With the winter behind us and the nights beginning to lengthen out from the darkness, our thoughts have begun turning towards the things we can look forward to in the cloying embrace of summer. In particular one festival has been getting it so right over the last 6 years that with less than 100 days to go until this year’s offering, the excitement is really starting to heat up. I’m talking about Gottwood: the party in the woods of Anglesey with a consistently steady hand at nailing an aesthetic and vibe, with an array of artists from across the electronic musical spectrum. You can read our review of last year’s chapter here to see just how we feel about it.
Listen to anyone’s account of the place and you get the sense that there’s something quite special going on here. Refreshingly the organisers don’t seem interested in boundless expansion for its own sake and for the most part they’ve kept the capacity consistent. More stages are promised this year while the number of tickets is comparable to last year, decidedly maintaining the sense of intimacy that has people going back year on year.
Among the returning promoters to the family I’m especially pleased to see Cardiff’s disco masters Studio 89, Corsica Studios’ ever impressive Tief and Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section, while the addition of legendary day-party SecretSundaze draws the eye.
On the label front the return of Birmingham’s One Records, Wolf Music and Craig Richards’ The Nothing Special are all very welcome. Richards himself is playing B2B with Ben UFO which is an obvious standout. Of the new additions Will Saul’s AUS has been widely heralded and I’m a massive fan of Banoffee Pies after the incredible year they’ve had. Not An Animal is a new outfit from the guys behind Bad Passion (we reviewed their first release here) so you can be sure they know about putting on a party, while the highlight for me is Tenderlonius’ 22a imprint (despite the absence of Mo Kolours from the bill) – cementing Peckham’s inordinately large presence in this North-Walian wood.
Moving on to the line-up at large, there isn’t much to do but gawp at the wealth of talent on show. The list is vast and there is so much to get excited about but some of my highlights include: Awesome Tapes from Africa’s exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin set; Texan Thai-Funk band Khruangbin; big hitters like Move D, Prosumer and Daniel Avery; live analogue madness from Mr G, dark Bristol bass from Appleblim and Hodge & Kowton; who knows what from Psychmagik; and something to match Ben UFO and Craig Richards in Andrew Weatherall B2B Roman Flugel. Final additions include the master that is Jon Talabot along with Hunee, coming off a year that’s really seen him take his place among the best around. Plus Manchester hip-hop crew LEVELZ – who dropped their unbelievable début mixtape in January.
Creative partners for the year were announced at the start of this month too. Particularly interesting is Behind This Wall – a film-screening night that’s had residencies at some of the country’s best clubs – screening films with RA Films and Future Shorts throughout the weekend. Also on the radar are the audio-visual installations created by derelicht which look incredible, and perhaps best of all is the space inspired by the Wayne’s World garage. This promises retro gaming, interviews in the day and nightly takeovers by Stamp The Wax, Dream Catalogue and Ruff Kutz.
There are so many reasons to go. To the trees!