According to some mudslingers KRAAK festival is the best festival Belgium has got to offer. This might be somewhat of a dandyesque wisecrack, but we are sure that the sixteenth edition again is a canticle of underground music.
Keeping one eye on history, one on the present and a third one on the future, the festival evaluates what is going on in the limbo that is called experimental music. We made a selection for you, based on a fragile and wayward intuition. What have we got for you this year? Broken no wave, twisted trash rock, avant-garde synth explorers, established composers, poesia sonora, contemporary folk music, noise legends, minimalists, off track free jazz en The Other in all its genuine forms and appearances.
Check your record collection and say it is not true: one third of all the techno and avant-garde LP’s of the last ten years was cut by Rashad Becker. In 2013 the master cutter surprized with his album Traditional Music of Notional Species vol. I (PAN records), a sci-fi trip filled with entartetesynth compositions, floating in between an empire once created by Throbbing Gristle and the manual of the USS Enterprise. This is Becker’s debut live show on Belgian soil.
Calhau! are a Portuguese artist couple that knits together raw electronics with grotesque vocal parts. Marta and Alves Von Calhau use the deepest layers of their obsessions to mould the absurd post-apocalyptic Totalkunst that swings the listeners through intertexts of Gombrowicz, alchemy and rural Catholicism.
Legendary drummer Jerome Cooper collaborated with the big shots of jazz history, such as Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Steve Lacy, Lou Bennett, Alan Silva, Frank Wright and Noah Howard. From 1972 on he helped questioning existing genre restrictions with his influential Revolutionary Ensemble, a trio with Leroy Jenkins and Sirone that bridged the gaps between contemporary classical music and spiritual free jazz. As a solo artist he mixes polyrhythmic improv with out there synth compositions. Open up your spirit to the ancient music of the future.
Psychedelic four track proto-techno. Transcendental mushroom dance. Happy nu-hypnagogic noise funk. Satanic Negroid Trip Metal. At the Kraak office we often work on new genre denominations like suppressed Taiwanese children work on novelty Nike sneakers. Enter Form a Log, the four track all star band consisting of Ren Shonfield (aka Container, cfr. Mego’s sub label Spectrum Spools), Noah Anthony (aka Profligate) and Rick Weaver (aka Dinner Music, Human Conduct). Synapse burning tape collages that can only bring a crowd to brutally move their legs.
This quartet hides in the dark traces of the Sun Ra Arkestra’s heritage, while injecting their own cocktail of ECM styled fusion. All the while they bludgeon their influences with a contemporary form of witchcraft that went completely out of hand. Think next level cosmic jazz, space poetry and Antwerpian freebooting all beemed up in one band. It will not surprize you that part of it literally sprouted from the semen of Ludo Mich.
A fiddle, a banjo, a shruti box, a couple of gongs and years of experience in combos such as the legendary drone machine Pelt and hill music minstrels Black Twig Pickers , these are all the ingredients Mike Gangloff needed to make Poplar Hollow (Blackest Rainbow), one of the most intimist records of 2013. With his unique blend of psychedelic raga’s and American Primitvism Gangloff proves he is at the top of his mastery.
Leo Küpper started his career as an assistant of legendary electronic music pioneer Henri Pousseur. Ever since the early sixties Küpper started working on a ground-breaking oeuvre at the Apelac studios, in which he developed interest for electronic sounds and the abstraction of language and the human voice. Küpper is still an active composer, playing the game in the highest levels of the avant-garde, to be heard on his album Digital Voices (Pogus, 2012).
Küpper is a piece of living Belgian musical heritage, belonging to a generation that included kindred spirits like Bernard Parmegiani. A generation that helped redefining the boundaries immediately following the innovations of such composers as Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Both as a researcher and a performer Enzo Minarelli is pushing the boundaries of transmedia poetry. Ever since the seventies he combines electronica with bizarre linguistic sound experiments. His oeuvre is a new form of mime art, recontextualizing sound and meaning, pinching holes in the Broca area of your brain to open up a new dimension of Language.
It was early 2013 when we fell in love with Olimpia Splendid and their 7” Nuttu nurin(Fonal). Picture three cute Finnish girls (Kuupuu, Heta and Katri) who take their lack of technical training as an advantage, ending up in the Velvets-meet-the Shaggs tradition, if it were not for the use of a drum computer. For your information: “Nuttu Nurin” means “jacket inside out” and Olimpia Spledid is a brand of air conditioners. We are seriously considering organizing the next festival edition in Finland.
The country of Portugal is damned beyond belief. The reasons for this? Too much sun, the beers are goddamn cheap and it is way too easy to find suppliers of high quality hashish (the economic crisis might have a hand in it as well though). Putas Bêbadas rose from the fertile underground of Lisboa, where fucked-up noise music is the new fado. This band will bring you more than one new noise rock anthem, and they do it with ease. What? Last thing we heard of they are still not signed by Siltbreeze.
Legendary British power electronic and guitar noisicians who destroy your eardrums, with love. Their early releases date back to the early 80’s and since then they have split up and reformed on a regular basis. In the past, the band has assimilated members of other noise legends such as Whitehouse and Skullflower. In short: noise Grand Cru, suitable for the capital of Decay and Nihilism! (read: Aalst).
Sweat Tongue are a self proclaimed Poop rock/improv trio from Rotterdam entangled in a permanent quest for the purest trash and the ultimate-abrupt perversion. Translated to the stage this means intense performances fueled by cantankerous vocals, snappy guitars, smutty drums and field recordings of demolitions. Their festival gig will be a live presentation of their new tape Watermelon, a sequel to our what-the-fuck?-concert-moment of 2013.
Finnish multi-instrumentalist who has been active in the Finnish experimental improv underground for ten years now, playing in bands such as Päivänsäde and Rauhan Orkesteri. In his piano improvisations Tolvi mixes influences from jazz, minimalism and Indian raga’s and let them sublimate in unworldly meditations. Pure music for the unconsious.
Legend says that the members of Varkenshond (Pigdog, or Porcdog if you wish) met at a congres about cosmic rays. Some time later they collectively spent time together in a Russian convent to develop their artistic visions in therapeutic sessions. It was not hard to foretell that Varkenshond would become one of those post-ethnic collectives that groove on modern tribalism and theatrical jams. But this is the kind of neo-jam band that levitates with grandeur, destroying any form of cynicism with healing sounds.
FOLDING CITIES (Tyler Hubby)
A formal experiment and a brain melting synesthesia experience in which Tyler Hubby melts quarter rotated images of Manhattan with viola drones of Tony Conrad. It’s no wonder that the film maker and editor has a strong connection to the music world. He edited a.o. a documentary about Bad Brains, documented a lot of the legendary minimalists related to the Table of the Elements label, and he is currently working on Completely into the Present, a long awaited docu about Tony Conrad.
AS CANÇÕES DE PELE (Lieven Martens Moana)
As Canções De Pele is an experimental film by Lieven Martens Moana, the man behind Dolphins Into The Future. In this romantico-modernistic film poem landscapes literally shift as if a delirious nature experience is captured in a sequence of synesthetic tableaux vivants. The soundtrack is a master piece of contemporary composition translating endogenous sound to electronic world music. As Canções De Pele ('The Songs of Pele’) is a documentary, tracing the songs and movements of an imaginary volcanic island. It’s a film in four chapters, sung by the goddess Pele. As being a Hula Dance, personating certain shapes, forces and lines.