The Machine, Faceshift: Finding a New Norm

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the machine faceshift

Six full-lengths in, Rotterdam’s The Machine are not only veterans with more than a decade of work behind their 2007’debut, Shadow of the Machine, but participating in an ongoing sonic development that seems to be playing out in real-time on each of their records. Their earliest work — the just-mentioned debut, as well as 2009’s Solar Corona, 2011’s way-jammed-out Drie (review here) — was square in the vein of heavy psychedelic rock, rife with longform jams led by the warm fuzz tone of guitarist/vocalist David Eering and backed by the rhythmic fluidity of bassist Hans van Heemst and drummer Davy Boogaard. With 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) and their 2013 split with Sungrazer (review here), The Machine began a process of solidifying their songwriting, condensing ideas into tighter structures. They still had a propensity to jam out, and that continued onto their fifth LP, Offblast! (review here), which tipped the balance even further, showing a budding affinity for noise rock.

To listen to Shadow of the Machine and the band’s latest work, Faceshift, one would hardly recognize it’s the same outfit. At 40 minutes, the eight-track collection is a full 10 shorter than its predecessor, and it’s the tightest collection of songs the band has yet produced. Eering‘s vocals still have a watery effect on them, and he still breaks out a longer solo on the 11-minute title-track, but that’s the only song not in the three-to-five-minute range, and from the 5:50 opener “Crack You” onward, there’s a predilection toward noise rock that makes its way in amid the heavy and desert influences that comes even more forward on songs like the subsequent “Agitate” and the later “The Norm,” “Kick It” and the closing duo of “Zeroten” and “Kamikaze.” Faceshift still has its foundation in heavy rock, but it’s clear the band has grown into something else and are still growing into something else in these tracks. Something all the more their own.

If one were to think of it as a new era for The Machine, I don’t think that would be wrong. And it goes further than just their sound. Faceshift is their first record since Solar Corona not to be released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten, and instead it finds them self-releasing through their own newly-started imprint, Awe Records. Not only that, but it marks van Heemst‘s last performance with the band, and he’s been replaced for live shows, maybe more, by Sander Haagmans (The Whims of the Great Magnet, ex-Sungrazer). That’s The Machine‘s first lineup change in memory, and to listen to anything the band has done is to realize it’s not a minor one; even on Faceshift, the bass makes significant contributions to the overall effectiveness of the tracks. It’s still something of a mystery as to what the future holds, whether Haagmans will join full-time (one hopes), but the point is that the sonic turns made throughout are only part of the story.

They’re a crucial part, of course, with “Crack You” giving way to the punkish “Agitate,” with Boogaard‘s raw snare cutting through Eering‘s solo en route to a cold finish and a bass-led intro to “Heads Up.” Not necessarily as sharp edged as some of what surrounds, “Heads Up” still offers plenty of bite as it works what turns out to be a linear building path of dynamic ebbs and flows headed to a brash final payoff. Their turns are deceptively smooth as they make their way through verses and choruses with guitar at the top of the mix riding the groove of the bass and drums. They finish with a solo that cuts back to the central riff at the end, almost making the listener wish for one more run through the hook, but there’s no time, especially with the 2:41 crasher “The Norm” immediately following. It’s arguably the most singularly intense moment on Faceshift, with a searing lead of wah capping after an assault of drums and sheer rhythmic thrust buries the vocals beneath such that they seem to simply disappear as the song plays out.

the machine

Stop for a beat and “Kick It” begins the presumed end of side A, with a chunkier riff at its core and Eering‘s vocals tapping grunge melodies at around the first-minute mark. Boogaard‘s drums bring a steady bombast to the recording, but he’s never actually out of control; just insanely talented. “Kick It” also has a payoff at the end, but it’s longer after the solo than that of “Heads Up” and it leads to the smoother-edged, fuzzy start of the title-track, which one half expects to be a jam given its extended length and The Machine‘s past patterning, and it is one after a fashion, but here too the “face” of the band’s approach has shifted. They bounce easily through the first four minutes of the song, adding a bit of lumber to the final hook, then crash out on a wash of cymbals and bring the song down to nothing but residual amp hum and dead space only to have the guitar return alone with a line at 4:32. It’s the beginning point for an instrumental freakout that consumes the rest of “Face Shift,” building over the few minutes that follow not to a psychedelic spaciousness, but to an absolute cacophony of guitar, bass and drums all working together in power trio fashion.

