This was my first time visiting the Paral·lel Festival that was now running for its third year. For such a young festival to so quickly gain a dedicated following from all around the world, is very impressive. I knew I had something special to look forward to. During the festival I met people from all six continents, some traveling very far solely for Paral·lel. In my opinion, this diversity of crowd, all there for their love of mental techno and nature, adds a lot to the special vibe of the festival. This year was also the first time the festival sold out their limit of 1000 people attending, something I expect to happen quicker for every coming year. A limit they’ve put there to ensure a high quality experience for all festival goers. Yet like always with new experiences, you can never be sure of what is to come. On the way there I was quite impatient for it all to start.
I arrived in one of the shuttle buses from Barcelona and the ride there was nothing short of breathtaking. Gorgeous green mountain landscapes filled with life. A great start to our journey. The festival site itself was stunning as well and I often found myself wandering off on little journeys from the dance floor to explore and take in the beautiful surrounding nature. One side of the area facilitated a picturesque hotel and some horses and donkeys by a small pond. The other side, on a small hill, was the camping and stage area. To get from the camping to the stage, you had to climb this steep and quite slippery slope. During the night, that journey became a bit difficult and quite amusing. Luckily the organisers had lit it up with a light strip, so you could see where you were stepping. But for most people, I can imagine, their sight wasn’t the biggest challenge.
Rainfall welcomed us to the festival together with the atmospheric ambient sounds of Guillam’s opening set. One side of the stage was a little forest area where most people decided to take retreat while listening and getting acclimatised. Guillam’s calm sounds were a great way to get into the mood – and also a good combination with the rain. After him Izabel played a very interesting mix of all sorts of different electronic music. Something I think any music lover out there would’ve appreciated. One and a half hour of solid selections.
After slowly getting into our groove, Alan Backdrop decided it was time to go mad. Probably the most fun, psychedelic set I’ve ever heard from start to finish. Not once a boring or dull moment during the entire three hours he played. It was not heavy either, just filled with super heady sounds and danceable rhythms. Always groovy, with top class selection and great varied mixing. I am quite sure he was only spinning vinyl as well. Very impressed by the way he was able to up the energy during transitions. Smiles on everyone’s faces, freaky dance moves being shared. Really couldn’t imagine a better way to “get into” the festival and set the mood. Before his set the suspense was high, from there on it was full on excitement.
Natural/Electronic.System closed the first night. A very meditative set that managed to lure the moon out from behind the clouds. Illuminating the foggy mountains creating a grand, very fitting vibe. Not as eclectic or energetic as Alan Backdrops set, rather they presented slowly evolving, deep rhythms with ear tickling textures on top. The set was giving the crowd an opportunity to connect with ourselves, each other and the surrounding nature. A great ending to the first night as it didn’t leave you drained of energy, rather the opposite, excited for the days to come.
On Saturday Valentino Mora’s daytime set was for many one of the highlights of the festival. Absolute masterclass in groove. Even though the sun was high and strong (got a wicked burn on my nose from it) his sounds brought most of Paral·lel to the dance floor. Tribal techno beats, underwater house sounds, all mixed seamlessly for a really dreamy set. Track selections were stellar as well. Everything sounded so fresh and exciting. Now, it is a goal of mine to catch him at Panorama Bar some day.
After Valentino it was time for Forest Drive West followed by Refracted, the only two sets of the festival I enjoyed from far. In the mood to explore the area, I was gone for a couple hours. Later I also enjoyed some roasted eggplant ravioli from one of the three food trucks in the area. All three trucks were serving very delicious food, but the pasta was for sure my favourite. It had me coming back several times. Unfortunately I missed out on the empanadas they were serving, hopefully I can get some next year. I also decided to take a small nap before heading back out into the night.
At midnight Wata Igarashi gets up behind his live setup. The mountains are dark and the stage is shining red. Suspense levels are high. The music starts and you can just tell we are all about to experience something very, very special. It starts to get deep, layers are getting added on, intensity levels rising and… dead silence. Igarashi looks devastated, quickly trying to get the sound going again with the help from the crew. After the initial shock the crowd start to cheer and clap loudly in support. After a minute or so, they get the sound going but just as quickly it is gone again. One more try – but it just won’t work for some reason. Visibly disappointed, but highly professional, Igarashi jumps over to the CDJ’s that were already loaded with his USB. The crowd is ecstatic. What just had happened, did not matter one bit anymore, and Igarashi took us to his techno playground for the next hour. Bouncy rhythms from other dimensions layered with extraterrestrial drones resulting in melted minds and orgasmic peaks. To say I was hypnotized would be an understatement, before I knew it, the set was over. Wata Igarashi is a true master of his craft, experiencing him on a top sound system in such a setting is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
What then proceeded to take place during Dasha Rush’s Saturday closing set was really one of those “you had to be there” moments. From the first song it was like she had cast a spell of darkness over the crowd that made us all experience it together, as one. Emotional, sexy, powerful, ecstatic are all words that come to mind thinking back but really words aren’t enough to describe the feelings being experienced during that night. Breaking all human boundaries with her skull crushing bass drums, eerie atmospheres and dark driving bass lines we were all reduced to our most primal desires. Experiencing pure unadulterated pleasure through dance and human connection. Some of the best hugs of my life were shared that night with people I had just met. The whole dance floor was sharing freaky dance moves to the hissing hi-hats and geometrical light show illuminating the trees. For a set that went on for over four hours, it felt like the blink of an eye, but also like an entire lifetimes worth of emotions.
