It's been five years since Tokyo last got a taste of the sprawling "advanced music" gala that is Sonar. The Barcelona electronica fest has been expanding steadily since 1994, but its Japanese counterpart has developed more fitfully: the first SonarSound Tokyo was held at Roppongi Hills in 2002, followed by events at Yebisu Garden Place in 2004 and 2006, and then… nothing.
Its belated revival, this time at Shinkiba super-club Ageha, comes courtesy of local heavyweights Beatink (of Electraglide fame), who've taken over from original promoters Third Ear. Originally planned as a three-day event, SonarSound Tokyo 2011 has been wisely scaled back to a two-day affair, with the resulting benefit that the lineups now look a lot sturdier. In light of recent events, it's also taken on a fundraising focus: there'll be donation booths at the site, and profits are going to be given to charity.
The Saturday night bill is topped by Warp Records wunderkind Flying Lotus, who these days seems to be straying increasingly from the comfort zone of instrumental hip-hop into the nether regions of astral jazz. He presides over a diverse selection of acts that runs from foreboding visual/sound artist Ryoji Ikeda to Underworld's Karl Hyde and Darren Price – a welcome last-minute addition to the bill.
On Sunday, math-rock power trio Battles will be playing one of their first live shows since losing core member Tyondai Braxton, in preparation for the release of their muscular new album Gloss Drop. Japanese band Rovo will probably just sound like a load of pleasant noodling in comparison, but bets are off as to what to expect from audio/visual artist Masakatsu Takagi or the UK's Seefeel, a post-shoegaze band last heard from in the mid-'90s.
Here's the full lineup:
Saturday: Flying Lotus, Modeselektor, DJ Krush, Y.Sunahara, Ryoji Ikeda, Altz, DJ Scotch Egg, Azzxsss, Hudson Mohawke, Axel Boman, Bruna, Daisuke Tanabe…
Sunday: Battles, Rovo, Masakatsu Takagi, Kode9, DJ Baku, Open Reel Ensemble, Dot i/o, Sabi, Tokimonsta, Dorian Concept, Lunice, Mweslee, Patrice Bäumel…