After this summer’s Will To Power: Electronics II, it was festival time again, this time in Poland at the XV. Wroclaw Industrial Festival. While the two festivals were somewhat similar (two of the acts were even included in both’s line up), they were also very different. While in Mannheim it was all about power electronics, this one gave an overview of what is industrial music in 2016, including acts from every genre that is connected to industrial in one way or another (excluding the more commercial acts of course). Power electronics, ambient, dark ambient, noise, neo folk, experimental, techno and so on… and of course some rock acts as well.
The festival lasted for four days and took place in several venues scattered around Wroclaw’s historical city center: the main location was Stary Klasztor with its two halls: the huge and majestic Gothic Hall and the smaller, but equally gothic Old Monastery. The opening evening started at the all seated grand hall of the White Stork Synagogue (aka Synagoga pod Białym Bocianem) and ended in the nearby music pub Stara Piwnica, while the the last day (which had a more relaxed, laid back, afterparty kind of feel) took place a bit farther away from the center, at a very punk looking venue called CRK. There was also a concert on the second afternoon at the Old Mine of Walbrzych, that I decided to skip and there was another show I unfortunately missed (due to train schedule): the opening performance by 7JK. Below is the full line up of performers, the gallery and at the very end a short, personal, heavily subjective live report:
7JK (UK/PL), Aghiatrias (CZ), Ash Code (IT), Asmus Tietchens (D), Blackwood (IT), Burial Hex (USA), Circular (D), Codex Empire (A), Cut Hands (UK), DAF (D), DJ Blackdeath1334 (Francesca) (UK), Emma Zunz (PL), Folkstorm (SE), Hiroshimabend (USA), Holotrop (D), Instinct Primial (CZ), Konrad Becker aka Monoton (A), Main (UK), Mazut (PL), Mueran Humanos (AR), :Of The Wand & The Moon: (DK), Owls (UK-IT), Psychic TV (USA/UK), Ramleh (UK), Reutoff (RUS), Sardh (D), Sigillum S (IT), Vomir (F)
Even though the WIF2016’s line up was extremely strong, with a lot of amazing concerts, it was also very diverse, so of course there were a couple of concerts, that I did not like that much… including the two neo folk groups. One of them was :Of The Wand And The Moon: whom I saw for the third time and while they were clearly better than at the two previous occasions, for me, they still sound too much like old, classic Death In June, just not as good. The other one was Owls, featuring Tony Wakeford, the man behind the legendary Sol Invictus and well, they were pretty bad… trying very hard to be all poetic and artsy, but failing completely. For me at least. But then, I am very picky with neo folk in general, so that was probably really just me, especially as most of the audience seemed to love both acts a lot. Interestingly enough the more-or-less same people who make up Owls did a pretty great show with the atmospheric industrial / dark ambient act Sigillum S the next day, again featuring Mr. Wakeford and his unique voice fit in there much, much better. And speaking of dark ambient or ambient in general… it was one of the most well represented music genres at the festival. The atmospheric Blackwood, yet another project by Italy’s Eraldo Bernocchi (who is also involved in the aforementioned two) was also one of the dark ambient acts, just as the somewhat more beat-oriented Russian Reutoff and two Czech acts, Instinct Primal and Aghiatrias, with their noisier approach, closer to old-school industrial. And also, Burial Hex from the US, whose performance was very atmospheric, but his music just did not work for me. The more relaxed, meditative side of ambient was represented by Germany’s Circular and by Main, the solo project of UK’s Robert Hampson, whose concert was also held in the synagogue, so the audience could experience his very silent, very tranquil music to full effect. And then there was Holotrop (from Germany) on the closing day, whose show turned out to be one of the best of the festival: meditative, trippy ambient, accompanied by a very atmospheric performance that perfectly managed to set and convey a psychedelic, ritual, mind altering mood he wanted to create.
