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Holland’s Roadburn: a very different kind of festival


 
So Coachella is happening. Everyone with even a passing interest in live music knows this (and most likely from the holographic Tupac performance that has become quite the meme already.) And yeah, Coachella looks cool and all, but what if that’s not your kind of thing? What if you want music that’s a bit darker, a lot heavier, basically more extreme? Well, while you are definitely in the minority there, don’t worry because you are not alone.

Happening over the same weekend as the first part of Coachella, but thousands of miles away (both literally and metaphorically) Holland’s annual Roadburn Festival is a celebration of all things doom, drone, experimental, noisy and heavy. This years festival saw performances from Michael Gira, OM, Voivod, Doom, Sleep, Kong, Yob, GNOD, Bongripper, The Obsessed, Jucifer, Black Cobra, Urfaust, Electric Orange and the very fun-sounding Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation.

Roadburn takes place over four days in the Dutch town of Tilburg, and has been steadily attracting a growing fan base over the last few years, enough to start its own record label (affiliated with Burning World Records.) Next year’s headliners have already been confirmed, and it will be industiral legends Godflesh performing their classic album Pure in its entirety.

Here’s a statement taken from the Roadburn website (which also features details on travel and booking tickets):

Holland’s very own Roadburn Festival has become Europe’s leading underground festival for psychedelic, avant-garde, doom or any other variation of leftfield sonic pleasures that push the boundaries of music.

Originally a spin-off of the Roadburn website, the Roadburn Festival has emerged as an event in its own right. It brings together bands, fans & media from around the world. Despite it’s international acclaim, Roadburn Festival retains an underground vibe and ethics, but with seriously big-league production values.

In addition to the music, Roadburn has earned a reputation as having a unique camaraderie between the festivalgoers, bands, organizers and staff, and ranks as one of the best and most laid-back festivals to be experienced. It is one of the festival’s primary goals to make the Roadburn experience second to none, not only for the fans but for the artists as well.

Check out the Roadburn website too for video and audio streams of past performances, and details on travel and tickets.

And while, ok, an extreme music festival is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste (I think I’d have trouble listening to non-stop doom and drone for four days solid), it warms the cockles of the heart to know that something like this exists. Or maybe chills the cockles would be a better phrase?

Super 208 Productions have uploaded a series of video reports on the festival, one for each of its four days. Here’s part one, featuring music from Aggaloch, Michael Gira, OM,  Red Fang, and Voivod:
 

 
After the jump, Roadburn video reports parts 2-4 featuring live music from Sleep, Celestial Season, Bongripper, Purson, Kong, Valiant Thorr, Barn Owl, GNOD, Wino & Conny Ochs, Nachtmystium, Urfaust, Black Cobra, more Voivod and many more…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Guest Editorial: Enter The Witch House


 
Bram E. Gieben (aka Texture) is the editor of the Edinburgh-based fiction/non-fiction website Weaponizer, and also co-founder of the net label Black Lantern Music. I asked him to write DM a primer on the genre “witch house”:

The Niallist (aka Niall O’Conghaile) asked me to write something about witch house, summing it up, providing a genre overview, and talking about some of the artists I’ve discovered over the last year or so. The problem is witch house is nothing like a traditional genre. It is not defined by a tempo, a style of production, a specific group of artists, a region or country or city, or any of the things one could use to pigeonhole, say, shoegaze, dubstep or hip-hop. Even the pool of influences from which it draws are so diverse as to stagger the mind of even the most ardent avant garde completist: witch house can (and does) sound like everything from experimental noise and drone to EBM and darkwave and aggrotech, from hip-hop to punk rock and black metal, often all at the same time.

Witch house is perhaps the first anti-genre, in that it has always actively resisted not just definition, but also detection. Much mockery has been made of artists spelling their band names with strange typographic symbols, but in the early days of witch house this had a specific intent: namely to create a ‘lexical darknet’ (to quote Warren Ellis, the comics writer and novelist whose blog posts led me to my first discoveries in the field), whereby fans had to use the specific symbols in the band names to locate their music online.

Witch house has incubated and mutated on free music sharing platforms such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp, and survives and breeds on private forums like www.witch-house.com, and on invite-only Facebook groups like Witchbook and Dior Nights, which use Facebook to run miniature secret societies and covens. These technologies (or services, however you want to define them) are core to the distribution of the music, but equally important have been the Tumblr and Vimeo platforms. The cut-and-paste ethos behind many witch house projects extends to their visuals, and the gifs, music videos and photo collages that populate artists’ feeds and channels are as much a part of the aesthetic of witch house as the music is.

The equal importance of visual and audio material helps us get closer to a definition of witch house: it is a mood or a feeling, the kind of atmosphere generated by the seminal Goblin’s soundtrack for ‘Suspiria,’ the creeping, schizophrenic suspense of the Laura Palmer mystery, or the Red Room at the heart of Twin Peaks, the final twenty minutes of The Wicker Man, or a basement rave in the house at the end of The Blair Witch Project. In repose, it generates an aura of ritual, darkness and suspense. In motion, it combines the glamour of fetish clubs and serial murder and hard drugs into an amoral dystopia of sound and vision.

Excited yet? You should be. Witch house is almost completely free from the constraints of mainstream hype - aside perhaps from the majestic witch pop of S4LEM, the mysterious feedback glyphs of WU LYF, and the luxurious electronic experimentation of Balam Acab, the three artists closest to crossing over into mainstream consciousness.
 

 
After the jump, the bands including Gummy Bear, Ritualz, Skeleton Kids, Fostercare, Gvcci Hvcci, Mater Suspiria Vision, oOoOO and many, many more.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment