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Review: IMS Grand Finale Festival pt 1 at Dalt Vila, 2015

Setting suns, crescent moons and plenty of techno.

As we ascended the winding avenues of Dalt Vila, Luciano's bass lines came rolling down to greet us, ricocheting off the narrow stone alleys, peppered with Ibicenco residents on their balconies in moods ranging from crabby to curious. Representatives of the international dance music industry and several thousand eager clubbers had made camp atop Ibiza's medieval fortress for the IMS Grand Finale Festival and decided to do what we do best and knock out a few Tunes.

Luciano brought the sun down in style with an enjoyable if not quite electrictrifying set of melodic and bouncy tech house. A slight pause for set up then Damian Lazarus presented on stage, rocking some serious cloak and hat game behind a table cluttered with birdcages and old fashioned test tubes, for alchemy and what not. A+ on the middle-eastern wizard look, Damian. After a guttural drone set the mood, Lazarus and his talented Ancient Moons posse incorporated their live vocals and percussion with a tangle of hardware, their big single Lovers Eyes among the tunes aired to much shoulder shrugging and hip wiggling; cracking tune. As Lazarus and the ancient moons played on, a crescent moon of the celestial kind rose behind the scaffolding to hang conspicuously above the party as if called upon for this very occasion. It was a fun and original performance though I was hoping for something even more left of field from Lazarus, in the end the music proving less of a statement than the outfit.

Squeezed between the moons and approaching headliner Papa Sven was Solomun, who picked up the drama towards the end but didn't quite manage to make his hour as memorable as those before and after him. Then the hero that is Sven Väth, recent and fitting recipient of the IMS Legends award, took to the stage for a final hour of power. It's well publicised that a twenty-hour set is peanuts to Sven, whilst having only one hour in which to tell his story he finds a little daunting. Opening with longer tunes and swirling sonics, Sven rose to the challenge and managed to cram a varied and well-paced journey into 60 minutes, picking up pace and aggression in the middle, absolutely hammering it out for a few techno belters, then sneaking in a familiar pattern with a remix of The Knife classic Silent Shout before a final acceleration to close with quick track changes to build a climactic finale.

It's a challenge to fit so many acts into an evening party with a midnight curfew, but somehow the ruthless one-hour set curation worked. The IMS Grand Finale Festival ended up as greater than the sum of its parts, and when a medieval fortress at sunset, Sven Väth and Solomun make up the parts, that's saying something.

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman


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