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Gianpula Village is a sprawling club complex in the middle of Malta, halfway between the former capital of Mdina and the historic town of Żebbuġ. Containing eight venues, it mostly hosts lowest-common denominator EDM parties, but in 2017 it became the adopted home of Glitch Festival, a three-day underground electronic music event. Now in its third year, Glitch is a bold venture from a group of locals in a country where this style of music is still considered niche.
The 2018 edition relied on an all-star lineup to pull in an international crowd, while support from the Malta Tourist Authority (MTA) helped fund the team’s ambitious plans. As cofounder Kevin Ellul explained, things went “up a notch” this year, and the expansion brought with it some growing pains, from logistical transport issues (for the journalists, organised by the MTA) to a lack of recycling bins onsite. But overall, with the necessary infrastructure already in place, Gianpula Village seemed like the right fit for this kind of event.
After a scenic drive through rolling hills, I arrived onsite on Wednesday evening, just as the sky was turning pink. Shaped like a large circle, the venue consisted of smaller dance floors on the outskirts of the complex, and a large open-air stage in the middle, with bars on both sides serving up cheap booze. From the main stage, Fortress, which had been decorated to look like a cartoon castle, you could see the impressive fortifications of Mdina in the distance.
Due to the programme’s tight schedule—most artists were only given two hours—Objekt played the second slot at Fortress in front of an initially sparse crowd, before things kicked into high gear at around 10 PM. Moments later, Nina Kraviz took the stage to loud chants of her name. She held the tension with an irresistible techno workout, occasionally loosening things up with ghetto house classics like DJ Slugo’s “Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Hoe Too.” Later, she was seen partying to Call Super, who closed the more intimate Hydro Stage. One of the most entertaining aspects of the UK artist’s DJ style, aside from the sophisticated mixing, are the meta commentaries he throws in on the state of the rave. A clear example this time was the Belgian rave belter “My Friend Is Taking Drugs (DJ Freud Vision Remix)” by Ragged Life.
When I arrived the following day in the early evening, I was greeted by friendly staff handing out fans to beat back the heat. Young Marco, who played longer to cover for an unwell Motor City Drum Ensemble, warmed up Fortress with tropical acid selections like Wolfram’s “United 707 (Lipelis Vs Wolf Mix).” He used the extra time to play more daring tracks, such as Carl Craig’s beatless remix of Francesco Tristano’s gorgeous piano piece “The Melody.” By the time he dropped Agua Re’s “Holy Dance,” the dance floor was completely locked in a groove, hopping up and down to the track’s floating synths.
“Kraviz, once again, was seen dancing as hard as anyone in the crowd.”
When Young Marco handed over to Robert and Lyric Hood, he told them to “show the crowd heaven.” Robert responded with a fist-bump, before opening with the epic ballad-turned-house belter “The Pressure Pt. 1” by Sounds Of Blackness. The rest of their set was an affirmation of the healing power of music—The O’Jay’s “I Love Music” was their final track. Volvox, who impressed with a mind-bending techno trip, was followed by local hero and Glitch cofounder Cain, who delivered an equally strong peak-time slot at Cosmic. Kraviz, once again, was seen dancing as hard as anyone in the crowd.
By the time the festival’s grand finale rolled around—a sunset boat cruise along the island—I was exhausted, but the closing set, a surprise back-to-back from Call Super and Objekt, was enough to muster one last burst of energy. In a particularly inspired move, Objekt slipped the glorious vocal break from SOPHIE’s “Immaterial” into Floorplan’s “Let The Church.” Before the crowd could even grasp what was going on, in came Green Velvet’s afterparty saga “La La Land.” It was a fitting ending to a fun week.