The touchstone comparison for it would be Earthless, but really what’s happening is The Machine are building a bridge between their former style and their new one. They push it until shortly before 10 minutes in and then crash out once more, and Eering holds out a guitar line on a long fade that brings it to a close. A stretch of actual silence follows before “Zeroten” bursts in with its own noisy starts and stops, Helmet-style, some highlight basswork from van Heemst and drawling vocals for an extra ’90s-style touch. Using feedback as a weapon, it pulls and careens through a solo in its second half before dipping back to the central riff for a last verse and then caps with harsh noise en route to the finale of “Kamikaze,” which holds a similar riff structure but more of a nodding groove and an open chorus that’s among the most satisfyingly Alice in Chains-y throughout. “Face Shift” was a pretty grand finale in itself, but neither “Zeroten” nor “Kamikaze” feels tacked on, and the latter has a raucous ending of its own to cap the record, returning at the last minute to underscore just how skilled songwriters The Machine have become.

It’s important to highlight the creative growth The Machine have undertaken on Faceshift, but it’s not as if it’s come out of nowhere and all of a sudden they decided to be different-sounding band. They’ve never put out the same record twice, and Faceshift is a step forward from Offblast! much as that record was a step forward from Calmer than You Are and so on through their back catalog. And in much the same way one expects their next one will progress from where they are now. Nonetheless, it’s striking how they bring the diversity of their influences together in an aesthetic they’ve so much made their own, and how they seem to set up yet another avenue of pursuit for their ongoing sonic progression.

The Machine, Faceshift (2018)

The Machine on Thee Facebooks

The Machine on Twitter

The Machine on Instagram

The Machine website

Awe Records on Thee Facebooks

Awe Records on Instagram

Awe Records website

 

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Komatsu Premiere Video for Title-Track of Upcoming LP A New Horizon

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

komatsu

Netherlands-based four-piece Komatsu will issue their next album, A New Horizon, Sept. 7 through Argonauta Records, and with it, the band reach a yet-uncharted echelon in their approach. Working with producer Pieter Kloos, the band — vocalist/guitarist Mo Truijens, guitarist/vocalist Mathijs Bodt, bassist/vocalist Martijn Mansvelders and drummer/vocalist Joris Lindner — bring a progressive edge to the tonal mass of their past outings, 2016’s Recipe for Murder One (review here) and their 2011 self-titled EP (review here), so that “Prophecy,” “Walk a Mile” and “Love Screams Cruelty” tap into a decidedly European brand of metal, seeming here and there to share some spaciousness and melancholy with the likes of mid-period Katatonia, but still keeping plenty of impact both there and in other cuts like surging opener “I Got Drive” and the head-down pummel of “10-4,” the latter of which is about as stripped-down and noisy as they get on the 10-song release.

The resultant blend continues the sonic growth one could hear in Komatsu‘s sound their last time out, but seems also to bring their style into focus. Rhythmic momentum becomes key to pieces like the instrumental “Surfing a Landslide,” which reinterprets komatsu a new horizonclassic surf rock-ish lead work with the ‘landslide’ that is the guitar and bass tones, as that song and others like “Infected” touch on a more rocking aesthetic, delivering a hook in the lines “Well if misery loves company/Why the fuck are you so lonely?” atop a beat that’s near danceable. Still, it’s telling that when it comes to their eponymous track “Komatsu” at the outset of side B, they turn to full-on crunch and seem to cast their lot in with the heft at the foundation of their take. The surroundings are exciting for being less willing to commit to one side or the other, and A New Horizon as a whole is richer for that refusal.

In order to herald the arrival of A New Horizon, the Eindhoven unit have a video for the title-track premiering below. The song, which appears on side B and is the longest inclusion at 5:12, seems to bring some of the varied sides together in the progressive metal verses and its open and rolling chorus. Note the thud of the kick drum throughout, as Lindner plays a huge role across the album’s full span in conveying the different vibes in the songs, and the atmosphere of confrontation as the lyrics ask plainly, “Are you in or are you out?” I guess when it comes right down to it that’s the central question. Komatsu indeed touch on places they’ve never been with A New Horizon, and that’s all the more intriguing because it’s only been two years since Recipe for Murder One, but as they grow into their own they also leave the comforts of genre behind them, and inevitably there will be some who don’t get what they’re going for. Even so, with a core of quality songwriting beneath the nuanced turns, Komatsu make it easy to answer that question in the affirmative.

Copious PR wire info, including festival and Iberian tour dates, follows the video below, which it’s my pleasure to premiere.

