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2022-05-07

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2022 • DAY TWO: Friday, April 22nd

 - One day you will find me here
Hiding behind the sun
With a thousand loaded guns -

Gggolddd


No noteworthy activities on my side before the festival started at 1 pm on this day, so let's get right into...

CLASHBURN:
Among other possible reasons positive covid tests are still a thing and there are still obstacles for many global travellers, so it was no surprise that this editition of Roadburn saw several artist cancellations on short notice. I had only seen a couple of minutes of PoiL Ueda on YouTube, resulting in the decision that I just had to see them, no matter what else was happening. And that was a lot. So when they cancelled their 75 minutes show in the Paradox, that already changed my plans drastically. The cancellation of Gott, a new Dutch group featuring Farida Lemouchi, also had some repercussions, like RRRags stepping in - which didn't mean much for me on this day, but would have consequences  later in the further course of the festival...

More definitely interesting shows I did not witness were the second performance of Slift, the 2020 overhang commissioned collaboration of James Kent & Johannes Person and also Alcest, Blak Saagan, Svalbard, WarhorseAlice HubbleSum Of R and maybe the most painful to miss, the surprise Main Stage collaboration of Thou and Mizmor.  Yes, that could have already been a whole other festival. Of course my Friday still was perfectly fine, though. 





LLNN

My first order was to make peace with The Engine Room, the new stage inside the Koepelhal, which hadn't left the best impression on me the day before. And just as suspected arriving in time already helped to secure a good spot and ensure a great perception of the show. The stage itself would still be the tail light in a ranking of all Roadburn locations, but to be fair at least it didn't spoil anything now.

And what about the band? Not only the classic t-shirt on the vocalist/guitarist, but also the gnarly bass sound of LLNN brutallly hinted at Godflesh. Providing further dirt, drone, noise and relentlessness with guitar and electronics LLNN seemed determined to explore the misanthropical depths of sonic punishment within the pocket of Pelagis Records-style post metal. A for sure awaking excercise in grooves as massive as a neutron star.










Primitive Man

Know your memes! What's even way heavier than a neutron star? Right, a black hole.

After LLNN The Terminal provided the according intensification with the downright heinous sludge metal of Primitive Man. The stage was dunked in post-apocalyptic smog and the mission was to suck all hope for a prevention of humanity's inevitable downfall out of the audience. This group is one of those monsters that converts your mind into muddier mush with each minute of exposure, until you are finally transformed into a worm happy to crawl in radioactive waste. What a glorious beacon of bleakness!
 
Even though I would have loved to get to that final form, I didn't fully arrive at this state yet, because the running order had different plans for me, as four hundred meters linear distance from here the Next Stage over in the 013 Poppodium opened its doors...
 








Atonia

Given that watching Wyatt E. the day before had always been rather unrealistic due to the clash with Zaäar, I pretty early had made the plan at least not to miss Atonia, which was a commissioned project featuring members of said band and promising to be a very wild mix of styles under the umbrella of droning doom with many orientalisms and electronic influences. At least that was roughly what I had memorized at the point the show started. Only one day later I would realize that among the eight musicians (including sometimes two bass players at once) there were also members of Five The Hierophant, whose two last albums I had already grabbed from the merch table.
Sharing most of the spotlight with their saxophone player was Tomer Damsky aka MC Slice from the psychotrap trio Wackelkontakt and hell, don't aks me to look as if I had any clue about what I am talking here, because I'm obviously just quoting from the official announcement!

However what I definitely know is that Atonia played one of those larger than imagination shows which answer the question what style you're actually listening to with nothing but a confident yes.
The vocals alone were a whole world of music, ranging from shrill shrieks over Persian folk mysticism to French trip-hop-style spoken words. Or something like that. [EDIT: It was Hebrew and Latin actually, as the artist has corrected me. Lesson confirmed: the first row isn't the best acoustic spot for lyrical analysis.] Manifold percussions, warm analogue synths, heavy guitars, jamming saxophone... all coming together in an original, elevating way. In typically extravagant Roadburn luxury everything else afterwards now was already a bonus.









