Womad and the art of listening

Festival-goers at this year’s Womad will have the chance to delve deeper into sound with a new stage exploring audio intricacies

A new stage that aims to celebrate the art of listening is being launched at this year’s Womad festival, which kicks off on Thursday at Charlton Park in Wiltshire.

The Society of Sound stage will feature performances that explore the art of sound including world famous beatboxer and musician Beardyman. He will create a new album live on the stage based entirely on audience song title suggestions. The album will be recorded using “the world’s most advanced live music production system”, the Beardytron 5000mkII. Developed by Beardyman himself, the system can record studio quality music in real-time.

Other acts on the new stage will include former Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, whose latest album tells the true story of a Welsh explorer’s journey across unmapped America, a rare DJ set from David Holmes who in the past has remixed tracks by bands including Page and Plant and Primal Scream and a talk from members of the Radiophonic Workshop, which will explore some of the pioneering techniques and sound design that made their name.

The stage is being brought to Womad by hi-fi company Bowers and Wilkins and festival co-founder Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. The label will celebrate it’s 25th anniversary as part of the festival with performances from label favourites 9Bach, Justin Adams and Iarla Ó Lionáird.

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Elsewhere at the festival, Sinéad O’Connor has been announced as a late edition to the line-up. She will end the festival on Sunday night following the recent death of soul singer Bobby Womack who was due to headline the day. There will also be performances from folk-rock giant Richard Thompson, acclaimed Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, a live performance of polymath Nitin Sawhney’s OneZero album and award-winning Malian musician Bassekou Kouyate with his band Ngoni ba.

As well as celebrating a diverse range of sounds, the festival will feature a fusion of flavours from around the world. Womad’s regular food traders and the Taste the World Stage, featuring cookery demonstrations and discussions, will this year be joined by the Taste the World Restaurant, which will offer up fourteen different dishes from around the world.

A selection of workshops will also take place across the festival site including African drumming, yoga and dance.

Womad takes place this year at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire from the 24 to 27 July 2014. Tickets are still available.