The festival’s programme showcases many genres of electronic music, from techno to ambient to baroque with vocals generated by AI. The latter is the result of GAMMA_LAB AI project, which brought together international artists and scientists to create completely new performances using technology. Peter Kirn, a Berlin-based artist, founder of online magazine
CDM and one of the facilitators of the initiative, feels like they “opened a can of worms” – even though the time limits and the tool’s complexity allowed only a taste of the potential.
The rest of the programming isn’t as forward-looking, though, and the line-up features far fewer women than men, especially among the headliners which, unofficially, are Surgeon, Oscar Mulero, Dax J, Samuel Kerridge, Varg, I Hate Models and
Violet, the latter the only woman on the list. KMRU, a Kenyan ambient artist, is the only non-white performer billed. This reflects the crowd, too, which is mostly Slavic and straight, although a pleasant mix age-wise. Encompassing both the fashionable rave kids and the older generation of partygoers, the event isn’t particularly representative of a regular club night in the city but it connects today’s scene to its roots from 30 years ago. The techno sets from DJ Slon and m_division resident Lena Popova are emblematic of the decade when electronic music reached the dissolving Soviet Union.
Russian rave is at home in St Petersburg, where artists squatted in empty flats in the late 80s and early 90s. They used the space for studios during the day, and for parties at night. The legacy of marrying visual art and electronic music still lives in the local scene, and other promoters go beyond the audio-visual, using their locations as galleries. Indeed, Gamma positions sculptures, installations and video art as equal parts of the main event, and “some people may not even dance at all, they walk around the factory all night”, Logos says.
The opening concert of GAMMA takes place in the new Planetarium 1. A dome 37 metres in diameter, it’s the largest in the world and is equipped with a system of 40 projectors. Sadly, the exciting premise turns out to be underwhelming as the size of the digital canvas remains, for the most part, not used to its fullest. Technical issues, popping up continuously, are particularly jarring during the meditative electro-acoustic performance of Japanese artist Kazuya Nagaya, who uses traditional bells and singing bowls.
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