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2018-05-27

OWLBITES - Live​.​Bites​^​^​/​/​.​.

I've been quite busy with other things lately, including my own music, so i'm not in the most urgent need for new records. But now after more than a month that this blog was dominated by Roadburn and Druturum a lot of stuff I want to review has heaped up anyway.

Let me start lowering that pile with a CD the small Dutch label Faux Amis surprised me with. It's definitely what most people would call the weirdest shit of the bunch. So guys who use the sentence That's not music! in music discussions - please don't bother to read any further!
 


OWLBITES - Live​.​Bites​^​^​/​/​.​. (CD) (2018)

Owlbites is a one-man ambient / drone project of Thanos Fotiadis, with which he has performed improvisations in many special locations, such as light houses, dancing studios, forests, boats and more, before he recorded this album live onto 4-track tape in this January.

It's made out of two 23+ minutes tracks called "The Meditative State" and "Nature Is Satan's Church".

Stylistically both tracks are pretty close to each other as both very heavily rely on the use of looped spoken word sound samples and eletronics, which come together in experimental soundscapes. My first impression after a couple of runs through the album was that this was quite a challenging listening experience. But when I put it away for a while and listened to it again it came surprisingly easy to me.

Of course every music in this advantgardistic direction is an acquired taste. But if you are open for the genre and don't overthink it (that actually being the message of the first track), you can find a pretty rich tapestry of sounds in this.

You also have to be in for what I consider the icing of the cake here: Because sometimes these soundtracks get totally crushed under rasping, gnarling guitars with a thick,  O))) so satisfying flavour of brutal drone. Damn, that guitar tone is great!

The second half of "Live.Bites​^​^​/​/​.​." can't fully hold my attention on the same level as "The Meditative State" does, but even with this small reservation, I can't help appreciating this album more and more with each listen.

This is some very interesting material. Dope!





Highlight: The Meditative State



2018-05-26

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2018 • DAY FOUR : Sunday, April 22nd

- Leave the lights on

I'm going blind -


Moor Mother


Maybe you haven't noticed, but there was something very odd about my Roadburn Saturday review.

Right, I didn't bother you with anything about my day from morning to noon before the festival. The simple reason for that was that after the longest music night on Friday I just didn't do anything even remotely noteworthy.

Sunday was different, because I had been in bed much earlier. And since my film cameras were already angry with me for only being used on two days, I was up and ready to take my last chance to take them out for a walk right after breakfast.

Only minutes after eight I was ready to grab a bite, but the breakfast room wasn't. A memo that the doors open later on Sundays would have been nice.

No, things just didn't work out a hundred percent like I wanted this morning. I found an area a couple of car minutes away, which I wanted to explore, but the lakes I had spotted on the map turned out to be just too far away to reach them by foot. So basically I just ended up taking a walk through the woods. There were some nice spots, but a second visit at another corner of the dunes I've been to on Thursday would certainly have given me much more spectacular sights.

Well, at least I was in the shadows most of the time.


Huis ter Heide


Luckily the toll my feet had to pay for the extra excursion was mildened by the fact that the ways from concert to concert were shorter on Sunday, because there were no more shows in the Hall Of Fame and Koepelhal. Or let's say almost, because there still were special performances in the skate park - and of course also the merch was still located in the Koepelhal, so at least one visit in Choo Choo Valley (as we all have agreed to call that area from now on) would be mandatory.



I hadn't been to a single show in Het Patronaat on Saturday, but today most bands I wanted to see played inside the former church, starting with Wrekmeister Harmonies.


Wrekmeister Harmonies

Even though this show wasn't announced as one of the many full album performances, which have been a typical Roadburn feature for long, I am pretty sure that Wrekmeister Harmonies's core duo JR Robinson and Esther Shaw, accompanied by a live drummer,  performed their recent album "The Alone Rush" here. I purchased it later and it feels so similar to this concert that I have very little doubt about that.

Not only due to Robinson's sonorous voice the intimate compositions carried a lot of Nick Cave in them, combined with the sound aesthetics of (mostly) calmer Swans and those hauntingly dark and beautiful violins and background vocals from Esther Shaw.
When it comes capturing the audience with severe mournfulness, this was clearly the closest experience to Bell Witch's "Mirror Reaper" show for me. And just like them Wrekmeister Harmonies elevated a performance that didn't need any extras per se to another level with the use of intense videos.

