Fat Planet’s guide to all those festival announcements

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Some of the world's most fascinating artists will be in Australia next year.

With a bevy of great festival announcements in the past week, it can be hard to wade through all the names to find the hidden gems. But we’ve got you covered.

From a Japanese loop pedal ninja to the Tunisian Björk, Fat Planet’s Stu Buchanan uncovers a wealth of global music talent on this summer’s festival lineups.

Woodford Folk Festival

Wednesday 27 December – Monday 1 January

The Woodford Folk Festival returns with six days of music, featuring over 2,000 performers.  Woodford has a strong Australian focus that is unrivalled in its breadth, but it also features a fascinating selection of international players, many of whom are bringing the work to local audiences for the first time. 

In a densely-packed bill we can find Japan’s “loop pedal ninja” Kenta Hayashi, Kenyan vocalist Maia von Lekow (furthering the legacy of her father, the great funk vocalist Sal Davis); and Sicily’s accordion / percussion / bass trio Oi Dipnoi (who have also been known to pull out the bagpipes for good measure).

Navigating the voluminous 35-stage festival can be a challenge in itself, but make sure you find your way to Scandinavian folk duo My Bubba, promoting their new collection of Swedish folk songs (recorded “deep in the woods’ in collaboration with Elsa Sjunger Visor), and Egypt’s Ramy Essam, whose protest song 'Irhal' remarkably outstripped John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ in a vote for most world changing song of all time.

Given the right conditions at Woodford, it might just change your life too.

MOFO

Launceston & Hobart, Friday 12 January – Monday 22

Tasmania’s MOFO (nee Mona Foma) and its chilly alter ego Dark Mofo are unarguably Australia’s most eclectic, uncompromising and thrilling art events. There is little fanfare about blockbuster names, rather the bill tends to wreak havoc on all of our preconceptions about what we feel a music and art festival should look like.

For those seeking an international excursion, the January 2018 event sees the welcome return of Filastine to Australia, the U.S. born and Barcelona-based producer whose work is a wild collage of nomadic electronics and radical politics; as much an agitator as he is an artist. After two solo albums, he now records and performs with Indonesian vocalist Nova, and they’ll be showcasing their new record Drapetomania at MOFO.

Cut from the same political cloth is Emel Mathlouthi, the Tunisian singer-songwriter whose work, for many, sound tracked the 2011 Tunisian revolution.  She has been likened to Björk on more than on occasion, a fact made flesh with her 2017 album, Ensen, which was produced by former Björk collaborator Valgeir Sigurðsson who worked on Vespertine, Medúlla and more.

Elsewhere on the bill, there’s controversial Norwegian black metal masters Mayhem, and a raft of more traditional global sounds from Chakam Ensemble, Ajak Kwai and oud master Rahim AlHaj collaborating with Karim Wasfi, former conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.

WOMADelaide

9-12 March 2018

Returning to Adelaide’s Botanic Park in March 2018, Womadelaide is one of the most vital music festivals in Australia, with an unrivalled diversity of music, art and talks across seven stages. 

Womadelaide 2018 features many international artists beloved by Double J such as Kamasi Washington, Adrian Sherwood and Tinariwen, as well as an exquisite pick of locals including The Avalanches, Dan Sultan and Melbourne’s Mista Savona performing live with the legendary Jamaican dub duo Sly & Robbie.

Digging a little deeper, we uncover some Fat Planet raves such as psych-blues artist Noura Mint Seymali from Mauritania. Her 2016 album Abrina (on renowned alt-global label Gillterbeat) is a masterpiece of misdirection, ostensibly setting up a simple marriage between her oral poetry and desert blues, before side-swiping the listener with off-kilter guitar work that introduces a whole new aesthetic into the desert music canon.

Also taking to the Womadelaide stage are the Mexican classic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela who seem to be on a mission to dispel all preconceptions about what an acoustic guitar can and should do. Their performances are more sparring matches than harmonic exchanges, calling on genres such as hard rock and heavy metal to pick up the slack.

The festival also welcomes Cuban jazz singer Daymé Arocena, part of Giles Peterson’s Brownswood Records family and a contributor to his Havana Cultura project. She’ll be playing in support of her most recent release Cubafonia, which revels in the joy of Cuban rhythms and comes sealed with a killer voice that has quite rightly earned her plaudits as one of the best Cuban singers around.

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