Going off RA's review of last year's festival, it would seem Norbergfestival in Sweden was geared very much with the beards and nerds in mind. For those outside the noise and sound art spheres, there were probably only a handful of names that would have been appealing. This year's edition was decidedly different, with a program that featured all types of sonic perversions.
As ever, the cavernous Mimer venue—a former mine, turned into a not quite fit-for-purpose concert hall—served as the festival's key attraction. A maze of concrete, staircases and multiple viewing platforms, all plunged in almost total darkness, it made for an extraordinary sensory experience. Artists like Cut Hands, Prurient, Lee Gamble and Thomas Köner provided the weekend's suitably surreal soundtrack.
The rest of the programming was split between the Kraftwerk barn and Camp 303 tent, the latter of which evolved this year from an informal camping soundsystem to a proper stage. This is where the bulk of the festival's "Glade-esque" acts performed. Gore Tech, The Doubtful Guest, Oyaarss and Ceephax Acid Crew were flying the flag for the IDM / breakcore community, but it was Otto Von Schirach, the Miami King of Crass, who stole the show. Love him or hate him—his music has always been a tough pill to swallow—there's an artform to turning the cheesy, abrasive and downright awful into an all-out danceathon, which he delivered in full. Camp 303 was in a delirious moshing uproar for the duration of his performance.
Photo credit: Peo Bengtsson/Pia Hammar
Meanwhile in Kraftwerk, the parameters of danceability were trialed, tested and at times redefined by a thoughtful cast of artists. Venetian Snares topped Friday's bill, and memorable performances came from Diamond Version, Skudge and The Haxen Cloak. The ever-shifting, ever-rewarding Mark Fell, though, was the standout here, performing (for the 37th time) Multistability Live in a perfect symbiosis of grey matter and the dance floor.
But the music is just a fraction of what makes Norberg a truly unique festival. From its fanzine-like guide, array of art and sound installations, to its ramshackle festival bus, there's something DIY and down-to-earth about Norberg that makes it one of those niche affairs that is most definitely worth a look.