ROAD­BURN FES­TI­VAL

VENUE VAR­I­OUS VENUES, TILBURG, THE NETHER­LANDS DATE 19-22/04/2018

Prog - - Take A Bow - Han­naH May Kil­roy

Road­burn Fes­ti­val is known for its sheer vol­ume of mu­si­cal va­ri­ety. Across a number of venues in Tilburg over four days, there’s ev­ery­thing from in­tense metal to out-there prog. It also fre­quently show­cases mu­si­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions, from Damo Suzuki jam­ming with Earth­less (more on that later) to a bunch of Ice­landic black metal bands play­ing mu­sic they wrote es­pe­cially for the fes­ti­val.

Cult Of Luna and Julie Christ­mas have col­lab­o­rated be­fore, on their spacey post-rock 2016 al­bum Mariner, and tonight they play the al­bum in full for one last time on the main stage. Christ­mas’ vo­cals are rem­i­nis­cent of Björk at times, and the al­bum has an apoc­a­lyp­tic, al­most sci-fi vibe that’s made all the more mes­meris­ing as the band ap­pear sil­hou­et­ted on­stage by the strob­ing lights and bursts of smoke, with Christ­mas danc­ing and shak­ing like a woman pos­sessed.

Mo­torpsy­cho are one of the bands on the bill cho­sen by the fes­ti­val cu­ra­tor, Con­verge front­man Ja­cob Ban­non. The Nor­we­gians’ ex­pan­sive blend of pro­gres­sive psych and ex­per­i­men­tal heav­i­ness takes up two hours on the main stage on Fri­day, but the length doesn’t de­ter the masses. Against a trippy back­drop of swirling im­agery, the band play a set that’s burst­ing with hyp­notic gui­tar riffs and which per­fectly spans their ca­reer, from 1997’s Un Chien D’Espace to the ti­tle track from their new al­bum The Tower which closes the set to the au­di­ence’s de­light.

The Green Room that plays host to Fin­nish quar­tet Ka­iron; IRSE! may be small, but the band’s sound is any­thing but. They take us on a jour­ney that en­com­passes psy­che­delic prog, shoegaze, pas­toral in­ter­ludes and jazzy ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, with var­ied vo­cals that even el­e­vate to falsetto lev­els. Vis­ually, they’re en­tirely lost in the mu­sic, shak­ing their dreads against a back­drop that fea­tures a stoned­look­ing, blink­ing car­toon frog.

Road­burn Fes­ti­val this year boasts a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion of Ja­panese psychedelia, and as part of this, Can leg­end Damo Suzuki plays two spe­cial sets, first with Earth­less at the new venue Koe­pel­hal on Fri­day, and again with fel­low Ja­panese mu­si­cians Mi­nami Deutsch on Satur­day in the Green Room. Both are en­tirely im­pro­vised, full of drawn-out jams. Earth­less’ set is more heavy psych and Mi­nami Deutsch more neo-Krautrock. With Suzuki at the helm both times, wav­ing his arms as if in a trance and lost in the cre­ativ­ity that’s puls­ing around him, both cap­ture the spirit of Road­burn.

Hugsjá is another mu­si­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion, this time fea­tur­ing En­slaved’s Ivar Bjørn­son and Wardruna’s Ei­nar Selvik. It merges Norse his­tory with grandiose mu­sic that’s both con­tem­po­rary and prim­i­tive – some of their in­stru­ments even date back as far as the Stone Age. It’s richly cin­e­matic and mov­ing, but also a full-on cultural ex­pe­ri­ence, with Selvik ex­plain­ing the con­cepts and sto­ries be­hind the songs.

Dressed in a bil­lowy bright red dress, Zola Je­sus, aka Nika Roza Danilova, is an ex­pres­sive per­former, danc­ing across the stage with in­ten­sity and en­slav­ing the au­di­ence with her rich vo­cals and unique mu­si­cal blend of elec­tron­ica, gothy prog and clas­si­cal. There’s no vis­ual back­drop to her set in Koe­pel­hal, but as such a cap­ti­vat­ing artist, she doesn’t need one.

Godspeed You! Black Em­peror play two sets over the course of the week­end, open­ing both per­for­mances with the darkly at­mo­spheric Hope Drone. Godspeed have al­ways been about dy­nam­ics and crescen­dos – rid­ing the wave be­tween beauty and extremity, pum­melling heav­i­ness and sweep­ing melody, some­times swerv­ing into psy­che­delic pas­tures.

Be­hind them, images of des­o­late, ur­ban land­scapes pro­vide a bleak yet en­tranc­ing back­drop. The packed main room re­mains en­thralled dur­ing both of their ex­pan­sive sets, as Godspeed pro­vide a cathar­tic end to what has been a be­witch­ing week­end of avant-garde mu­sic.

“GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EM­PEROR RIDE THE WAVE BE­TWEEN BEAUTY AND EXTREMITY.”

DREAM TEAM: CULT OF LUNA WITH JULIE CHRIST­MAS. TIME TRAV­ELLER: HUGSJÁ’S EI­NAR SELVIK ON A TRIP THROUGH NORSE HIS­TORY.

LADY IN RED: ZOLA JE­SUS BEWITCHES THE AU­DI­ENCE.

MO­TORPSY­CHO’S HANS MAGNUS ‘SNAH’ RYAN.

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK THE EM­PEROR: EN­TRANC­ING AU­DI­ENCE WITH TWO SETS.

CAN DO: DAMO SUZUKI GOES IMPROV.

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