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ROADBURN 2015 DAY THREE: Return to the Lake of Madness

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 12th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2015 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.11.15 — 04.00 — Late Sat./Early Sun. — Hotel

It was a misguided attempt at sleep that led me to bed after watching Coltsblood to round out my night. Didn’t work beyond the apparently standard three hours, which is what I’ve gotten give or take each night since Wednesday. When I lie down, my head hears parts of songs, David Eugene Edwards saying, “You don’t know me from Adam, down here in the lamp light,” or Sæþór Sæþórsson of Sólstafir‘s banjo in the back half of “Ótta,” among others. One day bleeds into the next. I dragged ass most of the afternoon and evening, to be perfectly honest, and given the tossing and turning I’ve just done and the fact that I’m up two hours before I set the alarm, I expect the trend to continue. weirdo canyon dispatch sat coverStill, when you’re here, you have to keep going. There’s more to see and more to hear.

We finished the third issue of this year’s Weirdo Canyon Dispatch on schedule, folding and all. It’s online here if you get the chance to check it out.

The weather, which had been gorgeous enough to boast some restorative effect of its own, has turned. I could just as easily call it “yesterday,” but for the purposes of review, I hope you’ll allow the editorial decision to keep current: “Today.” The weather turned today. As though it knew UndersmileUrfaust, and Fields of the Nephilim were all on the bill and decided “enough of this sunny shit, let’s get down to business for real.” It cleared up later, but was still colder than it had been, and early in the afternoon, I looked outside at one point and saw waves of rain coming down. That was right after Coma Wall, which, you know, fair enough.

Playing as a five-piece with their usual two couples plus a cellist, the mostly-acoustic alter-ego of Undersmile started my day off at Stage01. I got there early, which you have to do, and I wasn’t the only one. Taz Corona-Brown, Olly Corona-Brown, Hel Sterne and Tom McKibbin, plus Tom Greenway on the cello spread out over the stage, McKibbin behind, pulling double-dutyComa Wall (Photo by JJ Koczan) on drums and banjo. With Taz and Hel in dresses and quickly sliding into the sort of drawling dual vocals that are a trademark of both Coma Wall and Undersmile, there was a theatrical element to it, but the thickness of the atmosphere spoke for itself as they hit into “Summer” from their 2013 Wood & Wire split with, who else?, their other band. Off to the side of the stage, Olly sat on bass facing the others, kind of overseeing the whole thing with one leg crossed over the other. He looked managerial, but the low end filled the room well, and Coma Wall eased my way into the Roadburn Saturday better than I could’ve asked.

I’d still like to hear them take on “Rotten Apple” or “Don’t Follow” — something off Jar of Flies — which I think they’d nail in the vocals and really be able to darken the mood on, but wouldn’t you know they weren’t taking requests. Couldn’t argue, anyway. Over in the main hall, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin were well into a live soundtrack to 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, which played on the big screen behind them, audio and all. I saw them here for a bit last year, and sure enough parts of the score were recognizable from that set as well as the movie. Like with Sólstafir‘s live soundtrack on Thursday, there were spaces without any music at all, but of course the difference is that Goblin also wrote the score originally, so to see them do it live to the film was something extra special.

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin (Photo by JJ Koczan)Perhaps most impressive about it was the timing, which they nailed. Keeping pace to scene changes and the film’s quick cuts, they ran through various pieces and themes, the quick bursts for tension as everything goes to crap with all the zombies at the mall, the biker gang showing up and bringing Tom Savini, and so on. It’s been a while since I saw it, and I’d forgotten how many classic lines there are in the film, about Hell being full and the dead walking the earth, and “Operator dead, post abandoned.” There were some times where the balance of audio was lopsided one way or another — hard to match up a film and a live band on stage — but it smoothed out, and I can’t imagine it was many attendees’ first time seeing the movie. That said, I’ve never watched Suspiria, which Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin are scoring as part of the Afterburner, so who knows? When they were done, the four-piece came to the middle of the stage from their spread-out positions, two on one side, two on the other, the middle open to allow the eye to watch the movie, and took a bow. A few seconds before, the credits rolled past with their name listed as The Goblins. So be it.

Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)Next up on the Main Stage was a second go for Enslaved. I tried before they went on to calculate in my head how many Enslaved-related sets there were this year in comparison to 2010, when they were the official artist-in-residence and did sets with offshoot projects like Trinacria and their collaboration with Shining. Between their set last night, the Skuggsjá collaboration with Wardruna that followed, guitarist Ivar Bjørnson ‘s BardSpec set and today, I think they might have 2010 beat. I’m not sure if Bjørnson curating with Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik counts for double or anything — you’d have to get into percentages and it proved too much for my feeble brain to take. In any case, today’s Enslaved set focused much more on newer material. Fair after last night. The recently-issued In Times (review pending) featured heavily with “Thurisaz Dreaming,” “Building with Fire,” “In Times” and “Daylight,” but there was still room to dip back to 2001’s Monumension for “Convoys to Nothingness,” or 2003’s progressive turning point Below the Lights for “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth,” and a balance was struck between the older and newer.

Further distinguishing today from yesterday, though, were the guests. When they got to “Daylight,” bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson announced they’d be joined by SelvikAðalbjörn Tryggvason from Sólstafir and Per Wiberg, now in CandlemassEnslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan) but known also for his work in Opeth and Spiritual Beggars. The three contributed on vocals at the beginning and end of the song, and Selvik came back out for a longer, soulful guest spot on “Convoys to Nothingness,” while Enslaved proper delivered again the kind of set that brought the crowd back from last night, “Isa” tossed in as a bonus and a cover of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song” with more guest guitar included to add even more intrigue. It was not as intense as Friday had been, their newer material offering a more intricate but decidedly less raging style, but they handled it professionally, and seemed to be having as much fun as the audience while they ran through their second of the weekend’s two full sets. The Heads, who followed, are the official artists-in-residence this year, but Enslaved always seem to find welcome at Roadburn.

Particularly having missed The Heads when they played at Het Patronaat last night — Roadburn means hard choices — I knew I wanted to see them today. They were supposed to be here last year, and played in 2008, but with Walter doing live visuals The Heads (Photo by JJ Koczan)and the four-piece of lead guitarist Paul Allen, guitarist/vocalist Simon Price, bassist Hugo Morgan and drummer Wayne Maskell (the latter three who played as Kandodo on Thursday and joined forces with Loop‘s Robert Hampson at Het Patronaat), it was unmissable. A righteous set boasted jam-laden takes on “Gnu,” “Legavaan Satellite,” “U33” and “Spliff Riff,” the effect positively molten as they enacted space rock supremacy and handed Roadburn its ass over the course of 75 minutes. For me, they were the day’s hypnotic highlight, and I don’t think I was the only one. The crowd cheered as they went into and out of jams, builds paying off and starting anew. As I stood in the back and watched, next two me, two dudes were arguing in German and a third turned around and told them, in accented English, “Please, no politics while The Heads are on.” All laughed. Peace on Earth and goodwill to all Roadburners.

As with Kandodo the other night, The Heads‘ set made me want to The Heads (Photo by JJ Koczan)head over to the merch area and go, “Just give me everything,” though they have enough live albums over there that to try it and I’d be broke(r) in no time flat. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from them, knowing records like Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, which was just recently reissued, At Last and their 1995 debut, Relaxing With…, but they were molten on stage, one song bleeding into the next in a consuming entirety that, even after they’d long since gone, kept the crowd howling. It was fucking awesome. I don’t know how many times I’ll get to see The Heads in my life, but I’m not likely to forget the first, in any case, and if I take nothing else away from Roadburn this year, I’ll take a new touchstone for heavy psych live performance. “It’s good, but is it The Heads good?” will prove a hard standard for most to meet.

