NFF14 | Vancouver, BC | September 18-21, 2014
Vancouver’s New Forms Festival (NFF) entered its 14th edition by setting the bar ever so high with its bold, ambitious venue selection: a weekend at Science World. Impeccably curated, the trim, focused lineup allowed all involved artists to take centre stage. ‘The entire weekend’ was a common response to the question of who one was anxious to see. Adding to the experience, within the undercurrent of NFF there always lies a well realized exhibition of visual art and design. A rich collection of Vancouver media artists contributed vibrant animations serving as the backdrop for those wandering the event. The design work for this years event was done by local firm Post Projects.
The late night events, taking place on a pair of stages inside the Science World complex, provided many of the major highlights. The opening night, featuring Inga Copeland, Young Braised and Dam-Funk, provided a nicely varied introduction to the event. No one sounds like Inga Copeland, as anyone lucky enough to witness her live set can attest. Frenetic and disconcerting, her voyage of experimental rhythms entranced. Dam-Funk landed in Vancouver with a spirited live performance replacing Madlib. His dance party was an uplifting introduction to the weekend.
Friday’s program began with two of Vancouver’s brightest talents taking the main stage. 1080p and Forbidden Planet artist Lnrdcroy coaxed the night in with euphoric ambience and lush IDM rhythms. Cloudface brought vibes from the Hut with an elevated and beautifully engaging live performance of deep reaching grooves. His set could have lasted forever and no one in attendance would have minded. The North American debut of Golden Pudel resident Helena Hauff was the toast of the night though, delivering a visceral performance with her unique blend of rough electro overprinted by wonderfully disconcerting melodies. No one was left standing still. She was the shining example of a perfectly landed, world class booking by the NFF crew. From then on the crowd was locked in the zone for the harsh, innovative live sets of Jared Wilson and Hieroglyphic Being.
The 2nd floor program on Saturday could have been the highlight of the entire weekend. Bass was the focus, playing on Vancouver’s rich dnb roots. Local artist 22:22 set the tone nicely with a brooding opening set of modern dubstep explorations. From midnight onwards the crowd was treated to powerful sets from a world class crop of UK talent. Visionist came with a serious selection, bringing a relentless set of grime hybrids. Keysound artist Wen followed, bringing a set pivoted towards jungle rhythms and use of space. The crowd reached a fever pitch at this point, carrying through to Scratcha DVA, Hyperdub’s prime selector. The visuals for the night, provided by Jonny Ostrem, were so outstanding that one could have been forgiven for losing focus on the music. Ostrem tied the night together perfectly with his amorphous, textured imagery.
The immensity of the OmniMax theatre performances set the tone in style each night. Friday night saw the profound panelled imagery of Stan VanDerBeek providing gorgeous visual accompaniment to the towering electronics of Sinoia Caves and synth pioneer Morton Subotnick. Clinker was one of the surprises of the weekend, beginning Friday night with the subtle, poignant patterns of ‘Frequency Painting’.  Veteran pairing Murcof and AntiVJs delivered potentially the most moving piece of the festival on Friday. Anyone lucky to have witnessed this act surely left inspired and impossibly content. Arca and Jesse Kanda left something to be desired on the Saturday night though, lacking the artistic depth one might have expected given their recent output. But this was a very minor misstep in an otherwise enthralling theatre program. 
New Forms Festival truly is a vital perennial document of both Vancouver’s sonic relevance and it’s warm, inviting artistic community. The 2014 edition only cemented that fact. All class, NFF has quietly become a West Coast institution with its well orchestrated regard for both sonic artistry and the frontiers of dance music. It always provides a well realized glimpse of the state of global underground dance music and a window in time for the Vancouver scene. Organizers truly outdid themselves this year. Already looking forward to September 2015.

Thrust - Do You Understand? (Scam Remix)

This dusty boom bap classic was released back in 1996 on Toronto label Knowledge of Self. The city was home to one of the most underrated mid 90’s hip hop scenes, with artists such as Citizen Kane and Thrust garnering considerable attention within the American underground at the time. Thrust, with his Pharoah Monch esque cadence and wordplay was one of the most skilled Canadian MCs of that era. Most of the vinyl releases from the time are currently quite rare.

House of Doors - The Dolphin Hotel Affair Vol. 1

MH005. House of Doors lifts off from his essential split 12” on Future Times to deliver this elevated fifth release for venerated Vancouver label Mood Hut. Building on very strong 12”s from Aquarian Foundation and Pender Street Steppers, this latest record emanates confidence that the label should rightly have at this point. Each Mood Hut release manages to look both back and forward in its own unique way, coming together to capture a sound that so nicely embodies West Coast lifestyle.

All three tracks here reach real deep, culminating with ’Moesha’, the hazed out, ‘Boy Is Mine’ sampling B side. A side ‘Filter Feelings’ gets things going on the floor with its moody bassline and grainy shakers. Final track ‘Frakincence’ evokes images of beach fires and crashing waves during memorable summer nights on the Pacific coast. This one will be given major summer rotation. Crucial release!

Combine - Irons

Serious techno from Vancouver duo Combine. From IYT001, the first release on local label It’s Your Turn. Limited vinyl run of 100. Don’t sleep on this one. The flipside track is also amazing.

Pender Street Steppers - MH004

Great new release from Vancouver label/crew Mood Hut, who have been making major waves of late, with releases on prominent labels such as Future Times, PPU and Proibito. Their sound has crystallized as a particularly positive, uplifting brand of organic house music, with emphasis on their crew. This record is the labels fourth, after about a year of tape releases. Pender Street Steppers are also coming off a performance at last years New Forms Festival. Third track ‘Temple Walk’ sounds particularly great here. This one will be ‘comin’ out valentines day on round disc format’.

Nick Wisdom - Snoopin’ Pt. 2 (feat. Eli Muro)

Amazingly smooth, cosmic track off yet another super solid release from Nick Wisdom. Released on the Missus Peel LP, out on local Vancouver label Jellyfish Recordings. Nick recently moved to Montreal and this is his 4th release. The album is a collection of jazzy synth-filled instrumentals and also features collaborations with rappers Moka Only, Solar Scenery & Jon Rogers, and fellow Montreal producer Pomo.  You can get this and the the rest of the tracks free via Bandcamp

Passed on this one after a quick first listen. My mistake! Cant get enough. Sabota is a collaborative project between Robbie Slade (of Humans) and Max Ulis. The full album is being released on Hybridity, Jan 27th.

Confident lofi hip hop from the rapper Young Braised. From the Japanese Tendencies EP, out today on the already amazing 1080p label. Mastered in Vancouver’s Mood Hut, this release is a very important one for the city. The album is entirely produced by Terio outta Japan.

Check out the whole release here.

Vancouver’s 8prn dropped his newest EP last week - it’s entitled Cunha. All three tracks on it are unbelievable and demand attention. There’s sure to be big things on the horizon here. 

>Download the EP for FREE<

Mosey slays! His soundcloud is riddled with post-able tracks. He produced Sippin on Sapporo ft. Young Braised. You should know that track! If you don’t…Know it! Both Mosey and Braised are Vancouver! 

Stole this from the most recent Headspace mix. Mix is full of gems!! Headspace is also Vancouver!