Please enjoy:

Komatsu, “A New Horizon” official video premiere

Hailing from Eindhoven-rock city, Netherlands, Stoner and Sludge Metal rockers KOMATSU have just recently unveiled first details about their upcoming and 3rd studio album titled ‘A New Horizon’! Set to be released on September 7th 2018 with Argonauta Records, KOMATSU once again unleash an exciting mixture of the Sludge, Stoner Rock and Metal while setting stones for a new horizon indeed. Recorded at The Void Studio with producer Pieter Kloos in early 2018, ‘A New Horizon’ features 10 blistering songs that combine all that is heavy while staying true to the band’s very own sound. Now KOMATSU give a first glimpse on their upcoming and hotly anticipated record, and premiere a brand new video to the album title track ‘A New Horizon’.

Says the band: “For A new horizon we wanted a clip that tells the story of the lyrics in a sci-fi setting. The song has a revolutionary feel. People free themselves from rules and laws they leave the madness behind on earth in search of a new world and a new horizon.

The clip for new horizon was made by Joost Nevels and he did an excellent job!

So …are you in or are you out?“

The tracklist for ‘A New Horizon’ reads as follows:

1. I Got Drive
2. Prophecy
3. 10-4
4. Surfing A Landslide
5. Love Screams Cruelty
6. Komatsu
7. Infected
8. A New Horizon
9. Walk A Mile
10. This Ship Has Sailed

KOMATSU was formed in early 2010. The band released a self-titled EP in 2011, followed by numerous live shows all over Europe. ‘Manu Armata’ was released in February 2013 and been instantly well received by the international press and fans alike. In 2014 KOMATSU went on tour with none other than John Garcia (Vista Chino, ex-Kyuss, Hermano, Unida, Slo Burn) and played 32 shows in 13 European countries. The critically acclaimed ‘Recipe for Murder One’ was released September 2016 and showed that the band gained trust and experience. It took the band on various tours throughout Europe with bands such as Duel or The Freeks. During May 2017 ‘Recipe for Murder One’ even got KOMATSU to tour Brazil. The band’s upcoming ‘A New Horizon’ will be available September 7th 2018 on Argonauta Records (Vinyl/CD/Digital Download) and will mark the band’s return to the world of heavy music, to once again smash the rock audiences and make sure everybody has a mothersludging time! Pre-order your copy here:

LP: http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/home/288-komatsu-a-new-horizon-lp.html
CD: http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/cd/287-komatsu-a-new-horizon-cd.html
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/it/album/a-new-horizon/1407526420?i=1407527207

In support of ‘A New Horizon’, KOMATSU will be heavily touring this year again! Make sure to catch the band live on the following dates, with many more shows to be announced soon:

05.08.2018 NL – Lollipop Festival, Oss
10.08.2018 NL – Nirwana Tuinfeest, Lierop
12.09.2018 BR – Rio Claro/Sp
13.09.2ß18 BR – Ribeirão Preto/Sp
14.09.2018 BR – Londrina/Pr
15.09.2018 BR – Guarapuava/Pr
16.09.2018 BR – Curitiba/Pr
19.09.2018 BR – Florianopolis/Sc
20.09.2018 BE – Joinville/Sc
21.09.2018 BR – Curitiba/Pr
22.09.2018 BR – São Paulo/Sp
23.09.2018 BR – Piracicaba/Sp
09.11.2018 NL – Blue Collar, Eindhoven (Album release party!)

Komatsu is:
Mo Truijens: Guitar + Lead vocals
Mathijs Bodt: Guitar + vocals
Martijn Mansvelders: Bass + vocals
Joris Lindner: Drums + vocals

Komatsu on Thee Facebooks

Komatsu on Instagram

Komatsu on Bandcamp

Komatsu website

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Twitter

Argonauta Records on Instagram

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No Man’s Valley Announce New Album Outside the Dream; Launch Crowdfunding for Recording Costs

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So No Man’s Valley have a new album… not quite. To be more accurate, they’ve got songs and intentions toward a new album. The Dutch heavy psychedelic blues rockers have aligned themselves to Tonzonen Records for the follow-up to 2016’s Time Travel (review here), and they’ve set themselves toward an early 2019 release. They’re even currently in the studio, but they’ve set up a crowdfunding campaign in order to cover their costs there as they work to finalize the release. They’ve got posters from their appearance at Freak Valley, album preorders, shirts, and private show opportunities within a reasonable distance from their hometown — they’ve even got their own P.A., so I mean, if you’re having a backyard barbecue in Den Haag or something, that might be fun — as well as other claimable whatnots for those who donate, and the campaign is nearly a third of the way to its goal with 31 days still to go.