I’ll never forget the pureness in the eyes and soul of the man looking for his friend during the set. “I love him so much, he married my sister”. I couldn’t help but choke up a little bit, told him he’d find him soon and he was on his way. Hope you found him buddy.
The set went in a couple musical directions as well. Ranging from darker, harsher sounds, to tripped out vocal madness, into badass cinematic electro before ending with some beautiful atmospheres and acid. The crowd was jubilant, cheering her on for a long time after the set ended, still in shock from what we just had experienced. She responded with an encore for the record books. Throwing on a hard hitting gabber type track for a last dance session before the night ended. I went back to my tent with a huge grin on my face. Exhausted, truly grateful for the experience – and at peace.
If you have woken up in a moist, warm tent, you know how “great” that feels. You can imagine me being excited when I heard a big, rumbling bass coming from the stage area. Quickly I rushed up and got over there, no idea of what the time was. About 10-15 other people had the same idea, almost running towards the stage for the surprise and amusement of Luigi Tozzi standing in the middle of the floor, just doing a sound check. It became pretty clear that the time was quite early from the fact that there were no other people around but a small dance party was held to the different sound tests. For the first time during the festival I was able to charge my phone, which really hadn’t been needed. The phone told me that it was 10AM, which means I had only slept about 4 hours that night, but still I was feeling refreshed and excited for the day to come. Something about the healing powers of the air in the mountains…
At noon TM404 starts the music for the day with his live set. Beautifully slow and spacey acid fills the area, making people come alive again from the previous night. He is a master of his equipment, and every jam detour sounds like a fresh excursion into the universe. Honestly feel like I could listen to him go on for many many hours without getting bored, just floating along. One and a half hour later it is time for Luigi Tozzi to present us his live set consisting of his own personal brand of meditative and atmospheric techno. A very moving, but still danceable mix is what it results in, which together with TM404’s set was a perfect start to the day after the previous nights emotional discharge. There no longer was suspense in the air at Paral·lel. It had been exchanged for a more gentle, emotional vibe.
We were then treated with the best surprise you could ever wish for. Wata Igarashi was back on the stage, once again ready to present his live set – this time going flawlessly without any technical difficulties. And he blew Paral·lel’s socks off. It being in the middle of the day did not matter one bit, might even had added to the vibe as it was lovely to dance in the sun. One hour straight of rich psychedelic techno. Reaching peaks where the drums would break down into sounds i can only describe as a thunderstorm. Absolutely massive live set, I highly recommend anyone interested in deep types of techno to try to catch him live.
The next four hours Patrick Russell graced us with his presence. An ever evolving trip consisting of everything from IDM to acid and hypnotic techno bombs. All coming together to form a coherent story. Really impressive overall and had many people locked on the dance floor. This brought us into the festivals closing set, Tobias. live. As I’d never heard him before I had no idea what to expect but very quickly I realised he meant business. Endless driving acid bass lines, paired with sexy Berlin drums and trippy vocals. He kept the festivals narrative of deep music going but upped the energy and drive to a ten. Causing a major dance party to end the festival. Once again the crowd was ecstatic, refusing to stop cheering for long after the set ended. Demanding more by clapping, screaming, chanting. Finally after what felt like a lifetime and the crew almost starting to remove the gear Tobias. came out again for about thirty minutes more of dance mania. A truly epic and oh-so-fitting end to a perfect festival.
Everything about Paral·lel oozes of quality. The massive sound system, carefully thought artist bookings and time table, setting in gorgeous nature, food and crowd. Coming together to create a grand, emotional journey over an intense but not in any way exhausting three days. It might sound a bit ridiculous how much praise I am giving almost every performance there but it just was THAT good. Top artists of their field flexing their musical muscles to an educated, open and receptive crowd through a top notch sound system. I need to give a huge thanks from the bottom of my heart to everyone involved in making this experience possible. Can’t wait to be back next year.. and the year after that.. and so on.
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