Our top 5 WOMAD 2017 artists

The grass has recovered from last year’s party, and now the stage is set for a wondrous weekend of music, arts and dance.

WOMAD festival 2017 is back, and so is Sound System – now making its fourth appearance within the picturesque grounds of Charlton Park. So we’ve decided to choose our top five artists featuring on the Sound System stage this year. And with so much musical talent on display this year, we assure you it wasn’t easy.

1. Floating Points
When he’s not making electronic music as Floating Points, DJ, producer and composer Sam Shepherd is a neuroscientist with a PhD in the subject to prove it. Indeed, his PhD studies that meant it took him five years to make his debut album “Elaenia” in his home-built studio. His new album Reflections – Mojave Desert is an experiment in recording in interesting acoustic environments. This fascination with sound makes Floating Points the ideal artist to close the Sound System stage for 2017 delivering one of his ever ambitious and forward-thinking DJ sets.

2. Tom Hickox
A consummately literate songwriter, Hickox’s strikingly vivid compositions sung in a rich baritone have evoked comparisons with the likes of Randy Newman, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. His second album Monsters InThe Deep was released earlier this year and was greeted with acclaim for the poignancy, potency, depth and originality of his lyrics and the invention and diversity of his arrangements.

3. Portico Quartet
Mercury Prize nominated Portico Quartet has always been an impossible band to pin down. Sending out echoes of jazz, electronica, ambient music and minimalism, the group have created their own singular, cinematic sound over the course of four albums, from their 2007 debut Knee-Deep in the North Sea toLive/Remix in 2013. Now rebooted as a quartet after a brief spell as the three-piece Portico, they’re back with a special surround sound set, which should be a highlight of this year’s WOMAD.

4. Ofeliadorme
The dreamy electronic music of Bologna-based trio Ofeliadorme is seductive, tender, immersive and mysterious. Francesca Bono’s vocals and guitar, Michele Postpischl’s percussion, and Tato Izzia’s bewitching synths combine the serenity of Cocteau Twins, the trip-hop darkness of Portishead and the shape-shifting pop sensibilities of PJ Harvey. The results can be heard to compelling effect on the band’s third album, “Secret Fires”, produced by Howie B, who made his name working with Soul II Soul, Tricky and Björk.

5. Loney, Dear
Loney, Dear is the pseudonym of Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen. Since his debut under his nom de plume in 2003 he’s released half a dozen further albums mixing symphonic tropes and savvy pop, but has been unusually quiet since “Hall Music” six years ago. He’s about to re-emerge with a new record which he enigmatically describes as “telling stories about vivid dreams and other people’s troubles, dressed like Nick Cave, smoking Chinese cigarettes and polishing expensive crystals, stolen from a rich CEO’s home.” Who knows what delights await, but sumptuous electronica married to intriguing, leftfield songwriting seems guaranteed.

4 Comments

  • Neal kemsley says:

    The Portico Quartet set was absolutely monumental – a musical and sonic experience that I won’t forget. I wish I could have seen/heard the other artists in your top 5. Thank you!

  • Bowers & Wilkins says:

    You’re so right – the Portico Quartet set was outstanding. The combination of Sound System, the quartet’s musicianship and the surround sound was simply breathtaking.

  • Hamish Laing says:

    Yet again the B&W stage was a highlight of WOMAD UK. Portico Quartet were magical but Anchorsong was mesmerising with that sound system at his fingertips. Surprised he didn’t make your top 5, but its a tough call,,,

  • Bowers & Wilkins says:

    Trust us, Hamish, it was a very difficult choice. Atau Tanaka was brilliant too, some seriously innovative ways of making noise.

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