Quebec City QC, Sept 13 – 15 – This was the little festival that could, small in scope but big in performance and quality. Codex serves the underground of EDM focusing on electronic sub genres such as rhythmic noise, drum and bass, atmospheric IDM, and minimal techno.
Quebec city with it’s 17th and 18th century Marschel Vauban fortress configuration, historical ghosts, and stunningly beautiful architecture is one of North America’s most charming gems, and possibly one of it’s best kept secrets. As a back drop for the dark modern beats of the festival, it was a perfect and somewhat eerie contrast.
This year’s festival was an Upper meets Lower Canada event, with most of the “international” artists hailing from Ontario Canada. Combined with a solid gathering of local Quebec artists and DJs it was a pure celebration of music in a tight knit group of subculture artists that transcend borders.
The most notable high for this festival was the quality of venue and sound. In particular the Le Cercle venue was not only aesthetically impressive but the sound quality was superb. Every layer of each artists carefully crafted pieces were clearly audible, and immersive. The video art accompaniment from Toronto’s Dusx on large visible screens, smoke, lights in a clean, spacious, modern setting with crystal clear sound was a major win for this festival. Electronic music delivered with the precision of this line-up demanded nothing less, and festival organizers clearly made sure that the audience was getting the best sound and visual inspiration the ticket could buy. Even the smaller secondary venue L’Agitée had sound better than most clubs of it’s size.
Headliner Orphx, hailing from Hamilton, Ontario was the highlight act, delighting ears with their signature sinister techno sound. It was nice to see an underground techno artist as the headline in a festival that covers a multitude of genres that sometimes contrast each other dramatically. In a similar vein, Toronto’s Displacer delivered perhaps the performance of his career, turning his usual chill and serene beats into a darker, harsher, and strangely uplifting auditory experience. Local newcomer Mod Beat drifted gracefully in a tech set that ever so slightly touched into a psytrance realm. Also local Michel Plamandon was superb. I didn’t manage to catch Montreal’s E1000 set but reports from peers indicate it was a stellar set. Last but not least, Toronto’s S:Cage finished the night in a dark, droney set that escalated slowly into harsh beats and noise-like elements.
Friday’s focus was a contrasting evening of noise and drum and bass. Toronto DJ Saucy Miso mixed both genres elegantly interspersing heavy jungle cadence with IDM breaks and noise stomp. This was a great prelude to Toronto’s CompUterus, the evening’s headliner lending their unique brand of industrial noise to the dance floor. Finishing the evening, Jonah K returned to his drum and bass roots with a spectacular set complimented the excellent sound quality of the venue.
Unfortunately we had to miss Sunday’s all local outdoor Quebec DJ event at Place Université du Québec. However, overall Codex remains an important festival showcase. While not one of North America’s bigger festivals, it is unique in it being a showcase of some truly amazing talent in musical styles that remain on the avant-garde fringe of electronic dance music.
photos : Mark Edwards