Freja

Not much to write here beyond stale generalisms which don't do the next performance inside the Hall of Fame true justice, I'm afraid. But yes, of course Freja played atmospheric black metal with some folk influences here, some quite mizmorish voices there and almost clerical etherealness in other places. That's just a fact. There isn't really much I could add to this description of the band that came together in consequence of the Maalstrom project, that big creative showcase of the young Dutch black metal scene at Roadburn 2019. No, this wasn't the reinvention of the wheel. But - and that's a big but - it was just executed extremely well and with a palpable love for the genre. Harsh and beautiful.












Wiegedood

I had been fully prepared to let go of this Main Stage performance and buy a Hamburg ticket for their tour instead, but with the aforementioned cancellation of PoiL Ueda the possibility to enjoy the ferocity and sickness of one of the greatest metal albums of the year (no, it's not too early to say that!) right here and now was too tempting to resist. Enter Wiegedood playing "There's Always Blood At The End Of The Road" in full!

This was just sweet sweet annihilation. The dissonance and catchiness of this album's riffs and licks is some of the most genius stuff extreme metal has come up with in recent years, as well as the masterful frenzy created in the voltage field between repetion and chaotic alteration. Having seen Wiegedood (and Oathbreaker which shares most of the band members) before, I knew that the Dutchmen would pull the performance off flawlessly. Yet it was still unbelievable with how much stamina the drummer hammered through this shit. That guy must have a direct power line connection to the Earth's core. "Now Will Always Be" with its seemingly endlessly ascending theme of arpeggios and the throat singing on top of the blast beat (remember Plague Organ at Roadburn Redux?) surely was one of my favorite tracks of the festival. Or was it the finale "Carousel"? This whole album is fire - and so was its live iteration.











Gggolddd

And now one of the main events of Roadburn 2022. Because how could it possibly have been anything else than that?

I've already written about "This Shame Should Not Be Mine" twice before. It was not only my favorite, but also the overall most watched stream of Roadburn Redux. It's transfer into a studio work created not only a musically great, but surely also one of the thematically most important records of this year.

With this in mind plus Gggolddd's members Milena Eva and Thomas Scarione as curators of this Roadburn edition it didn't come as a surprise that the show was reprised in front of a live audience now. The whole endeavour, in which Milena expresses the trauma of her personal abuse in adamantly clear and relatable words, had been incredibly brave from the start, and everybody knew that this show would be a culmination of openly sharing and hopefully stepping towards healing for her. The air of respect in the audience as well the earnestness in the faces of everybody on stage was one of the most powerful impressions of the festival.

The set up was almost similar to the Redux performance with Milena standing alone center stage. Yet this time the band was enhanced with a string ensemble complementing the less rock, more electronic and trip hop-inspired sound of the group on this work, where the music follows the vocal performance closer than ever before.

Analogous to the knight's armour on the album cover the singer had also very particularly chosen her stage outfit, which somehow displayed vulnerability and sorrow as well as the overcoming of both. The black flamboyance of this true superhero suit wasn't hollow, but a theatrical heightening which served to draw the attention to the emotions of its wearer.  At least that's what I felt.
When Milena sang "Spring" with tears welling in her eyes, it almost broke me too. And maybe there lies the main difference between the Redux performance and this "real" thing: The first was an act of coping in isolation, the latter an empathic exchange between Milena and a moved and caring audience. As great and important it may be to just rock and have fun at a festival - it's meaningful realisations like this which give the whole experience a deeper profound meaning.

Thank you, Gggolddd!








Karin Park

In my experience a moving performance like that of Gggolddd can call for a longer break afterwards. But luckily the upbeat of their final piece "Beat By Beat" was a perfect bridge to the fearless alternative pop following on the Next Stage, where Årabrot member Karin Park graced us with a solo show that included both danceable as well as solemn tracks of her career, performed in mostly stripped down versions using either synth, samples and loops or a pump organ.
With an effortless charme that easily overplayed "technical issues" like displacing a pedal right at the start and one instrument just quitting service, she took us through her highly diverse set, mainly comprised of "Church Of Imagination" tracks like "Empire Rising", "Blue Roses" or "Glass House" in a fleeting heartbeat. As very much expected the fantastic show ended on the "Highwire Poetry" hit "Thousand Loaded Guns", which culminated in a long club-style synth modulation jam. Bam!

