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PREVIEW: Elevate Festival
Tristan Bath , October 3rd, 2016 10:34

Looking ahead at highlights of Austria's upcoming Elevate Festival ahead of its start later this month

Austria’s Elevate Festival has been growing in stature in recent years having entered its second decade of existence. The festival’s been increasingly drawing crowds to the city of Graz for its invigorating programme of discourse and activism - something that’s unfortunately of growing relevance in the currently exceptionally rocky European political landscape - while the music programme has maintained a character that’s as crowd-pleasing as it is challenging.

Over four nights, four stages sponsored by the likes of Vice’s music branch Noisey, energy drink and techno enthusiasts Red Bull, Radio FM4 (Austria’s very own mix of BBC Radios 1 and 6), and none other than tQ herself host dozens of artists ranging far and wide.

The ever-brilliant Saul Williams is due to headline the opening night inside the cavernous innards of the Schloßberg mountain fortress at the centre of the city, hot off the heels of yet another brilliant album from the musical polyglot, this year’s MartyrLoserKing. The stunning Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith will also play the same night, having recently issued not one but two of the year’s best releases: her sprawling collaboration with Suzanne Ciani, plus her meticulous solo opus EARS.

Friday will host a night of exploratory club music. Live sets are due from the likes of R&S Records’ Lone, and Warp’s Mount Kimbie, alongside Austrian producer (and Dorian Concept associate) Cid Rim, a diversion in the form of funky Viennese jazz/improv group Kompost 3. Some stellar DJ sets are at hand too, including the legendary Luke Vibert, and the Cómeme-affiliated Lena Willikens. Saturday will also provide plentiful hours of boogie from London’s Funkineven, Italian producer Clap! Clap!, DJ Paypal, and DJ Earl - who is set to perform with a pair of footwork dancers.

Closer to the top of the Schloßberg, the Dungeon stage (this year hosted by tQ) will see several more challenging sets, headlined by the powerhouse of Justin Broadrick’s JK Flesh project. Austrian composer Elisabeth Schimana will also pay tribute to Austrian-American early synth music pioneer Max Brand with a new piece titled Höllenmaschine (‘Infernal Machine’), followed by a show from brilliantly multifaceted Belgrade producer Jan Nemeček, and a set of textured electronics from Vienna-based experimentalist Asfast.

Things come to a head on Sunday when the festival shifts down the road to Graz’s excellent Orpheum concert hall for an epic show from the mighty Swans, supported by the equally mighty Anna von Hausswolff. Both Swans and von Hausswolff are easily at their all time creative peaks, so the show will most likely be unforgettable.

The discourse and activism programme is not to be sniffed at either. This year’s theme, We Are Europe, opens with talks on Thursday from Croation philosopher Srećko Horvat, Saul Williams (in his non-musical capacity), and Julian Assange’s closest adviser Sarah Harrison. Below is a clip of a talk recorded at the festival last year with American journalist and ally to Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, Jacob Appelbaum.

The Art of Revealing >> Elevate Festival 2015 from Elevate Festival on Vimeo.

Elevate Festival takes place across various central venues around the Schlossberg area in Graz, Austria from October 20-23. For tickets to this year's festival, click here and for full details of the musical line-up, click here.