Over in the Green Room, Black Anvil were finishing up a punishing set and I watched for a minute through the door as they pummeled away. Undersmile were on next in there, and I’ve been following them since their split with Caretaker in 2011 (review here), undersmile 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)so I didn’t want to miss it. They have a new full-length out called Anhedonia, and while I’m a little heartbroken at not having heard it — I loved 2012’s lung-filling debut LP, Narwhal (review here), and thought I had a pretty good relationship with the band — it still seemed prudent to show up early for a dose of their grueling, claustrophobic-but-melodically-brilliant doom, especially as a crushing companion piece to Coma Wall earlier in the day, a sort of bookend with the same lineup minus Greenway‘s cello. They were heavy enough to feel the sound in your chest. I give McKibbin credit for being able to push the tones of HelTaz and Olly along, even at such a lumbering pace. By the sound alone, it seems like a task more suited to the crane outside working on the addition to the 013, but the drums do drive Undersmile‘s material forward, and they packed out the Green Room to the point where even the space to watch through the door was full. I felt equal parts lucky to see them, bummed I haven’t heard the new album, and glad I showed up early while they were setting up. It was quite an emotional rollercoaster. Maybe that’s why I had to come back to the hotel and go to sleep afterwards.

Or maybe I was just rendered unconscious by fucking Coltsblood who — holy shit — took Stage01, removed all its fillings and performed a root canal with a safety pin. It was fucking ridiculous. Hyperbole-worthy madness that even H.P. Lovecraft himself would stare at and be like, “Damn, that’s horrifying.” I watched the final few minutes of synth-heavy proggers Zoltan before the UK trio of bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested (also of Black Magician, who played Het Patronaat at Roadburn 2013) went on, Coltsblood (Photo by JJ Koczan)but god damn. Even before they started, as Jemma checked her guitar and John ran the line on his bass, you knew it was going to be filthy. Their 2014 full-length debut, Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here), seemed all the more aptly named as they got underway, and even though John had some technical trouble early on, they shared a bottle of mead on stage and absolutely laid waste to the smaller of the rooms at the 013. I say in full knowledge of John‘s prior association with the band that they were the heaviest thing I’ve seen in that space since Conan made their Roadburn debut there in 2012. They were unbelievable.

And it became quite clear that they’ve earned some loyalty of fanbase as well. The front of Stage01 was crowded with UK types, one of whom took on the solemn duty of making sure that Coltsblood‘s incense (of which I was markedly downwind) stayed lit. Another dude next to me alerted John when the sound guy called for him Coltsblood (Photo by JJ Koczan)to start checking his bass. This is a band that people are obviously taking very seriously. The deathly rumble of their extreme, dark, sludgy doom made earplugs a futile exercise, and especially in a one-two with Undersmile, they justified that reaction. With John shouting and growling into the mic while Plested slammed away behind and Jemma, entranced, riffed out a viscous, oil-thick morass, it made sense. I’d want to keep the incense lit too.

By the time I split out from Stage01, the air had more or less been driven out of the room. It was hot, sweaty, smelly — Roadburn means fart clouds — and suitably oppressive. Outside smelled like french fry grease from the food tent, but even that seemed like fresh air. I made my way back to the hotel and started to sort pictures out and get everything ready to review, but noticed after a few minutes that my head was down on the table and I couldn’t seem to pick it back up. I stared up at the laptop monitor for a little bit and decided to crawl into bed.

Wasn’t a crawl. More of a lurch. Either way, about three and a half hours later, I gave up the ghost and decided the middle of the night would be a perfect time to recount the day’s varying destructive encounters. Tomorrow — Sunday, which now that it’s after 06.00, I’m about ready to call the new “today” — is the Afterburner, also plenty busy with Lo-Pan and Abrahma and Argus and BongripperAnathema and The Golden Grass. Work on the final issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch starts in about four hours and it will be here and gone before I know it. At least that’s how it usually seems to go.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Roaburn 2014: Napalm Death, Magma, Comus, Goblin and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

