What We Missed Out On

Online is where our voyage of discovery has taken us

One of the best things about working in music is that you can spend several nights a week watching live music and get away with calling it work. Or at least, that used to be the case. It’s been just about 14 months now since I last attended a live show. An unused ticket to Sleater Kinney still sits on my desk – a show I passed up, ironically, because I was too busy working on Roadburn in the run up to what should have been the 2020 edition.

I look back at the shows I used to attend, the shows I used to take for granted, and I can barely imagine being back there. Aside from the close proximity to people, the sensory overload feels like it might just be too much to bear – for a while at least. For me, the day that I am back in the Soup Kitchen in Manchester – and it doesn’t feel weird – will be a day worth celebrating. No doubt it would be the same for Walter, in dB’s in Utrecht. No doubt it will be the same for you, in whatever your local small venue is.

But shows in tiny bars, gigs in beautiful rooms, concerts in huge venues – that’s where so much inspiration comes from, for Roadburn and beyond. And without live music, we’ve had to turn to other means to seek out new bands. The internet, I mean the internet: online is where our voyage of discovery has taken us. To a place where bands may only exist in 2D but they are still capable of creating a technicolour, all consuming experience.

Whilst we always like to think we have our ear to the ground when it comes to new music, there’s no doubt we’ve had to strain a little harder to hear what’s good these last twelve months or so. We miss being able to see bands in their natural habitat, in full bloom; that’s how you can so often get the true measure of a band. But in lieu of that, we’ve done our best to keep up in an all-digital world and have pulled together a few recommendations of bands we think you may like, and might even give you cause to will along the return of normality just a little bit harder.

Becky

KNOLL:

Knoll was brought to my attention by Becky – and I knew they’d be a great fit for Roadburn Redux, but more than that, I knew they’d be a great live band to see (when circumstances allow). They’ve infused grindcore with death metal in a way that’s intense beyond measure. If the company someone keeps is a sign of their character then it may be helpful to know that their debut album, Interstice, was mixed by Kurt Ballou, and the album artwork handled by Ethan Lee McCarthy. Worth checking out.

Walter

SURUT:

We’ve always got our eye on Finland! They churn out stellar bands at a rate of knotts like it’s no big deal. I’ve not seen Surut in magazines yet, and – obviously – I’ve not seen them live, so I can only assume they’re still Finland’s best kept secret. They’re working on a debut full length, but for now, there’s a self titled EP and I definitely recommend giving over half an hour of your time to check them out if you like anything vaguely post-hardcore-ish.

Becky

SLIFT:

To keep things psychedelic and noisy, France’s Slift has also put out one of the most exhilarating and hypnotic albums of last year. With the sprawling Ummon under their belt, the band is reshaping space rock into a futuristic whatnot, and were poised to blow many a club or festival to cosmic shreds – COVID-19 had other plans, unfortunately. Let’s keep our highs up for Slift to conquer the galaxy as soon as possible. They are the future of heavy psych!

Walter

DIVIDE AND DISSOLVE

Featured a few times on our Roadburn playlist, and championed in both mainstream alternative and metal publications alike, Divide and Dissolve may seem like an unusual inclusion – they’re not much of a secret. There’s no doubt that this band rules on record, but something tells me that their live performance would be just as distinctive and evocative. I hope they make it round to this side of the globe sooner rather than later; I personally firmly believe they belong on a Roadburn stage, but at this point, I’d be thrilled to welcome them to my back garden if only to see them play live.

Becky

ACID ROOSTER:

Flying their freak flag for many moons, Germany’s Acid Rooster only released their much acclaimed S/T debut last year, and not to exaggerate — it’s one of the best contemporary psych records around. Unfortunately, they were halted in their tracks like everyone else, and they’re one more reason we can’t wait for the world to open up. Acid Rooster need to catapult us into orbit in a maelstrom of psychedelic flavors, whether it’s blistering guitar pyrotechnics or the downtempo check-ins with your consciousness, generated on stage and in front of a live audience.

Walter

SUNROT:

This is not a new band, but this is a great band – and one that’s been on my radar for a while. However, whilst lockdown has been stifling for some, it has turned Sunrot into a prolific hit machine… if you consider a 13 minute guided meditation a hit. Which I do. There’s something inspiring and invigorating about a band who forge a path towards doing exactly what they want to do, exactly how they want to do it. It’s why we jumped at the chance to premiere a track of theirs this weekend, and it’s why they appear on this list – keep your eye on them.

Becky

POLYMOON:

Embracing the weird and the wonderful, Polymoon proved that Tampere (FIN) is still a hotbed of creativity with the release of Caterpillars of Creation, easily one of the best psych albums of 2020. Their prog psych explosion in technicolour also took Roadburn Redux into hyperspace, and we can’t wait for Polymoon to take us further down the rabbit hole… uh… down the road.

Walter

KARENIA BREVIS:

With influences that tick many of my boxes (think Broadcast, Emily Haines, Grouper), and the associated pedigree of their work with Thou, this release from KC Stafford under the moniker Karenia Brevis is one to keep your ear on. The release is an ethereal beauty and a ‘celebration of the feminine divine’. There’s no physical release (yet) and not much out there on social media, so if this one does make it out into the spotlight, maybe you can say you heard about it here first.

Becky


Interview: Mizmor 'Wit's End'

"I hope that there’s some food for thought in the words that can be immediately discerned and that it will speak to the moment for some people and maybe help others feel a little relief over similar frustrations that they have."

If there’s one writer that can get the best out of their interviewee it’s Cody F. Davis. We knew that there would be no-one better to dive into the brand new Mizmor track that we’re premiering later this weekend. It’s a long read, because that’s what Cody does best, and Mizmor’s A.L.N. has a lot to tell… so grab yourself a cuppa (or something stronger, we don’t judge) and immerse yourself in the inner workings of Wit’s End.

The world has greatly changed since the last time you and I spoke about your music. How has creating and crafting Mizmor’s music changed in isolation compared to when you were writing and recording Cairn?

A.L.N.: “That’s a good question. One thing that’s changed is I have collaborated with another artist. Andrew Black and I released a record called Dialetheia in November that was done through file-sharing, which was a whole new process for me – both the collaboration aspect in general, and recording and writing an album while apart.

“I’ve done that and I kind of have some sketches with another collaborator doing the same thing right now. I’ve also done more of my traditional style where I’ve just done everything myself. Being isolated at the house isn’t too different from what I was already doing. This piece, Wit’s End, is a piece that I’ve also made during this time just at home by myself.

“But I have been influenced thematically by the pandemic and people’s reaction to it. That has been a thought-provoking thing for me to reflect on. It’s been inspiring, I suppose.”

It gives you some different source material to work from in addition to the collaboration that you’ve done with Andrew already. How does either the collaboration with Andrew and what you’re working on presently, as well as your response to the pandemic, influence this new track Wit’s End.

A.L.N.: “Wit’s End is conceptual but not quite as singularly focused as Cairn was. There are a few things worked into it. But as far as the pandemic’s influence on it, I’ve been inspired by—I mean, it’s the pandemic but it’s also just kind of society at large right now and where we’re headed as a people. I’ve been inspired by, at large, how eager and willing the masses are to embrace misinformation, disinformation, cultism, conspiracy theories, and religiosity.

“A sense of there being a vetting process for determining facts—what is true and false—has completely split in two. I feel like everyone around me is at wit’s end in this sense. There’s no reason anymore in people’s brains and how or what they determine to be true. Just seeing how, at least in America, everyone has reacted to the pandemic, has kind of got me scratching my head.”

Very much so. Seeing how the last year is really unfolded has been very eye-opening, to say the least. It really is quite interesting to see, like you mentioned, how people are latching onto whatever truth they want to manifest.

How do these observations and your vision of what’s going on with pandemic apply to the Fermi Paradox and this idea of The Great Filter, which you also have mentioned is a source for Wit’s End?

A.L.N.: “They both, to me, relate to consciousness, which is kind of the broad theme of what the song is about. It essentially states with what we know about life and processes through the science of the Earth and the universe, the galaxies should be populated, and life should be everywhere.

