Mathew Jonson calls it his favorite party in the world. Need an excuse to visit Japan? Jonson, Andre Gazzulli, Audion, Ryan Elliott and Donnacha Costello headline a hot lineup at Labyrinth in Gunma September 16-18th.
Japan’s outdoor party scene is dominated by psychedelic trance (rumour has it sixty percent of the psytrance sold around the world is bought by Japanese), but judging by the success of Labyrinth, it’s not just trancers who like to commune with nature.
Held in September every year since 2001, Labyrinth is a doof with a difference. There’s no beefy security guys, no queue for the toilets, and the soundsystem is of the Funktion One variety.
Each year the lineup grows more musically diverse and challenging; if 48 hours of non-stop trance sounds like your idea of hell, this is the party for you. This year there’s a heavy emphasis on a different kind of psychedelia: the trancey end of minimal that’s been making waves in Europe recently.
Labyrinth have snagged some of the hottest names in European and American techno for the Friday through Sunday party. On the live laptops will be Vancouver wunderkind Mathew Jonson; Tony Rohr from New York, Pier Bucci from Santiago via Berlin and Donnacha Costello (whose Colour Series of 12”s were dubbed by Michael Mayer as “Basic Channel for the 21st Century”). The festival also features a double dose of Matthew Dear, aka Audion, who will be both playing live and DJing.
On the decks will be techno from Cocoon resident Andre Galluzzi, nu-prog from Marcus of the tipped duo Minilogue (ex Son Kite), tech house from DJ Three from New York and banging progressive from Kasey Taylor, who’ll make his umpteenth trip back to Japan for Labyrinth. Also spinning will be Canadian Ryan Elliot, whose set at this year’s Sonar Festival in Barcelona was a highlight for many.
But that’s just the music. The party is worth making a special effort to get to for two reasons: its location, nestled between the hills of Gunma, and its attitude. Friendly touches make all the difference: the stage is separated from the dancers by a line of candles, not security barriers. Deckchairs for the weary are provided. Who ever heard of such niceties at a festival? And the mood is obviously infectious: check out the smiles on the faces of last year’s punters.