As the sun begins to set and its soft glow filters through the stained glass windows of Rajasthan’s Alsisar Mahal, the grand fort transforms into a picture of serendipity. Little would you know that soon the hallowed halls would be filled with the reverberating beats of hard techno music. The fort, rebuilt in 1954 after a bombing by the British, becomes the stage for an eclectic mix of musical performances and artistic expressions during the Magnetic Fields contemporary arts and music festival. The festival, now in its 11th edition, drew 6,000 people to Alsisar Mahal for three warm days and extremely chilly nights, showcasing electronic and left-field soundscape across seven stages.
Atop Badal Mahal, international music producer and DJ Alboe plays his quintessential blend of Indian sounds and electronic music against the backdrop of the fort’s domes. In the Durbar Hall, Rajasthani folk musician Moti Khan captivates the audience, turning the space into an unexpected dance floor. The festival’s lineup included unique acts like Glass Beams, who presented a soothing blend of eastern scales and serpentine psychedelia, and DJ ADHD, whose funky club music had crowds overflowing from a massive courtyard inside the Haveli. Hindustani classical musicians also showcased their talents on the grand stage filled with portraits of the erstwhile royal family of Alsisar.
Munbir Chawla, co-founder and music director of Magnetic Fields, believes that each stage at the festival occupies a niche and a unique vibe, with the architecture and heritage of the Alsisar Mahal adding to the festival’s story. Artistes like OX7GEN and DJ Rishi Sippy found the festival to be a gateway to introduce new sounds to their repertoire and engage with a diverse audience. The festival’s curation aims to showcase fresh and future-facing artists and sounds, providing a platform for both Indian and international acts to find an appreciative audience.
In addition to the music, the festival has trained its focus on alternative arts, with installations like a giant hammock by The Architecture Story aiming to foster a sense of community and encourage interactions among festival-goers. The theme for this year’s festival was “preservation,” reflecting the festival’s commitment to not only showcasing music but also creating a space for people to connect and discover new experiences.
As the festival came to a close, exhausted attendees reluctantly made their way back to their camps, already looking forward to the next installment of Magnetic Fields. The festival not only provides a platform for emerging artists and a diverse range of sounds but also contributes to the evolution of electronic music in India, encouraging people to discover new music and embrace different genres and sounds. With its focus on preservation and community building, Magnetic Fields continues to be a significant event in the Indian music and arts scene.