Dub, industrial hip hop, dancehall, dubstep…these are only a few of the music genres British musician Kevin Martin has dabbled in. Therefore fittingly, he has been chosen to curate Le Guess Who? festival with an eclectic array of musicians under his banner. From the dub stylings of Jah Shaka Sound System to the peculiar electronic free jazz of LOTTO: there seems to be something for everyone. But The Bug’s choices on the opening Thursday of Le Guess Who? are perhaps the most out of left field, perhaps even anomalous in nature. He may have Swedish based electronic artist Kali Malone early on as well as his own collaboration as ZONAL feat. Moor Mother & Nazamba later in the evening. Yet, the Thursday also enjoys a curious trio of heavy bands, namely the industrial groovemachine Godflesh, father of drone Dylan Carlson with his band Earth and the screechy guitar wizardry of Caspar Brötzmann Massaker. But upon closer inspection the inclusion of these more guitar driven bands is nowhere near as odd as it initially seems. The Bug is highly prolific and diverse when it comes to collaborations, releasing a joint album called Concrete Dessert with Earth, while Justin Broadrick (Godflesh) is the second half of ZONAL. So, we happily dove in for a highly interesting evening of heavy grooves and psychedelic atmospheres with Godflesh, Earth and Caspar Brötzmann Massaker.
Text: Merijn Siben / Photography: Erik Luyten & Tim van Veen
CASPAR BRÖTZMANN MASSAKAR
The spacious Ronda in TivoliVredenburg quickly proves to be the Thurday stage for all thing guitar related. And starting off with Caspar Brötzmann Massaker is already intense, which will only build more and more. Brötzmann himself is a Wuppertal guitar player, inspired by rock and heavy metal music. Without a backdrop and minimal lighting, there is a suitably stoic stage presentation, with the music itself the main attraction. This power trio creates an experimental form of rock, enveloped by screeching guitartones, thundering drums and Brötzmanns’ goth-like wails. The way they vary from almost doom-like rhythms and riffs to ritualistic barrages of noise is at times quite masterfully intertwined. However, this early in the day, the band tends to lose the audience attention for a bit, especially when ending in a tidal wave of noise. Nevertheless, this powertrio has proven themselves to be a wonderfully intense addition this Thursday.
The beginning visual of a silhouetted Jesus on the cross, in between industrial pipes spouting fire, is a fitting introduction for Godflesh. Since the late 1980s’ the industrial metal stalwarts from England have proven themselves to be one of the most influential bands in this particular subgenre. At first glance the music may seem decidedly minimalist and simple, but there is a certain charm to the heavy guitar riffs of Justin Broadrick, the sludgy bassdrones of G.C. Green and a drum computer that provides head-bashing beats. Simply put: Godflesh creates an impressive wall of sound, that slowly but surely manages to suck the listener in, thanks to blistering grooves and the soul-piercing bark of Justin Broadrick. It is a visceral attack on the senses, one that you’ll either love or hate, depending on the mood. Although not every song in the set carries the same weight, overall Godflesh prove to be a sonic punch to the face tonight.
Being a band that influenced the likes of Sunn O))) and many other drone/doom bands is no small feat, but Earth rightfully made an impact in the early nineties. As father of drone Dylan Carlson said in the interview with NMTH-writer Guido Segers though, is that he does not want to stick to one sound or make an Earth 2. And Earth is all the better for it, with a handful of impressive albums containing various sonic colors, from psychrock to doom, stoner to drone. Beginning with Cats On the Briar, the shows set consisting of five songs turns out te be a rewarding slowburner. Second song The Colour of Poison has a nice, sharp, riff-oriented edge, with almost reserved yet meticulous drumpatterns courtesy of Adrienne Davies, playing as if the drums can fall apart at the slightest bump. In between songs Carlson thanks the audience for coming, and behind his status as a pioneer, he seems to possess a certain humbleness. Furthermore, the Ronda provides him and the rest of the band with perfect acoustics, synchronized with Earth’s brand of guitar-driven music. Closing of with A Wretched Country of Dusk, Earth has made a show that was quietly riveting and hypnotizing for anyone who stayed.
So all in all, with Earth still rumbling around the confines of the mind, it is without a doubt that The Bug knows his stuff. And as we stand there watching dubduo ZONAL with Nazamba, we can only wonder what the next few days will bring. Nevertheless, we couldn’t wish for a better kick-off than this at Le Guess Who 2019.