The band was kind enough to send some info down the PR wire about the new record’s making and how listeners can help. It all looks an awful lot like this:

no mans valley

No Man’s Valley – Outside The Dream on Tonzonen Records

Dutch psychbluesers No Man’s Valley are thrilled to announce the coming of their second album Outside The Dream on limited Vinyl and CD. They will work together with Tonzonen Records from Germany (The Spacelords, Psychic Lemon, Mouth) for this release which will see the light of day around early 2019. The record is being produced at the moment by Matthijs Kievit (Bartek), and will be mastered by Pieter Kloos (Motorpsycho, Astrosoniq, Dool).

We Need You

The band have already started recording, but they still need some financial support. So for the coming 30 days they have launched a crowdfunding campaign which should help them fund their ambitious project, while gaining the opportunity to secure one of those highly limited gems, next to some other personal band items like posters and photographs. Donate here: https://www.voordekunst.nl/projecten/7467-no-mans-valley-second-album-on-vinyl

Outside The Dream

Outside The Dream is the story of how to transform personal backlash into something new and positive. This personal weight makes sure the band has gotten more to the core of their strength. Never before did the band sound so vulnerable yet at the same time so powerful.

www.nomansvalley.com
https://www.facebook.com/nomansvalley
https://twitter.com/nomansvalley
https://instagram.com/nomansvalley/
nomansvalley.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

No Man’s Valley, Time Travel (2016)

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The Machine Post “Crack You” Video; Faceshift Preorders Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the machine

Based on what I read in the band’s announcement for their new video and first public audio from their sixth full-length, I’m going to guess that ‘Crack You’ doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of The Machine‘s Faceshift from whence it comes. Because they say it doesn’t, and six records in, one can generally trust a band to know the difference. The Netherlands-based three-piece are set to release Faceshift next month through new imprint Awe Records — they were formerly on Elektrohasch — and though “Crack You” features a warm, heavy/desert rock tonality, The Machine over the years have moved beyond their initial post-Colour Haze jammy beginnings and, while still retaining some of that in their sound, have pushed into a more noise-rocking direction. Certainly that was the case on their fifth LP, 2015’s Offblast! (review here), and 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) might be the root of that change, coming as it did just a year after 2011’s Drie (review here). Each of their records, from 2007’s debut Shadow of the Machine and 2009’s Solar Corona onward, has been a clear step in their growth. No doubt the same holds true of Faceshift as well.

And though one would hardly listen to Shadow of the Machine and guess where the band would wind up 11 years later, The Machine have yet to release an outing that doesn’t make sense to their progressive arc. That is, especially with songs like “Crack You” at their disposal, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist/engineer David Eering, bassist Hans van Heemst — since out of the band and replaced for shows by Sander Haagmans, formerly of Sungrazer, who out out a split with The Machine in 2013 (review here) — and drummer Davy Boogaard are able to tie their noisier proclivities to the naturalist psychedelia of their earlier days. Offblast! did so with tracks like “Coda Sun” and “Dry End” and the stretched-out “Chrysalis (J.A.M.).” And while in their album announcement they said it would be their noisiest and harshest offering yet, “Crack You” features an accessible groove and little of the punk-derived duderism that one might expect. Presumably, they get there later on.

Preorders for Faceshift are up now — right now — via Awe Records ahead of the July 13 release date. CD and limited vinyl. The video for “Crack You” features footage in the studio and out, some of it new, with Haagmans on bass, some of it older, with van Heemst, who appears on the record. I’ll hope to have more to come ahead of the release, but you can check out the “Crack You” clip below, followed by the band’s announcement of it and the preorder link courtesy of the social medias.

Dig it:

The Machine, “Crack You” official video

We present you Crack You, the first track of our sixth album Faceshift. The album will be released on July 13 on CD and LP (180gr black and limited transparent magenta). To warm you up we’re starting out with the most easy listening and catchy track on the album.

Pre sale just started, the store is open. Go to www.awe-records.com and visit the shop to make a reservation.

Faceshift will be available on CD and 180gr vinyl (black/transparent magenta).

Orders will be shipped out starting from Monday July 16.

First gigs will be at ‘t Keldertje (event The Machine & Walden & Junkfood Lunchbox) on July 13 (release day) and Stoned From The Underground 2018 on July 14.

The Machine on Thee Facebooks

The Machine on Twitter

The Machine on Instagram

The Machine website

Awe Records on Thee Facebooks

Awe Records on Instagram

Awe Records website

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The Machine to Release Faceshift July 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the machine

Rotterdam-based psych-jammers-turned-noise-rockers-and-sometimes-still-psych-jammers The Machine have a new album, a new bassist, and a new label. The record, which has been dubbed Faceshift, speaks to the ongoing change in the veteran three-piece’s sound even unto its artwork, and as they passed the decade mark late last year, early in 2018 guitarist/vocalist David Eering and drummer Davy Boogaard bid farewell to bassist Hans van Heemst. I’m not sure if van Heemst plays on the album — given the timing, I think so, but I’m not 100 percent — but with his maybe-temporary-maybe-permanent replacement being none other than Sander Haagmans, formerly of The Machine‘s tour, split and once-labelmates Sungrazer and currently also making music under the guise of The Whims of the Great Magnet, one could hardly argue for a more fitting replacement. That is, it’s not the original lineup of the band anymore, but it’s about as close as they were going to get.

