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2021-04-19

ROADBURN REDUX - review

Roadburn Festival as we know and love it can't happen right now, obviously.

So this year it's Roadburn Redux - a free to watch mix of exclusive performances (mostly pre-recorded live shows from all over the world) and actual live streams from the 013 venue in Tilburg.

Add to that video premieres, interviews, documentaries... and you're quickly at the point where you decide to keep it real and - just like at Regularburn - don't even try to see everything.

The good thing is that you don't have to watch everything exactly when it happens. Until at some point on Tuesday night everything can be revisited. Good for me, since on Thursday night, when Roadburn Redux began, I was working on "druturum VIII-I" of "Druturum VIII" (further title to be revealed later) with my own band DruturuM. A great piece of psychedelectronic dronekraut low-fi weirdness is forming there, if I may say so myself...

And on Friday the party already started when I still had several hours of work to do. So was a lot to catch up to right from the start for me.

After Tuesday it's up to the artists and labels if, when and where all this greatness might reappear. Much of this would be worth a physical release.



I have written a couple of short reviews about streams in the course of the previous year, but following the fleeting nature of this happening I will keep this one rather brief and just focus on (not even all of) my highlights.
This is the stuff I re-watched, these are the shows I'd tell you about if you were foolish enough to engage in a real life conversation about Roadburn 2021 with me:





GOLD - This Shame Should Not Be Mine

Gold were already established as phenomenal genre-bending live band and being experienced in the live streaming game for me, but this show took them to a whole new level.
Premiering a commissioned personal piece about sexual violence, sounding more electronic and björk-inspired (even using an interview snippet of her as a sample) than ever, this show surely was no easy dish and had an unmatched sincere intensity. The first time I really felt that special, brave adventurous Roadburn spirit fully grabbing me at Roadburn Redux. One for the festival's history books!

I kind of hope that Gold don't even bother to turn this into a studio album, but instead just release it as it is. It's just so damn powerful and on point. Even the underlying discomfort and akwardness which shines through at the end of almost every livestream show without a direct audience, works in its favour. 







NADJA - Seemannsgarn

Drone. Metal. Mastership. Think Godflesh slowed down to infinity! One must have an amazing fantasy to imagine this fourty-minute chunk of cathartic noise possibly being any more perfect. Unconditional love!  







BADA

Bada
is the band, which mostly consists of members of Anna von Hausswolff's live band, including Anna herself, but here not in the center of attention, but in the role of an equal member among others on the keys. As their debut record was a fantastic exploration of droning doomy ambient noisy psychedelic rock, so was this live recording, captioned in one of my favorite settings of all pre-recorded performances. Masterfully spellbinding atmospheres!
That one amp in the middle looks like a washing machine though.







JO QUAIL

Short and sweet. Initially the modern post rock and metal's favorite cello player was supposed to play her big commissioned piece "The Cartographer" as the only part of the canceled Roadburn 2021, but due to travel restrictions that wasn't possible. Still nice of her to bring us some dark looped, never before played string goodness in a solo performance instead. 







TRIALOGOS - Stroh Zu Gold

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Conny Ochs, cellist/composer Sickerman and experimental musician Kiki Bohemia are Trialogos. And their mixture of experimental noises, minimalist krautrock, folk and post rock vibes, that one part which reminds me of the "Knight Rider" theme and some surprisingly heavy monster riffs was without a doubt one of Saturday's highlights. Album pre-ordered!







HAUNTED PLASMA

Sometimes the hype is real. Electronic artists (or bands with strong electronic elements) have become a vital part for Roadburn, and one of my favorite acts embracing the 0s and 1s this year might be Haunted Plasma, a dark and danceable meeting of Finnish minds, including members of Oranssi Pazuzu and guest singer Mat McNerney of Hexvessel in his most gothic register. Addictive!







KNOLL

One of the shortest shows, performed by probably the youngest guys in this Roadburn edition came from the grindcore collective Knoll. So refreshingly close to the early Napalm Death roots of the genre, but still with a distinct sound including some electronic elements. Fuck yeah, this was just pure raw fun!







NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM - Set Chaos To The Heart Of The Moon

Every Roadburn edition has this one show which you enter with ridiculously high expectations, to a point that other visitors might not take you seriously anymore. But you are in the know, and after the show everyone agrees with you that Magma, Anna von Hausswolff etc. totally won the festival.

This year that show was the larger than life spiritual jazz / drone / doom / psychedelic rock fusion extravaganza  of Neptunian Maximalism. Already when the eight members of this live incarnation of the group started the performance just standing in a row and chanting a capella you felt that this was going to be special. And indeed there's no other band out there invoking this blend of elevating cosmic chaos out there. Not even NNMM themselves in a way, because this show sounded deliberately different than their giant three-part debut "Éons", but equally as ancient, mighty and all-embracing.
No doubt, Neptunian Maximalism have done their name justice. If you're a fan of The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Sun Ra Arkestra, Swans, Sunn O))), Kikagaku Moyo or just watching the communication between two drummers giving everything, this is for you.

