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The Math Rock Times ArcTanGent Awards

The fourth edition of ArcTanGent proved to be the best yet. A stacked lineup full of experimental and unusual music. Despite a damp weather prediction proving correct, no amount of mud could dampen the spirits of some 5,000 music fanatics. Here's our review of the festival in the format of a series of Math Rock Times ArcTanGent Awards in the following categories:

Best in Math Rock

Best in Post Rock

Best Electronic Artist

Weirdest Artist

Best Artist With Vocals

Surprise Package of the Festival

Best Newcomer

Best Production

Happiest Band

Best in Math Rock

Winners: Toe

Honourable Mentions: Body Hound, Axes, Delta Sleep, Totorro, TTNG

As usual, ATG featured some of the best math rock bands around. Although Toe are not the most stereotypical math rock band, their ingenious blend of jazz/math fusion was astounding. They put in a set that combined technical prowess with intense passion and a telepathic communication between all members of the band.

Best in Post Rock

Winners: Mono

Honourable Mentions: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Caspian, Yndi Halda, Nordic Giants

This was an incredibly tough one to choose. Ultimately, Mono produced a set that was simply flawless. Tender, heart-wrenching melodies soared into frantic walls of noise and each time the crescendo peaked, the band was able to find yet another gear to step up. This is a band at the very top of their game and they produced a set of the utmost quality.

Best Electronic Artist

Winners: Three Trapped Tigers

Honourable Mentions: Quadrupede, Adam Betts, Alarmist

Noisy electro-math three-piece Three Trapped Tigers have been at the forefront of the experimental scene ever since their first EP was released in 2008. Yet again this set proved them to be absolutely pivotal to the UK music scene. Their intense yet almost effortless set created a new benchmark for aspiring experimental bands to look up to.

Weirdest Artist

Winners: Space Blood

Honourable Mentions: Zeus, Mutoid Man, Anta

With a three-faced mask, rainbow trousers, confetti cannons and a voiceover that attempted to brainwash the audience into buying the band's merch, drummer and bassist duo Space Blood's bizarre set full of pummelling math/noise deservedly earns them the crown of Weirdest Artist.

Best Artist With Vocals

Winners: Alma

Honourable Mentions: Arcane Roots, Black Peaks, Samoans, Delta Sleep

Most ArcTanGent bands tend to be instrumental, so when a brilliant singer comes along it makes a welcome contrast. Alma's beautifully touching set which centred around Pete Lambrou's vocals was an absolute delight. Soft and brooding but also delicate and optimistic, this was very special indeed.

Slowest Buildup

Winners: Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Honourable Mentions: Mono, Caspian

For a post-rock band, having a slow build-up could either be indicative of flawless composition or of being slow and boring; for Godspeed You! Black Emperor's set, it was absolutely the former. Godspeed are a band who do nothing by half-measures and their perfectionism was epitomised by a set that was truly meditative. They gradually built their compositions into breathtaking climaxes and created a fully immersive, almost spiritual experience.

Best Surprise Package

Winners: Fall of Messiah

Fall of Messiah are a band I'd heard good things about but never listened to before. After stumbling onto their set halfway in, they absolutely blew me away. The band played with tremendous urgency and force and were a joy to watch. Imagine if you took the post-metal edges of Deafheaven and combined them with the euphoric post-rock of Maybeshewill and you arrive somewhere near French five-piece Fall of Messiah. Definitely ones to watch.

Best Newcomer

Winner: Chiyoda Ku

Honourable Mention: Kusanagi

Fresh-faced Chiyoda Ku produced a superb display of riff-based math rock on the PX3 stage and will hopefully be invited back soon. Liverpool-based Kusanagi also produced a blistering set of frenetic (mostly) instrumental rock and ran them very close indeed.

Best Production

Winners: Nordic Giants

Honourable Mention: Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Nordic Giants are live entity that are capable of life-changing revelations and this set was one of their finest. The band projected emotionally-charged films onstage and added another layer of depth to a stunning musical performance of piano-and-electronics-based post rock.

Happiest Band

Winners: Axes

Honourable Mention: And So I Watch You From Afar, Enemies, Cleft

Axes are a rollercoaster ride. Sharply defined riffs stride into about-turns and mesmerising tempo shifts. Their set was a tough one, sandwiched in between Three Trapped Tigers and Mono, however, they more than showed their worth and played every moment with smiles on their faces. Axes must now surely be held up as the one of the very best in the latest cluster of math rock bands that have emerged in the UK recently. A special mention also goes to Cleft who went out on a high with a joyous set full of mind-bending riffs and a delightful medley of classics.

In summary, ArcTanGent Festival served up probably the finest experimental rock lineup of all time. Unfortunately, I couldn't see all the bands but the best way to express the sensational depth of this festival is that I could have repeated the festival, only seen bands that I missed, and still had an amazing weekend. The only question that remains is how they are going to top this.

Stay glued to the Math Rock Times for a full photo album and a series of BarTanGents: video interviews with various bands that played the festival.

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