The best shows in the first six years of legendary experimental music festival Communikey

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Stephen Cardinale
Xavier Van Wersch at Communikey Festival 2010
Communikey Festival starts this Thursday, April 10, and runs through Sunday, April 13. Though Communikey is in its tenth year as an organization, this will be the seventh time it has hosted the festival, bringing in some of the most innovative and visionary artists in the realm of electronic music to Boulder.

The organizers of the festival have proven canny in their selection of talent over the years -- Communikey has frequently been a place to see artists on their way to wider acclaim, such as Nicolas Jaar of Darkside, MEN and The Books. The festival has also been selective about their choices in workshops and installation art. For more information on passes (there are also free events), visit the Communikey web site. We spoke with one of the organizers, Matthew Krall, who gave us a rundown of what he considers the best performances in the festival's history as what he's most excited about for the 2014 fest.

Stephen Cardinale
Masaki Batoh at the ATLAS Institute for Communikey Festival 2013


That first year I saw Bruno Pronsato. He's one of my all-time favorites. He's an American from Seattle and he was in Austin but he's been in Berlin for years. We also had an artist named Caro from Seattle. That was also one of the things the first year I was really interested in.

They're very different types of artists. Caro plays a lot of homemade instruments and devices as well as using electronics from the computer. So he processes vocals and small toy flutes and things like that. It's a different type of electronic music that isn't the mainstream thing that is going on, which is what made me interested.

Bruno plays and makes very weird, dark, psychedelic techno. But still danceable and groovy. He's been around for a while but Communikey 2008 I think was in the beginning of his blossoming and I think Communkey has always emphasized bringing and wanting to bring artists that are on the forefront of using new technology and methods and ideas coming together in unexpected ways.


2009 was the year that we had the Modern Love crew out here. They're from Manchester UK. We had Andy Stott and Claro Intelecto and MLZ. The three of those guys that are the [flagship artists] of Modern Love Records, which has been one of my favorite techno records for a long time. So that was a very special treat for me to have those guys out here. Andy Stott has been back to Denver a couple of times, I think, since then but not at Communikey.

I started liking [Modern Love Records] because of Claro Intelecto's music. It always reminded me of just being a dark, sweaty warehouse at four in the morning. The sound of that is what I picture. That's the aesthetic I've felt from their label. Andy Stott's album this past year was huge.

Stephen Cardinale
The Books at The Fox Theater 2010


We had The Books that year and that was the second time...It was at the Fox Theater and it was one of the best shows I had ever seen. I think it was just that they're so animated in their shows and the video that they used was incredible. I think it hit home with the audience, and it brought that feeling out in everyone.


Monolake. He played the Fox that year with Atom TM or Atom Heart. That was a good show. That year we also had an artist from New York that does a project called Gamelatron, which was an electronic gamelan orchestra all run by Ableton Live. He programmed robotic pieces to play traditional instruments and then ran it all through Ableton Live to create a full-on performance. It was pretty incredible.

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