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If you know anything about electronic music, you know about Sónar. Now in its 22nd year, with the official title of International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, these days the parallel activities generate as much excitement as the live acts at the main day and night sessions. Art installations, a conference dedicated to digital culture and decibel-appropriate kids’ specials are just part of the extended Sónar programme that takes over many corners of the city. The live performances feature top electronic acts new and old.
The first artists confirmed for the 22nd edition include, as usual, a mix of the sacred classics as well as the ones to watch for the future. Among the first of the more than 150 acts that will make up this year's edition of Sónar by Day (Fira Montjuïc) and Sónar by Night (Fira Gran Via) are the new show from that Manchester due The Chemical Brothers, who have spent the last 20 years redefining the concept of live electronic music and who will once again collaborate with director and visual artist Adam Smith; Autechre, one of the most admired and respected duos of abstract and experimental electronica, who are back at Sónar nearly two decades after their only concert in the festival in 1996.
Other big names are the UK's Tahliah Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs, who was hailed at Sónar 2014 thanks to her debut album 'LP1', released the same year; Irish singer Róisín Murphy, formerly of Moloko; as well as superstar DJs Skrillex and Jamie xx.
Among some of the regulars at the Sónar festival are Hot Chip, Die Antwoord and Flying Lotus, and fans of classics in the history of electronic pop are in for a treat with '80s darlings Duran Duran, who are releasing a new album in 2015.
Lee Gamble, respected sonic adventurer will present his new audiovisiual concept live, in collaboration with London designer Gaskarth. Exploratory electronica and the experimental face of the festival falls in the hands of big players such as Mika Vainio, Powell, The Bug, Randomer and the showcase of the 20th anniversary of the label Mego, presenting Voices From the Lake, Russel Haswell, LCC, Klara Lewis and KTL. The new trap and bass music comes from the likes of Cashmere Cat, Redinho and Yung Lean & Sad Boys.
You'll also want to check out the young acts Vessel and Evian Christ, two British producers, each with his own identifiable sound, who, with techno as a bass, will explore territories of more complex sounds in shows with a lot of sensory impact. Other highlights include more Sónar women such as Holly Herndon and her worlds of dystopian sounds; British poet, performer and playwright Kate Tempest, who will present her first album; and German techno and electro DJ Helena Hauff.
Among the dance music projects, you'll enjoy the emotive and danceable techno from Kiasmos, produced by Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen (Bloodgrouop); Lithuania's Ten Walls, for fans of luminescent and penetrating melodies; DJ Daniel Avery is the new maestro of British tech-house with a little help from his patron Erol Alkan; and Sophie, who recently colaborated with and won over big names such as Madonna, Diplo and Nicki Minaj with his (or her) fluorescence and rhythms under the wing of PC Music. The dance music offering also brings to the stages Laurent Garnier, Jamie xx, Maya Jane Coles, Siriusmodeselktor, The 2 Bears, Roman Flügel, Ralph Lawson, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Henrik Schwarz.
Pop and less-electronic sounds also have their place in the festival with acts like New Zealand's Fat Freddy's Drop, who mix dub, reggae and soul with touches of house and techno; and British performers Tourist and Kindness, two key figures on the current synth pop scene.
Local players are also on hand, with the explosive mixes of trap, hip hop, R&B and reggaeton from PXXR GVNG; instrumentalist and producer Niño; and young artist Mans O.