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2016-04-26

THE HEADS - 'Burning Up With....

Before I move on to the Saturday and Sunday reports of Roadburn 2016, let me insert a quick throwback to last year's festival, to Saturday, April 11th 2015, when the Artists in Residence played their second show on the Main Stage of Tilburg's 013 venue.

Every year sees a special vinyl release on Roadburn. After Napalm Death's "Our Pain Is Their Power" EP and last year's blue edition of Bongripper's "Hate Ashbury", it was now the turn for a live recording of The Heads.



Burning Up With.... THE HEADS (pink 2LP) (2016)


The colour design of the gatefold double LP is atrocious, the labels on the records are hardly readable and the vinyl comes in a limited edition of either pink or green. *brrr*

So in this regard everthing is already perfect. It would be even nicer though if they had just done one edition and mixed the colours up, so that there would be one pink and one green record in each copy.

The pressing quality is flawless.


The music is fuzzy as fuck, because hey - it's The fucking Heads.

It's sprawling and primitive, space and punk at the same time.

If you were there you already know that it's good.

And if not, listen to this and you'll know!

The psych is great in this one.

Yeah, this review is poor as poo. But come on, there is nothing essential to describe or explain here. Just four Brits, playing a highly enjoyable masterful spacefuzzed concert at Roadburn.

Who needs more to have fun?

Anspieltipps: KRT, Cardinal Fuzz, Couleur Be..., Spliff Riff

ROADBURN Festival 2016 • DAY TWO : Friday, April 15th

Incense, wine and rituals... Roadburn 2016

Getting up slightly later on my second morning in Oisterwijk. Feet already noticeable strained, but no need for long pre-Roadburn excursions anyway, because it's rainy and uncomfortable outside. Good morning, Friday!

I expanded my knowledge of Tilburg though and paid the impressive Diggers Recordstore a visit. Alas, too much interesting new and second hand stuff and too less time to decide, how to widen my jazz, funk or soul horizon, so I mainly settled for some classics of Queen and Kate Bush which I didn't own on vinyl yet, as well as an 1974 Kraftwerk radio broadcast. Should plan a longer visit here next time.

Back to the car through pouring rain, then to my regular parking spot right outside the charged parking zone, which is basically the whole inner city of Tilburg. Onwards to a new Roadburn day!


The programme started with the special set of Hexvessel and their fellow countrymen Arktau Eos in Het Patronaat. But because there were no parallel shows for half an hour, the place was already packed very early on. I was still pissed about the thing with Chrch yesterday and just didn't feel like starting the day this way, so I passed on the concert and concentrated on getting a good spot in the 013 where a grand piano was waiting for its player on the Main Stage.
 

But before I continue there, let's take a short look at this year's Roadburn themes:

Every year there's one curator, who is responsible for the whole Main Stage programme on Friday and some more artists on other stages. This year the honour went to Lee Dorrian (ex-Cathedral, now With The Dead), who in his "Rituals for the Blind Dead" mixed classic doom, extreme metal and some more "retro" artists from his Rise Above label with a couple of unexpected surprises.

Then there also is the Artist in Residence, who does an alike job (mainly) in Het Patronaat, playing several sets along the festival and also brings some related artists with him. The second set of last year's Artist in Residence, The Heads, was released on vinyl now, and I made sure to crab a copy.
This year it was the turn of Iceland's young black metal (and beyond) scene with Misþyrming, bringing a bunch of other bands like Grafir, Naðra and NYIÞ with them. And no, I have absolutely no clue how to pronounce that.

Apart from this group there was also a Finland connection with bands from Tampere with the before mentioned (and missed) Arktau Eos and Hexvessel, but also Oranssi Pazuzu (who I had witnessed yesterday) and Dark Buddha Rising.

And throning above all those connections there was of course the 30th anniversary of Neurosis, with the band playing two two-hour sets, as well as various solo and side project shows of the members and a good amount of bands that were otherwise connected or strongly influenced by Neurosis.

I have listed all that here to illustrate a couple of totally different possible Roadburn experiences you could have had, just if you completely follow one or two of these leads. Personally I had none of them really dominating my schedule, just a little bit of everything. And on top of course a wide selection of the regular rest of the Roadburn line-up.

And now finally to Friday's music:

Diamanda Galás

If you were looking for one truly singular artist, there was no doubt where to start.

The great Diamanda Galás is a legend in advantgarde - and rightfully so. I'm not really close to her work, but I own the frightening "Schrei X" album and had a general rough overview of what her music and performances are about. However she is an artist I would never thought of seeing live, so when her appereance was announced it was Roadburn fullfilling one of those wishes you didn't even knew you had.

Only her alone with the piano. This would surely be a demanding, challenging performance for many in the audience. And indeed a good number of people left when she raised her uncomparable demonic out-of-this world voice. It's nearly impossible to describe or even to grasp, what this woman does with her vocal cords. It spans multiple octaves, it is more brutal than any instrument could ever sound and it could most definitely traumatize you, if you listened to it as a lullaby.

I knew that I had to cut the set short, so I was glad that after several renditions of all operatic poems, chansons, classics in various languages, she played her version of "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" just in time for me. Look up this song by the 1920s' black blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson and the story of what indeed happened to his grave! Check out what Laibach did with this song! There's some interesting music history to discover.

Diamanda Galás was of course aware that she was the odd one out for many visitors here and thus lauded the audience: "You really have long attention spans. And I don't even have a drummer."

Disturbing, alienating, fascinating... and a lot more. This was a truly unique experience.


Sinistro

Obviously not quite in Galás' dimensions, but also unique nonetheless were Sinistro, who played in the Green Room overlapping with her.

Coming from the post metal and electronica--influenced side of doom, the band from Portugal succeeded in putting a whole new twist on the genre with singer Patricia Andrade, who not only sang in her mother tongue, but also created a stage persona that mixed a passionate fiery temper with the dark pop melancholia of Lana Del Rey - and was also reflected in her theatric and seductive appearance.

The whole concept of Sinistro is incredible well crafted. The mixture of voice, drama, cinematic feel and crushing riffs, accompanied by intelligent videos for each song made for a well-rounded show, which resonated on a deep level within me. Just pure magic!

Sinistro are my most important new discovery of Roadburn 2016, as also their recent album "Semente" is nothing but stellar. 


Time to make my peace with the Ekstase. I had only selected one more show in that venue on my running order, so if I wanted to see at least one show on each festival stage, I had to do it now.

Early enough for a place at the edge of the front row I was about to witness a concert performance ritual so strange, it would make a good conversation piece, if I only knew how the hell to pronounce this name:
NYIÞ - Even knowing that the "Þ" is related to the english "th" doesn't help me that much.

NYIÞ


Right from the start it was clear, that this wouldn't be a normal concert, as the stage was filled with incense candles, oils, goblets, sound bowls, animal horns and skulls, as well as a good load of instruments, which not only consisted of guitar, bass, drums and keyboard, but also accordion, trumpet, violin, didgeridoo and whatever I have forgotten.

The members of NYIÞ, all clothed in black with their faces hidden under black hooded masks, firstly concentrated on ritualistic gestures and action, dunking the whole room in esoteric aroma and reciting from some mystical icelandic occultism manual.
When the music set in it remained a very slow and often calm affair over the whole run of fifty minutes, except for one black metal outburst (on non-black metal instruments) near the end. It reminding me of doom jazz the like of Bohren und der Club Of Gore mixed with ethnic Dead Can Dance elements and a good dose of chaos, all presented in a black metallic mindset.

Instruments were switched wildly between the compositions (causing some scrambling and accidentally tipped out ashes on the stage), so apart from that one guy who just is very tall you weren't sure who was playing what after a while. The music never fully stopped, as there always was some kind of transition, though I must say that some of those felt a little bit dragged.
The whatever worshipping things also went on during the whole show. Someone was always walking through the crowd or drawing chalk symbols on the stage, an effort which probably only people in the first two or three rows could have actually noticed.

I admired the embraced oddness and consistency of this first NYIÞ performance outside of Iceland and its overall atmosphere. It wasn't perfect, but I have the suspicion that it isn't even meant to be.

Surely one of those memorable only at Roadburn happenings and I was glad to behold it.


With The Dead

Curator Lee Dorrian's With The Dead were merely a marginal note for me, as I only watched a small part of their set from the balcony, so I can't say too much about them apart from the confirmation that their doom in the vein of Electric Wizard is fuckin' heavy indeed. And Dorrian's stage acting (as far as I could even perceive it from back there) and cultivated non-singing are still the same everyone loved back in his Cathedral days.


Hills

A vintage keyboard and the band insisting on lots of reverb on the vocals during the line-check - all signs hinted towards an excessive space rock freak-out.

And oh boy! Hills delivered a psych jam that didn't leave any trippy wish unfulfilled.

Ok, let's overlook that guy joining them on stage to shout some unintelligible stuff into an overdriven mic for one song. That was kind of random and didn't add anything, but otherwise the swedish band really knocked it out of the park, layering multiple musical colours over a constantly pumping groove.
Especially the sparkling interlacing guitars engulfed me like nothing else this weekand and washed me right into the rabbit hole.


The only flaw of this journey was that it left me unable to immediately connect to the rawness of what was going on on the Main Stage...    

G.I.S.M.



