Blonde Redhead – More Than a Nostalgia Convention?
Blonde Redhead at Vega, August 29th 2018 – live report by Ivna Franić
Passing on opportunities to indulge your 16-year-old self by going to see bands you were into at an earlier stage in life (and had slightly lost interest in over the years) normally isn’t a very difficult task, at least for some of us. Whether it’s out of fear of disappointment, poor previous experiences or the assumption that the only thing you could gain from going to that show is a feeling of sweet nostalgia, the excuses along the lines of: “It’s been what, more than 10 years since you were last excited about them?” or “Their last few records sucked anyway!” usually do the trick.
Now, I don’t know if it was due to their very good EP “3 O’Clock” from last year which hinted at a long-awaited return to form, or to some sort of personal thirties crisis, but I felt like this summer was as a good a time as any to see Blonde Redhead live.
The aforementioned nostalgia assumption proved correct as soon as the band kicked the concert off with “Falling Man” and “Elephant Woman”, both from 2004’s wonderful “Misery Is a Butterfly”. Interestingly enough, being transported back in time brought out some charmingly unrestrained concert behavior from a part of the audience, with most of the people obviously having a blast as the New York three-piece ran through some of their career highlights. The overall sentimental mood made any eventual memories brought back by music feel even more tangible.
Although a large part of the setlist had been split up between “Misery Is a Butterfly” and the also very good “23” from 2007 – both of which relied heavily on atmospheric production and the use of keyboards – the band’s live take on the songs was much more rock’n’roll-ish and guitar-focused, making a lot of the songs sound like they belonged to their noisy mid-90s output rather than to their dreamy 4AD phase. The Italian twin brothers kept the pace tight, allowing Kazu Makino to switch between different performing moods, from doing quiet and gentle songs to straight out rocking out.
While the latter did happen to fit some of their repertoire well enough, the overall impression was that stripping the music down to its drums and guitar basis with an occasional keyboard part was more of a practical necessity rather than a thought-through move that aimed to present their songs in a different light. For some of the less adaptable tunes, the lack of additional sonic layers deprived them of their key charms. For example, the apparent smash hit “23” sure could have used an extra pair of hands (more specifically, vocals or samples) but this was thankfully at least partially compensated for by Makino’s energetic and quite intense performance. She turned it up an extra notch during the encore that ended with a wild rendition of “Equus”, finishing the concert off the same where it began in terms of Blonde Redhead’s discography.
With the current tour being based around a short four-song EP, the band had sort of a free hand at picking out matching setlist material from a catalogue spanning more than 20 years, and they should be given credit for making a very fitting selection – something a lot of bands struggle with, often simply serving greatest-hits setlists from one tour to the next. By choosing to emphasise their ‘00s period, Blonde Redhead have put their new material in a context that very much makes sense in terms of sound as well as the dominant mood, ultimately satisfying both the inner teenager in the audience and the grown-up they inhabit. That this period also happens to be considered the high point of their career is only a bonus, and it raises the hope that Blonde Redhead might be far from “dead” career-wise, even though the leading music media seemed more than happy to ignore them following the severely panned last two full-lengths.
As one of those bands who failed to jump on the wave of indie’s rise to (semi-)mainstream in the mid-00s by following up the popular “23” with two albums that offered pale versions of their best material, Blonde Redhead have found themselves in an unrewarding position of having to buy their way back into the indie mainstays league. The good news is they seem to be in solid shape regarding their live performance, and an even better one regarding their recent studio output. And the one thing they can always rely on, as witnessed by the euphoric crowd at Vega during their recent concert, is their avid and dedicated fanbase that will be there for them through better or worse.
Lost Lands Festival 2018 – Partying and experimenting with the apocalyptic hippies (live report)
Lost Lands Festival, Copenhagen, August 17-18 – review by Wieland Rambke, photos: Cameron Pagett
For its third installment this year, Lost Lands seized the grounds of a small space on Copenhagen’s Refshaleøen and transformed it into a magical clearing. Approaching the festival a day before it started, the first thing I saw was the shape of a rusty boat hall, lying in the landscape like an enormous metal bug. It turned out to be the indoor stage, where half of the concerts where held.
Outside again, I came upon a yard framed and dominated by fresh, solid wood work. This, I learned, was the outdoor stage and bar area. Set between decaying industrial architecture and natural overgrowth, this spot on Refshaleøen became a fitting place for a festival that seeks to combine bold, decidedly left-field and challenging electronic music from a multitude of genre directions. Noise, ambient, hardcore techno, synth-pop: All these attributions dissolved and became irrelevant. Both in the concerts of many individual artists, as well as their combination as a whole. The whole point of the festival is not to cater to a specific field or genre, but to provide a place for those with a love/passion/obsession for unusual and daring music. This element, common to the artists, the audience and the organizers, made for two days of ever-surprising concerts. Læs resten
Asger Kudahl – Fluidly upending life as we know it
Asger Kudahl ”Sketches for Revolution” (Resonans Recordings, 2018) – review by Wieland Rambke
Good old revolution! Can we even still imagine it? And how about the one that is most pressing and most urgent? Through the course of human history, revolution has meant the end of oppression: The casting-away of the yoke of submission. But today, a whole new revolution is needed: A revolution to end the ever-accelerating, no-holds-barred exploitation of planet Earth. An exploitation that happens for purely bogus reasons, for profit and nothing else. The question used to be if we want to live under oppression or as free people. Revolutions used to provide the practical answer. But today, the question is if we are going to live at all. Revolution is a collective effort, and, in a world of increasing individualism and isolation, revolution becomes less and less imaginable.
On the release “Sketches for Revolution”, Asger Kudahl – a musician, sound designer and the co-founder of the label Resonans Recordings – has gathered the incidental music he created for the contemporary dance performance “The Vampire Revolution”. The decision to release the music in its own right is entirely justified: The pieces stand for themselves. Læs resten
Disformation – Liberating music from all kinds of context (interview)
By Wieland Rambke
How do you create a space without a context? This question lies at the heart of new-founded experimental music label Disformation, conceived by Casper Gottlieb and Jesper Bagger Hviid of Copenhagen-based noise act GOHV. In its output, the label seeks to release music that pits itself against the very notion of context: Disformation rejects the creation of narratives as a whole.
For the listener, every attempt at being able to personally relate to the label’s output is denied in favour of releases that seek to isolate music as much as possible from any associative frame. What remains is music that is as blatant as it is abject. Music that is simultaneously cloaked and in-your-face.
But how do you create a space with no boundaries, without any points of reference? What remains when the backgrounds disappear? Læs resten
Terraforma2018 – A festival of superior, sustainable bliss (live report)
Terraforma Festival 2018, Milan, Italy, 29.06-01.07 – review by Sandra S. Borch. Photos by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Guido Borso
For the past four years Villa Arconti, a baroque rural palace just outside Milan, has been home for one of Europe’s most blissful festivals, Terraforma. First held in 2014 with a line up featuring Voices From the Lake, Pierre Bastien, and CB21, and later editions have included artists such as Suzanne Ciani, Mark Ernestus, Millie and Andrea, Aurora Halal, and Rashad Becker. The artistic programme celebrates music with an open-minded and experimental attitude across borders and genres. For its fifth edition the festival had the wizard from Detroit Jeff Mills, spokeswoman for the NON collective Nkisi, Rabih Beaini, Danielle De Santis, and many more. Here follows a selection of performances and thoughts on Europe’s newcomer among experimental music festivals. Læs resten
Janushoved – “I always wanted a feeling of anonymity” (interview)
Interview and all photos (Yuri & Internazionale, Soho Rezanejad, Raquin, Manon Lescaut 22.06.2018 @ Mayhem) by Cameron Pagett
“I always wanted it to have a feeling of anonymity.” Mikkel Valentin, founder and recording artist of Copenhagen electronic label Janushoved reflects. “I started making noise music when I was 16, I thought I had invented a completely new genre.” (laughs). Some years later and a total of 80 releases past the beginnings of Janushoved it feels like a big step forward to him. Showcasing and coming out and connecting physically as a label and a unit hasn’t always been directly on the cards. With numerous releases under different aliases, the label has a feeling of mystery and familiarity. Having established itself firmly as a name in the local Copenhagen DIY electronic scene, it feels like this could have or should have been done much more than it has. With an adoring local and international audience and a unique presence in the noise community with a sound normally bearing a romantic and sensual aura, Janushoved has grown organically from the seeds of pure sound and a penchant for exotic, bizarre and sentiment driven visuality. “It’s a label that draws the intellectually stimulated melody junkie,” an admirer reveals, “The style is distinctively Copenhagen but feels less harsh and calculating then some others … it’s more like red wine on a Saturday night rather than vodka.”
Pinkman – Celebrating five years of distribution
Af Sandra S. Borch
Through the past five years the Rotterdam imprint Pinkman has established itself as one of the most consistent platforms for pushing and distributing retro-futuristic and driving electro grooves. This is marked with a compilation series called “Five Years of Tears”, and the first selection up features three usual suspects and one newcomer. Læs resten