Burk’s Falls, On
By Sarah Ferguson
The location for Harvest Festival is a source of inspiration for alien InFlux and Promise promoters who’ve been throwing the techno event to complete the summer at Midlothian Castle in Burk’s Falls, Ontario, for 4 years now. (The festival started in 1999 on an organic farm in Bond Head, Ontario). More than a hundred flat Druidic screaming head sculptures literally come out of the hills near the castle and were built intentionally by the artist as a warning about environmental damage.
Photo by Andrija Dimitrijevic
Harvest Festival gets temporarily built on this site; year after year new design elements enhance an already highly visual and tactile art environment. Balancing digital with natural, 2011 design teams
brought diverse elements including a powerful moving laser light display beaming along the creek on Saturday night, and a metallic Pegasus with a hand-crank to move the wings.
2011 featured the first Friday night sound-system ever at Harvest. Based within the gathering of the screaming heads, it was something beautiful to see a Toronto-run event with such an eye on intimacy, like
a small party with close friends gathered around three or four warmly burning fires. Atmospheric music of Stereo Hypnosis from Iceland sounded bright: a warm performance on a cold night, with operatic harmonies and soulful textures that lured spontaneous free styling from an MC in the crowd.
Representing in gold pharaoh headgear DJs Ben Cormier, Veteze and Mark Baker a.k.a. The Good Time Gang kicked off the music Saturday at 4 p.m. From deep within the Pyramid stage, Ben’s bass saturated
set began with a downtempo and groove-y edge. Exploring epic trance sounds mixed with bass music the DJ transitioned into tracks at higher tempos of drum n bass and dubstep.
Veteze brought the funky bass grooves aligned with indie synth-pop, robotic tracks and girly bass ballads with bounce. Ghetto style. A stroke of good fortune for people outside the Pyramid who witnessed
the entrance of the 8- foot Anubis (carried in standing on a highly held platform). His podium was staffed and transformed into a bar while the costumed Egyptian God posed for photos.
Then Mark Baker came on creating a very warm environment for dancing through house music with classic edge. As the set progressed those soulful sounds came together with more serious deep bass.
In the distance helium balloons tied to the ground hung in orbit so when night fell they became a multi-coloured LED light art installation in the sky.
Also at that time, we discovered the Forest Stage/ techno tent done up like an elegant club in the woods, the ceiling draped in velvety red fabric with a large chandelier. A wall of cubed colour-changing lights stretched behind the DJ booth.
The place was jam packed with people going off to Thoughtless label head Noah Pred’s bright techno. Noah weaved a motoring journey of beats with melodic intervals and spaced-out sounds creating a genuinely monu-mental moment in time, before midnight.
Hitting the decks right after, Mike Gibbs brought his full, vibrant and funked up sound switching off between high points of melody and haunting harmonies, danceable big beats and tech-y ones.
Berlin’s Marc Romboy brought hard synth sounds exploring the balance between tech-y industrial and higher-pitched melodies. Marc took some time reaching his comfort zone but once he was there it could be
said with confidence this festival was on. He brought a two-hour set always changing and filled with surprises until an off the hook electro-y close.
Using a variety of analog synths, digital hardware, and drum machines, Arthur Oskan’s Live PA created warmth through magnetic on the spot techno creations. Deep house and minimal techno combined making subtly slow changes before bringing in the bumpin’ shit. Robotic bleeps straight out of The Jetsons are what the kids are listening to in 2011. In the words of Noah Pred: “Arthur’s a master of coaxing hypnotic, all-original sounds and grooves from equipment that would likely seem alien to the average DJ.”
Harvest brings evidence of a highly skilled underground techno scene burgeoning freely in Toronto. Year after year, this backwoods digital getaway brings the highest caliber, up-and-coming— yet solidly
counter culture—electronica to the forefront of people’s imagination. And somehow every year gets done just a bit better than the last.
Photo of Noah Pred by Don Burns