If you attended last year's Debacle Fest at Columbia City Theater, you may have felt an odd disconnect. In a quaint, handsome vaudeville venue built in 1917, you could hear some of the weirdest, most extreme live music ever in the Northwest caroming around the historic interior. Huh?

These sorts of experimental sounds—minimal drones, cataclysmic noise, infernal synth dirges, hard-driving motorik rock, doom metal, etc.—are typically way more at home in a dingy DIY space like Black Lodge, a no-frills club like Lo-Fi, or the utilitarian heavy-metal hub/vegan bistro Highline. But after unforeseen circumstances forced Debacle Fest organizers Sam Melancon and Rachel LeBlanc to push back the date of their event and seek another home for their two-night exploration of unconventional music, they found CCT was the next best option. As it turned out, things went so well in 2015 that Debacle is returning for this year's ninth edition, which happens May 13 and 14.

According to new Debacle Fest curator Hallie Sloan, the choice to inhabit CCT again was easy to make, "not only because of the striking aesthetics and robust acoustics (which are mostly unparalleled in this city), but also because of our focus on a community-valued space. The theater itself serves as the ideal fit, being spacious enough to host our audience and small enough to socialize freely among your companions without the overwhelming nature of the cliché 'festival' vibe."

Sloan notes that hosting Debacle Fest outside of Capitol Hill or nearby neighborhoods "poses inherent challenges, yet glittery excitement." She says that "exiting the familiar to enter the 'uncharted' adds an element of mystery and anticipation" to festivalgoers' experiences. It certainly helps that Columbia City Theater is a 10-minute walk from the light rail and the 7, 8, 9, and 50 bus routes.

For a festival that isn't blessed with a huge budget, Debacle books well above its weight. The lineup for this year so far looks very strong, combining some of Seattle's most interesting musicians with those from Portland, Los Angeles, and Chicago. There are still more slots to be filled, but the artists who are already locked in make Debacle an essential destination for anyone into sonic adventurousness in its many manifestations.

Brett Naucke, the act traveling the longest distance to perform (he's coming from Chicago), exemplifies Debacle's tendency to favor music that eludes easy categorization. His releases on labels like Spectrum Spools, Nihilist, and Catholic Tapes exude mystery and trigger a complex network of emotions. They're ostensibly ambient, but they have the aura of soundtracks for sea-life documentaries or about outer space or horror films by directors whose names you can't pronounce.

In a similar vein, DIAD—Further Records co-owner Chloe Harris (aka Raica) and Timm Mason of Midday Veil and Master Musicians of Bukkake—work in the highbrow realm of analog-synth minimalism that's suggestive of enigmatic worlds and spine-tingling scenarios on the silver screen. Seattle's Andrew Crawshaw, hard-rock drummer for Terminal Fuzz Terror, intriguingly moonlights as solo synth sojourner Meridian Arc, forging ominous John Carpenter/Zombie–sque panoramas. LA's Hive Mind adds yet more intense synthesizer drone to inspire existential contemplation.

Other standouts on Debacle 2016's bill include Benoît Pioulard, an ambient-music troubadour of David Sylvian–like delicate beauty; Newaxeyes, Seattle's most galvanizing electronic-rock hybridists; DoNormaal, the city's most deservedly hyped, left-field rap newcomer; and Medina/Walsh, an electronics/guitar duo who take folk music to strange and transcendent places it rarely goes. Some of the acts we didn't mention will also reupholster your headspace in surprising ways.

And it's all just a short, relatively stress-free public-transit ride away.