Dimensions Festival 2022 was a Deep Dive Into the Depths of Dance Music

Harry Levin

8 min read

Dimensions Festival 2022 was a Deep Dive Into the Depths of Dance Music

For those who may have come across our pre-coverage surrounding the tenth anniversary of Dimensions Festival, which just passed from September 1-5 at the Garden Resort in Tisno, Croatia, what excited me most about the event was the unconventional and diverse lineup.

Apart from a small handful of artists like Octo Octa and DVS1, the roster was filled with DJs and live acts who feature far less often on the general festival circuit. It’s a lineup that rejects sameness, and when I had to put together my “Top 10 Artists” piece ahead of the festival, I had to do a deep dive to find most of those artists.

Little did I expect that attending the festival itself would be the deepest dive, and I discovered even more amazing new artists playing incredible music alongside the Adriatic Sea.

Across five days, I enjoyed a plethora of exciting and explorative sounds. Breakbeats, hardcore rave, deep techno, minimal house, and garage, all iterated in a fashion that blurred the parameters that define those titles in the first place.

The point of this festival was reveling in music that would not be found elsewhere, and all other aspects served that mission, full stop.

At each of the three primary stages (Cosmos, The Beach, and Olive Grove), the one side stage (The Haze), the boat party, and the after-hours at the legendary Barbarella’s Discotheque, the sound was immaculate.

Despite all the stages within the festival grounds being generally very close to one another, each provided a kind of orb where you felt surrounded by the vibrations.

Frequencies were evenly distributed from top to bottom, and whether you were tearing up the heart of the dancefloor to the infectious grooves of Liquid Earth at the Olive Grove or lounging on one of the several public hammocks among the trees on the outskirts of Cosmos while Helena Hauff and DJ Stingray demonstrated immaculate chemistry on the decks, the audio was crisp and clear.

This same musical expertise extended to the after-hours at Barbarella’s, which I attended Sunday night for the three-hour shared set from D. Tiffany and Roza Terenzi.

Neither of them were artists I discovered on-site (after hearing their phenomenal new collaborative album Edge of Innocence earlier this year), but they built a set that provided an aural narrative while adapting to the pristine outdoor atmosphere of Barbarella’s. It was like they were reimagining classic adventure stories like The Lord Of The Rings into house and techno beats.

Watching the circumferential view of the sky slowly turning from black to green to blue as the sun rose astride the giant disco ball, it felt like the dancefloor was a floating platform, lifted by nothing but the pure energy of the music and the people who channeled it into their bodies.

I appreciated this unfiltered, music-first approach even though that much emphasis did leave other logistical aspects of the festival lacking.

The food options were minimal and not of the best quality. The port-a-potties were almost unusable for most of the festival (thank god there were actual bathrooms in the lobby of the resort), and the only way to pay for anything on-site was by loading up a wristband with money.

I do understand the desire to keep things cashless. However, I’d already spent nearly three months traveling through Europe before attending the festival, and every establishment in multiple countries accepted contactless pay through my phone. So why not just do that?

So many people complained of being overcharged through the wristbands, and if you had excess money on your wristband, you could only get a refund in two small windows of time on Monday, September 5, and Tuesday, September 6. You needed at least 100kn on your wristband to get a refund, and each refund cost 20kn.

If you were leaving before September 5, the festival told you to “top up carefully.” I’ll leave you to decipher the meaning of that message.

My only hope is all the extra money they pocketed from the rigged wristband system goes into the budget for next year and delivers yet another first-rate lineup of electronic music that rejects the framework of the standard festival roster.

After leaving Dimensions, I have a whole new standard of both musical curation and discovery at festivals, which are by far what I value most in the experience—especially discovery. Having a fresh list of artists to search through on Bandcamp and Discogs is the best result of an event, and here are five artists I will soon add to my collections because of Dimensions:

Jamie Jar

Soichi Terada Live

For many years the class of dancers who generally flock to Dimensions criticized main-stage EDM artists for their antics behind the decks—standing on tables—throwing cakes. Essentially demonstrating a lack of focus on the craft of DJing.

And yet when the legendary composer, producer, and DJ, Soichi Terada, was leading his audience at the Beach Stage in synchronized dance moves during his live set, they simply could not get enough.

Sporting his classic Hawaiian shirt, Terada was emitting the same utter joy for music heard in his video game soundtracks for Ape Escape and his 2022 house LP Asakusa Light.

He would lift mini-machines from the table purposely placed within the crowd to show the effects of each touch of a button. There was not a more fun and engaging set throughout all five days of the festival.

Follow Soichi Terada on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Djrum

Vinyl records were a frequent sight at Dimensions. Because I saw Djrum at the fabriclive Boat Party on Saturday afternoon, where there was no separation between the decks and the dancefloor, I saw exactly what he was doing with them.

Vinyl selectors remain celebrated despite the continuing advance in DJ technology for two main reasons.

First is the selection of tracks that can only be found on wax. So many record labels sacrifice the accessibility and potential profit from digital releases to honor the music by releasing it only in the format of supreme quality.

Second is the tactile precision necessary to curate a seamless vinyl set. It requires placing the needle at the exact right place, dialing in the tempos to perfectly align, and adjusting the beats in the moment.

Djrum demonstrated his mastery of the elements on a boat sailing off the coast of Croatia, and to see it live in front of me was ineffable.

Follow Djrum on Facebook | Instagram

LCY

As I mentioned prior, a couple of the stages had free-to-all hammocks amongst the trees on the perimeter, and after a long Saturday of festival-ing, I found myself using one at the Cosmos stage.

I was swaying among the trees, gazing at the stars, while the most cacophonous and seductive rhythms exploded out of the speaker’s thanks to LCY.

It took me a few minutes to register what was happening during their set. It almost didn’t sound like music at first—just sonic additions to the busy soundscape of the festival.

But after adjusting my ears a bit, I realized LCY simply understands how to channel the unpredictable, avant-garde energy of John Cage into UK-born electronic music.

Even if I had wanted to research their music before the festival, it wouldn’t have prepared me for their set. They have eight tracks total on their Spotify, and yes, those eight include everything from IDM breaks to ambient snapshots, but what they played at Dimensions was bigger than any genre.

The best way to describe it is through action. I had no choice but to get up off the hammock, put my earplugs as far into my ears as possible, and plant myself right in front of the speaker stack. Theirs is music that needs to be felt.

Follow LCY on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

SHERELLE

Throughout the festival, from the boat party on Saturday to walking to get food on Sunday, I kept running into this slick-dressed Black woman who emanated cool. She reminded me of a character from The Matrix in the best way possible. Like she could slow down time at her will, start running on the walls, and lay the smackdown on anyone who was causing trouble.

Sunday night, I found out that person was none other than SHERELLE. The London-based DJ, producer, radio host, and label boss had the closing slot at the Cosmos that evening and, in 90 minutes, demonstrated why she prefers to describe herself as a “high-speed raver.” Techno, jungle, juke, and footwork were all cranked up to 11 during her set, and she never missed a beat.

Follow SHERELLE on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

OCB a.k.a. Dennis Briss

For the final night of the festival, Morocco-based record label Casa Voyager and label boss Dennis Briss hosted the Cosmos Stage.

Briss chose to perform under his new project OCB, which was through and through electro, a sound aesthetic that extended to most of the other artists at the Cosmos that evening. Except OCB took electro roots and watered them with his label-curator energy.

It always felt like he was playing electro, even if it didn’t sound like it at some points, a fact that demonstrates the kind of all-encompassing versatility of every artist who performed at Dimensions in 2022.

Follow OCB on Instagram