This, right here, is why I don’t bother to guess who Roadburn might add to their lineup on any given year. Because all of a sudden they break out Napalm Death doing a set of slow stuff. Napalm Death, who might as well have invented grindcore, but yeah, they’ll do the slower songs. Fucking brilliant. Along with them and a slew of classic prog added to Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s curated day, there are a few other announcements snuck in, including The Old Wind, which features Karl Daniel Lidén (ex-Greenleaf among others) on drums. The complete update follows, dutifully hoisted from the Roadburn website:

Napalm Death: The Slow, Painful, Dirgy Elements of Napalm at Roadburn Festival 2014

Legendary Grindcore veterans Napalm Death will be crashing into Roadburn 2014 with a set highlighting the more experimental moments of their extensive back-catalogue on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Frontman Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway has this to say: ”The common currency of Napalm is clearly the fast and the furious, but as Roadburn likes to peel away the layers to find the quirks in its performers, we have decided to attempt bringing to the fore the slow, painful, dirgy elements of Napalm that sometimes get partially obscured by the speed factor.

We have a number of songs, you could say, from the ‘no-wave’ stable heavily dripping in the sounds of Swans / Coil / My Bloody Valentine et al and will yank those out of the archives to try and construct something resembling a set.

Then, just as the audience are about to jump off the nearest building amidst the abject despair, we’ll probably machine-gun it all with a few bursts of dependable speed. Job done.”

Seminal Progressive Rock Pioneers Magma Confirmed For Mikael Åkerfeldt’s Curated 2014 Roadburn Event

We’re ecstatic, nearly speechless, to announce that seminal progressive rock pioneers Magma, Italy’s horror soundtrack masters Goblin, and psychedelic folk legends Comus have been confirmed for Mikael Åkerfeldt’ curated 2014 Roadburn event on Friday, April 11th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

”My ”arrogance” and ”cockyness” seems well documented these days, and while it’s not completely untrue I have a definite trust in Opeth’s musical delivery I have accepted stage-defeat countless times. Playing with Morbid Angel in 1996 and playing alongside Magma in 2013 comes to mind”, says Mikael Åkerfeldt.

”Magma’s music is such an exhausting emotional rollercoaster I can’t liken them to anything I’ve ever heard or seen before ever.

While the band takes the term jazz-rock to a new level, there’ so much more to the story. I’m not sure the band themselves are aware of how much ‘death metal’ they have in their music. It’s just downright evil sounding at times. Bizarre chord progressions, time signatures that make you vomit from confusion and an emotional musical delivery that puts virtually all other bands to shame.”

Goblin To Bring Legendary Horror Soundtracks To Mikael Åkerfeldt’s Curated 2014 Roadburn Event

We’re extremely excited to announce that Italy’s horror soundtrack masters Goblin, led by Claudio Simonetti, have been confirmed for Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s curated 2014 Roadburn event on Friday, April 11th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

”The legendary Italian masters led by the unmistakeable keyboard wizard Claudio Simonetti will grace us with their presence at Roadburn 2014”, says Mikael Åkerfeldt, ”How insane is that?”

”I don’t know how many pints of lager I’ve downed while air drumming to ‘Roller’. It’s been a constant tour party record for Opeth, but their discography as a whole is beyond impressive, almost intimidating. ‘Profondo Rosso’, ‘Zombi’, ‘Suspiria’, ‘Tenebre’ and the superfly ‘Squadra Antigangsters’ are just a few of their legendary soundtrack scores.”

For me to be the instigator of having Goblin play alongside Opeth just makes me insanely chuffed. Would never have dreamed of this to happen, but it will. I can’t wait. I almost resent the fact that we have to play ourselves as I want to prepare myself mentally for the emotional outburst to come. This will be amazing! Trust me.”

Psychedelic Folk Legends Comus Confirmed For Mikael Åkerfeldt’s Curated 2014 Roadburn Event

We’re beyond thrilled to announce that psychedelic folk legends Comus have been confirmed for Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s curated 2014 Roadburn event on Friday, April 11th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

”Hymen hunter, hands of steel, crack you open and your red flesh peel”. ”Is it a death metal lyric?”, says Mikael Åkerfeldt, ”No it’s psychedelic folk. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the eerie yet beautiful world of Comus!”

