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Friday, Aug. 21, 2009
As a critic, it's easy to bemoan a festival that invites a similar lineup of acts year on year, as does Yokohama's annual leftfield electronica romp Wire. But critics don't usually buy tickets to festivals (free passes are one of the perks of the job), so frankly, who cares what we think? If the punters weren't happy, it wouldn't sell; and since Wire, now in its 11th year, is usually packed, one must assume its cohesive bill and party atmosphere are enough to ensure the return of revellers and artists alike.
Take for example Ellen Allien, who this year makes her fifth appearance at the festival. The Berlin artist is typical of Wire regulars in that she makes hard-to-classify minimal techno with a European flavour. Her own BPitch Control Records enjoys its 10th anniversary this year, so expect Allien to be in the mood to celebrate.
Detroit's Jeff Mills is another Wire regular. The self-confessed exhibitionist DJ plays with three decks and various extra devices — sometimes a drum machine, sometimes a CD player, sometimes a whole orchestra — to put on some of techno's most inspired shows. His set at Wire is his first in Japan since 2005 and will include exclusive new "space-themed" tracks and visuals apparently created especially for the occasion.
With a background in architecture, Brazilian artist Gui Boratto offers an absorbing live show that showcases futuristic gadgets, such as the touch-screen JazzMutant Lemur and the eye-catching monome, sometimes also performing with live guitar. Techno, house and dub artist Gabriel Ananda throws acoustic elements into his intricate music, a nod to his classical and rock roots. And Radiohead faves Moderat bring dark bassline bangers for their live set.
Representing Japan are regular names such as Takkyu Ishino (who has played at every Wire event, either as a DJ or with Denki Groove) and Fumiya Tanaka (all but one). But while Wire09 may not offer too many surprises, you can at least be assured of a sweaty, heaving party till dawn. What else do you need?
WIRE09 takes place at Yokohama Arena on Aug. 29 (6pm till morning; ¥11,550;  069-111). Tickets can also be reserved and paid for at the door; see www.wireweb.jp for more information in English and Japanese.