Art pop (also typeset as art-pop or artpop) is a loosely defined style of pop music influenced by pop art’s integration of high and low culture, and which emphasizes the manipulation of signs, style, and gesture over personal expression. [Wiki]
I normally call the end of spring and the rest of summer the ‘festival season’, and I bet people understand why. From late March until the beginning of September, the most exciting and amusing activity for the typical metalhead is to participate to an outdoor festival: he only needs a tent and the best (or the most affordable) event next to him/her.
I recently discovered that this is not only a metal fan prerogative – especially in central Europe, especially in the Benelux area: as fast as the sun start to shine again there are festival everywhere and for whichsoever type of music; people enjoy them and repeat the experience quite often during this period and through the years.
Dunk!Festival: the finest post rock festival in Europe
I was not surprised last year then, when after moving to the Netherlands I heard about a post rock festival called Dunk! I already wrote my impressions here, so I will not talk too much about the first edition I saw, but it was such a significant experience for me that I decided to come back again for 2019 edition.
Passage towards the Forest stage.
Ps. all pictures are made by me, this is the reason why there are really bad quality.
I do like post rock, however I think in this moment of history the scene is so saturated that is quite difficult to find bands that are really impressive, unless they are exceptional artists.
At the Dunk! Festival I found a lot of good bands – with decent sounds and complex visuals – but poor of ideas. I was not disappointed about the genre, which I still like and gives me real emotions, but about the style – the same guitar effects, the same song structures in most of the projects present in the running order.
Yes, there are variations – Wang We has a trumpeter in his crew , in Her Name is Calla a female violinist and so on – but this is not really making any real change in what they play: still the same ideas, packed in a different way.
But there were exceptions. I want to mention Kokomo, that were for me the real headliner of Friday night. This German band knew how to balance their energy with the one from their songs, that actually had a sparkle that others didn’t communicate – at least to me.
This Patch of Sky
Another band I enjoyed (especially at the end of their performance) was This Patch of Sky, first for the unusual band structure that actually was enhancing the songs they played (they had together with the drums a second set of percussion), second for some of the songs, as Home and Bella Muerte, extremely poetic and imaginative.
I was happy to see Wrekmeister Harmonies again, but the set was a little bit disappointing. J.R Robinson came only with Esther Shaw they played a set with guitar/piano/violin and voice. Which would have been fine (especially in the cozy environment of the Forest Stage) but the sounds were so bad mixed that was not possible to hear the richness of the composition in their songs:
Made in China
I am happy to see that the Dunk! Festival is proactively searching and promoting realities outside the continent. Not only the classic one-two bands from the US, but also tiny and unknown areas as in China – this year represented by Wang Wen and Zhaoze:
Dunk! Is not only post rock
I can tell that the thing I also like about the festival is that they are not afraid of the labels, and in the running order there are always some bands that go outside the post rock area. This year there was Josef van Wissem and Go March! The first playing a kind of Medieval/Renaissance repertoire and the second playing an paced electronic.
All good, but…what about the main bands?
I was thinking to avoid to talk about the headliners, that I did not enjoy so much. Or better, I did not consider them as headliners, and this gave me a sense of waiting for a real closer of the night. The best performers, thou, are the Italian Ufomammut, followed by Alcest, still one of the best band in the scene but poorly shown in this context (that was a pity, since it was the first time they played in Dunk!). I don’t even want to say anything about Efrim Manuel Menuk, that I found presumptuous and annoying.
The Dunk! Festival is definitely a nice experience to do. The location is cozy and relaxing, far away from the chaos of big cities, and the line up is satisfactory (though it fluctuates through the year, as I saw the difference between the 2018 and 2019 running order). It is nice to spend a weekend in the nature, talking and drinking face to face with talented and famous musicians (that were sharing the ‘festival stage’ together with the fans) and listening to good music.
It has a been a long time since I visited the Roadburn, but finally my story is going to an end.
Sunday was a beautiful day. I managed to take some rest during this crazy crazy weekend, and I was almost full of energy to live the last day of the festival. In general I also like Sunday because, even if the quality of the music remains constant, the atmosphere here is more relaxed, also because of less people wondering around the venues. Most of them leave to come back to their countries: I actually read that most of the fans (I believe 75%) that attend the Roadburn are from outside the Netherlands, and definitely from outside the Tilburg region. For me this is a quite peculiar fact…
The first band I saw was MJ Guider. The band itself plays an electric echoing of synth/guitar/bass mix that creates a sort of foggy 80’s fine atmosphere. It feels like we are drowning in the blue-colored air of the Green Room. There is not so much crowd, so it happened to me to assist at the concert without being pushed and in a place with a very nice view, so I enjoyed the complete experience.
