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Previews: Bristol New Music Festival

On its 10th year anniversary, artists from across the globe converge at Bristol's latest offering in contemporary sounds and live performance.

By Benji ChapmanCo-Deputy Music Editor

Bristol New Music Festival stands out amid the many festivals Bristol has on offer in the Spring Season. Its line-up has previously included abstract sound installations alongside more traditional performances, avoiding the inclusion of big name headliners to focus on up-and-coming artists looking to make a name for themselves within the competitive setting of Bristol's live music scene.

The four day long festival has occurred five times since its beginning in 2014 and contains a lengthy line-up of unsurprisingly new names. Beyond cult recognition, even keen scene-heads would be pressed to identify more than a few names on the bill and across the past featured acts have also been relatively unknown.  

Capitalising on a mystery behind the live acts, performers named on this year's line-up lean into a fusion of the visual and audial arts. Artists like the American Lonnie Holley will venture into unusual festival material, co-meddling sculpture and live music in his show which takes place in the Lantern Hall of the Bristol Beacon.

Holley's work, which is centred around the history of the African American experience, comes following his success as a rising artist between collaborations with Moor Mother, Bon Iver and Sharen Von Etten for his 2023 project Oh Me Oh My.

Fresh-faced acts accompany proceedings as MBE appointed movement artist and vocalist Elaine Mitchener performs in Bristol for the first time.

Joining her at the Lantern Hall will be the dreamy, microtonal soundscapes of Berlin based ambient artist Jules Reidy, who like several of the performing artists will be taking to the stage following studio releases from the preceding year with 2023's Trances.

Building on a tradition of both visual and sonic experience, various other special projects will be on the bill. Mirroring installations from previous years such as 2016's haunting  Requiem for 114 Radios, which consisted of an army of radios playing the 'Dies Irae' chant, Bristol's own Kathy Hinde presents Earthquake Mass Re-Imagined.

Earthquake Mass Re-Imagined | Kathy Hinde

Occupying the Crypt of St John on the Wall with 12 turntables modified to respond to seismological data in the vault echoes the theme of producing unique ambient projects that provide a relief from live performances throughout the day.

The consistency of the festival lies in its left-field quirkiness partnered with acts spread from all reaches of musical niches, as well as some of Bristol's own creatives: notably Ensemble Shui Mo who are in-residence at the University of Bristol.

From spacious concert halls in the Bristol Beacon, the ecclesiastical St George's Church and intimate Strange Brew; a combination of churches and more conventional gig rooms make the day stand out further.

Elaine Mitchener | DDjuric

The festival will run from 18:45 on the 25th of April till 23:30 on the 28th, with performances and installations being hosted across its several venues all within walking distance of eachother inside central Bristol.

Featured Image: Sound UK

Which day of Bristol New Music Festival are you most excited for?