There were also a lot of more beat oriented acts: Monoton aka. Konrad Becker, a pretty strange looking fella, who is also a living legend kind of sound sculptor from Austria. Codex Empire, another one of the great surprises of the festival, who started his set with calmer, more ambient-like sounds, but slowly drifted towards a fine, ryhthm-heavy mixture of techno and power noise. And on the last day, we had two locals, the more trance-influenced Emma Zunz and the “sounds like Converter, just not as great” techno of Mazut, plus Austria’s Hiroshimabend, who started with glitchy experimental sounds and then gradually shifted towards beats. But the best of these more… well, dancefloor friendly acts was clearly Cut Hands. Which is the recent project of William Bennett, known for his involvement in power electronics originators Whitehouse, one of the meanest, most (intentionally) repulsive bands ever. But with Cut Hands, he turned towards a completely different, much more beat oriented musical direction, drawing inspiration mainly from African tribal rhythms and it worked amazingly well live.
Another one of the festival’s best performances was by Nordvarg‘s Folkstrom project: it was brutal, primal, elemental power electronics which resulted in the biggest moshpit of the festival (well, except for DAF of course). The noisier side of industrial was represented by Ramleh‘s loud and remorseless performance and also, Vomir, from France… which was amazing and amusing at the same time. It was basically just a guy in leather jacket, standing still at front of his little box, vomiting a heavily layered, slowly changing wall of harsh noise into the soundsystem (pre-recorded or self-generating? who knows?). It was like the ultimate materialization of minimal, brutal noise, stripped of everything. Pure genius. Germany’s Sardh on the other hand had five members, many instruments and a lot more old-fashioned, but equally interesting approach to industrial, that even included some good, old pounding on metal plates.
And back to DAF, one of the festival headliners: it was interesting to see them again (I saw them once about 10 years ago at WGT) and it was damn good to hear those good old classics, like Alle Gegen Alle, Der Mussolini and especially the amazing Verschwende Deine Jugend, but just as back then, it offered nothing more, really. They were revolutionary once, but nowadays all they do is revisiting those times, which is nice, but still a bit disappointing. The other headline act and also the biggest name of the festival was Psychic TV, that’s been around for decades as well, but unlike many acts as old as them, they kept on changing and evolving (well, of course, the constantly changing line up also played a big part in this as well, but still…) and they still do to this day with their current incarnation, with music deeply rooted in 70’s psychedelic rock. They mostly played tracks from the last few years, but of course also dug up a couple of songs from the vast PTV archives. The oldies were interestingly all chosen from the most charming, lovely little songs they’ve ever made, including Stolen Kisses, Just Drifting and the ever amazing Just Like Arcadia and these presented a very nice and interesting contrast with the heavy, trippy psychedelia of some of the more recent tracks. And speaking of contrast: it was just amazing the see hundreds of black clad industrial fans singing along Stolen Kisses Fa Fa Fafafa… and that also kind of summed up what made this festival so great in general: the diversity and the open-mindedness of its audience, that enjoyed all the shows, no matter if it was noise, ambient, power electronics or neo folk. Or maybe the excellent, dark mixture of minimal synth music and krautrock, presented by Spain’s Mueran Humanos on the first day or the more classical dark / goth rock of Italy’s Ash Code, that closed the festival. So, all in all, WIF 2016 was really a prefect summary of what industrial is all about nowadays and the organizers did an exceptional job in putting together the line up.
Will To Power: Electronics II @ 2016.06.17.-18., 7er Club, Mannheim
Will To Power: Electronics 2 was a two day mini-festival, which represented every aspect of the power electronics and industrial scene, from the harshest, noisiest acts thru the more dark ambientish ones to the back-to-basic ritual industrial of Japan’s GRIM. The double performance from the later was clearly the highlight of the event, but the rest of the acts were also truly great, so thanks a million to the people behind Tesco Organisation, who put it all together! By the way, the festival took place in Mannheim, the headquarter of Tesco, in the 7er Club, which turned out to be a perfect place for this event with great lights and most importantly, amazing sound quality… you could clearly hear even the most distorted, trembling, earth shattering basslines.
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.)