Stuck in Motion
After listening a little bit of Daughters in the Main Room (only to kill the time for me next band I was interested with, since those guys are not doing anything that can shock me or give me reason to stay, even if their work is quite valuable) I come back to the Green Room to check Stuck in Motion. Those Swedish guys are quite interesting, considering the fact that are three and seems that everyone is able to play every type of instrument, not mentioning the singing part. They entertainment us with pure psychedelic pieces, shifting from dynamic synth solo to romantic ballads, and they do it enchanting the public.
Another concert I really enjoyed is Thou‘s. There is so much destructive energy in this band, that the whole Main Room is simply mesmerized by vibrations are coming from the stage. One of the visual choice (as you can see from the picture, the three crosses) is so powerful when is accompanied by their sludge. The impression is people are so focused on it that look like statues from where I sit:
Well, I admit it. Thanks to the fact on Sunday there were less people I intentionally spend most of the time in 013. But in the case of Ulcerate, it was ages I wanted to see them live: and for this performance I could see the crowd in the Green Room. Not for nothing those guys are monsters in their sludge-death. The energy level is maintained quite high, and few people left the room, at least until I was there.
The last I heard during this Roadburn is Bossk, a real nice post-rock project. Their songs are fresh and bring the listener to enjoy every nuance of the composition and astonishes him with the violence of the lead voice, that seems so distant and also so close with the essence of the song, that just give a sense of confusion.
Here we are, at the end of my journey. It is a long story of my four days that could have been longer and with more bands on my personal running order. However, I do not think that the Roadburn is only a place to go to hear some cool music, or better is not only that. I believe that Roadburn is an experience, a rite of passage through a new music concept and mind paradigm. Roadburn is a gathering with who, like us, is doing this changing, and it gives the opportunity to even expand it. Roadburn is, basically, the spiritual trip into music that everyone that loves the underground needs to do.
Dear Music Lovers,
It has been a year since Pandemia became alive. Many thinks happened, and I would like to summarize it in a brief post.
First of all, I cannot tell how I was amazed to get in touch with interesting bands, labels and projects all around the world. I was lucky enough to get in contact with extremely creative people and I had the privilege to expose their way to see their artistic life on the ‘pages’ of this website.
I would like to thank again all the labels, such as Cryo Chamber, Unsigned and Hjordi-Britt Astrom, to give me the time to discuss about their view on the current panorama. I am grateful to Euroblast that let me to participate at their festival as a reviewer. I am really happy about the opportunities that VOLA, ØKAPI and Common Eider King Eider gave me to discuss about their music and share their thoughts on the webzine.
My posts would not be so cool without photographs, made by Andre Symann, Marvin Ruppert, Heiner Bach, Mats.L Photography, Blumina Live Photography, Niels Vinck,Susana Martins, Paul Verhagen,Quinten Quist Konzertphotographie. Without them the stories I told would have not been so bright and vibrant.
If you did not do already, just have a check on our first compilation, made with the best underground Post Rock artists you can find in Internet, like Soonago,
Dwaninungka, False Horizon,
Oh Hiroshima, Nanaki, we.own.the.sky, Empty Yard Experiment ,
Dawnlit, Molecules to Mind, Cats Never Die . They lend their music to me to make the first official Pandemia compilation and I am deeply grateful for it.
It was not the most productive year, and honestly I regret I didn’t have more time to spend on Pandemia. However, the plan is to go forward and try to develop this platform.
I am still searching other Music Lovers to be able to cover more genres and artists. If you are interested, contact me via this website on via our other channels (check the Contact page).
I am still searching other Music Lovers to make this website grow and be able to cover more genres and artists. If you are interested, contact me via this website on via our other channels (check the Contact page).
I wish to all an energetic start of 2019, and keep checking Facebook or the Pandemia website, we are coming back!
I love the festival season. First of all, because festivals mean… holidays, at least for me. Second, where can you find so many cool bands in such small amount of time? Especially when the line up is crazy, like at the Dunk!Festival, the experience is something you can easily be addicted to.
