Who needs Ibiza when you’ve got Croatia? The country is burgeoning with niche festivals catering for true fans of all things electronic. What can Echo offer that the others don’t? How about a sound-system so loud that the Slovenian government complain about the noise from the other side of the Adriatic Sea?
Here are our highlights…
Redshape - Beach Stage
Playing live via Ableton and plenty of hardware, this enigmatic producer has the Beach Stage mesmerised with an improvised set under the stars. Taking cues from elements of latest LP ‘Square’, the Berlin-based man, who hides his identity behind a red mask at all times, delivers an eerie take on minimal tech with paranoid synths and accentuating beats which eschew conventionality at every turn. His philosophy is to never play the same set twice, and we’re really glad we saw this one.
Critical Music Takeover - Beach Stage
On Saturday, for the first time at the festival, the Beach Stage has more people gathered beneath it than the main Field Stage as people flock to see D&B label Critical Music take over with an incredible curation of the genre’s most exciting DJs. Setting the standard for the night are Southampton’s Gerra & Stone, who prove beyond any doubt why they’re one of the best emerging acts around. Already they’ve gained spins from the likes of DJ Hype, Kasra and DJ Hazard, and tonight they prove worthy of the exposure.
After a great set from S.T., it’s Xtrah who takes things to the next level, not just with the tunes, but the volume too. With a member of the Slovenian Embassy allegedly backstage, and ready to complain at any second if the noise gets as loud as the night before, he’s got the power to cause an international conflict with one slide of the cross-fader. Thankfully that doesn’t happen and he instead provides one of the best moments of the festival.
Nick Höppner - Someone's Flat
While D&B is pounding the beach Nick Höppner is on the main stage from 4am. It’s not there that we see him though, but on the way back to our accommodation at 6am. As we sleepily stumble through the flats onsite there’s a house party in full swing. Thirty people are crammed inside a tiny room to catch his impromptu appearance, and it’d be rude not to listen to him nonchalantly traversing the musical spectrum in a marathon of mixing. No sleep ‘till 10am...
DjRUM - Field Stage
For those with enough energy to party on day four DjRUM is an early standout. Felix Manuel fuses everything from dubstep, reggae, and futuristic techno to deep house via a jungle backbone. He blends them inimitably while asking questions about just how far one genre really stands from the other. Can you mix from techno to deep house in one go and not make it seem contrived? This guy can. It’s an eclectic mix with some mad scratching and looping skills too, all on good old vinyl.
Marcus Intalex, dBridge, Synkro - Field Stage
The best in the D&B game saved until last. Sunday’s line-up is an immense back-to-back of veterans. Manchester’s Marcus Intalex has two decades of being at the forefront of electronic music to draw upon and doesn’t disappoint tonight, doing things on his own terms, not merely trying to appease the crowd. Even when a technical glitch midway through the mix causes a beat to kick in from nowhere, he gets away with it. People just presume he’s now so avant-garde that not mixing is the new mixing.
Up next is dBridge, and as the mainstream becomes dominated by jump-up it’s people like him who strive to continue innovating the movement, and that’s clear from what he plays tonight. As rain pours down towards the end of dBridge’s time it’s like celebratory confetti, hitting just at the right moment for added atmosphere. Then Synkro pulls off the night shift with a soothing set as the sun comes up. It’s hypnotic, perfect for the setting, a field awakens at the end of what has been an amazing trip.
Words: Simon Butcher
Photo: Here & Now
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