The Machine feature in the lineup for this year’s Stoned from the Underground in Germany. Actually, it was seeing them listed as a part of that bill that made me hit up their Thee Facebooks to find out what they were up to. And if you’re curious, yeah, I’m a little bummed that’s how I’m finding out about their new record nearly a month after it was first announced, but hey, it’s still one to look forward to, as these guys always deliver.

The following is culled together from their social medias and that of Awe Records, their aforementioned new label:

the machine faceshift

Friday the 13th, July. Save the date.

We have a new album coming up! Our new one, “Faceshift” will be released at Awe Records, worldwide distribution by Cargo Records. Click and follow the Awe page to be kept updated about this and potential other future releases.

Tracklist:
01 – Crack You
02 – Agitate
03 – Heads Up
04 – The Norm
05 – Kick It
06 – Face Shift
07 – Zeroten
08 – Kamikaze

Other info will follow soon. There will be a pre-sale and some other funky stuff. The record will be available on CD/LP/Digital. As a limited edition, we’ll have transparent magenta for all the vinyl collectors out there. We will also put some new music online any time soon.

Anyway, we think Faceshift kicks ass and we will play some new tunes at the handful of shows we’ll do during the summer to support this release. We’ll have the very first copies with us on the road by then, some new design t-shirts as well to top if off. A couple of additional summer dates to follow asap. Since Hans left, we’ll have Sander with us to do these gigs.

From Awe Records:

The Machine is back! Heavier than ever before, their sixth full length album Faceshift sees them further carving out their own sonic identity. The successor to 2015’s Offblast! is the band’s most noisy and melodic effort to date. After an existence of over a decade, The Machine digs more into their grunge and noise rock side, without sacrificing any trademarks.

Faceshift was recorded live at Studio De Zolder (as always), with The Machine’s own David Eering at the helm. The outcome is a more focused and punchy album, straying further and further from the stoner and psych jams of the early years. A maturation of the trio’s song writing results in memorable hooks, more room to breathe for the rhythm section and punishing riffs smashing you in the face with a hammer. Album highlight and title track “Face Shift” offers all of these ingredients, while the long instrumental section is a reminder that The Machine is not completely ignoring their heritage. Clocking in at 11:11, it is by far the longest track on the record.

https://www.facebook.com/themachine.nl/
https://twitter.com/themachine_nl
https://instagram.com/themachine_nl/
http://www.themachineweb.com/
https://www.facebook.com/awerecords/
https://www.instagram.com/awerecords
https://awe-records.com/

The Machine, “Coda Sun” official video

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Ayahuasca Dark Trip to Release Upaya on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

By the time multinational psychedelic exploratory conglomerate Ayahuasca Dark Trip got around to releasing their second album last year, the title had changed from its original II (discussed here) to Upaya, but whatever you want to call it, the thing is an exercise in tripped-out worldbuilding, the continent-spanning lineup offering primo doom/drone trippery and lysergic technicolor expanse. They let it get weird in other words, and for a band based in the US, in Europe and in South America, they sounded remarkably cohesive in doing so.

Not a huge surprise that Argonauta Records would pick them up given their connections to Queen Elephantine, who are also on the Italian label, but either way, Ayahuasca Dark Trip deserves to be heard by as many ears as possible, and if releasing Upaya in physical form on June 29 is a step toward that, all the better.

Seriously. It’s streaming at the bottom of this post. Dig in. If you’re still reading this, I can hands-down promise you that you will not regret it:

Ayahuasca Dark Trip

U.S. psychonauts AYAHUASCA DARK TRIP sign to Argonauta Records

ARGONAUTA Records is thrilled to announce the deal with US psychonauts AYAHUASCA DARK TRIP.

Uncompromising and fearless in its approach, the band creates hypnotic music that combines doom metal, acid psychedelia and ritual drone into an intense and explosive trip.

The multinational project was formed in 2010 by prolific Peruvian musician Brayan Anthony (Montibus Comunitas) and Buddy van Nieuwenhoven from Netherlands (Cosmic Nod). The group soon expanded with Indrayudh Shome (USA/India, Queen Elephantine), Pedro Ivo Arau?jo (Brazil, Necro), Sifis Karadakis (Greece), Floris Moerkamp and Robin van Rooy (Netherlands). AYAHUASCA DARK TRIP blasted off to explore revolutionary new possibilities of fluid musical collaboration across great physical and cultural distances.