G.I.S.M., hardcore/crust/punk/metal pioneers of old, a band founded in 1981, which not only had been on live hiatus for over a decade, but in fact never ever had played outside of Japan. Leave it to Lee Dorrian to even think of inviting such an act to Tilburg.

This band was really something else on planet Roadburn. Four guys looking like the wise masters of anarchy out of some weird manga frantically thrashed through a delightfully primitive bunch of what must have been the meanest shit of its time. These crustastic four were still angry - and the audience loved it as you could recognize by the moshpits which seldom find their equal at this festival.

On the screen flickered a relentless, stroboscopic display of all kinds of visuals, wildly connected to capitalism, porn, pain, punk and world conspiracy. This was an unfiltered freak show from the 80s, brought to live with the possibilities of now. Impressive and undoubtly fun, even though - like I said above - my mind and body just weren't fully ready for this after Hills.

   

Lychgate

A few weeks ago I listened to Lychgate's album "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" right after I had spun Flying Lotus' "You're Dead!" and it struck me that there was a strange similarity, as if the band was applying the principles of what Flying Lotus was doing with jazz and hip hop on black/death metal and church music.
It's a wild, unsettling and overwhelming beast that was about to be performed as a whole in the Green Room now.

But even though they had this big church organ on stage and certainly did their best, it didn't translate into the live setting as good as I had hoped. Or let's say it wasn't that memorable, because it certainly entertained me at that moment, but in hindsight Lychgate were clearly overshadowed by the rest of the day's programme for me.



Next up were Dark Buddha Rising in Het Patronaat.

The queue outside (they were only letting people in when others left the venue) was manageable, but I told myself that I desperately needed a slice of pizza first. When I returned the queue had already grown to proportions which left no doubt that I would miss the beginning of the show. But at least I stood there with a slice of pizza for a short while.
And as the door moved closer and upstairs the band began to play, the line behind me grew to an enormity that was nothing but ridiculous and changed my perspective of things. At least I could already hear the music.

When I finally got in I was content with relaxing in the fluffy carpeted area on the balcony of the nave for a while, before I proceeded to get a little closer to the stage.

Dark Buddha Rising

The room wasn't packed without a reason. The thunderously rolling, shamanistic drive of Dark Buddha Rising was a luring and binding force putting the audience in trance, and though at its core black and heavy the music also offered bliss and meditative transcendence.

Or to say it shorter: Dark Buddha Rising are the more extroverted cousin of Bong with some qualities of Neurosis in their tribal mode.

And apart from the last mentioned comparison it couldn't get much mightier during this Roadburn.


It was almost midnight now and this would have been a worthy finale for this Friday, but one highly anticipated performance was still to come. And I sure as hell wouldn't leave the building for any snack again...


Úlfsmessa


"Úlfsmessa" was the culmination of Misþyrming's residence in Het Patronaat and featured up to eleven members of the whole circle of bands from Iceland that had come to Roadburn with them, all anonymous under the black hoods of NYIÞ, who I - as you know - had just seen in the early evening, so a bit of their instrumentation like trumpet and animal horns as well as their esoteric shop inventory was present as well.

Basically this was a gathering of a small stormy creative scene celebrating itself and performing songs of each present group in turns, what made for a rather varied set consisting of black metal and chants as well as more hardcore and new wave influenced material.
Since I hadn't seen either Misþyrming nor Naðra or Grafir playing alone, I couldn't assign the tunes to their creators and just enjoyed the thing as a whole, even though there were some minor fluctiations in quality and intensity.

The hype around the "Úlfsmessa", which unsurprisingly thus far had exclusivly occured in Iceland, had been pretty big and the reality couldn't wholly live up to it. I guess that you just cannot tie such a tight magical bond between artist and audience as it is probably the case in their homeland with this gathering. Especially the elements provided by NYIÞ seemed a little gimmicky here and by far didn't work as powerful as during their own show, which was thoroughly wrought around them.

Yet don't get me wrong! All in all this was still a great show - another great show on a Friday not poor of those. I'm actually only now fully realizing how amazing this day actually had been. There's always so much to process after Roadburn...


Back outside I saw the guys of The Vintage Caravan in front of the 013's entrance thinking they were just here as (probably privileged) guests and was tempted to approach them with a silly comment about all of Iceland now being here and some praise for their show as support of Avatarium in Hamburg last year.

Unfortunately I was in a hurry to get my vinyl-heavy bag out of the luggage storage which was about to close soon. And I also just wanted to get back to my hotel and rest now. Too bad, since I probably would have learned what the Caravan was really up to. But that story has to wait until my review of DAY FOUR.



more reviews:









Diamanda Galás:






Sinistro:
















 NYIÞ:

















Hills:















G.I.S.M.:







Lychgate:









Úlfsmessa: