Terraforma 2019: The Temple Minutes from Milan


Image: Henry Bruce-Jones

Last summer we hit up what must be the most bohemian annual gathering in Milan to spend a weekend appreciating the world’s most adventurous and talented artists in experimental electronic music.

Set in the grounds of a 17th Century villa, Terraforma Festival puts sustainability and experimental music at the forefront to bring in what is definitely the best crowd we’ve ever experienced at a festival of this size.

Terraforma’s lineup, which would (thankfully) not turn the heads of the new generation of Adriatic festival goers, did more than turn ours over the three days. It did so from start to finish, and what a way did it start. Caterina Barbieri was the act to open, with a magical, transient live performance that set the tone for everything that was to follow – even the madness that was Monolake’s set inside the jam-packed and strobe-light-lit labyrinth, which thanks to the organisers’ (and gardeners’) wonderful efforts has been carefully rebuilt to its former glory from hundreds of years ago, and is now ready to host a party.

Headlining the Friday night was Sherard Ingram, otherwise known as DJ Stingray. Consistently swapping between four-on-the-floor techno and hard, dirty breaks for a solid two hours, this was hands down our favourite set of the whole event. Some 8 hours in to the 3-day festival and Terraforma had already proven to us we’d made a fantastic decision to attend.

Saturday and Sunday’s daytime sets saw the likes of Mica Levi and Kelman Duran bring their beats (…and earphones) to the Villa. Whilst Mica was purely having fun, smiling and laughing throughout her performance – something we did not expect considering her no-fucks-given attitude in interviews – Kelman put on a performance which felt like an interpretation of a Dominican Republic contemporary art collection. You couldn’t decipher it, but nor were you meant to. Tempos went up and down various times throughout the set, with Mr Duran even throwing in a section of a Tupac Shakur interview for good measure. Words of wisdom and tempo changes were topped off with some good old-fashioned dembows, para un poco de perreo.

The festival came to a close on the same note at which it started (and kept at during the weekend). Local legend Donato Dozzy began what was to be its closing with a top-tier three-hour-long hypnotic techno set, amid countless cheers from the crowd in their mother tongue, confirming their appreciation of his selection – which was alternating between three turntables. Molto benne Donato.

Energy levels only went up from here.

We’ve never encouraged or enjoyed selfie sticks, or similar stand-like apparatus; but that’s because we’d never seen one put to such good use. RP Boo’s set was fantastic from start to finish – 2 hours of good music, good vibes and a good tempo. Kavain made his presence known and ensured his set was one to remember through the many things he did so well: his DJing, his fabulous one-liners throughout, his dancing on stage, his interaction with the crowd and, last but not least, his crowd surf to finish – which might have gone on longer than he’d foreseen thanks to a very keen crowd.

Paquita Gordon did a great job of wrapping things up before ourselves and a smaller group of festival-goers seeking to see things through made our way out of the main festival area and closer towards the water to what was the afterparty with Dj Nobu, who smoothly and serenely saw Terraforma out with deep, transient techno, and beautifully brought it all to an end with Burial’s Archangel.

We’ve never heard such little linear progression in musical performances as we did that weekend, and this isn’t a criticism. Far from it. Terraforma lays the infrastructure for artists to come and express themselves through electronic sounds, and boy was there no lack of expression. The structure of the festival – moreso its success – is also worth mentioning, having one act on at one stage at a time really does work, and more importantly really does allow for full enjoyment of the carefully curated selection of artists and performances.

Until next year. Grazie mille.