Dimensions 2016 Review | Soundspace

Dimensions 2016 Review

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2016 was the milestone fifth year that Dimensions Festival has graced the historic site of Fort Punta Christo, just outside of Pula, on the sun-soaked Adriatic coast. Dimensions is often dubbed the little sister of the much bigger, bass gargantuan Outlook, a tag that the organisers may actually embrace, given that despite being an established member of the scene, Dimensions has not grown too large to have lost its initial draw and charm.

Despite its advantageous setting, the festival organisers have never looked to rest on their laurels on the production, sonic or programming fronts. For the fifth edition it seemed as though even more effort was expended to ensure that this birthday bash was not one that would be easily forgotten. Although the line-up for Dimensions is without fail one of the most highly anticipated in the festival calendar, it seemed as though this year the programming team had outdone themselves with the sheer calibre and variety that was on offer. One name in particular seemed to be on everyone’s lips and for good reason. A live performance for the first time in over 20 years from Chicago House aficionado Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers gave this edition of Dimensions a really monumental feeling.

The opening concert was a testament to the festival’s commitment to showcase a wide variety of high quality music. Set in a 2000 year old Roman amphitheatre, Kamasi Washington, Massive Attack and Moodymann, all in their unique ways, put on a display that set a high bar for the rest of the week. Trip-hop troop Massive Attack deserve a special mention for an incredibly powerful spectacle that transcended music, with cryptic political messages hidden in visuals tying in perfectly with the groups eerie and, at times, melancholic musical commentary of the world.

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The main entertainment during the day at the festival was the Beach stage that kicked off around midday. This palm tree surrounded sandpit supplied a soundtrack of laidback disco, funk and afrobeat. It provided the perfect tonic for some fragile minds in the Croatian sun. Although, Antal, Mim Suleiman and Awesome Tapes from Africa were all fantastic, there can be little doubt that Hunee stole the show with his sundown set on Sunday to close the beach stage. This was one of the special moments of the entire week as Hunee, a master of crowd control, laid down record after record each met with more adoration than the last. A testament to the crowd’s adulation was the indignation that greeted the end of the last track. Everyone was baying for one more song. When the selector finally obliged with Diana Ross’s ‘No One gets the Prize’ there was not one face on the beach without a beaming smile on it.

Boat parties left from the festival site three times a day, each hosted by different partners of the festival. The Resident Advisor boat saw French deep house selector Jeremy Underground partnered with 2016 sensation Suzanne Kraft. Elsewhere one the Eglo Records boat, Sassy J played a mixture of reggae and disco-funk before Henry Wu came on and dropped JME in a complete U-turn that was lapped up by the crowd.

It was only under the cover of darkness that the real festival frivolities get underway. This was when you really appreciated just how surreal and unique the festival site is. Nothing summed up the juxtaposition of beauty and hedonism better than the Moat. High stone walls towered over this 100m narrow corridor of sound, at the end of which the DJ can rarely be seen through the smoke and pulsating lights. The highlight of the Moat was Detroit native DJ Stingray laying down a wealth of acidic techno as the Sun came up on Sunday morning that was impeccably complimented by the Moat’s Function 1 system and high walls that gave the sound an impenetrable depth.

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Although the Void was not as aesthetically pleasing as the Moat, a loud and crisp sound system and a killer line up made it every bit as impressive. Ostgut Ton favourite Virginia performed an absolutely flawless electropop set, ably assisted by Steffi and Dexter. Her energy and aura is always impressive and it was refreshing to see how well a live electronic set with vocals can be done. Soichi Terada’s live sets have been gaining recognition and appreciation over the previous few months and it is not difficult to see why. Terada’s music manages to seamlessly fuse Asian pop and American house music resulting in a sound that transports the listener into a 1980s video game. This, coupled with his infectious smile and energy that sees him smash a solo fit for Slash on his microphone air guitar, makes his set one of the most enjoyable of the whole festival. Hunee and Rush Hour boss Antal follow, ensuring that the impeccable standards never slip and the pair close the Void with brilliant disco and funk from every corner of the world.

The Clearing is the festival’s main stage and played host to the one truly unmissable set of the week. Larry Heard aka Mr Finger’s set had been hyped as a special and seminal event, being the deep-house originator’s first live set in over 20 years. The obvious danger of such anticipation is that it will lead to overselling and ultimate anti-climax, yet Heard mesmerised the crowd throughout the whole set and there was a momentous feeling the whole time he was onstage. When Heard was joined by Mr White, who sang on the original project, the two played off each other brilliantly. The obvious highlight of the set was ‘Can you feel it’ which was teased at several points throughout the set under different guises, but the final version played was most akin to the released version and sent the crowd absolutely ecstatic. Dimensions favourite Motor City Drum Ensemble, after his brilliant set in 2015, was handed the role of closing the Clearing on Sunday night/ Monday morning. MCDE is one of the most coveted DJs around at the moment and manages to keep the crowd enthralled whilst exploring the darkest depths of his record bag. An interesting string based cover of Sister Sledge “She’s the Greatest Dancer” and MCDE’s own homage to Mr Fingers in the form of “Sun Can’t Compare” were two personal highlights of this set but the real standout was the crowd and the general atmosphere that had been present for the whole week but was absolutely palpable in the festival’s closing set.

Overall, there are not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe this festival. The setting, the production, the line-up and the sound are all absolutely phenomenal. However what sets this festival apart is the people who attend and it is important that in the coming years the organisers work hard to maintain this atmosphere and don’t allow Dimensions to become just another Croatian festival because it is so much more than that.

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