Five Must-See Acts at Victoria, BC's Wonderment 2024

The electronic and ambient festivals runs from August 2 to 5

BY Alan RantaPublished May 9, 2024

Produced by the Garden City Electronic Music Society (GCEMS), Wonderment has earned itself a reputation as one of British Columbia's most progressive and inclusive festivals. Now celebrating its ninth edition, the event brings a wave of the quietly revolutionary experimental electronic programming, self-sustainable social responsibility, and welcoming community vibe of Burning Man (US), Big Chill (UK), Harvest (Ontario) and Love Parade (Germany) to the fair shores of Victoria.

Occurring in the capital city during BC Day long weekend, its superb artist curation boasts a healthy portion of the province's finest knob-twiddlers, party rockers and thought-provokers such as Resonance Collective co-founder ÆNNIÆ, Tanya Tagaq collaborator Michael Red, GirlOnWax owner DJ Leanne, live PA duo Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, and lysergic IDM cerebralist Hrdvsion, who will be unveiling a sizzling new collaboration with efemme called Hot Sleepers. Such prominent West Coast talent will paint the silence at various parks around town during the day, and at the Victoria Event Centre after dark, alongside a tasteful selection of cross-country and international headliners.

The daytime park events are all-ages and free, the only cost being for attendees to clean up after themselves, so there's no better way to spend an afternoon with the family. The star-studded, dance floor-flailing nighttime showcases at the VEC are for adults only (19-plus), with fee-free, tax-free tickets available for individual performances or as a three-evening pass, while supplies last.

Following are five acts that attendees cannot afford to miss. Check out the full lineup, buy tickets, and/or donate to the benevolent GCEMS (a legit registered charity) at Wonderment's website.

Mixmaster Morris
As the Irresistible Force, Morris Guild notably produced a wealth of surreal downtempo tunes, signing to Ninja Tune during the influential UK label's late '90s trip-hop obsession. Yet, it was under the name of Mixmaster Morris that the Englishman recorded an experimental ambient album with Jonah Sharp (a.k.a. Spacetime Continuum) and J-pop legend Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra) called Quiet Logic, an underground classic recorded in 1997 and reissued by WRWTFWW Records in early 2024. He was a resident at the Big Chill for 16 years, and here he's playing a three-hour "electronic head music" set at Banfield Park on a Monday afternoon. This is gonna be something to plan a day around, including adequate prep time and recovery.

Melchior Productions Ltd.
Born in Germany and educated in England, Thomas Melchior has been a surprising factor in electronica since the early '90s. He briefly influenced the dawn of trip-hop under the name of Ohm, and backed up funky house disco dance-pop legend Lady Miss Kier on her first tour after Deee-Lite broke up, but spent much of the decade producing braindance acid for Aphex Twin's Rephlex as half of the experimental techno duo Vulva. After the turn of the millennium, Thomas simplified. He stripped things down to their beautiful essence to become the micro-house machine known as Melchior Productions, consistently producing throughout the last two decades for Berlin's premiere physical-only label Perlon, highlighted by the subliminal genius of 2022's Vulnerabilities. His playful and fidgety yet hypnotic and minimal house style evokes the wonky madness of Orbital, Oizo and Ark. Even the festival has cautioned that this particular free, all-ages park performance may be a bit intense for some children, so expect the dance floor exorcism to get a little PG-13 at dusk on Saturday at Songhees Park Plaza.

Canadian-born Lebanese-American drone improviser and angelic vocalist Natalie Chami has forged an impressive catalogue under the name of TALsounds since the early 2010s. She has steadily issued records on such significant underground imprints as Hausu Mountain, Ba Da Bing! and NNA Tapes, melting auras with her dreamy minimalism and processed poetry, akin to Laurie Anderson channeling Beverly Glenn-Copeland. There is such a captivating, human warmth to her otherwise alien meditations — essential listening for those who appreciate Joni Void, Sarah Neufeld and basically anything released by Constellation Records that doesn't heavily feature guitar. It's the perfect music to bliss out with the peacocks at Beacon Hill Park's Cameron Bandshell on a Sunday evening.

Under the name of Softcoresoft, Montreal-based producer Leticia Trandafir put out an EP of blistering acid and pounding techno on Lobster Theremin called Otherworlds in 2019, the same year she threw down a mind-flaying set for Boiler Room at a Toronto warehouse. If the local brand manager for Ableton Live brings half the energy to the VEC on a Saturday night that she had five years ago, there is a good chance Trandafir may finally trigger the big one for which Victoria has been long overdue and raze the coastal capital city to the seafloor. Softcoresoft goes hardcore hard. Brace yourself.

Hailing from Manchester, Joe McBride arose during the waning days of dubstep before transitioning to the more contemplative, static, diverse downtempo sound, as demonstrated though a slate of releases for Apollo Recordings under the name of Synkro. His style of bass deconstruction and droning hauntology with emotive vocals comes off like James Blake joining Boards of Canada or recording for Ghost Box Records. McBride is prolly gonna go softer than Softcoresoft at the VEC, but in a no less mesmerizing fashion.


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