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Steps in the Right Direction: A Review of Decibel Festival 2014

Every September, the Decibel Festival brings a wealth of electronic music talent to Seattle, and every year, its organizers invite XLR8R to come and check out the proceedings. This year's edition featured more than 150 artists over the course of five days and nights, and also found the festival, which incredibly continues to be almost entirely staffed by volunteers, moving its headquarters to Seattle's EMP museum. As always, there was a lot to take in, but we did our best to check out as many things as possible and, more importantly, to take stock of exactly where Decibel is at. The 2014 edition was the festival's 11th go-round, and despite our fondness for the event—at this point, there is little question that it's one of the best electronic music festivals in the United States—we've also observed its various ups and downs over the years. This year, however, there was a lot more of the former than the latter, and we've jotted down a few of the artists, parties, and general trends that made the festival's 2014 edition particularly potent. Read more » 

Get Familiar: Giegling

In the rapidly evolving world of electronic music, it's all but impossible to keep track of every new artist, label, party, and genre. At the same time, certain names will inevitably pop up again and again at the XLR8R office, some of which we've only given passing mention to on the site. In an effort to get our readers up to speed with some of the things—both new and old—that we've been digging lately, we recently launched a new feature series called 'Get Familiar,' which aims to shine a spotlight on subjects we think are worthy of a little more attention. When putting together this particular edition, we honestly had no idea that the folks at Resident Advisor were planning a similar feature that would appear just two days before our article was scheduled for publishing. The RA piece is well worth a read, but we've put together our own take, and we'd like to think that Giegling is good enough to warrant the extra attention.

Giegling is a lot of things, but it began as a club and venue in Weimar, an East German city rich in culture and history. After the club's first owners abandoned it, a group of friends took the spot over, and with the help of a borrowed soundsystem, began hosting their own parties. Shortly thereafter, these friends began pressing their own records, and Giegling the record label was born. But Giegling is more than just a record label—it's a collective, a tightly knit group of friends and musicians (including Prince of Denmark, Matthias Reiling of Session Victim, and Vril, amongst others) who, over the course of five years, have developed their own idiosyncratic sound: a dusty, emotive, and soulful take on minimal house and dubby techno that is slowly but surely making its mark around the globe. Read more » 

Real Talk: Anenon on Live Performance, Authenticity, and Being an Experimental Artist in an Increasingly Techno World

'Real Talk' is a series of artist-penned essays that appears on XLR8R from time to time, and our latest installment features LA producer Anenon (a.k.a. Brian Allen Simon). A few days after the release of his second LP, 'Sagrada,' via his own Non Projects label, Simon has put together some thoughts regarding the importance of performing live, and touches upon the increasing difficulty of securing solid shows.

There is not much else in this world like taking part in a truly great live music performance. Playing an amazing set and feeling the energy of the room cannot be paralleled by any other experience—it's a true natural high that doesn't need to be aided by anything other than good sound and an unspoken connection between audience and performer. During all of my best shows, there has been a sort of mutual and reciprocal trust that formed from the first note played. The audience accepted that they were along for the ride and I felt the power to take them wherever the sound took me. There was no doubt on either side. Nowadays, these experiences are beginning to feel few and far between. Read more » 

XLR8R's Guide to Decibel 2014: 10 Acts That Should Not Be Missed

Seattle's Decibel Festival has literally grown tenfold over its 11-year run, with last year's edition boasting 25,000 attendees. (Our review of the 2013 edition can be found here.) The volunteer-driven event's ambition has been rewarded—though Seattle is not typically thought of as a dance music mecca, the festival now possesses an unlikely gravitational pull that trickles across the continent and literally improves line-ups throughout the US and Canada in September and October. This year's festivities have something of a "back to the roots" feel, as the EDM-crossover bookings have been ditched and the line-up is heavy with artists from Ostgut Ton, Modern Love, Hyperdub, and other heady imprints. That's not the only change; this time around, Decibel will no longer squeeze into every nook and cranny of Capitol Hill, instead opting to situate larger events in downtown Seattle's EMP Museum. Still, even with this more concentrated approach, there's a lot to sift through. Each day, the festival is presenting industry and tech-focused workshops in the afternoon, proper showcases at night, and, beginning on Thursday, afterhours events that will stretch into the early morning hours. With so much to potentially see—the complete program can be viewed here—we figured that some attendees might appreciate a bit of a helping hand, so we've to put together a list of artists that should not be missed over the course of the five-day festival. Read more » 

Casual Futurism: The Most Memorable Moments from Vancouver's New Forms Festival

New Forms' line-ups are clearly chosen by heads. The 2014 edition of the Vancouver festival, which kicked off last Thursday and continued through the weekend, included an embarrassment of rare and unique acts, several of whom were making their first trips to Canada. Read more » 

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