“We’re very excited to join Argonauta, which has shown its solid support for bands like Suma that push boundaries beyond one realm. And we’re always glad to work with Gero, one of the most hardworking people in the community.” — Indrayudh Shome, lead singer of ADT as well as Queen Elephantine, whose last album was also on Argonauta Records.

The album “Upaya” will be released on physical format, for the first time on CD, and available from June 29th, 2018.

www.facebook.com/ayahuascadarktrip
https://ayahuascadarktrip.bandcamp.com
http://www.ayahuascadarktrip.com/
www.argonautarecords.com

Ayahuasca Dark Trip, Upaya (2017)

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Roadburn 2018 Trip Pt. 6: Departure, Amsterdam, NL

Posted in Features on April 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

airport runway

04.23.18 – 11:31AM CET – Monday morning – Schiphol Airport Gate D47, Amsterdam

For the first time in the 10 that I’ve made this trip, I was up before my alarm this morning. It was set for 7:30AM and I was out of bed by 7:05. I’d gone to sleep around three after finishing the review and unplugging my brain for the evening, decided even though it’s a 13.00 flight, I’d get up early and do the packing in the morning and crash out as soon as possible. I shudder to think what I left behind at the hotel.

One year I left my comfy pillow. I even tried to call and ask them to send it to me, was how much I loved that pillow. They pretty much told me to fuck off.

And who could argue?

Also this morning, another first, I changed at den Bosch all by myself. No asking at the information counter. Reading signs helped. Nonetheless, I felt like a pro at this whole thing.

As I was coming to the gate, I got asked the standard round of “did you have your luggage the whole time,” “did you pack it all yourself” questions and I kind of realized at that moment that no, I didn’t pack it all myself. I’m carrying a box of records home that I was given that I haven’t even had the chance to open yet. They asked me if I was selling them and I laughed. Hell no. That shit, whatever it is, is mine.

They gave me a green sticker to put on my passport, which I assume means I’ll never see my baggage again. Too bad. My Ancestors shirt and favorite pair of sweatpants were in there.

Plus, you know, a whole box of records.

coffeeBecause life makes this much sense, I’m overshooting Boston to make a connecting flight in Detroit and then heading back east to Boston. Perfect, right? If you ever need a metaphor for navigating anything related to Beantown, there it is. Please use it freely.

But I’ve had a couple cups of coffee, ate an airport egg salad sandwich and and apple, and the bleeps and bloops and swirls of Dr. Space continue to ring in my head, so I must be on my way home from Roadburn, even though it will take me I can’t count how many hours to get there.

Before I get on this plane, I want to say a couple thank yous. First and foremost to The Patient Mrs., for letting me have this even though she knew it meant she’d be running point with The Pecan for five/six days solid. I do not expect to let her change a diaper for the next week.

Thanks to Walter — FOREVER — and to Esther, Becky, Lee, Gijs, Jamie, Rianne, Koos and the entire team at the 013. We did get the final issue of the ‘zine out yesterday. It was eve my photo of Zach Oakley from Joy/Volcano that got used. I was honored. That’s a first for me.

Thanks to my family, my mother and sister, for their love and support.

Thanks to Paul, Niels, Kim, Dan, Dom, José, Cheryl, Jamie, Ben and everyone on the staff of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. This year cut it a little close for comfort. If we’re fortunate enough to do it next year, Lee and I joked we’d start in November, and the more I think about it, that might be the way to go.

Thanks to everyone in the photo pit, Falk-Hagen, Dante, to Jon Freeman, Andreas Kohl, Jurgen, Kenny Sehgal, Dave and Robin Sweetapple, Jens Heide for that box of records, and Markus, Nicole, Dave MIBK, Dana Schecter and everyone else I saw and met along the way this year.

I’d like to send a special thanks to the coffee machine in the office of the 013, the coffee machine backstage at the 013, the coffee machine in the lobby of the Hotel Mercure and the little Nespresso in the room itself.

And as always, most of all, I’d like to thank you for reading and making this entire thing possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

This one was a trip to be sure. But I miss my baby boy and I miss my wife and my dog and I hear we’re basically having spicy curry for dinner all week, so it’s time to go home.

Thank you for reading.

