Amplifying the Intensity: Waveform Festival review 2011

Waveform is a three day electronic dance festival, laced with psychedelic vibes, which this year was held near Taunton, in Somerset, England. An environmentally-friendly and sustainable event, Waveform delivered yet another brilliant party at a consciousness-raising rate and the outstanding sensual adventure is the subject of this creative review. Photography by the legendary festival snapper Mark Falmouth (unless otherwise stated.)

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wave’form / wāv-förm / n a graph showing variation of amplitude of electrical signal, or other wave, against time

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As we drove up a short, dusty track, on Friday afternoon, the periphery of Waveform began to shimmer into existence. The car radio fell silent. An electronic beat blew gently through the open windows and all four of us began rhythmically tapping the seats. Tripping up from Kernow, the journey had passed in an instant and as the greens of the Somerset fields rippled in my eyes, shattering the lingering tarmac greys, the beginnings of the three-day psychedelic party manifested around us.

Some wee-small fairies went happily darting behind us, their little wings beating quickly, as we waited for our passes-to-paradise. We saw water imps, weaving and popping in and out of taps as we teetered on the edge of the sublime. And Superheroes flew speedily passed our tents, as we cracked open our alchemical equipment to ingratiate and transform the wave in ourselves. Very soon, C—– turned into a piskie and disappeared into the heart of the form like the focus of a microscope on a fractal. Then meandering our way through the campsite, other beats began to join the flow, appearing out of thin air, and as the form became stronger, bolder, giant yellow acid faces and red dragons danced playfully through the air above us… 

…before long, the movement-intensity kicked up a notch, in the time and space of Waveform and it quickly subsumed our souls into its body. Initially I was in a state-of-confusion as M—– pointed out a troop of giant, glowing, psychedelic mushrooms on our right, which as we were swept passed, appeared to be emanating the newly amplified intensity from deep within them. But then I felt the beat bounce through the ground, I could feel it on my toes, as I suddenly realised that it wasn’t only the mushrooms amplifying. As I looked at them, and them at me, they swayed gently as if the gaze of my eyes manipulated them, and I came to be the feedback loop of energy between us; shuttling through the ground, the sky, the mushrooms and me; the formations passing together as one.

On Saturday morning the four of us had come back together, along with a new hexagonal form of people, which helped the Gaia Chill tent breath; the beautifully decorated, canvas walls levitated the lush from the ground, like oxygen through lungs. There were also 2 Care Bears who had broken up the morning and led us in there initially, and who wove deep and vibrant colour into the psychedelic motifs. Soap bubbles drifted on the chilled beats; they were awash with refracting colour. Our bodies swayed gently with the tunes, a warming-up of the motions, before the amplifications intensified later. I was reminded of the future; of Graeme Park on Sunday night, letting my body softly down in amongst the ambience of a successful weekend…

…then a fierce deluge of white sparked from beneath the winds of the tent and I slipped out for a moment into what I thought was a brief flood of sunlight, which had broken through on the other side. The 2 Care Bears were playing tricks on me though, and instead I was confronted with huge, arcing clouds; mountain kingdoms for the angels who watched down on us. The magnificence of Waveform articulated, I then slid across an invisible ice sheet back through Eartheart into Gaia Chill: “How did you ice-skate like that?” A mischievous-looking, elfin character knowingly whispered as I glided passed him. He scampered over and gave me a sup on his mysterious coconut-encased drink; I welled up and was caught by a bubble of laughter and was off again, lost in idyll.

