The first weekend of August had arrived. The weekend known amongst many in the electronic music scene as the weekend of one of the most well produced festivals; Dekmantel Festival. Acclaimed for its strong identity in bringing the different varieties of electronic music together for a 5-day spectacle, the festival was going into it’s sixth edition. The great variety and quality of the music that generally was to be heard at Dekmantel in previous years is what ensured that there was always something to enjoy for electronic music fans of different kinds.
One of the most memorable sets that we got to experience at Dekmantel was the three hour opening of the UFO on the second day, by the Japanese DJ maestro; Nobu. For the duration of those 3 hours, the techno stalwart from Chiba managed to showcase his intricate vision on techno. Starting out with some calm and subtle tracks to warm up the thin crowd at the start, which included some ambient elements that kept the crowd profoundly hypnotised. As time progressed during his set and the dance floor became more crowded, Nobu started to move more and more into the driving techno direction that he is also quite known for. The Dekmantel regular closed his set with the classic track Reversed Processed by Ritzi Lee, bringing his mesmerising set to a euphoric ending.
One of the new additions to Dekmantel this year was the construction of the second UFO stage. A small, intimate stage, which felt like a sauna at times due to the intense heat. Varg’s live performance on Friday was the stand-out set in this setting. The Swede, mostly known for his productions on the Northern Electronics imprint, played a considerably diverse set. Crossing boundaries between various styles, while maintaining an adequate level of cohesiveness throughout the set. Varg showcased his love for texturally strong deep techno, carrying an engaging groove that stimulated the crowd to move to a a greater extent that many other artists were able to do that day. As his set progressed, Varg’s unconventional side also started to show as he started to move into a territory blending hip hop and techno, sounding similar to his collaboration with Yung Lean on NE39.
Compared to previous years the festival seemed to have lost some of its magic on both a musical level and as an experience as a whole. Overall, the music was still of decent quality with a few highlights that rose above the occasion. However, the overall sentiment that was felt amongst many regular visitors was that the festival definitely was less groundbreaking compared to previous years. As was mentioned, Dekmantel festival has been known for the strong balance and variety between the different genres. This year the balance was not as present as strong as before. Some types of sounds were highlighted disproportionately, while for others there was a lack of presence. Quite a missed opportunity, since the addition of an extra UFO stage provided a chance to strengthen this variety and balance of music that Dekmantel festival has been known for.
Photo credit: Bart Heemskerk