More is more - and more than this is as good as impossible.







PLAGUE ORGAN - Orphan

When we start to talk about drummers of Roadburn Redux, there is no way around René Aquarius and his blasting-it-relentlessly-for-fourty-fucking-minutes performance with Plague Organ. Accompanied by an equally persistent almost-only-one-note bass and his Dead Neanderthals mate Otto Kokke, he delivered one of the surely most talked about instrumental performances of this weekend.
While the meditative aspects of "Orphan" may haven taken a little longer to set in than on the album, the live version made up for it with the typical Neanderthals trolling quality, which was taken to a whole new level with this display of stamina.







DEAD NEANDERTHALS - IXXO 

And the drum robot strikes again! But this time in another tempo. The Dead Neanderthals show on Sunday took their concept of pushing minimalistic ideas to maximal effect into a quite surprsing direct. While you would typically expect some kind of extreme jazz or drone noise from them, the performance of "IXXO" was actually quite... let's say listenable.
Extended to a quartet with three synth players they grooved through a hypnotically repetive krautrock piece, which you would have rather expected from Minami Deutsch or Radar Men From The Moon. Just a bit more minimalistic of course. I was actually a little disappointed that it already ended after thirty-five minutes, haha. If you can blast for fourty minutes, you can do this for a full hour, right?







STEVE VON TILL - A Remote Wilderness

Let's close this bunch of impressions with maybe the most emotionally striking performance after Gold! Why hasn't Steve von Till's solo work been more on my radar before?
What a charismatic presence. What a real voice. And what a profound work of art. If I had to choose, then this show would be among my top 3 alongside Gold and Neptunian Maximalism. I'm speechless.







DE WOLFF 

Or no, let's close this with the actually last band on the bill! The Dutch working animals DeWolff are what you could call streaming veterans by now. I've just seen them do a very entertaining special streaming show in a vintage TV show setting with many guest a while ago. And after that they played a string of nine shows a row, on each performing another one of their studio releases in full.
That probably made them the ideal candidates to jump in almost in the last minute without the chance to rehearse extendly, because Radar Men From The Moon sadly had to cancel their appearance. DeWolff confidently promised "the freakiest, dirtiest, heaviest and swampiest set we'll ever play".

Of course we're not talking The Body or Conan dirty, yet rather Dirty Purple, so yeah, it definitely was a fun vintage rock dirty blues jam party finale. Good times, fuck yeah!







MIZMOR - Wit's End

So far I've only written about live streams and pre-recorded live performances.
Of course there were also tons of audio and video premieres. Kayo Dot, DarkherTelea Jacta meets Electric Moon or my personal favorite among all those: This epic ultra doomy commissioned track by Mizmor, which comes with a fittingly dark animated video. Looking forward for the forthcoming EP with this on it very much!

Oh wait. I forgot that that was also an amazing video premiere from Big|Brave. Well, I'm getting their new album anyway and it's not a competition, alright?






Ok folks, that's all I was able and willing to write about for now.

That doesn't mean there wasn't more quality and greatness in the line-up. Of course some artist weren't my cup of tea or failed to completely reach their full potential like the Wolvennest offspring The Nest, which despite Ryanne van Dorst being on guest vocals, just had too many aimless and dragging parts.
Similarily Solar Temple, who achieved an amazing richness of sound for two people, just could have told their whole story in half an hour instead sixty minutes.

Both shows weren't really bad at all though. Further shoutouts go to all that those flavours of black metal, be it the crushing might of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, the class of Wesenwille, the western variant of Wayfarer or the harsh raw purity of Doodswens. There were also great ambient-influenced shows from Die Wilde Jagd Autarkh III, the unbelievably beautiful Of Blood And Mercury or Dirk Serries. There was the joyful experimentalism of Spill Gold and the melancholic punch to my gut seeing Hexvessel, who were the second last band I've actually seen in the flesh over a year ago. There was the dirty rock of Maggot Heart. There were Might, Tesa, Kairon; IRSE!, Doctors Of Space, Territoire and more.

And there are some a lot like The Ocean or Aaron Turner, who I still have to catch up on by the time I'm publishing this review.


What a line-up for a freaking streaming event! And what an amazing and elaborate production on all fronts! Roadburn has never done something like this before and is already setting new standards.

I didn't use all social media gimmicks which were offered, but I sure as hell successfully tried that "donate" button, because this weekend of excessive live music consumption exceeded all expectations by far and has been the best thing since forever really.


Thank you Walter, Becky, the whole Roadburn Redux team and all the artists who made this possible!

And also cheers to all fellow Reduxians, each one in their own special bubble, but united in being apart, who against all odds made this feel like a communal experience!



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