UTNS Sensoria 2015 Preview

Mark Perkins can barely contain himself as we approach Sensoria 2015. Here’s what’s been getting him so hot under his digital collar.

Here we go again! Can it really be the 8th year of Sensoria? There may be larger, brasher, more widely known festivals in Sheffield, but this is certainly the coolest. It’s the one where, long after the event, you can say

‘Oh that? … yeah, I saw it at Sensoria. Have you only just discovered it?’

The best events in the world of digital media, sound and film are yours for the taking. This year’s theme is Altered States, and there’s the usual combination of guests and unusual venues, films and live music that will once again take the city to another level of cultural excellence. On top of that, for two days, Sheffield plays host to composers, film-makers, publishers, music supervisors, games developers and all manner of folks associated with digital media, who will all be attending the Sensoria Pro event, held while the festival is in full swing.

I’ve selected a few events from their nine-day program to tempt you, so lets dive in.

The opening night, 25th September, sees the UK film premier of ‘B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin’, with a Q&A to follow, at the Showroom. In the ’80s, Berlin was a walled-in melting pot of creative energy. The unique mix of cultural isolation seemed to make anything possible for a time, and attracted the creative, the adventurous and the just plain curious. Using mostly unseen TV and film footage, together with interviews, this tale of life in the divided city looks set to open the festival on a high note. The opening night party then moves to the Picture House Social Ballroom for DJ Yoda who promises to give us his version of a History of Hip Hop.

photo (1)At the weekend, Sensoria takes off in style. They are showing outdoor films, 3D films and as they usually do, showing them in some very unusual venues. There’s a dance event, roving round the city centre, DJ sets and, to top all that, they’re attempting to provide a live soundtrack to something that’s never had one before: The Great Yorkshire Run! My pick of the weekend, and it’s not an easy choice, is another UK film premier, ‘Wacken 3D’ at the Curzon cinema. It documents Germany’s massive metal music festival, and has captured the best bits on 3D film. Rammstein Obligatorisch, as my old dad was fond of saying.

Fancy some yoga while you relax with some live ambient music? Look no further than Laraaji, a discovery of Brian Eno, who’ll be opening up your chakras, while he plays you some live music courtesy of his electronic zither, mbire, gong chimes in the Arnold Freeman Hall, overlooking the tranquil grounds of the Merlin Theatre on Wednesday 30th. That’s just so Sensoria.

If you’re looking to gloat over your friends about who you saw when no-one else had heard of them, my advice is to slip along to Bungalow and Bears on the Thursday to see Jaakko Eino Kalevi. After all, it was Sensoria that put Drenge on in the back room of the Lescar a couple of years back. Who knew then? If you’re out there on the cutting edge (or like me, want people to think you are), give his new self-titled album a listen on the old Spotify and I’ll no doubt see you down there.

If, like me, you weren’t at the main stage on Tramlines Saturday, but all your friends were, and have told you what you missed, get your own back and get yourself down to the Abbeydale Picture House to catch the return visit of Lonelady. Her Hinterland album, on our very own Warp Records, has been played most days here at the top of the narrow stairs, so I’m getting a bit giddy about her return to Sheffield on October 2nd.

Long time readers, and I know you’re out there, may well remember the interview we ran a couple of years ago with film makers Amelie Ravalec and Travis Collins. Their history of Industrial Music called ‘Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay’, has finally arrived in Sheffield. Several of its interviews were filmed here and even more appropriately, Steven Mallinder (of pioneering industrial music band Cabaret Voltaire) will be there with a DJ set. Showing at the Abbeydale Picture House on Saturday 3rd October.

Japanese punk is the genre that for me just keeps on giving, and anyone with even the smallest of digits on the Nipponese pulse will have already started queueing up for Bo Ningen, at the Abbeydale Picture House on the closing Saturday night of the festival. They’re only playing one other UK date this year before they jet off to Paris and the Netherlands, and even if you know nothing about Japanese acid-punk, take it from me, it’ll be a night you won’t want to miss.

To top all that, support is from Baba Naga, from closer to home, but if you just take a look at how they looked the last time they played the Riverside, and if you’re as intrigued as me, you’ll just have to go see them live.

photo (2)So, there you have it. Whether you’re a Sensoria virgin, a novice or a full-blown addict, you’ll see that there’s a few late nights and wide-eyed events ahead. As ever, Sensoria has put together a program on a very modest budget, but which can more than compete with much bigger, corporate sponsored events around the country, and ensures that the city Sheffield continues to be held in such high regard in the UK’s cultural calendar.

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