That was just the right burst of energy to charge my cells for the quick powerwalk to the jazz club...    











Yodok III

I still arrived a bit too late at the Paradox to catch one of the rare chairs, which I deemed especially unfair, since the trio on stage would sit or kneel during almost all of their hour-long performance. And if that doesn't sound like an #oldman #boomerproblem, then I don't know what does.

The last Roadburn show of Dirk Serries (now Paradox "artist in residence") on guitar, Kristoffer Lo on tubas and effects, and current Motorpsycho drummer Tomas Järmyr in 2016 had quite a legendary reputation, so I was very excited to learn what the fuzz was all about.
I brought patience, which was a must, since the whole show was just one single slow and gigantic build-up. Starting from just tiny sprinkles and fragments Yodok III weaved a constantly moving tapestry of ambience, over which Järmyr performed the possibly longest and most dynamic drum solo I've ever witnessed. Ok, it was still a band piece, but man, that guy got busy! Where at the beginning only small ideas of melodies were thrown into the mix and looped, as it progressed the whole performance morphed into something more grand, multi-layered and droning as one chaotically united free-jazzing organism.

Especially considering how weird the performance looked at times (highlight: Lo just stooping over the big tuba laying on the ground, blowing it for a couple of seconds and then working with its signal) it was an astonishingly mind-bending trip.
The one thing the Paradox was missing compared to the other venues probably was a lightshow. The journey often demanded you closing your eyes to fully take off. But then it really went beyond all frontiers. Even veterans of Roadburn's avant-garde side, including at least one person I know of, who had also seen the previous Yodok III appearance, pointed this show out as being wildly out there even for the standards of this festival. Very special!









Motor!k

I went back to the Next Stage to catch the first fifteen to twenty minutes of automatik krautrock trio Motor!k, and despite me not disliking what I heard, I didn't feel a great need for more, because after Yodok III this very straight-forward form of autobahny Neu! worship with the beat on robot mode and the electronic backbone just being activated with the push of one sampler button just wasn't stimulating enough for my newly bent and wired synapses. Cool stuff, but not what I required right now.

Yet the plan - and for once I kept following it - had always been to return to the Paradox in time for yet one more highly anticipated show on this almost perversly stacked Friday.









Albatre

It's safe to say that Albatre would have been yet another complete mindfuck, hadn't I already been in the know about the Netherlands-based Portuguese / German drums/bass/sax trio and seen them play aboard the MS Stubnitz in 2019.

Even though their absolutely bonkers polyrhythmic stop motion insanity is instantly recognizable, it very much depends on the acoustics and mixing whether you perceive the compositions from their album "The Fall Of The Damned" as a huge overwhelming math rock/metal Lovecraft beast like in Hamburg or rather like a sinister jazz noise fusion thing in Painkiller tradition like on the studio versions. The Paradox however presented Albatre in a dryer, less heavy fashion, which gave them yet another flavour focussing more on the pure craftmanship of their insane brain smasher arrangements. Yet no matter how the sound shapes the particular performance, it obviously is amazing, jaw-dropping and just fun shit in any case. Killer performance!




In theory there would still have been time to watch half of the acclaimed Sum of R show on the Main Stage now, but since I stayed for an aftershow chat for a while and also felt like I had reached the limit of my absorption capacity after twelve hours of music rollercoaster, So I decided that the time was right to call it a day. After all the longest festival day still lay ahead!






reviews of the other festival days:

- Burn your burdens in the Temple of Rebranded Ignition! -

- Tumult of magic, turmoil of transcendence. -

- The call of a thousandfold sounds:
Once upon a time in the Church of Cartography -

- Sinner get jazzy! Jammer get heavy! -



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