Techno lineups don’t have to be scraped off of the top of DJ charts and Google searches. And visuals don’t have to look like a screensaver that got drunk. Festival Forte, set for the end of August at the castle of Montemor-o-Velho, between Porto and Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is a glimpse of something different. Already last year, it ran against the grain of dumbed down summer festivals with some of the bleeding edge of concert visuals, set to an exceptional lineup. And it appears to be set to do that again.

So, let’s check in on what’s happening – and, even if you aren’t near a castle or Berlin or anything of the sort, give you some taste.

If you are in Berlin, don’t miss our chance to get you on the guest list – scroll down.

Festival Forte runs 26-28 August. We’re waiting for some news on what’s happening in visuals. (I’m keen to hear, even though I’ll be in a residency on an island off the coast of Finland.)

For a sense of the visual atmosphere, here’s a post-2015 video wrap:

Festival FORTE 2015 _ Visuals Report from OlgaStudio on Vimeo.

For more, our photo at the top comes from excellent French scene site SweetLife, who did an extensive photo essay from 2015 (meaning if you have forgotten all your high school French, kids, you’ll do fine – pictures!):

We can tell you the 2016 music lineup: Berghain residents Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, RØDHÅD – of course. But you also get Trade (that’s Blawan and Surgeon, which is a pretty insane duo), Truncate, Helena Hauff, Apparat, Silent Servant, Kobosil, Ancient Methods, Konstantin, plus Portugal’s own Rui Vargas. There’s the new Ben Frost show with live visual / live cinema star MFO to open, and the legendary Cabaret Voltaire (who were exceptional when I heard them at Atonal – not always the case with our heroes from the past).

But let’s not wait until August, anyway. Thursday night the 23rd of June in Berlin, there’s an open-air warm-up at Ipse. And – lucky us, since German weather in June can be anything but warm – the weather should be perfect. So it’s a chance to prove that music like Ancient Methods need not be experienced whilst huddled in dark basements from a bracing winter blizzard after all. Like, you know, hard techno and sunshine?

If you can’t make it to Berlin, just get some loud speakers, head out doors, and – we’ve got you covered.

Born deep in east Germany and raised as a kid in Berlin, Subjected is about as good an embodiment of German techno as you’ll find. Here’s a terrific live set from Suicide Club (nee Suicide Circus) well worth your heavy garden party we’ve just encouraged you to have (sorry, neighbors):

Subjected is known, too, for his Vault Series:

Ancient Methods is just one of my favorite DJs and producers. I could say something more intelligent than that, but I can’t say anything about Germany or techno or Ancient Methods quite as nicely as this fantastic cut (which oddly, I still haven’t heard anyone play out except me, but maybe he’ll do it tomorrow):

Seems like that needs its own music video rather than just a still image. Someone? (The actual EP is here.)

Of course, just gathering the Berlin regulars isn’t terribly new. So what’s special about Forte is that it can connect to Portugal. For that, look to Expander, who has used Portugal’s underground as a base from which to play around the planet. And – having been talking to a number of people about this phenomenon this week – that I know for many is the dream. This is the sort of character who manages to wire into the international scene and join the jet set. And his music holds up to that:

It’s not enough to just do some decent production and DJing, though. Expander’s Soniculture (find it on Facebook) is a label, it’s management and booking, it’s consulting, it’s a venue, and – back to the original topic – it’s this festival, curated and directed by Expander.

But that’s I think the new baseline. The people who are making it now on the highly competitive international scene are essentially Transformer-robots of men and women capable of doing all things at once. It’s a tall order, but – it’s fun when you watch people make it work.

And it’ll be fun to watch them tomorrow.

If you are near Berlin and have a Thursday night free, CDM can help you and your +1 with guest list – enter our giveaway by joining us on Facebook.