Mark Fell & Rian Treanor

I’m sure comparisons are frustrating for both father and son, but Mark Fell and Rian Treanor’s separate performances at No Bounds Festival shared enough connections beyond the familial bond that mentioning the two together feels worthwhile. No Bounds mirrored European festivals in its ambition to augment the traditional revelry of a dance music festival with broader musical and cultural experimentation, and Mark and Rian contributed more to this goal than most.

Fell’s Epiphylogenesis installation was present in Trafalgar Warehouse all weekend. Named after Bernard Stiegler’s concept of intergenerational machine memory, it consisted of a large cube of scaffolding filled with small multichannel speakers which attendees were encouraged to climb through. It was reminiscent of a children’s jungle gym and had a similar lighthearted, participatory feel to his recent gamelan composition with Laurie Spiegel at Lush Spectra. Rian’s daytime performance also recalled Lush Spectra, as he and saxophonist Karl D’Silva returned to the expansive and hypnotic digital-analogue hybrid that they had composed specifically for the event back in June.

Mark and Rian’s club sets at Hope Works were undeniably on the more experimental end of the spectrum as well, but with diverse dance music influences. Fell performed as Sensate Focus, perhaps his most accessible project, melding luscious, high-fidelity FM synthesis with captivating house rhythms that masterfully and unfathomably glitched and grooved at the same time. Treanor’s set used a broadly similar tonal palette, but its mutated 2-step rhythms evoked different dance music traditions, with garage, grime, bassline and footwork all featuring at points.

Michael Hobson

Rashad Becker/Steevio & Suzybee/Graham Dunning

Playing to a daytime crowd sat cross-legged on cushions and beanbags, a curious set from Rashad Becker saw the mastering engineer and producer coax abstract sounds in nature from a table full of hardware. Beginning with groaning noises like a ship descending a slipway, Becker’s music developed delicately over the hour, with the Berliner creating sounds that seemed to transmute into independent and evolving entities. Perhaps the stunted air raid sirens towards the end signalled the moment when Becker fully ceded control to his machines.

With dozens of black, red and yellow wires looping around their famous modular synth set up, Freerotation founders Steevio & Suzybee looked like they were diffusing a bomb, constantly swapping wires to create new and as-yet-untested configurations. The sonic result was a gritty, fuzzy take on acid techno, with skeletal drum beats and squelchy tones that got most of the crowd dancing for the first time on Saturday.

Over at 99 Mary St, a spellbound audience gathered to see Graham Dunning piece together live techno from specially adapted vinyl stacked up on a single turntable like pancakes. Each disc had a different physical alteration to produce sound as it span. Over the course of an hour he constructed one machine, stripped it back to the kick and then created another with different devices. The finale came with a 7” disc placed right at the top of the tower, on which Dunning positioned triangular prisms with tiny lobsters and crickets encased inside. As they span, a light sensor aimed at the tower converted the reflected light into sound, making a wobbly racket like a hot-wired theremin. When the push of a button brought the Rube Goldberg contraption to a standstill, every single member of the crowd stayed behind to ask Dunning a flurry of questions.

Sam Gregory

DEBONAIR

Playing next door to Jeff Mills must be a daunting prospect for any DJ, but NTS host and rising club name DEBONAIR built a big crowd in the courtyard tent with a grab bag of warm and colourful selections. As with her show, the London DJ leapt between genre boundaries, playing everything from Moroder-esque arpeggios and eighties synthwave to banging house and Italo disco. Her profile in Sheffield has already soared since playing Cut Some Capers earlier in the year, so catch her quick before she goes stratospheric.

Sam Gregory


DJ Seinfeld

Picking a DJ associated with the lo-fi house scene to open the festival’s biggest room is a counter-intuitive move typical of Hope Works programming. The surprisingly young Swedish selector, complete with blond hair in straight curtains, warmed up the warehouse with rolling house before switching it up at half twelve with Kevin Saunderson’s dub of ‘The Vamp’.
Though he dropped a few big room classics for the remaining hour, including Da Posse’s ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, playing one of the smaller stages might have given Seinfeld more of an opportunity to showcase his uniquely intimate production style.

Sam Gregory


Broken FM

For the lucky few who made it through the madness at Mesters, Foodhall provided a final fling on Sunday afternoon with a trio of hardware geeks creating various strands of techno on-the-fly. Starting with shifting, abstract electronica in an Autechre vein, they improvised a set of acid, minimal techno and finally breakbeat hardcore, somehow coaxing a knackered crowd onto their feet one more time. Given the amount of hardware in front of them they somehow kept it all together with a polish that even most laptop musicians can’t match.

Sam Gregory

Soundwaves

New club Outside Over There is facing licensing issues. Council officials say clubbers face dangers of noxious substances from the nearby Outokumpo steelworks, a claim refuted by venue owners CADS, Outokumpo and Green Party councillor Douglas Johnson. They are working with the Council and the relevant authorities to resolve concerns and hope to release their 2018 programme in the coming weeks.         

Cornish world music festival Tropical Pressure is braving a Sheffield winter on 9 December to offer a taste of their 2018 event. The Harley takeover, organised by La Rumba and Mango Disco, will feature Movimientos founder Cal Jader, Zongo FM, the Mango Rescue Team and many more.

"If ever a leftfield festival deserved to flourish, this is it," said Resident Advisor about the inaugural edition of No Bounds, which has just announced its second outing in 2018. No line-up yet of course, but the festival will return to Sheffield from 12 to 14 October and super earlybird weekend passes are on sale now at £33.

Now Then favourites Blood Sport are winding down activities after seven years of playing together. The three-piece 'aggrobeat' band will be joined by friends and collaborators at their final ever gig on 9 December at The Leadmill, with tickets priced at £11.