Update: sadly Safe as Milk has announced it’s no longer going ahead due to the company going into liquidation. Full details here.
Safe As Milk – a new music festival of underground music – takes place in Prestatyn, Wales next month. Its line-up has inspired some fevered excitement among musos of every stripe – with alternative rock fans, folk aficionados and techno heads all noting some key players on the bill.
In the mix embedded above, I’ve drawn together some tracks by a few of the artists I’m most excited to see. But I acknowledge, after years attending these kinds of shindigs, it’s often the acts I have no preconceived idea about who make the biggest impression. So consider the tracks I’ve selected and artists I touch upon here to be a preview aimed at those listeners who might be coming to the festival from a different angle to me. I look forward to having my horizons expanded by the corners of the line-up I know little or nothing about.
Indeed, there are a few artists on the bill who have been unknown to me prior to festivals in the past, but who I have discovered via some mind-altering festi-set. Karen Gwyer is a prime example. Her show at Supernormal 2015 was certainly my live music highpoint of that year – her joyful techno setting Braziers Park alight as a blistering hot day turned into a muggy summer’s night. Additionally, Nurse With Wound were largely unknown to me when I caught them at the Thurston Moore-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2006. I can’t remember precisely what it was Stephen Stapleton (and friends?) did. But I’m sure it stimulated my oft-latent desire for post-industrial tinkering and well-placed contact mics.
There are a couple of artists appearing who I’ve been excited to see live for a few years. OOIOO, fronted by Boredoms drummer Yoshimi P-We, make a fantastically glimmering layered sound on record which favours a kind of natural ambience over the alt. rock space rituals proposed by the latter-day Boredoms. I’m really keen to see how it works live. Another legend gracing the line-up who I’ve had some interest in relation to my own musical output is Shirley Collins – a British singer with more than a passing connection to folk as archive medium (through her work with Alan Lomax) and folk as relevant to a modern experimental audience (collaborating with Current 93). Her latest rendition of ‘Death And The Lady’ included in the mix above and featured on her album Lodestar may, I feel, come to be the definitive version of that song.
My favourite band Butthole Surfers also make an appearance. I wasn’t massively surprised by their inclusion after their playing the similarly far-reaching Night For Day event in Houston last December – but it was certainly the addition to the line-up which got me reaching for my wallet. Of a similar ilk, experimental punkers Chrome (whose head-hondo Helios Creed has guested on at least a couple of Surfers tracks) are also a big scoop for the festival. I’m keen to experience their dystopian sounds emanating across the Prestatyn holiday-scape and if Creed wants to jump on stage with Gibby and co. for a rendition of ‘The Annoying Song’ then I can die happy.
The Residents, Brainbombs, Grouper, Jeff Mills (with Tony Allen), Islam Chipsy have all piqued my interest too… But there’s far more on offer than I have time to preview here. Suffice to say the line-up is strong and if you have any interest in the esoteric, the pioneering and the cultish, get ye to North Wales next month!
Safe As Milk takes place in Prestatyn, Wales from 21st ‘til 23rd April 2017. For more information and tickets visit: safeasmilkfestival.com