First of all, a little bit of background: the Dunk!Festival is placed in Zottegem, 40 km far from Brussels. The gathering lasts 3 days, and presents the best selection of progressive, post, drone and experimental music. This year in the lineup where names as Caspian, Rosetta, The Ocean and Russian Circles, but also a lot of interesting proposals as Cranial, Jo Quail, Zhaoze and so on.
The festival itself is located next to a small “forest” (that is more fair to call a bunch of trees surrounded by fields) and is very small compared to the normal summer festivals (at least the most famous), however is very well organized and the fact that is so small keeps everything tidy and relaxed.
This is actually one of the thing I really liked: except the time spent for the music, I enjoyed mornings in which the only sound was the singing of the birds and evenings in which people were not so drunk to bother you.
Another thing very particular is the forest stage, something I bet the Dunk!Festival is one of a kind: a small stage between the trees, that was making the evening concerts a magic experience.
Shifting on the music, here is the list of the bands I enjoyed the most during this year. If a band is not mentioned, doesn’t mean it was not great. As always, this is just my personal comment:
The thing I liked the most about this band is how they can mix sludge song structure with post atmosphere with some details that recall black metal. Founded by three polish brothers in 2011, this band is slowly becoming famous, and they are actually on tour until August.
I believe I am interested about this band because I still trying to understand it. I mean, which is their bounding rope, what is their genre, which kind of image do they want to show, which message (except the fact we have to love each other, as the singer said) they want to share?
I am still trying to figure out, in the meantime I would like to describe the music of the these Belgium guys as a mix of drone, indie and disco pop. And I am not even close to give the correct idea.
First nice German band, with a sludge core sound. I found them a little bit too early in the timetable of the second day, since they were playing such dark music with a beautiful sun outside the stage tent, but they did a good job to collect a nice group of people under them. Powerful and obscure, they interrupt the dreamy flow characterizing the overall festival mood.
7. ( B O L T )
Second nice German band, completely different from the first. They performed at the “forest” stage, with the sunlight that slowly was disappearing between the vegetation. I really appreciate the composition of the songs, especially how they grow and phase out easily and naturally.
I fell in love with this song, played as closure of Caspian’s set, as headliner the first day of the Dunk. The last album has almost two years, however is still able to shake hearts, as the band did on stage. With the amazing light scheme, they gave an excellent show.
Nice progressive band from India, guested in the forest stage. Extremely enthusiastic and grateful to finally reach Europe, these four guys played with the heart, with some songs completely instrumental and other sung in their local language.
Another ethereal progressive rock band. The Norwegian SOUP is not too much pretentious, but they show their love for guitars and keyboard effects. I really appreciate the use of the voice to enrich the songs.
3. Jo Quail
Interesting project made with an electrical cello connected to two pedal boards. The composition of the songs is amazing, as the idea itself. Jo Quail really capture the interest of the public.
Another big name in the line up, Rosetta’s show is one of the best show of the Dunk!Festival 2018. I love their show, and I do believe was the best headliner this year. Respect the last time I have seen them, Michael Armine seems having a better control of the stage and his voice. He was not afraid to openly interact with the public, something that I believe people appreciated, and he finished to go directly above the barriers to have contact with them.
Electronic duo that seems don’t really fit with the concept of the festival, however was my favorite for this year. The atmosphere was magic around their performance, and at the end they woke up the people creating a sort of cool club event in the forest, with the only light of the stage to illuminate the night.
There is of course a lot to say around this festival and these bands, a real fine selection of new sounds of progressive and post, but I leave you with the curiosity, so you can try this particular festival by your own.
Music is the way of humanity expresses itself. It was for century the core of every important social event, capable to give joy or relief to thousands of people during the century. It is interesting to see how the different style impacted to the local culture in a precise time of the history, as trying to resolve a complicate puzzle of humankind.
Calypso was a genre born during the 19th century in South America, more exactly in Trinidad and Tobago. As the voice of the slaves imported as worker in sugar plantations, it developed from a wonderful rainbow of roots, as Jamaican folk music or sings in French.
Calypso became pretty popular during from the 30s to the 50s, when Harry Belafonte decided to remake the reggae Banana Boat Song:
Today the genre became highly underground, but it still has the beautiful warming harmony of its homeland, although it collected different influences during the way.