I had the luxury of attending the inaugural edition of Substrata (Substrata 1.1) last July, and even putting aside the fact that it was/is held in the Chapel Performance Space of Seattle’s Good Shepherd Center, in the city’s Wallingford neighborhood, the event was truly something of a spiritual experience. As I gradually became consumed by the resonant timbres of musical subtlety, I half expected Jesus Christ himself to come flying in through one of the stained-glass windows, in order to perform some actual levitational tricks, while my mind was already floating. Then he’d be knocked down from the rafters with a broom and forced to pay the price of admission, because secular tradition admits to no special treatment, not even for theoretical saviors of humanity. The fading rays of dusk sunlight and the serenity of the venue itself were appreciable accessories to the event’s unconscious significance.
Substrata 1.2, which will take place on August 3-5, aims to continue what the first edition started, though with a few important distinctions. First, the similarities: naturally, Substrata wouldn’t be Substrata without an international lineup of artists dedicated to exploring auditory minutiae and the human relationship to it. The first evening will feature “pioneering” UK artist Scanner, Australian media artist and curator Lawrence English, and Daniel Menche, an audiovisual artist from Portland. The second evening will feature performances from Chicago’s Pan•American, Tim Hecker (who, it appears, will be performing the entirety of Ravedeath, 1972 (TMT Review)), Loscil, and Widesky. On August 5, similar to the third day of Substrata 1.1, a limited group of attendees will join Lawrence English and Robin Rimbaud (a.k.a. Scanner) on a field trip to Puget Sound, where the day’s activities will revolve around “hiking, field recording, exploring, and learning.” Sing-alongs are not explicitly mentioned.
Separating Substrata 1.2 from last year’s edition is the inclusion of two free daytime educational events on Saturday, August 4 — the first being a lecture from Lawrence English on the “the interconnections of humanity, sound and the wider environment,” and the second being a panel discussion entitled, “Economics of Uncertain Futures and Sustainability (Surviving the Apocalypse of Art).” Organizers have also put together a three-pronged crowd-funding initiative, which you can learn more about on the festival’s website.
Trust me, Substrata is a rare type of event. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out.
• Substrata: http://www.substratafestival.com