OBEY Convention X: Go East

Recently, I have spoken with individuals who, perhaps to my undeserved surprise, have never ventured to the Eastern edge—who have never set foot in Nova Scotia despite enticing tales of slackened lifestyles, dramatic landscapes, majestic sea creatures, and kindly leprechauns. This May, there is a more of a reason than ever to go the distance and explore the mysterious Maritimes firsthand—OBEY Convention X, one of the most forward thinking arts festivals in Canada, is celebrating its tenth year of being.

At the risk of beginning to sound like Saltscapes magazine, let us put the spotlight directly on the deluge of other-worldly music being presented at this mighty Halifax fest. Even just casually observing the line-up announcement sent a tingle up my spine, which then proceeded to caress the loveless neurons in some neglected corner of my brain. Consummately curated, OBEY features some truly unparalleled international performers. Senyawa will bring their ineffable wizardry; a heavy, bewitching, experimental take on Indonesian folk traditions. Moor Mother will confront with her profound Afrofuturist harsh-noise poems. From NYC there is Uniform; agitated industrial punk seething with intensity. Celestial new-age legend Laraaji is a prestigious addition, destined to provide an elevating, mystic ambience. The unnervingly boundless Elysia Crampton offers beauty, terror, and fun, all in one dystopian-club concoction.  The accomplished jazz-folk power duo Xylouris White sound as though commissioned by Zeus for a timeless Bacchanal; potent, graceful, and ludic. Headliners from Montreal include the incendiary party that is Pelada, and the adept electronic composer Kara-Lis Coverdale. To add to the Montreal contingent are The Submissives, whose music I have featured repeatedly on Slax Trax for good reason, and the ethereal Echo Beach; a name which may be particularly familiar to the CJLO community.

Local talent will be in prominent display as well, from the percussive deity Jerry Granelli, to the heat-warped bliss of BUDI’s beats, to rising stars like MAJE and Aquakulture. Haligonians Rabies, Geil, and Fake Buildings number among the “rock” or punk acts, all twisting the form in unique ways. Coming in from rural reclusion will be Chik White, presumably to lay down some future-primitive jaw harp, and Jay Crocker, who will unveil The Bibelot; a light and sound installation of endlessly epic proportions. The aforementioned is hardly an exhaustive list of the fantastic weirdness supplied by this convention—and “weird” in this sense implies not just unusual, but in fact suggests the operation of supernatural influences. Besides taking in these performances, there will be no shortage of other mind-expanding interactivities to indulge your ears and three eyes. The Everyseeker Symposium features free talks and workshops that include a “deep ocean listening session” presented by Dr. David Barclay, a talk on Black Punks by Chris Murdoch, laughter mediation with Laraaji, a deep listening workshop with Anne Bourne, and a communal drone jam.

There is perhaps no better place than OBEY to stretch your mind and recalibrate your weary neural network. The looming ocean and its fresh saline winds will add vigour to the experience—in conjunction with interstellar audiovisuals, they will breathe clarity into bent brains. But this is no sentiment of naïve purity; let the stench of the harbour and the musty stones of this aged port intermingle with the diverse artistic freedom in the air to produce a rich, intoxicating stew. Certainly, this is a presentation of novel expressions, but unlike mainstream modernity—the great eraser, which constantly bombards us with products of “newness”—these performances are a portal to those primeval roots which can serve as launching pad to the future. For the engaged listener, these are the rituals where our experience of time as we know it ceases to exist. OBEY is a convention which challenges conventions. Get yourself to the great gathering of innovators; a vital assembly in these sordid times.

Check out this playlist to acquaint yourselves with these ground-breaking sonic architects.

For more info: http://www.obeyconvention.com