“There’s a rift between that and there being any substantial evidence that we have already made contact with alien life. I know lots of people believe that we have, but canonically speaking in terms of good, solid evidence, we need to explain why we haven’t already come into contact with extraterrestrials since life should be everywhere.

“The Great Filter is the answer to that paradox. It says, ‘if what’s happening on this planet is happening everywhere in the universe, then something in that process must be difficult.

“Whether that’s abiogenesis—the initial formation of life—or the evolution of that life into a more complex, multicellular life then on to conscious, intelligent beings, and then having enough resources to make it off the planet to another planet. There’s a list of processes that would happen for that to take place and people theorize as to what is the unlikely thing.

“My own take on it, in sort of the science-fiction sense, is I think The Great Filter is consciousness. Not that it is hard for beings to become aware and conscious, but that consciousness has certain self-destructive inherent properties to it that would essentially cause the life-form to self-destruct due to their self-interest before ever being able to make it off the planet.

“That is definitely the biggest inspiration for Wit’s End. Consciousness is not some ethereal, eternal, metaphysical, or otherwise special and unique property. It’s ultimately just a product of physics and biochemistry and it will, like everything else, unravel one day as the universe continues to expand and comes to an end way, way, way, way far in the future.

“It’s kind of a reaction to so many religions and worldviews really having this grandiose idea of mankind and the spirit and the soul and that kind of language. I just think none of that stuff is real at all.

“I don’t know that it directly relates to what we were talking about before, but I see some crossover with where we’re headed as a people and where our own consciousness has got us and how it seems like we would rather believe in things that make us feel good than things that are true. We would rather reject the evidence of climate change for example, and we’re probably headed to a place where our planet can’t sustain us anymore and that would be our fault. That’s what could be the pattern for intelligent conscious life elsewhere in the universe.”

You mentioned climate change, and you can even look at it on an individual level with some of the ways people are handling the pandemic. There’s this almost grandiose view, this self-exception to the world around them. They think, “Oh, this doesn’t apply to me…”

But I think a lot of people do forget we are ultimately matter – we’re mass. We’re subjected to entropy and the laws of thermodynamics. With the pandemic and seeing this acceptance of false information or occultism or religion, do you think it’s a product of people grappling with mortality, or are we seeing people’s distinct lack of rationality in full frame because of this?

A.L.N.: “It’s hard to say. I think at a base level, if we look back in time, superstition starts with people grappling with mortality. That’s a huge part of it, but for this moment in time, I think that the internet and social media have really accelerated this problem of, ‘I see something and it’s automatically true. It fits with my narrative in my echo chamber, and I want it to be true. I choose to believe it.

“We’re all living in a fractured reality in that sense. It’s really disappointing to see the scientific method and such a thing as facts become a matter of opinion or subjectivity. I think it’s probably always been there under the surface, but it seems to be really exacerbated by how immediately connected we all are with sharing our ideas. I just see us as getting a lot stupider, for lack of a better word, with technology and all of these ideas at our fingertips.

“If you’re already a person that is religious or involved in a cult or just has that frame of mind that would put you in one of those groups already—a faith-based person—then they sky’s the limit of what you’ll believe.”

That’s a great point. Systems like religions and cults already have a distinct lack of emphasis on solid research and strong evidence so all it takes is a cousin on Facebook or their pastor at church to say, “COVID is the work of Satan or people in Asia…”

This can kind of tie back into the Fermi Paradox as well, right? There is a distinct lack of evidence for extraterrestrial beings as it pertains to the Fermi Paradox. It mirrors the lack of evidence as it pertains to other things despite people’s willful claims for other beliefs. Is this the kind of connection that you’re trying to make with these two ideas?

A.L.N.: “Kind of. There’s definitely a parallel there. I think more the connection is that I see people’s inability to use basic reason and logic and value strong evidence as being something that’s going to help us self-destruct faster.

“It starts with consciousness which seems inherently self-interested. We come online and become aware of this user interface that is ultimately a survival machine, then we become cognizant of it all and it seems to go in this direction to aid us in our own survival. As it continues on, we get more memes stuffed in our brain, develop language, and more intelligence and technology. Instead of us coming to a more enlightened position about our place in the country, the Earth, and the cosmos, it seems to bring us to the opposite—into a more fractured xenophobic tribalistic superstitious place.

