Prague, Czech Republic

The main programme of Prague’s Lunchmeat Festival takes place deep in the concrete underground of the city’s National Gallery Trade Fair Palace. An imposing example of Czech Functionalist architecture, with its upper levels displaying an array of modern art, it’s a fittingly forward-thinking home for an event focused on advanced electronic music and new media art.

Performances alternate across two rooms – the intimate Club Stage and the more expansive Concert Hall. This makes for an unhurried experience that allows punters to fully immerse themselves in each set. Eschewing headliners in favour of a more thoughtful schedule, Lunchmeat mimics the gradual unfolding of a big night-out, where easing into the groove of the music, meeting new people and losing yourself in an array of compelling sounds makes for a warm and vitalising scene.

Prague’s relatively nascent rave culture is still somewhat overlooked on the European electronic stage. It’s an oversight that the team behind Lunchmeat address by platforming exciting emerging talents from the Eastern European region. They also highlight this topic in a thoughtful discussion at the symposium talk ‘Across The Glass Curtain: Central And Eastern European Music & Western Media’.

On the Thursday, Slovakian sounds bookend the proceedings as DJ Peal opens under his Emma Binder alias with a two-and-a-half-hour set of ambient, drone and techno. Bratislava-based DJ GÄP closes out the night with a cosy but riotous dancefloor experience of deconstructed, glitchy club sounds. The following day, UNIZONE label co-founder, DJ and producer Ancestral Vision delivers a compelling live show, his set unfolding in a flurry of rich textures and punchy beats with abstract visuals from h5io6i54k and realitycongress.

Over the weekend, spellbinding live performances from Kuedo, Karenn and µ-Ziq demonstrate the pervading influence and popularity of UK club sounds; the latter’s 90s-inflected productions are perfectly matched with eclectic, cartoonish visuals from ID:MORA. Perhaps the most popular British export at the festival though is Blackhaine, whose electric, visceral show on the Club Stage has him launching into the crowd and inspiring a spontaneous mosh-pit, with Black Lights On The M6 proving the universal reach of music over any language barrier.

Striking contrasts, both sonically and aesthetically, also make Lunchmeat a cerebral and gripping experience. Saturday night sees an emotive and melodic Concert Hall performance from Holy Other and NYX: David Ainley’s mellow, moody soundscapes merging beautifully with drone-choir vocals and kaleidoscopic, rainbow-hued visuals from acclaimed artist Pedro Maia. Following this, Hüma Utku & Utku Önal’s premiere The Psychologist thrillingly shifts the vibe over on the Club Stage. The pair offer a mesmerising hour-long trip filled with Berlin-based composer Utku’s mix of field recordings and electroacoustics and Önal’s unsettling boddy horror cinematics.

With expert curation and delivery across the festival, Lunchmeat is a leading showcase of electronic sounds and digital art. By treating new media art as an equal, rather than an accompaniment, to the music, it offers a shining example of how creators from audio and visual spheres are forging an exciting new path for club culture.