Get to Know Some of the Innovative Artists Performing at This Weekend’s Sonic Circuits Experimental Music Festival

Mellow DiamondJanel Leppin; Photo by Lindsay Hogan for DCMD

Depending on how you look at it, all music is, in a sense, experimental.

Even when it’s formulaic, at its purest form it is an artist testing out their powers of creativity and failing or succeeding in some way or another. Since 2001, Sonic Circuits has exposed people to experimental music through shows, compilation records, and perhaps, most notably, its annual festival that will take place at Takoma DIY space Rhizome. We’ve cherry picked a few of the standout acts you’ll see this weekend.

Autumn Pool [Saturday, Sept. 16]

Pittsburgh ambient aficionado Autumn Pool could be seen as a disciple of early Eno, as he creates atmospheres of shimmering noise that unfold with time lapse patience. His compositions are delicate and bright, often fusing fragile and bristling, church-hymn organ-synths with droney heavy guitars. He creates a sound that drifts like smoke from a smoldering fire, its thickness eventually dissipating and disappearing into the atmosphere.



Sgt Pepper’s Plastic Inevitable Pet Sounds [Saturday, Sept. 16]

For those who want to be wowed like the ancients were by a solar eclipse, you’re in luck. Enter Sgt Pepper’s Plastic Inevitable Pet Sounds–aka Robert L. Pepper of Pas Musique/The JazzFakers–who makes music by rubbing on vinyl inflatable animals. It reads like someone should be calling the cops on this guy, but sounds pretty fucking amazing when you hear and see it in person.


evolv [Sunday, Sept. 17]

An ambient adversary representing D.C. is harmonious collagist evolv, whose plying of melodic compositions and found sounds is an oftentimes music-box of phantasmagoric peripheries stitched together. His amoebic arrangements are constantly reproducing and change with a kaleidoscopic flick of the wrist, taking the listener through different dimensions of sound and giving the music near tangible sensations.



Janel Leppin [Sunday, Sept. 17]

A Sonic Circuits festival mainstay since 2006, cellist and composer Janel Leppin’s somber, trance-inducing compositions are dark and brooding. They elicit feelings you didn’t know you had locked inside of you, which erupt like a frightened cave of bats. This is not simply a performance, but an experience, and one that should not be missed.


STYLUS [Sunday, Sept. 17]

There should be artists at an experimental music festival that take you to the brink, leave you scratching your head and make you realize that there is so much more outside of the realm of verse-chorus-verse. This is why you should check out the beautiful freakonmics of STYLUS, a collaboration of D.C. area musicians and French lo-fi guitarist, Stéphane Récrosio. They’ll perform “(AT to ER) Apt to Err_Who am the Only One along with” which is oddly beautiful on tape and likely more-so in real life.