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PREVIEW: Simple Things 2019
Christian Eede , October 16th, 2019 14:47

The festival returns to Bristol this weekend taking over a number of the city's venues with a characteristically wide-ranging line-up

An annual highlight in the UK's festival calendar, Simple Things returns to Bristol this weekend with a line-up that ticks more boxes than ever, running from jazz-inflected punk and funk to cosmic chug and razor-sharp UK techno.

Taking over a variety of venues around Bristol, this year's festival is split into two programmes between day and night on its main day this Saturday (October 19). The day will take in AI explorations from Holly Herndon as she continues the tour behind latest album PROTO, Kode9 and Kōji Morimoto's audiovisual dig into Japanese video games and Mute post-punkers A Certain Ratio celebrating their 40th year since forming, amongst many others.

As ever, the festival will conclude with a big old rave at the city's Lakota club which boasts DJs such as Avalon Emerson, Andrew Weatherall, Josey Rebelle, SIREN and Dr. Rubinstein, as well as a number of local heroes such as Hessle Audio's Bruce, Wisdom Teeth's Facta and Happy Skull label founders The Kelly Twins.

For the first time, Simple Things will also host its Ext. programme, promising a range of installations, workshops and even a virtual reality experience from Aïsha Devi. Hyperdub will also be on hand to mark its 15th anniversary, including a panel looking over the label's history featuring Kode9, Cooly G and label manager Marcus Scott as well as a presentation of On Vanishing Land, the sound art piece produced by the late Mark Fisher and Justin Barton which was released via Hyperdub over the summer.

Other Ext. programme highlights include a series of 'Orbiting' workshops by SIREN open to women and non-binary-identifying participants (which will aim to teach skills beyond the confines of dancefloor DJing), a discussion between Holly Herndon and partner and collaborator Mat Dryhurst about the former's recent PROTO album and an audiovisual installation by visual artist group CURVE which will feature an exclusive soundtrack by Lee Gamble.

The Ext. programme kicks off tomorrow (October 17) with various related events running until Saturday (October 19). You can find full details here. You can also check the full programme, and get tickets for the festival, by heading here.

Ahead of this weekend, we picked out five acts to check out at the festival below.

Holly Herndon presents PROTO, SWX Bristol, 8PM

On Holly Herndon's third album proper, PROTO, she built on the explorations of technology and collaboration that fuelled her 2015 album, Platform, this time turning her focus to the progression of AI while teaming up with the likes of Jlin, Mat Dryhurst and an ensemble of vocalists in her base of Berlin.

She, Dryhurst and the vocal ensemble will all present PROTO at Bristol venue SWX as Herndon's UK tour supporting the album continues.

Read tQ's review of PROTO here and our 2015 interview with Herndon here

A Certain Ratio, Colston Hall Downstairs, 9.30PM

2019 marks 40 years since A Certain Ratio released their debut record, All Night party, on famed Manchester label Factory. They went on to release a number of records together in various forms through the 1980s and into the '90s before mostly winding things down for some time. Recent years have seen them strike up a partnership with Mute to reissue and expand much of their back catalogue including the release earlier this year of the 54-track ACR:Box set which kickstarted the celebrations to mark their 40th anniversary.

They'll play the downstairs area of live music venue Colston Hall for their first set in Bristol in 17 months.

Read tQ's 2019 interview with A Certain Ratio here

Black Country, New Road, Colston Hall Downstairs, 2.15PM

One of the less established acts on the Simple Things line-up this year, Black Country, New Road have been firm tQ favourites throughout 2019, delivering a rousing set for our showcase at The Great Escape in Brighton earlier this year. This year has seen them release a number of excellent one-off singles through their label home of Speedy Wunderground such as 'Sunglasses and 'Athen's, France', and they sit on the line-up alongside fellow Speedy Wunderground affiliates Squid who will close the upstairs area of Colston Hall later on in the day at 10.30PM.

They'll open the downstairs area of Colston Hall at the festival.

Read tQ's live review of Black Country, New Road supporting Fat White Family in London earlier this year here

Opening Concert with William Basinski, Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, Bristol IMAX, 7.30PM (Friday, October 18)

The music programme at Simple Things will get going a little earlier this year with a special opening concert at Bristol's IMAX Theatre from one of the most influential composers and sound artists of our time. For his show at Simple Things, William Basinski will team up with artists Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand to present the world premiere of a new audiovisual set called '10,000 Peacock in Foaming Acid'.

Basinski will perform original music while Domnitch and Gelfand use laser light to scan the surfaces of soap bubble clusters. The festival explains that "during the performance, these laser tracks meander through bubble membranes, which serve as molecule-thin lenses for an enormous immersive projection. Viewed in such proximity, a bubble’s skin evokes the dynamics of living cells - the lipid membranes of which are direct chemical descendants of soap films."

Read tQ's 2012 archive interview with William Basinski, about his classic work The Disintegration Loops, here

Avalon Emerson, Lakota 1, 12AM

Via releases for Whities and Spectral Sound, Avalon Emerson has come to be known as a producer of colourful, expressive club music. Her DJ sets, meanwhile, see her tear through a number of modern club sounds, often across three or four CDJs, from speed garage and bass-heavy breakbeats to piano-heavy house music and stripped-back techno, while also throwing in a healthy dose of her own edits, known as Cybernedits. Her recent set at Field Maneuvers festival was a weekend highlight as she closed the first night of the event with a two-hour bracing set of breaks, UK garage and more, including an edit of Russian duo t.A.T.u. and a closer of The Knife's excellent Silent Shout album track 'Forest Families'.

You can catch her bring all of the above, and likely more, to the night programme of Simple Things as she headlines the main room of Lakota for an extended three-hour set.

Read tQ's review of Field Maneuvers, featuring Avalon Emerson's set, here and read our 2016 interview with the DJ and producer here

Simple Things runs across multiple Bristol venues from October 18-19. For more details, and to get tickets, click here