“I don’t know if there’s any real link there. It’s kind of science-fictiony, but it’s just my reflection on where we’re headed.

“I think it’s probably not hard for life to start on a planet and if there were something to be getting in the way of making contact with life on another planet, it would just be ourselves. Which I relate to consciousness. Whether it’s because there’s a lack of resources because we mined them all for ourselves or whether it’s us killing each other in a war, there just seems to be something self-destructive about where consciousness goes.”

Shifting to the track itself and keeping in mind that idea of consciousness, Wit’s End opens with a spoken-word sample over some clean guitar chords. It encapsulates the message that you’re delivering with this song. Where does the sample at the beginning of the track come from, and how do you think it bolsters the impact of Wit’s End?

A.L.N.: “Well, the sample is actually me. I tried really hard to produce it in such a way that it sounded like a sample. I feel like the spoken part is really speaking to my frustration of watching people’s reaction to the pandemic and embracing conspiracy theories; having myself come from the greater part of a 10 year journey away from that kind of mindset to a place that values science, reason, and evidence that is ultimately atheistic.

“It’s been such a long journey that I finally got to the other side of, and then I look around and a large part of the population is totally going in the other direction. Maybe this is just a little setback on the otherwise upward trajectory of our morality as a species. But right now, it’s just really upsetting that so many other people don’t share these values that I’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

“o, that first part is just kind of my emotional reaction to people and faith. The second part, the heavier part with all the screaming, those lyrics are more about the cosmic stuff.”

What were your goals to marry your thematic ideas to your arrangements? What were you hoping to encapsulate with the musical side of it?

A.L.N.: “It’s kind of multifaceted with the Wit’s End theme. In one sense, it’s about consciousness cosmically coming to an end. In another sense, it’s about the masses becoming stupider and stupider, and in a third sense, it’s about me reacting to the masses and myself not being able to comprehend what’s going on.

“That third thing is where I’m emotionally writing from—me being at wit’s end. Watching people have no reason and logic anymore all in this system that eventually will come to nothingness anyway. It’s kind of three layers of wits ending. I just felt this depressing weight of the world and people’s reaction to, say, the pandemic, but really that’s just a catalyst for some of this stuff.

“I just feel so exasperated, exhausted, and disappointed by where we’re at as a country and a planet. Musically, the first part with the clean guitars and the spoken word is building tension. The heavy part is just releasing those negative emotions.”

So how does Wit’s End fit into the trajectory of Mizmor? You’ve previously mentioned following Cairn, new music subject matter may begin to take a different approach than it has historically. Is this a turning point for where you’re going to take some of your music going forward?

A.L.N.: “I think so. I think a big difference between Wit’s End and Cairn is that although I’m still writing from my perspective and reflecting on things and feeling emotional, I’m not writing about myself right now and my experience which is what Mizmor has been about up until this point. My emotions and thoughts as I struggle with my worldview and ideology changing. I said that to you in that interview about Cairn because I thought that album had a lot of finality to it, and I felt a lot of healing. I came to this place where I didn’t really need to explore that anymore.

“So now what I’m finding, thinking about, and feeling about are bigger issues. Writing about things that affect all of humanity—it’s still kind of centered around religion and I doubt that I’ll ever fully escape that—but it’s not this “me, me, me” thing anymore. Now, I’m just reflecting on what seems like bigger things that still affect me and inspire me, but I don’t really have the personal work to do anymore that I was previously expressing on those other albums.

“Another thing is the collaboration with Andrew, Dialetheia, even though that didn’t have lyrics, we still conceptualised on what it was about with each other. That was also kind of about consciousness and reacting to the pandemic, feeling really nostalgic and sad. I think I’m kind of a little bit fascinated by consciousness and that could also be a topic that I continue to explore.”

For Cairn, you referenced Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus a lot. Is there any reading or material that you’ve been looking into that’s directed towards consciousness?