”You’ll never be the same again.”

”I personally hold Comus debut LP ‘First Utterance’ as the pinnacle release of the genre. It’s just utterly amazing and has rubbed off on me musically in so many ways.

A timeless masterpiece, if anything. Their debut record from 1971 is like a family friend by now and their 1974 follow-up ‘To Keep From Crying’ is an underrated gem that deserves your attention. This was their swansong for many years until we saw their glorious return a few years back both as a live band as well as top of the range recording artists with their amazing ‘Out Of The Coma’ LP.

I’m extremely happy to announce the return of Comus to the main stage of the 013 venue in Tilburg and the Roadburn festival. I’m salivating myself. I’ve witnessed them live once and I fucking cried! Happy tears, I might add! I simply cannot wait to experience the magic that is Comus again next year. Hope you’re just as excited as me.”

The Old Wind (ft. Tomas Liljedahl and Robin Staps) To Bring Primal, Savage Post-Hardcore To Roadburn Festival 2014

The Old Wind , featuring not only Tomas Liljedahl of legendary Swedish cult noise crew Breach but also The Ocean‘s Robin Staps, will bring their primal post-sludge / hardcore, as savagely captured on the band’s massive debut album Feast On Your Gone to Roadburn Festival 2014 on Friday, April 11th at Het Patronaat in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tomas Liljedahl comments: “TOW started growing in my mind when I was in need of theraphy. I ?ve had a couple of really dark years, and I needed to project the hard times through something… and I found that writing words and music were the best way to get these demons out of my system.”

Originally incepted as a studio project, Liljedahl soon realized that these rough, abrasive songs needed to be performed live, with a real band. And so he teamed up with his former BREACH band mates Niklas Quintana (guitar) and Kristian Andersson (bass guitar), added drummer Karl Daniel Liden to the lineup and asked Robin Staps of Pelagic Records & The Ocean to join on third guitar.

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber To Bring Devastating Sludgy Post-Black Metal To Roadburn Festival 2014

France’s Regarde Les Hommes Tomber will be bringing their devastating, sludgy, post-black metal to Roadburn Festival 2014 on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

The band is currently making waves in the European underground with their S/T debut album, creating monumental opuses that intersperse huge, hypnotic but also harsh walls of black metal suffused with harsh vocals and menacingly delicate interludes. Their overall sound is definitely black metal oriented but with song structures and moods reminiscent of Neurosis’ and Amenra’s punishing brutality.

However, showing the versatility of the band, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber also deliver deliberately building progressions more closely related to traditional slugde metal, alongside their intense, full blasts of power, showcasing a knack for less speed as well without sacrificing any of their wrath, restlessness and hateful anger.

Destroying this year’s Hellfest back in June, Roadburn 2014 will be next. Proceed with caution.

The Great Old Ones To Bring Lovecraft-Inspired French Black Metal To Roadburn Festival 2014

Taking H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos as their template, France’s The Great Old Ones draw stylistically from contemporary black metal folded around post-metal structures suffused with dark ambient atmosphere on their stunning debut album, Al Azif.

Formed in 2011, The Great Old Ones aren’t your typical French black metal band that operates in the same unorthodox, dissonant area as Blut aus Nord or Deathspell Omega. No, the band is definitely carving a niche of their own as they weave ethereal harmonies with unconventional song progressions, breaking up their chaotic, blackened majesty with atmospheric interludes and slower doom-laden anthems.

The Great Old Ones will send you over the edge at Roadburn Festival 2014 on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue inTilburg, The Netherlands.

