Call us rebellious conservatives, or unfitted to a hyper transparent and raving world, but one thing is sacred. The yearly trip through the labyrinth called off-stream music, avant-garde and the Other, also know as the KRAAK festival.
Welcome on the 17th edition, with a fine selection of the best outsider synth music, tape noise, Berber traditional music, dub influenced italian post-pop, neo romantic electronics, neo pop art hip hop and minimal trash punk.
Pat Kraus is a contemporary Joe Meek, mastering the guitar, bamboo flute, tape loops and self build synthesizer. At the other side of the world, the man writes broken pop songs which are the soundtrack of an universe where Ignatz is jamming with Bruce Haack.
Madalyn Merkey paints deconstructed, post-romantic synth landscapes. It could be the title of an adventure of a fictional avant-garde composer in search of the holy grail. But Merkey just released the album Valley Girl (2014, New Image Ltd), which is a great example of sound synthesis inspired by the Californian hills.
A moment ago nihilist, urban no wave was a has-been genre, suited for old farts with a J.G. Ballard obsession, who cannot handle the confident optimism of generation Y. Reality is different nowadays, dystopy is everywhere, and the Swedish duo Neutral sharpen their songs on it. Their debut album Grå Våg Gamlestaden (2014, Omlott) is fuck you towards optimism and softness, with its broken guitar noise, misantropic industrial an warped tape experiments.
The facts: Sofie Herner and Dan Johansson are dwelling in the empty warehouse scene in Göteborg, the same where Källarbarnen, Sewer Election, and Ättestupa hide.
The debut album from NEUTRAL makes me want to quit my job, sign out from life and rent a old warehouse for some intense underground action...
The Irish, currently London based Áine O'Dwyer is a multi-instrumentalist and singer, best known for her lyrical harp playing on collaborations with Mark Fry and The A. Lords, United Bible Studies, Piano Magic and Richard Moult. She covers a broad array of music deeply rooted in the Irish tradition of epic tale telling troubadours, interweaving it with improvisations on harp or organ. Her music makes the bridge from an undefined, mythical past to the fragmented times we live in now, and which might in need for new stories. She just released a stunning record on the unfamous M.I.E. records, with the intruiging title Music for Church Cleaners.
On the KRAAK festival she will perform together with the Ghent Choir De 2de Adem.
Somewhere in the seventies, deep in the Eastern Bloc, a man saw the future. With state of the art equipment he changed Romanian pop music profoundly, and injected electronics, far out synths and never heard tape collage into it. His name was Rodion G.A., and disappeared since then. In 2014, Strut records rereleased a couple of his records, and Rodion raised to prove that he was the first and the only king of Eastern Bloc Kraut.
Bryan Lewis Saunders is a visual artist whose life turned out to be a continuous peformance. He conducts research into the dark sides of the human mind, and confronts himself with fears which mortals wisely avoid. Impressive is Under the Influence, and ongoing series of self portraits, kicked off in 1995. Each portrait is made under the influence of a different kind of drugs.
Apart form a visual artist, BLS is a gifted spoken word artist, who collaborated with a.o. Ze'v, John Duncan, Leif Elggren and our own Razen. Razen and BLS released together the album The Confessor, a intens tape on which recordings of himself talking while sleeping, were used as raw material by Razen.
Minimalistic dub meets esoteric avant-garde, entering a playground of forgotten Italian pop stars. Sea Urchin is the brain child of the Egyptian-Austrian Leila Hassan and the Italian artist Francesco Cavaliere.
Serruys is Ghent's finest tape noiser and synth wizz kid, in search of the sensitivity hidden in reel-to-reel and analog synth grain. He is toghether with Joris Verdoodt, the honcho behind the freshly new BAADM label, on which he released his deep personal debut album On Germain Dulac.
One of the key works in the sound exposition Orkest! is the monumental installation Everything Was Forever, Until it Was No More by the Polish arist Konrad Smole_ski. Two gigantic church bells are facing two towers of speakers, everyday they start to ring mercilessly. The church bells intermingle with sounds captured during the day in the exhibition, warped and manipulated until a deep, massive drone is left. The work plays upon our deepest fears that one point in time, there will be nothing left anymore.
For the KRAAK festival Smole_ski invited the Polish improv and noise rock band Lotto for a unique performance to activate the installation.
Lotto is the trio of Mike Majkowksi (who is part of Hailu Merga's recent band), Lukasz Rychlikci and Pawel Szpura. Hailing from Warsaw, they explore the outer borders of improv, country and noise rock through long repetitive structures.
Minimalist punk rock with new wave beats, Brainbombs meets Madlib.
Cut up, out there hiphop, straight from the basement and squad scene of Lisboa, the city with too much sun and no work. Yong Yong hipsterize Portugal, with LP's released by Night School records and a swag tape on Goaty Tapes.
1978... decent clothes were a valuable reason to lynch someone, musical skills were forbidden and without an egg in your hair, you didn't go out of the house. Music history claims that in between Sex Pistols and The Smiths there was only bleakness, aggression, anarchism and nihilism.
With their naive and minimalist songs, Young Marble Giants were an anomaly in the zeitgeist. Even now their debut album Colossal Youth hasn't lost any freshness, and has been a more profound influence on this generation compared to the collected works of the no future hipsters.