A.L.N.: “Yeah, definitely. Nothing that directly inspired the music like with Cairn, but I read this book called Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett. That book was from the 90s. He’s a philosopher, but he draws heavily on science—physics, chemistry, biology, the whole thing. It sets out to explain the phenomenon of consciousness from a materialist point of view and dispel the myth of the Cartesian theater—the ghost in the machine, the sort of leftover idea of the soul or the immaterial self that sits inside your head and thinks your thoughts and feels your emotions. That’s all really an illusion.

“So, I read a few books like that. There is another one he wrote called From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. Waking Up by Sam Harris is a very good book that is about consciousness and also mainly about meditation.”

What are you hoping listeners and attendees of Roadburn Redux will take away from Wit’s End?

A.L.N.: “I’m hoping that honestly they just think it’s heavy. The spoken lyrics in the first part are more intelligible than the screaming typically is for people. So, I hope that there’s some food for thought in the words that can be immediately discerned and that it will speak to the moment for some people and maybe help others feel a little relief over similar frustrations that they have.”

Is there anyone or any performance that you’re looking forward to during Roadburn? Anything on your radar?

A.L.N.: “Yeah, I’ve seen that Primitive Man is also premiering some new music and I’m really looking forward to hearing that. I’ll probably watch a handful of things but I myself and not huge into the live set livestream which is why I’m doing this approach myself. So, I’m definitely excited to see the Primitive Man premiere and I think that’ll be fun to hear.”

Down below are the raw ideas that would become the lyrics of the song, scrawled over the course of a few months whilst inspiration was brewing.


Interview: Die Wilde Jagd

"Both performances – the Haut album show and the commission piece Atem – will be complete premieres, for the audience but also for myself."

Arguably the modern era’s most potent purveyor of Krautrock and its attendant sub-strains, producer and songwriter Sebastian Lee Philip has struck sonic gold with Die Wilde Jagd. Using a host of willing collaborators to travel as far as possible into the modern psych firmament, the band’s 2020 album Haut is a flat-out modern masterpiece, and the perfect transportive antidote to the past year’s real world ugliness. At Roadburn Redux, Sebastian and his fellow psychedelic companions will once again be in pursuit of that exhilarating higher plane of musical enlightenment.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

“I feel that I’ve been fairly lucky in the sense that I always had my studio, my gear and ideas to retreat to. While I did miss the touring and traveling that was supposed to take place after the release of Haut in April 2020, I was still able to create new music and focus on producing and mixing other artists in my Berlin-based studio. Besides working on music, I also got more into video work, developing an audio-visual piece called Haut Ontogenesis for the Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin. At the end of 2020, I received the exciting invitation to write a commission piece for this upcoming Roadburn Redux edition. I have since dedicated my time to evolving and rehearsing it with my musicians. This has kept me motivated through the winter. I love developing ideas from scratch, getting lost in that universe of forming thoughts.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance?

“Both performances – the Haut album show and the commission piece Atem – will be complete premieres, for the audience but also for myself. For the first time since playing live with the project, I’m including a third musician on stage: besides my drummer Ran Levari, Lih Qun Wong will be playing the cello and singing vocal parts. The songs from Haut have never been played live before, in fact there are certain songs on the album I had not planned to ever play live. But when Roadburn asked me if I’d be up for performing the album in full, I couldn’t resist the challenge.
“For the commission piece Atem, I decided to use the opportunity to apply different creative approaches in terms of instrumentation and composition techniques. The word Atem in German means breath. Breath is something I have been thinking about a lot in the past year. Hearing people talk about the popular ‘Wim Hof breathing method’ led me down a path of research about the science of breathing, our metabolism, physical and mental health and also the spiritual side of it. I started to link pace, dynamics, fluctuations, rhythm, and the transcendental properties of breathing to musical elements that I am always interested in exploring in my productions. In the Atem composition, I want to create musical connections between the different ‘layers’ of breath: the one that transcends time and space, the one our metabolic system uses in order to create existence and consciousness, and the layer of the actual manifestation of that existence – the self, the ego, life and experiences. To me, the piece is at the core a celebration of life and the wonders – some explained, many not – that make it happen.”