The Old Wind, “In Fields” from Feast on Your Gone (2013)

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Buried Treasure: Redscroll Records on Black Friday

Posted in Buried Treasure on November 26th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

When I worked at KB Toys store #1051 in Morris Plains, New Jersey, they used to call it “Green Friday,” and as I started there when I was just turned 16, that was how I came to know Black Friday, which is what most people in the US call the day after Thanksgiving — the busiest shopping day of the year and the “official” kickoff of the holiday retail season.

Black Friday takes its name not from the shadow that consumerism at large casts on American culture, but from the simple fact that it’s the day that moves most stores from the red into the black for the year. It’s when they start turning a profit. Seeing an opportunity to continue their mission of promoting independent music culture, the fine folks behind Record Store Day got involved this year, bolstering the event with special releases and other initiatives. I’d expect more of that kind of thing next year.

Late last month, when I was at Redscroll Records in Wallingford, Connecticut, on my apparently annual autumn pilgrimage, I was given a flyer for their Black Friday specials, and knowing that I was going to be in the state for the Thanksgiving holiday, kindly suggested to The Patient Mrs. that I might like to wake up early and hit up the sale, which was 25 percent off everything in stock except for turntables.

So it was. My alarm went off yesterday at 5:35AM, and when I walked into Redscroll at 6:02 or thereabouts, the place was already full. Outside, the sun was just starting to think about rising. As I suspected I might, I had the CD racks mostly to myself (at least as compares to vinyl — LPs are by far the priority for the shop), but it was easily the most crowded I’d ever seen it. People were friendly, though, making way for each other and handing off releases to other potential buyers. I used the 25 percent discount as an excuse to pick up a few odds and ends, most of which I’d already heard, but hadn’t gotten full copies of, and other discs I’d wanted to grab this year that I hadn’t gotten the chance.

For example, I long since own Sovereign by Neurosis, but a quarter off the price was enough for me to grab the 2011 reissue, and stuff like CandlemassAshes to Ashes live record and Place of SkullsAs a Dog Returns had just kind of slipped through the cracks in terms of getting a physical copy. I bought The Body & Braveyoung‘s Nothing Passes to include in the next podcast (no big surprise: it sounds totally fucked), and was hoping to nab The Atlas Moth‘s An Ache for the End for the same reason, but they were out of it, and I drowned my sorrows in some cheap George Carlin, Goblin and Free instead.

Now that I’ve heard the low-end centric mega-grooves of Saturnalia Temple‘s Aion of Drakon, I’m officially stoked to check them out at Roadburn next year. And because I haven’t been able to leave there without doing so the last couple times I’ve been, I picked up a Cable CD, this time the 2008 reissue of their first album, Variable Speed Drive, the original version of which I’ve been hunting on eBay for a bit with no real success.

It was just over $100 for 10 discs, which wasn’t bad and was enough to earn me a free Redscroll t-shirt that I’ll wear proudly. I went back to the motel and crashed out for a couple more hours before getting up and heading south back to Jersey to go to work, and after that, on the way further south to Maryland, I requested yet another stop from The Patient Mrs., this one to Vintage Vinyl, to pick up that Atlas Moth record and settle the matter once and for all. I also got a full copy of Invisible White by Ancestors. Both at full price, and neither with any regret.

Vintage Vinyl in the evening was empty compared to Redscroll in the morning, which was troubling, since that’s pretty much the only shop in New Jersey where I can do something like stop in and pick up an Atlas Moth or an Ancestors CD and be confident that they’ll actually have such a thing. I know they had stocked some of the Record Store Day Black Friday special releases, but hopefully they come around to the sale stuff too, because god damn, I’d hate to lose that place as a resource.

In the meantime, a package showed up in the mail yesterday from All That is Heavy with a copy of Master Sleeps by Hills, which is jammier than I thought it would be, and the Rise Above reissue of NecromandusOrexis of Death, which Tony “I Have Excellent Fucking Taste and Stone Axe is My Band to Prove It” Reed recommended a while back I make mine. Altogether, this probably represents the bulk of the music I’ll buy through the end of 2011, so it was good to send the year out with a bang. I should have plenty to keep me busy until January comes.

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