by Kaelen Bell
Strange weather brings stranger vibrations as Send + Receive Festival descends on Winnipeg in its 20th incarnation, with a new host of artists, alchemists and alien dispatches.
The long-running multimedia festival’s 2018 concert series features 12 artists, half of whom are Manitoban, and runs October 4-7. The performances span a dizzying array of textures and possibilities, including unearthed family recordings, handmade synthesizers, field-recordings, and improvisational electronic, guitar, and percussive music. In celebration of two decades of noise, the festival is also welcoming the long-awaited arrival of an experimental legend.
Festival Director crys cole has been a purveyor of experimental music since her youth, and she relies on her experience in the corporeal world of noise to curate a festival dedicated to opening the minds of those in attendance – and opening doors for those performing.
“A big part of the festival is the community building aspect, the ability for local artists to network with older artists and create some inspiration and creative energy flow,” she says.
cole, a sound artist in her own right, says that her work with the festival is meant to expose people to something they’ve never seen before – and create something memorable, even if they don’t necessarily enjoy it.
“That’s always a really rewarding experience, because I’ve had people hate performances. They come up to me and say ‘I did not like that…. but I’ll never forget it,’” she says, laughing. “But then they say, ‘that other thing, earlier in the night, that was amazing.’ It’s about creating an experience for everyone involved.”
cole describes Send + Receive as a centralized forum for freaks, artists, and sonic explorers from around the globe.
“I feel like the central location of Winnipeg is interesting because it’s a part of Canada most people would never go. So that’s kind of exciting, to bring these weirdos from Belgium and Japan to the middle of Canada,” she says.
One such weirdo, and this year’s main draw and guest of honour, is world-destroying Japanese noise icon Keiji Haino, who is playing Send + Receive for the first time.
A life-long fan of Haino, cole says she’s thrilled to finally have him, and is excitedly anticipating the impact that his indescribable music will have on audiences.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Keiji play many times over the years. I’ve always felt, every time I see him perform, ‘I think Winnipeggers would just have their heads blown off seeing this,” she says.
Haino has been creating avant-garde music for four decades, working primarily with voice and guitar, though his work has encompassed dozens of styles, energies and influences without ever hitting a familiar note. He’s a sonic chameleon, his works impossible to anticipate and difficult to forget. It’s this state of constant evolution that draws cole to his work.
“To me, that’s what keeps his work really alive and really exciting, and sometimes completely perplexing. Sometimes I see him do something and I’m like ‘what on earth?’ He’s really surprising and energetic and really, really singular,” she says.
Haino is not the only first for Send + Receive this year, as the festival’s first ever Brazilian performer, composer Manuel Lima, is joining a collection of boundary-pushing artists including composer and percussionist Sarah Hennies, and Manitoba’s own Dee Barsy.
Keiji Haino will kick off the Send + Receive concert series, and rearrange some minds, on October 4 with a solo acoustic percussion performance at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Tickets are $15 dollars and the show begins at 8:00.