Sónar Hong Kong 2018

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  • On Saturday, Sónar returned to Hong Kong's Science And Technology Park for its second edition. From the venue, nestled far from the city's crowded streets, you could make out the signature skyscrapers through the grey clouds. It proved to be the ideal location, with a vast outdoor and indoor area that provided ample space to explore an adventurous programme of art, music and technology. In terms of layout and focus, it mimicked the flagship event in Barcelona, with the same stage names (SónarClub, SónarVillage, SónarDôme etc) and a lineup heavy on experimental acts and established Sónar veterans, such as Laurent Garnier and Squarepusher. Most of the morning and early afternoon focused on workshops and artist lectures. There were classes on advanced robotics and building synths, plus various VR experiences. These proved popular, both with participants and casual observers. I discovered it's just as fun watching someone else surfing or parachuting with a headset as it is doing it yourself.
    From there, I ventured off to SónarDôme, where Hong Kong Community Radio, Seoul Community Radio and Fauve Radio were showcasing the best in local and South Korean talent. As the weather turned for the better, the stage proved a nice place to slide gradually from smoother into clubbier sounds. Elsewhere, French artist Jacques delivered one of the most interesting sets of the day at SónarVillage. He took day-to-day objects and turned them into instruments by sampling the noises they made. Across the way at SónarClub, Tzusing, as if sensing the audience's desire for something more substantial, joined the dots between experimental, industrial and techno. Plastikman's "Spastik" rolled out from the speakers as the set neared its close, much to everyone's delight. Back at SónarVillage, with the sun rapidly diminishing, Canadian trio Keys N Krates easily kept the crowd going with their fuse of hip-hop meets electronica. With darkness all around, Mount Kimbie delivered an impressive show, finishing with a live version of "Made To Stray." Floating Points was a nice bridge between the festival's two sides—experimental and club-ready—sending the crowd crazy with his solo live set. From there, the programme transitioned into dancier fare. While a large audience settled into The Black Madonna, I opted instead for Squarepusher's audiovisual show. His set raged from faster drum & bass and broken beats to slower ambient. One dancer, at the back of SónarVillage, raved her socks off, practically pulling her hair out to the glitchy noise. For me, this booking, more than any other, illustrated the willingness of the festival to test the musical boundaries of the region. Sónar Hong Kong showed the vibrancy of the city's music scene, looking beyond the norm while giving a platform to an impressive pool of local and regional acts. Photo credit / Kitmin Lee