Future sound of Minneapolis

The DeStijl/Freedom From Festival showcases angular, non-traditional music.

by Keri Carlson

Gravity is, for the most part, a good thing. Without it, we would wander aimlessly around the universe, probably running into the sun. The music that surrounds us every day – the music that is more conventional, more pop, more mainstream or what have you – is a lot like gravity. It holds patterns, melodies, harmonies, beats, etc., that are expected and a comfort. Its structure keeps us grounded.

Inside us all, however, lurks the fantasy that we might abolish gravity, if just for a moment, and fly. This weekend, the Destijl/Freedom From Festival of Music features national and international artists whose music, in many ways, defies gravity.

The two local record labels in charge of the festival are Destijl, run by Clint Simonson and Freedom From, run by Matthew St.-Germain. Both load their catalogs with music often pegged with the ambiguous terms “experimental” and “avant-garde.” Simonson captures their choices more accurately by describing the music as “all about freedom, not tied down to rigid formulas; freedom and possibilities.” For the artists coming to the festival, music has no rules or laws. Nothing holds it back or weighs it down.

After the success of last year’s festival at the Church, Destijl/Freedom From has greatly expanded. Not only will the festival be held at a bigger venue, the Fine Line, but many of this year’s artists rarely come to town and some rarely play shows at all.

In fact, St.-Germain and Simonson bumped the festival up a week in order to accommodate the Swedish band Trad Gras Och Stenar. The politically outspoken psychedelic band from the 1960s makes its first ever appearance in the United States. Two other notable and obscure artists resurfacing from the 1960s both play Saturday: influential British folk singer Bridget St.-John and free jazz artist Arthur Doyle.

Destijl/Freedom From also features newer artists preparing to make their mark in underground music.

With his new album “Angel of the Year” just finished, Devendra Banhart is already heralded as a bizarrely beautiful musician with a sound like a crazed Donovan.

Friends Forever are what their name implies. The duo sings about quirky inside jokes that disregard the rest of the world.

Chicago band No Doctors sound like a metal version of Steppenwolf recorded in the backwoods of the South in the 1940s.

The all-girl trio Angelblood rumble like the Shags with heavier guitars.

But the real surprise this year is the Chris Corsano / Jim O’Rourke / Paul Flaherty / Thurston Moore Action Unit playing early Saturday. Jim O’Rourke, the newest member of Sonic Youth and man behind the scenes of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” plays an uncannily clear and heavenly guitar sound even while splurging into an unbridled solo. And, of course, Thurston Moore, one of the founding members of Sonic Youth, should make all the indie kids squeal with delight. While Moore’s presence alone does not make this event significant, it lends a great deal of legitimacy to this type of festival.