelching bass that I need in my life. Quite a lot of dubstep tunes literally give me a headache when I listen at home, and I have to turn it off, or switch to something more ambient/shoe-gazy/trancey/techno-y. Much of what once seemed so gloriously shuddering has turned in to over-the-top sample-filled tat, and I don't like it, sir. What's needed, really, is something that will make the nation's 15 year-old's get their little heads in a whirl and think "hey, THAT'S not dubstep?!", before anxiously consulting their FabricLive 37 for guidance. That's why England needs to relinquish control of dubstep, and let the internationalists take over. Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeding chums (Daedelus, Nosaj Thing, Samiyam etc) are just what the doctor ordered, as is a chap from the Netherlands that calls himself Martyn. Forward-thinking music that takes dubstep and mixes it with a whole bunch of other goodies, without even a hint of a Guy Ritchie film snippet thrown in. If you're currently sitting at home scribbling down a list of 'Best Albums of 2009', then Great Lengths should hold a place right near the top. Here's a track from said album: Elden St.

Billed as part of 'Dublime presents Appleblim, Martyn & Reso', that should be a slot well worth catching.

And now, a quick run down of a few other acts that should make this year's Bestival pretty tasty:

  • Squarepusher - One of Warp Records' finest, the legendary experiMENTAL producer/DJ should deliver a mind-melting set, so bring a saucepan to collect the drips. Planetarium
  • Hudson Mohawke - Another Warpster, HudMo should, er, deliver another mind-melting set. He's got an album coming out in October, so this should be a good chance to have a little peek at material from that. Oh, what's this? A little peek of material from his album EVEN BEFORE BESTIVAL? Christ almighty, this blog is just quite brilliant isn't it. Rising 5
  • Massive Attack - You might've heard of them. They're pretty good, really.
  • Buraka Som Sistema - Here's a remix they did of an artist that you should sell your grandmother to go and see (but sadly isn't playing at Bestival this year), Lykke Li. She's awesome live. And I could do with your grandmother around the house. Dance Dance Dance (Buraka Som Sistema Remix)
  • The Cuban Brothers - There's no trace of sarcasm when I say they'll probably be the most entertaining act you see all festival. Main stage, be there.
  • I've saved the most obscure until last, in the form of three female acts who, although probably off your radar at the moment, I predict will soon rise to great things - La Roux, Florence & The Machine, and Little Boots. Don't be scared by these unfamiliar and strange-sounding names, if my finger is as much on the music scene pulse as I believe it is, you'll soon be hearing a lot more from these underground gems.
And thus concludes what is arguably the first proper post this godforsaken blog has produced so far. 1 out of 4 isn't too bad really now is it? As a bonus treat, here's a golden classic, by one of the mega-highlights of last year's Bestival:

George Clinton & Funkadelic - One Nation Under A Groove

Cyaz @ tthe festyval guyz!!!!!! ! ! ! !!!

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