The welcoming jaws of the electronic Archangel gasped open on Saturday evening and a crowd of sound-surfers were whisked into its inner space. Far Too Loud formed a wave of sublimely-channelled conduits, visual motifs replicating the awesome sounds through the stamp and stomp of appendages. To the front and centre, a little Kernow crew became a form within a form, within a form: “This is it” sparkled Mark Falmouth, once he’d captured the image and fallen back into dance, and Far Too Loud ripped an incredible set; the sublime-intensity of a crowd enthralled by a benevolent, musical puppet-master. As his reigns were passed, there was an outpouring of acidic bliss and a pastiche of images rose up before me…

Glow staffs and fire staffs spinning and spinning round shadow-lit faces, swerving round torsos and flying into the air, catching the wind for an instant before plummeting back down into the hands of their manipulators – Blink – Foxes darting this way and that, asking P—– if he’d seen the others and then reciting limericks across the melodies of the festival mix; later they appeared with instruments, playing a song to the crowds near a campfire and then dispersed back into the forests of the festival’s mind – Blink – Dancing butterflies across the roof of Tribe of Frog, images identical with the psychedelic-trance and that birthed our psyche into a course of group singularity – Blink – Soon an exhaustion took a hold of me and I found myself laying sprawled out in amongst tents, sinking gently into the ground, then popping back out, sinking gently into the ground, then popping back out…

On a different thread of the form, Craig had slipped elegantly back into the movement-intensity. Surrounded by the outlets of a counterculture, spreading the real news, the thoughts of change and a better world, and there, not too far from the mushrooms, happened a moment of timelessness; a moment born of Waveform but that scythed the gravity with a moment of clarity. Four strangers, four festival-driven wandering elements, emerged from the sensual merry-go-round, to a patch of light, a strange attractor, that appeared in the centre at three in the morning…

…all four came to a stand-still, facing one another and it was as if a switch had been flipped. The festival paused and they were surrounded by calm: “Have you been having a good festival guys?” One asked. Nods and smiles of appreciation between all of them and then they basked for a moment in quiet bliss, aware of one another’s empathetic peace: “Shall we get back on it?” My piskie friend added after. Another unified nod of agreement and they all departed in different directions, with the sounds and sights of Waveform suddenly kick-starting again.

As I retreated from the sublime-intensity of the centre, through the movement-intensity of the second field and out onto the periphery of Waveform with K—– and S—–, S—– pointed to the sky with a  gleaming finger. Finally the vibrations of the event had ruptured a slice in the great dome above us and a rainbow flooded up and out from near the Cat’s Cradle, deep in the festival. With the wonderful psy-breaks of Bad Tango still freshly nibbling at my ear-lobes, we three went and watched the rainbow pour the sunlight from the sky and the moon rise above the festival like the hand of a clock. The duration was coming to an end, and it only remains to wait with baited-breath for the big one next year: Waveform 2012.

Robert Dickins

Robert Dickins is a historian, writer and editor. He is the founder of the Psychedelic Press, co-director of the Psychedelic Museum, and is currently undertaking his PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. His research interests focus on the history and literature of psychedelic substances, and the role of writing in spiritual and magical traditions during the 19th century. He is also the author of the novel 'Erin', and has occasionally be known to perform a poem or two.

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3 Responses

  1. madhu says:

    hi rob, wow i’m still smilin, luv n hugs, we spoke on sun nite, you gave me yer biz card,(lady in orange) -madhu xxx

  1. March 1, 2012

    […] The Green Award winning Waveform Festival of Dance Music and Electronica is back for a glorious sixth year. This year, the 100% sustainable event will be BIGGER and BETTER than ever before. Join the PsypressUK crew and the Waveform family in the beautiful idyll of the Somerset countryside for some ethical festivities in the summer sun. Music and dance, arts, crafts, learning and healing, all with an eye to the environment. Watch this space for announcements on who will be performing at this year’s event. To read the PsypressUK review of the 2011 event, please visit here. […]

  2. August 8, 2012

    […] The Green Award winning Waveform Festival of Dance Music and Electronica is back for a glorious sixth year. This year, the 100% sustainable event will be BIGGER and BETTER than ever before. Join the PsypressUK crew and the Waveform family in the beautiful idyll of the Somerset countryside for some ethical festivities in the summer sun. Music and dance, arts, crafts, learning and healing, all with an eye to the environment. Watch this space for announcements on who will be performing at this year’s event. To read the PsypressUK review of the 2011 event, please visit here. […]

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