What does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“Believe it or not, I had not heard of Roadburn before being invited to play the festival in 2020. When I mentioned the festival to some of my friends, they were in absolute awe about the fact I was going to play there, claiming It was one of their favourite yearly music events. When I checked the previous editions, I noticed that many artists I love had played there: Boris, Diamanda Galás, Psychic TV, Michael Rother, Killing Joke, Swans, Earth. It’s an honour to be joining this impressive list. I love the fact that Roadburn has a very distinctive identity and is yet very open to sounds and artists from different genres. There is this core common ground, but still a diverse and fresh mix of styles. I developed a friendly bond with Walter Hoeijmakers in the course of the production of the commission piece, and I have a lot of respect for the decision to go ahead with this year’s edition of the festival, considering all the challenges and difficulties that come with organising a festival during the pandemic.”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“My main hope is that everyone stays sane and keeps striving for a good life that respects their own personal development and that of the world around them. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to realise what one actually wants in this life – it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of suggested dreams that result in anxiousness and a seemingly healing remedy in meaningless entertainment and consumerism. I think that more than ever it’s important to feel the urge to learn, to discover, to change, to progress… and to breathe.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“Just the whole experience of playing a show… driving there, carrying stuff, playing, meeting other people and checking out the other artists is something I’m really looking forward to experiencing again. My mother is Dutch and I spent a large part of my youth in Holland – it’ll be great to be back again, speak the language, and enjoy the Roadburn vibes to the fullest.”

Die Wilde Jagd will perform Atem on Friday 16 April and Haut in full (Saturday 17 April) as part of Roadburn Redux.


Interview: Primitive Man

"I exist in spite of everything that's going on. I create in spite of everything that's going on."

Ethan Lee McCarthy is the musical embodiment of sheer force of will. The Primitive Man frontman and sole force behind Many Blessings, McCarthy has spent his entire musical career creating unrelenting, abrasive art and, at this point, he makes no bones it.

In their near-decade as a band, Primitive Man have consistently pushed the boundary of heaviness in extreme music. On 2017’s Caustic, the trio created a sonic boulder that they rolled over the listener at will; underneath walls of feedback is a constant push-pull dynamic, moving the mass just before it becomes overwhelming or one-sided. Primitive Man replicated that feat on last year’s Immersion, delving further into the science of crafting heavy music while also cutting down on album runtime, delivering the same demoralising music in a more compact form.

Many Blessings represents the more experimental side of McCarthy’s musical output, using noise as the baseline for his releases, which vary from harsh and static-ridden (Trauma Artistry) to cinematic and slow burning (Emanation Body). There are similarities to Primitive Man beyond simply noise roots, namely the ebb and flow of the soundscapes, but the two projects stand independently.

Despite the 2021 edition of Roadburn being the least orthodox incarnation of the festival’s 22-year existence, the circumstances didn’t change anything for McCarthy in terms of songwriting or presentation.

“I’m always going to strive to try to do what I want, no matter what the circumstances,” says McCarthy, who has used the situation as an extended break from touring. “I know a lot of people felt demoralised and wanted to give up during this time, and I understand those feelings and I have felt those things, but you just can’t. Because it’s going to end some day and if I were to stop doing the things that I was doing, what a fucking waste of time.”

In the same way, the pandemic and its related quarantine haven’t made their way directly into the songs that Primitive Man and Many Blessings performed for Roadburn, McCarthy says.
“It’s just present there because that’s the time period that the songs and ideas were made,” he elaborates. “It’s the time period that these problems that I’m speaking on were happening, but it’s really a backseat topic to the rest.”

He acknowledges that performing at Roadburn is a prestigious invitation, but there is zero compromise in McCarthy’s vision. Primitive Man will again be one of the festival’s heaviest bands and they plan to deliver nothing less than expected: a set that is both deafeningly heavy and thoughtfully executed.

Whether it’s best defined as stubbornness or insanity, that uncompromising drive defines both acts debuting new music at Roadburn Redux.

“I exist in spite of everything that’s going on,” McCarthy reflects. “I create in spite of everything that’s going on.”

Vince Bellino


Interview: Neptunian Maximalism

"For us it is extraordinary! I always dreamt of going to Roadburn, but every time my studies or my job made it impossible."