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Roadburn 2018 Day Four: They Have Dreams

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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04.22.18 – 11:31PM CET – Sunday night – Hotel Mercure Rm. 224

I saw a lot of cool shit today. This whole long weekend. There wasn’t one day that didn’t deliver some moment that seemed to me to be something special, whether it was Earthless‘ first set, or Volcano, or The Heads, or Joy tonight jamming out with Dr. Space. This afternoon, though, I stood in the back of the V39 across the alleyway from the 013 venue and watched a Q&A with Roadburn‘s creative director, Walter Hoeijmakers, aka Walter Roadburn, aka just Walter, run by Becky Laverty, who runs the fest’s PR.

He spoke about how the festival has grown organically over the time since he started it, how it changed as his tastes changed to encompass an expanding definition of what “heavy” becky and walter (Photo by JJ Koczan)is and means, and even about some of what the future holds in Roadburn 2019’s lineup. He wasn’t giving away who’s curating or anything, but as one might expect, there will be more commissioned projects like Waste of Space Orchestra on Thursday and the Icelandic black metal group work Vánagandr: Sól án varma, this afternoon. Talking about how young and creative the Icelanders specifically are, he said, “They have dreams,” and you could hear in his voice the deep level of respect that notion commanded from him.

That was a beautiful moment, and like so many I’ve seen in the 10 times I’ve been fortunate enough to make this trip to Tilburg, I felt lucky to be there when it happened.

There was still a lot to see today, though, and while I did stop by uninvited to catch some of Vánagandr, my final day of Roadburn 2018 began in the Green Room with Iron Chin. For much of the day, I sought out spacier fare, reminiscent somewhat of the spirit of the old Afterburner, which has kind of been subsumed into the festival proper even though there were “only” four stages running today: the Main Stage, Het Patronaat, the Green Room, and Cul de Sac. You’ll have to take my word for it when I say it was plenty.

So I had made my way to the Green Room with all the grace of a low-self-esteamboat for Iron Chin, and my reasoning was simple: Oeds Beydals. The Death Alley guitarist was leading the charge in the new group — fronting the band, on vocals as well as guitar — iron chin (Photo by JJ Koczan)and playing alongside for The Devil’s Blood bandmate Job van de Zande (now also in Dool), Ries Doms (Powervice) and Wout Kemkens (Shaking Godspeed), the idea behind the band seemed to be the Dutch heavy scene’s way of welcoming San Diego’s scene to town. The actual output was somewhere between space rock, heavy psych and jamming, with Beydals riding dynamic grooves as he sometimes does in Death Alley but bringing that side of things more into focus. Naturally, there was a song called “Iron Chin,” and just as naturally, its chorus made fitting and frequent use of the title.

I had caught a couple minutes of their soundcheck before doors opened, and knew it was going to be worth the time, but an even more pleasant surprise was when Beydals brought out guitarist Zack Oakley, drummer Thomas Dibenedetto and bassist Justin Hulson — in other words, the entire trio of Joy — to sit in on a few jams. Oakley‘s guitar fit right in the psychedelic wash, Hulson manned a Nord to bring some organ to the proceedings, and he and Dibenedetto both added percussion as well. It was a trip, and that was clearly the intention.

When I saw Beydals later, I asked him if they were going to record, and he confirmed it. That’ll be one to keep an eye out for. He’s developed a considerable stage presence since I first saw Death Alley at the Hardrock Hideout in 2014, and he wasn’t exactly lacking one to start with.

Keeping with the ethereal and/or cosmic, I clomped to Cul de Sac in order to see Belgian progressive rockers Hidden Trails. I knew the challenge in writing about them would be going a single sentence beforehidden trails (Photo by JJ Koczan) mentioning their connection via bassist Dave Houtmeyers and drummer Tom Vanlaer to the much-missed Hypnos 69, and now that I’ve thoroughly failed at that, I feel a little bit like I can move on. Houtmeyers, Vanlaer and guitarist/vocalist Jo Neyskens released their debut, Instant Momentary Bliss (review here) in 2016, and while it’s a thrill for me pretty much anytime I can watch a band play who’ve put something out on the label Elektrohasch Schallplatten, their blend of classic proggy exploration, organic tones and melodicism made it all the more special.

The concept of the Afterburner, with fewer stages running, etc., was that it was a smaller day to kind of transition from being neck-deep in the full force of Roadburn and returning to regular day-to-day existence. As I started to think about things like flight times home and changing trains at den Bosch on the way to Schiphol — always a challenge because I never know which track the train to the airport is coming in on and have to ask at the info counter, where they basically call me a moron every single time — the soothing vibe of Hidden Trails eased my anxious brain a bit and gave me another chance to bask in the breadth and warmth that Roadburn can sometimes offer, you know, when it’s not tearing your face off.

Speaking of, Wiegedood were next on the Main Stage. I have no problem admitting that, at 36 years of age, after three-plus days of festival-being-at, late-night-reviewing, ‘zine-editing and the rest, my ever-expanding ass was fairly well kicked. I went up top in the Main Hall and sat for a while of Wiegedood‘s set, flashing red strobes, skin-peeling sharpness and all, and then flumped back downstairs to have a quick dinner — the return of the fish in lemon cream sauce; I’d happily eat it every night until I died from mercury poisoning, if that’s even a thing here — before Zonal and Moor Mother took to the Main Stage at 19.00.

Zonal, with Justin K. Broadrick of Godflesh and Kevin Martin aka The Bug, who was here collaborating withmoor mother (Photo by JJ Koczan) Dylan Carlson last year (review here), claimed half the stage for a table flanked by bass stacks and left author and spoken word artist Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, the other half to annihilate as she saw fit, silhouetted by lights behind and enough fog machine output that even the hallway outside the Main Stage area was enshrouded.

And annihilate she did, though her words were somewhat obscured by the wash of electronic noise surrounding. It was a performance geared for impact and it seemed to make one on parties either curious or who knew what they were getting, and as the bass beats vibrated in my chest, my mind flashed back to Walter earlier at V39 talking about pushing into new concepts of what “heavy” means. There it was, right in front of me. Impossible to see for all the smoke, but there just the same.

Word had spread of Harsh Toke playing a secret set on the skate ramp up by Hall of Fame, and I know I’ve said before that when Harsh Toke are jamming, that’s where you want to be, but I didn’t see Godspeed You! Black Emperor last night specifically knowing that I’d have the chance to catch them today, and in my mind the commitment was made. With video projection art behind them, they came out to the Main Stage gradually and arranged themselves in a semicircle under barely-there light and like the chamber music of the damned, they treated Roadburn 2018 to their massively influential and richly evocative instrumentalism, creating a space for themselves in the room much as they’ve essentially created a genre for themselves over their 20-plus-year history. I’d never seen them before and won’t claim any expertise on their back catalog, but though the audience in the back was sitting — as was a goodly portion of the band — it was clear they were also being taken somewhere else completely.

That one-two punch, of Zonal with Moor Mother and godspeed you black emperor (Photo by JJ Koczan)then Godspeed You! Black Emperor probably would’ve been enough to call it a day, a weekend, and a festival. That is, I couldn’t have reasonably at that point asked for more than I’d gotten out of Roadburn 2018. But the day started spaced-out, and I knew it would end the same way. Joy and Dr. Space jamming together at the Cul de Sac? Yeah, you can count me in for that.

In fact, since I looked at the final schedule and knew that I’d be in Tilburg again this year, I’ve known that Joy and Dr. Space was how I wanted to close out my Roadburn. Scott HellerDr. Space himself and bandleader of the Øresund Space Collective — started out the set on his own for a while, just oozing vibe on the crowd from his custom-built synth setup, arranged facing away from the audience like a secret box of magic tricks. Cosmic rabbits in lysergic hats and all that. Joy — the aforementioned OakleyHulson and Dibenedetto — arrived a short time later and with Oakley‘s guitar easing their way in, embarked on a longform jam that absolutely melted the room surrounding. Also helps that the Cul de Sac was wall-to-wall with bodies and about 100 degrees (or whatever that is in celsius; a million?), but yeah, one way or another, it was going to be molten.

Even without the unforeseen symmetry of opening and closing the day in the company of Joy, I was right in my pick for how to cap the night. The groove was easy, the vibe fluid and the mood in the room just about perfectly embodied the two parties themselves: “joy” and “space.” Beat as I was, I had a hard time dragging myself out of there. But I did, and after a few quick goodbyes back at the 013 itself, I doltishly florped back to the hotel past drunkards young and old, pissed and reckless, dazed andjoy dr space (Photo by JJ Koczan) dancing and riding bicycles. It was another Sunday night in Tilburg. Tomorrow morning they’ll powerwash Weirdo Canyon again and it’ll be like none of it ever happened.

Except it did. And everyone who was here will carry it with them wherever they might be headed next. Home, far and wide, another bar, whatever. I don’t think it’s possible to be here and not be touched in some way by the spirit of it. For me, after 10 times, I can hardly begin to conceive the ways it’s helped shape who I’ve become over the last decade, how I’ve thought about music and culture and art in general, and the lessons that each year reinforces about what truly matters in creativity, which is that it keeps moving forward. Always forward. That it keeps dreaming.

I’ll have a wrap-up post tomorrow at some point. Till then, thanks for reading and more pics after the jump.

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