Live WOMAD 2016 compilation

In July 2016 the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System, in association with Real World returned to WOMAD for a third year in a row. The four immense 3.5m high speaker stacks brought the festival audience closer to the music and experienced the innovations that are pushing the boundaries of sound. The plan was to bring studio-quality sound to the festival environment.

Having become a favourite on the WOMAD music programme for the previous two years, the stage returned with an exciting array of artists exploring the theme of sound in interesting ways. Each day started with a soundscape and then visitors were taken on a sonic journey of discovery which progressed via acoustic acts, special live performances, electrconic sessions and finally a closing DJ set – all from artists passionate about sound.

This compilation features some of the highlights, with each of the artists choosing their favorite track from the live performance during the festival weekend.

Steve Hellier and Nick Luscombe

Steve Hellier is a sound obsessive and producer, formerly one half of Death In Vegas. Nick Luscombe is BBC Radio 3 Late Junction presenter, DJ, sound artist and Musicity founder. Together, in their own words they design bespoke audio “happenings”, fusing original field recordings with curated elements of music to create new experiences and soundtracks and a live immersive listening session.

The Anchoress

Described by UNCUT as “Karen Carpenter signing John Grant” should be itself in enough to make you want to listen to Catherine Ann Davies aka The Anchoress. Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer a well as author and PhD, Catherine follows her heroes Prince and Kate Bush in the authorial autonomy of her work, strictly controlling her musical vision to the tiniest detail. She is never less than compelling in all that she does.

Black Devil Disco Club

Black Devil Disco Club is the electronic disco music project of Bernard Fèvre and has been hugely influential to such leftfield artists as Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert. Indeed Rephlex records reissued Fèvre’s first EP Disco Club in 1974 after finding it in a cat boot sale in 2004. Releasing only a clutch of highly covetable recordings, Fèvre’s experimental electronica library LPs – think a darker, grimier Giorgio Moroder – have been highly sought after and were reissued for the first time in early 2016.

Native Dancer

Referencing electronic pop, hip-hop, trip-hop and R&B, Native Dancer is a five-piece whose live skills have been honed deep within London’s burgeoning jazz resurgence. They fuse acoustic instruments, synthesisers and samples to create music that has been called “a refreshing burst of imagination, uniqueness, and purpose” by Afropunk which is fully in evidence in their contribution to this month’s compilation.

Stuart McCallum

“It should exist in the cracks between genres. It’s not just classical or jazz or rock or beats. It’s between all of those.” Stuart McCallum reluctantly attempts to classify his music and the soundscapes he creates. His work is both epic yet intimate. Formally the guitarist for The Cinematic Orchestra, there are obvious parallels in his solo work but it transcends this and just as easily calls to mind Brian Eno or Miles Davis. Stuart is also a member of The Breath, alongside Ríoghnach Connolly.

Immix Ensemble and Vessel

‘Transition’, the remarkable collaborative release of Immix Ensemble and Vessel focuses on the theme of technology. Musical instruments are a technological anomaly in that they are rarely updated after their conception. In this sense, the instrumentation used by Immix provides us with snapshots of technologies that can be traced back as far as 1500BC. Like Nils Frahm or Max Richter, Transition stretches the boundaries of contemporary classical music and avant-garde composition.

Gwilym Gold

With the glitch beats, melancholic piano-led songs and a fragile falsetto, favourable comparisons to Radiohead or Talk Talk are inevitable. But Gwilym Gold has just as much in common with contemporaries like James Blake. His songs are ethereal, strange and beautiful art-pop that resonates beautifully with repeated listening.

Cat's Eyes

This dream-pop duo consists of The Horrors front man Faris Badwan and Italian Canadian soprano and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira, Cat's Eyes are that rare thing, a successful side-project. Swooning 60’s pop and lush expansive arrangements give their music a sweeping cinematic feel, not least their eerie award-winning soundtrack for Peter Strickland’s ‘The Duke of Burgundy’.

Hollie Stephenson

From a very young age, Hollie Stephenson has been obsessed with jazz, blues and soul. She describes hearing Billie Holiday as “my key to everything”. That passion goes some way to explaining the sheer quality of Hollie’s singing skills. She’s been immersed in those genres for as long as she can talk. Dave Stewart heard her stunning voice when she was twelve and, under his guidance, she released her classic soul-soaked debut album in early 2016.

A Guy Called Gerald

Opening the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System in 2016 was A Guy Called Gerald. He is perhaps best known for his classic tracks ‘Voodoo Ray’ and ‘Pacific State’ (as part of 808 state) but nine albums and 25 years of independence later, he continues to push the boundaries of electronic dance music, touring worldwide.

Paddy Steer

A key player in Manchester’s underground scene for decades, Paddy Steer is a musical maverick, usually found be-decked in outlandish costumes concocting an unclassifiable mix of acid jazz, electronica and cosmic noise. 808 State’s Graham Massey describes the Steer sound “like a Swiss cuckoo clock made of egg boxes and horsehair, glued together by an African Moog player in a Vietnamese ironmonger’s shop”. We couldn’t say it any better.

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