Well, in this case it was clearly too intense for many, and I must admit that I was glad to be so near to the stage that a lot of my view of the screen was blocked by instruments. During the last twenty minutes of the show, while the musical mood droned and grew to its pinnacle, the video showed an extremely graphic black and white documentary of autopsies and the almost industrial disassembling of human bodies, probably for medical research reasons.
I feel like this was justified for the sake of the art though - and in the sum of its parts this show had a deep emotionally quality, almost physically gut-wrenching, that still sticks in my head now over a month later.


I guess it speaks volumes that the group cheering Het Patronaat up after this was none other than the already mentioned Bell Witch with their second, much shorter performance.


Bell Witch

Just like "Mirror Reaper" this was no standard show of the funeral doom duo either. Because guest singer Erik Moggridge has also sung on one long track on each of the two previous Bell Witch albums and was here anyway, they just performed those two pieces "Rows (Of Endless Waves)" and "Suffocation, A Drowning: II - Somniloquy (The Distance Of Forever)".

Even though we are still deep inside the realm of a genre not known for inducing moshpits, this was in comparison a much more action-filled show, with even a noticable amounts of faster paced sections. But then it was also stunningly beautiful and majestic.
Other than the different material I'm running the risk of repeating myself here, because the bass, drums and vocal deliveries were just as impressive as the other day.

I can't stretch enough how essential I think this band has become for doom. The only small flaw was that it ended at least ten minutes too early. And yes, that is just one more of those Roadburn luxury complaints.



Next on my schedule I had the Cul de Sac. I love the small club stage, but hadn't been there for more than two days, since Insect Ark on Thursday. So I really had to see at least one more show there. And the best opportunity for that was Syk from Italy, a band you would rather expect on the line-up of festivals like Euroblast.


Syk

What already caught people's attention during soundcheck were the instruments of Syk, who don't play with a bass guitar. Instead one guitarist played a seven-string guitar (if I remember correctly that is), and the other one handled a crazy custom axe with - I don't even know because it's so hard to count them - nine or ten strings.

I cannot talk about Syk's sound without referencing the early Nineties progressive doom metal classic "Condemned" by Confessor, not only because singer Dalila Kayros' pained, aggressive voice takes me back to it, but because their whole style sounds like a meshuggah'd djent version of Confessor. Which means that it's equally as knotted and hard to follow, but on the other hand not doom at all, but rather very fast stuff.

Syk = sick shit.



After that a familiar sight awaited me on the main stage. On its right half towered a castle of of speakers, amps and electronics, the same way as it did last year during the show of The Bug with Dylan Carlson.


Zonal

There were just two slight differences: The Bug aka Kevin Martin was not the sole lord of the castle, but had his old Techno Animal companion Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh) with him.
And on the right side of the stage there was no guitar amp, but only a microphone.
This was their new joint project Zonal.

The duo opened with a drone / trip-hop instrumental that left no doubt about Martin's involvement. This ultra-deep bass rumbling black holes into your stomach just is the deadest giveaway ever.
From the second track on they were accompanied by another distinct silhoette in the heavy stage smoke: feminist black activist slash rapper Moor Mother.
Now don't let me pretend that I - not being a native english speaker - understood any message under all the layers of booming and buzzing. But there was something special about the vibe and the sheer fact that this massive, urgent hip hop show was happening here in the first place. On the other hand in a contradicting observation - since the genre had already been introduced to the festival with Dälek last year, it was also remarkably normal to watch this at Roadburn.

I probably should have witnessed the whole show to finish that thought in a satisfying matter. And I would haved loved to, because it definitely was fucking awesome.

But as so often... clashes and priorities...  I had to get a good spot in Het Patronaat again, where Big|Brave were about to perform.


Big|Brave
Big|Brave


I love this band since I've seen them support Sunn O))) in Munich in 2016.

The epic minimalism of their drone rock is just so spot-on. Robin Wattie's high singing contrasts and (dis)harmonizes so perfect to the relentless mixture of monolithic no wave / noise rock, which sounds way too crushing to originate only from two guitars and a drummer. But it does.