At Roadburn, there is seldom a shortage of music that defies description, but Neptunian Maximalism exist in a sonic realm several steps beyond that. Last year’s extraordinary Éons album invited listeners into an entirely alien and exhilarating new world of sound, where ancient and ritual percussions and atmospherics collide with a densely lysergic strain of avant-garde doom, scorched-earth free jazz and an irresistible fog of tweaked-out spirituality. Unleashed on a stage, the possibilities for this utterly unique and amorphous ensemble are limitless. The BelgiansRoadburn Redux set is guaranteed to be a life-changer.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

“Well, initially there was no real plan because the release of our album Éons was already planned before the lockdown. In addition to the many cancelled dates for some rather unique shows, we focused our energy on the idea of ​​doing more studio work. But it was definitely complicated, because some of our members are already in their 60s and must be careful! So we decided to take a break until Walter offered to let us play at Roadburn. We then spent three months working hard to prepare a new set. In the meantime, we are trying out recording sessions with different members. Basically, we split the entire orchestra to generate sub-groups and develop future songs as well. Otherwise, the pandemic gives me the time to go into more depth in the practice and theory of Indian music, which will strongly feed the rest, but with subtlety.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance? And what does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“For us it is extraordinary! I always dreamt of going to Roadburn, but every time my studies or my job made it impossible. For us it is an immense honour and a real recognition, which is heartwarming. We took this chance and pushed our limits to offer something live that technically we were not yet capable of. In Neptunian Maximalism, there are members still in their 20s, some very young practitioners of their instruments, up to members in their 60s whose instrumental practice is mastered, and its language developed. In three months, it’s a titanic job for seven to nine members to work on more intense and complex rhythms, more dynamics, more changes. In addition to rehearsals, it was necessary to train certain members behind the scenes to assemble a global choir. But we remain dependent on our limits despite everything (for example, our rehearsals are currently again amputated because of the new restrictions while we are approaching full finalisation). What we do will therefore be the best we could do with what was given to us. It may not be perfect, but the work and the heart will be there! Improv will do the rest, as usual. Oh, and we will be releasing a new live album, Solar Drone Ceremony on vinyl and DVD via I, Voidhanger Records on the day of the show. If you want more after the Roadburn show, go on Bandcamp for a full stream!”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“Personally, having never been there, I rely on YouTube videos and live albums on Bandcamp. I can easily say that I have listened to Bong’s three shows at Roadburn a good 50 times! I love to share Mysticum’s video with my friends when they think they’ve seen it all in terms of a completely crazy live show. I regret so much that I couldn’t attend the Sleep concert when they played Dopesmoker. And so many others…”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“We hope for nothing, because as I usually say, while hope withered, the action bloomed. So we act in the present. If there is a concert, we are up for it! If it’s cancelled, okay, we keep moving forward on something else. Clearly the idea is to prepare a new studio album, which will take us one year or more. We have a lot of line-up ideas, collabs, theory to put into practice, improv laboratory workshops to train other members in autonomy and personal language in improvised music, and our personal projects, of course.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“Unity for the group, to unite and strengthen our links, both human and artistic. Also, to help to be discovered, because some of us try to make a living from music, and what happens to us here helps a lot. And finally, to take up a perpetual challenge: the approach of the metal genre and doom through improvised music revealing the Anarchist character that occupies the minds of the members of the group and aims for each of us to achieve a certain freedom of artistic language, so that eventually there is the possibility of working and playing shows without direction. That may seem to be a Utopian ideal, but Anarchy has never hidden itself from its Utopian character: it asserts itself more as being a horizon line, a point of aim to be reached. This show will therefore be one of the many opportunities to show that regardless of age, level of practice, gender, origin, or musical influences, we can create together something that is intriguing and fascinating.”

Neptunian Maximalism will perform Set Chaos To The Heart of The Moon on Saturday 17 April at 1.00 CEST


Interview: Solar Temple

"We tried to push ourselves to musical horizons that we have touched or hinted at before, but now try to fully embrace and indeed give ourselves over to a deeper instinctual urge."

