Over the last decade, underground micro scenes on all four continents have gradually developed from localised phenomena to constituents of a vast nexus of online electronic music creativity, relying on cross-fertilisation and interdependence. The international electronic and experimental music scenes have witnessed the emergence of many new trends, especially at the crossroads between traditional musics, contemporary club genres and trendy experimental tangents.
Anthropologists and historians are now using the term 'translocality' to describe some of the processes and shifts of globalisation. Translocality emerges from an increased sense of the self as having been shaped by more than one set of influences. While in its simplest form a locality, for example a village, is defined by physical or geographical borders, today this definition is no longer useful. It diminishes the impact of our existence in a globalised world in which market trends and economic interdependencies define our everyday realities, and also diminishes the impact the internet has on our perception of locality and translocality. Research associate and lecturer at the University of Innsbruck Simon Peth defines translocality as "a variety of enduring, open, and non-linear processes, which produce close interrelations between different places and people. These interrelations and various forms of exchange are created through migration flows and networks that are constantly questioned and reworked."
However, as in the case of the reductionist, unashamedly postcolonial term 'world music', non-European and non-North American translocal scenes are too often described as a unified whole of global underground creativity that exist alongside with the Western scenes. Exoticised and often incorrectly presented as new simply because Western audiences are unfamiliar with their origins, these scenes have their own artist lineages, histories, labels and legends, largely independent of the Western electronic music tradition.
Still, hyperspecific local sensibilities that define a geographically limited scene can easily be transposed into completely different cultural environments, prompting something unexpected, and ultimately this is fed back to the original scenes, creating a curious mycelium-like network of influences. A mycelium’s mass of branching and thread-like hyphae feels like a great metaphor for the way in which contemporary translocal underground scenes depend on one another for inspiration and innovation.
Nevertheless, translocal micro scenes are still influenced by the old power structures of the Western music industry, its rules; its representation and evaluation methods; its marketing hype; its market mechanisms and ultimately also its tendency for self-mythologisation. This tendency means that the impact of some local scenes is blown out of all proportion, making them seem much larger and more influential than they actually are. Fortunately, there are more and more cracks appearing in the old power structures that offer a great opportunity for new protagonists with fresh approaches. Specific local material conditions and conditions of production often bring about innovation that goes beyond the standard transmission of cultural memes from one environment to another. The internet has been crucial in providing a global platform for all the new translocal sonic mutations that make up a mycelium-like nexus of translocal underground micro scenes.
The sounds of Venezuela’s raptor house have had a massive impact on Miami’s club scene, whose representative, the Colombia-born DJ Bitter Babe, is playing SONICA 2023. Like a sonic virus, it has spread throughout the European underground and made 'Latin tek' one of the most exciting sounds of the post-Pandemic era. In the case of the Ugandan-British collective Nihiloxica, new forms of techno have emerged by blending contemporary techno strains with the ancient Bugandan drumming tradition of Uganda. Artists like the Egyptian producer Abadir, who’s closing SONICA 2023, and others from the Maghreb region have distilled a new vision of contemporary Middle Eastern electronic music by taking elements from traditional and urban genres and combining them with the sounds of jungle, footwork and other Western club templates.
Similar aesthetic trajectories have also defined the creativity in the Balkan region. Croatian producer and composer N/OBE, whose Slovenian premiere of his ambitious conceptual project Monuments will take place at SONICA 2023, took inspiration from six world-renowned Yugoslav socialist WWII monuments. Their abstract shapes, political intentions and delicate semantics were examined through the toolset and capacities of contemporary club music, creating an analogy between the formal and symbolic futuristic tendencies of Yugoslav high modernism and the stylistic mutations of forward-thinking dance culture.
Especially in a small country like Slovenia, where a large majority of international music visitors still come from the Anglo-Saxon world, it is crucial to offer a more global yet very locally focused perspective on contemporary creativity in the fields of electronic, club and experimental music. SONICA aims to present to regional audiences a small, but definitely representative section of modern electronic creativity that exists beyond the Western imagination. The more geographically and culturally diverse lineup, mostly focused on artists from Southern America and Africa as well as regional artists, feels like a first step towards a more conscious and deeper understanding of the interrelatedness between contemporary music aesthetics and our everyday lives in a globalised post-internet world.