A memorable moment of the show was when the bass got so serious that a real wind was blowing out of the speakers. Yeah, finally the faint illusion of fresh air in here!

What else can I say? From start to finish I loved everything about this show.
Even the sometimes a little too quirky stage acting of the left guitar player was ok, when it produced this. Big/Brave nailed it.



It was almost nine in the evening now and my schedule was very clear: Since I didn't see their Saturday two-hour show, I would watch the second two-hour show of Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
But then two things happened, the first being that it was extremely difficult to find a decent spot in the 013 main hall. There may have been shows with more people in the room this Roadburn, but since half of the audience was tired and sitting down, there was significantly less space left.
I eventually found a spot, but the second thing was, that I just needed a break from music.  It's not a thing that happens too often, but my overplanning finally caught up with me. My head just couldn't process any new music. I needed to take a long breath before the finale.



Vampillia

Oh fucking no. I dreaded this moment. What to write about this crazy Japanese monumental post rock meets everything that makes a sound crossover called Vampillia over one month after experiencing it?

And even it had been yesterday I would probably struggle. Such a mr. bungle-ishly weird thing was occuring down there. I felt a little disconnencted though. It was the first time ever I had the opportunity to watch a show seated from the Patronaat balcony. That was undoubtly good for my legs, but closer to the roof it felt even more like a sauna here.
And I realized how much I have gotten used to be much closer to the action at most performances. So in hindsight I'm upset about my own comfortableness. And also about not staying until the end, because I missed that moment everybody talks about now, when the singer was just climbing onto a ladder in the middle of the audience.

There also was a lot of squeezing on my way out, because the security didn't want to let people wait any longer and opened both entries to the location. So somewhere there I lost my cheap digital watch with its bad rubber wristband. Well, I had bought it for Roadburn and it lasted until right before the last show I was going to see. Fair enough.


Gost

It's always great to end Roadburn with a party.

And in the Green Room the one-man satanic synthwave / black metal project Gost delivered exactly that. No, his show doesn't reach the insane party level of Carpenter Brut or the musicality of Zombi. But still, the tunes from his latest album "Possessor" are just sick killers which made for an hour of just pure evil fun.

I also love that he has a guy in the back of the stage who just holds a skull and takes his guitar from him when needed.

(And one remark for a certain german metal webzine: Sometimes artists have their own pre-mix with them and it's so good that the sound technician of the venue has very little left to do, which allows him to do other things like surfing on Instagram. However it does not mean that the artist is playing with 100% full playback like you presumed. *puts ten Cent into the smartypants jar*)








HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:

Big|Brave, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Bell Witch.


MOST PAINFULLY MISSED:

The second commissioned piece of this Roadburn found the who is who of the new wave of Icelandic black metal performing one piece under the moniker Vánagandr: Sól Án Varma, which clashed with the first two Patronaat shows. Hopefully this as well as the Waste Of Space Orchestra will be released as a live album later.

As already mentioned in a previous report I didn't see any of the announced or secret shows in the Ladybird Skate Park.

The most painful thing to have missed however was an insane performance on the Cul de Sac stage. Project Nefast played one chord, one beat, the same way, over and over again, for fifty minutes. They have already released an audio stream of that show and it's fucking legendary.




So, yes. Finally. That's it. Roadburn 2018. Phew.


Some random thoughts are still whirring inside my head, like the first brief visit ever to the new 013 basement or that incident with the token machine... I could also do a conclusion for he whole thing, write down my wishlist for next year, bore you with my slow journey home the next day.
But luckily for you I just want to finish this now and put on one or two Roadburn related records.

Damn, what a mindblowing week in April that was again.


my merchandising purchases

a short tourist break on the way home
Deventer





reviews of the other festival days:

- Attakk of the Evil Belgians -


ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2018 • DAY ONE :
Thursday, April 19th

- Put me down where I can see the Bong of Doom and Christmas -



ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2018 • DAY TWO :
Friday, April 20th

- Go Spread Your Psych -

 

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2018 • DAY THREE :
Saturday, April 21st

- If it doesn't make us wiser
Doesn't make us stronger
Doesn't make us live a little bit
What are we doing? -





Wrekmeister Harmonies:






















Bell Witch:





















Syk:


















Zonal ft. Moor Mother:
 










Big Brave:





















Gost: