Hradby Samoty IV – dark ambient, noise, power electronics, gothic, neo-folk and whateverelse festival @ Hrad Veveří, just outside the more-or-less lovely little city of Brno in the Czech Republic. On the 5th and 6th of July, 2013.
I haven’t been to any smaller festivals for a couple of years… and damn, I missed them a lot! So, I was really looking forward to this one and fortunately it did not disappoint at all. It had all that can make a small festival so great: nice location (and how nice! and to make it even better, you could even go there from Brno catching a boat-ride thru the lake and that picturesque little river.), a bunch of lovely people (around… 300 I guess?), the feeling that it is indeed all about the music (no fucking advertisements, sponsors and all that crap) and most importantly a very, very good line-up. As I checked it, the previous years they mostly had local (Czech & Slovakian) artists performing, so this year seemed like some kind of a coming of age for the festival, as now they had a very impressive international selection of artists. I decided to go to when Lina of Deutsch Nepal announced that DN, raison d’être and Bocksholm (all from Sweden of course) will play there, but the line-up also included Teatro Satanico (Italy), :Of The Wand And The Moon: (Denmark), Alfarmania (Sweden, again) and Allerseelen (Austria). Quite amazing!
The whole thing took place in that wonderful castle (half of which was neatly renovated, with the other half still being in ruins, so it really offered something for everyone and also suited the music and the festival atmosphere just perfectly), starting after 19:00, lasting till late, late night, in two halls: the big one was for the bands and concerts, while the small one was like… non-stop breakcore-rhythmic noise hell.
Damn cool. So, for the bands / one-man projects I saw during these two lovely days…
Day 1 – 5th of July
Instinct Primal – Local experimental, dark ambient kind of stuff. Nothing really revolutionary, but it was a fine start for a fine day.
Allerseelen – Amazing military-pop from the snowy mountains of Austria. Complete with lederhosen. I saw them twice back in Budapest long years ago and was really looking forward to see them again and they turned out to be even better than I remembered. I love their way of fusing typical martial music with a huge chunk of traditional and sometime totally random (even swing!) musical influences into a very unique mixture. They are catchy, danceable… things that you would not really expect from a neofolk / martial industrial (or whatever you like to call it) band, but they pull it off wonderfully. No wonder the audience did not want to let them go, but unfortunately, there was no time for an encore.
Deutsch Nepal – Which was… well. Great. But painfully short. Lina supposedly had some trouble with his equipment, so he only played like… four tracks? And 20 minutes… maybe? And he didn’t even do Regen, which he could have, as he played it shortly during the sound-check. It was all really weird actually. But while it lasted, it was truly amazing, monumental, beautiful and all that stuff that made last year’s DN album, Amygdala so great. So, it was just the more painful when it ended abruptly. And it ended just when I decided to make a video, so… no video. (But you can find some on youtube fortunately, done by the guys from Mortem zine: An Invitation To Heaven and Eternal Day.)
raison d’être – After DN came the other master of dark ambient from Sweden and he fortunately set things right. Actually it is a bit difficult to write about a raison d’être performance, as it is pretty much all about the atmosphere he creates with the music, the background video of ruins of abandoned factories and all that, but this was the best performance from him I’ve ever seen. 45 beautiful minutes of drones and noises.
Tábor Radosti – Local band and an obviously quite popular one but they didn’t do anything for me. These guys just take themselves way too seriously and their music is just… well, not that great. It really wasn’t my kind of stuff, so I left halfway thru.
Day 2 – 6th of July
Hlukova Sekce – A collaboration of a bunch of local noise musicians. And they were playing (beside the usual things) on stuff like a tennis racket and a helmet. It was like… crazy harsh noise funtime.
Lahká Múza – A Gothic band from Slovakia and a pretty strange one at that. Their stage presence is amusing and a bit awkward at the same time… they have this gothy, latex thing going on, they even had some cyber-goth girl on the stage as a kind of a decoration, while the singer lady, with her tight corset and weird horn-like things on her head toddled around the stage in her insanely high platform shoes, striking a dramatic pose after like… every two steps. The music is kinda average goth stuff, with most of the songs sounding pretty much the same, but what makes it all worth to watch and listen to is the totally amazing voice of the singer. Seriously, she got one of the most amazing and well-trained singing voices I’ve ever heard (This amazing).
:Of The Wand And The Moon: – Well. For me this band was, is and probably always will be the band that sounds like Death In June, lacking most of what makes DIJ so great. Sorry. But most people obviously loved the concert, so maybe it is just me, but I got bored and left after a couple of songs.
Bocksholm – The two Peter Anderssons (one of raison d’être and the other of Deutsch Nepal), both from Sweden, both doing dark ambient, both working for Cold Meat Industry and both from the small city of Boxholm decided to do a joint project called, what else, but Bocksholm. They say that their music “reflects the bad childhood environment of the ironworks in Boxholm” and based on what they do, that city really does not sound like the nicest place to live. The music is all about echoing, monotonous sounds of metal against metal from a huge, ghastly, ruined factory. And while it certainly does not put Boxholm on anyone’s travel wish-list it all creates a wonderfully depressing, unique and captivating atmosphere. Too bad Lina’s eternal fight with his equipment (change or fix your stuff man! seriously!) continued and he eventually left the stage (!) halfway thru. Nonetheless it was an amazing performance, but still, it could have been even better with his input. Anyways, here is the full set:
Teatro Satanico – Fun with Satan from Italy. Easily the most diverse concert of the festival, with everything from danceable tracks to deliciously dark moments and really strange compositions. Complete with especially fine background video and an overall great performance. Actually I did not know much about them before the festival, just heard a couple of songs, but they really got me hooked now. (check the videos by Mortem zine and folkcraft)
The festival itself was a very positive experience as, beside the aforementioned great line-up, beautiful location and excellent concerts, it was also pretty well organized, except for a few minor glitches (that queue for drinks! ohh, now that was pure horror!) and I think (I hope!) there were enough people to make it profitable, so they will be able to maintain this quality for next year as well. Anyways, the best of luck for them! (Oh, and there was also supposed to be an exhibition, but honestly, I forgot to look for it… which is a shame as it looked quite promising.)
(A bunch of pics of Brno and the castle will be up in a few days, so… be back if you care.)