It takes a vision of some distinction to stand out amid an unerringly over-populated black metal scene. Gelderland (NL) iconoclasts Solar Temple made it look easy with their 2018 debut album, Fertile Descent: a kaleidoscopic, deep-dive grimoire with atmosphere, melody and a chewable sense of spectral dread, it defied extreme metal’s in-built conservatism and conjured a sonic world with no boundaries beyond an intuitive devotion to the dark. At Roadburn Redux, Solar Temple look destined to up the pitch-black, transcendental ante even further.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

“Adaptation is both extremely hard and tiring, as well as tedious and boring. Our society is somehow able to not deal with it at all in any serious capacity, not use it as some kind of call for behavioural change or solidarity, but simultaneously force us into a kind of unprecedented social control and have us place ultimate faith in what capitalism can do for the world. A proper discovery of what this time will do for culture as a whole will only become visible in the years to come. For us personally, not much has changed since we are pretty introverted in our creative endeavours anyway. All tours and festivals are cancelled of course, which is terrible for myriad reasons, but our personal creative vision does not have its roots in a live setting: the question of how our vision could be brought to a stage is a secondary priority. In this band’s case, it’s not even a question we would ask ourselves because we did not think we would perform under this moniker live, ever.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance?

“The performance will be a very interesting and unique setting. Anybody that has followed our projects throughout the years might be familiar with our long-time collaboration as a duo or part of a larger unit on a lot of records and projects. But for the first time ever we will translate this working relationship into a live setting. We tried to push ourselves to musical horizons that we have touched or hinted at before, but now try to fully embrace and indeed give ourselves over to a deeper instinctual urge. It would be a mistake to claim we have left our black metal roots behind, but rather that we will try to evoke a similar sense of mysticism by delving deeper into the experimental and primitive roots that the progenitors of the genre were big fans of as well.”

What does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“It’s pretty safe to state that Roadburn has meant a lot to anybody involved in heavy music in this part of the world, and especially the Netherlands. We are no exception. We have been so lucky to have played this festival a number of times before the pandemic and it has always been magical. The last live edition in 2019 we performed with several bands under the moniker Maalstroom, and it has been a great catalyst for a lot of creative energy and collaboration and friendship.”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“Boris playing Absolutego with Stephen O’Malley in 2018, David Tibet with Hypnopazuzu in 2017, and Yob playing Catharsis in 2012. Those shows were absolutely transcendental live experiences and could probably only happen at Roadburn in this exact state of mind.”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“Our hopes are that our world will finally realise its destructive path, and try to make amends for the cosmic demons it has unleashed, that are increasingly haunting every pore and sinew of our reality. But those hopes will inevitably be shattered by the crushing monotony of our current historical juncture. All we can actually hope is that there will indeed be any post-pandemic future.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“We will probably not be experiencing a lot because there is no possibility to see any other acts perform live, and before and after our own show we won’t have a lot of time to put on streams and sit back and relax to properly watch a performance. But we are very excited about Neptunian Maximalism and anything our friends of Dead Neanderthals have in store for us. Hopefully we are able to glimpse some of their brilliance through our new digitised reality.”

Solar Temple will perform The Great Star Above Provides as part of Roadburn Redux on Saturday 17 April at 17.00 CEST.


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Interview: Wolvennest

"Expect the unexpected’. Roadburn always brings weird surprises, joy and collaborations, and we are happy to be a little part of it."

One of Europe’s most enigmatic and adventurous bands, Wolvennest have already passed into Roadburn legend after a packed-out debut foray in 2017 and then an astonishing performance of debut album Void in 2019. This year, despite current circumstances, the Belgian mavericks are poised to bring their brand new album, the wild and immersive Temple, vividly to life. Steeped in the dark side of psychedelia and audibly driven by otherworldly insight and horrors unseen, Wolvennest are an irresistible bad trip made flesh.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

Corvus (guitar): “Adapted? As everybody, we deal with it, but I don’t see how musicians could totally adapt. You can use the free time to develop musical skills and go deeper into writing, mixing etc, but at the end, you put a point in your calendar with a live goal. That last part is not happening right now for 99% of musicians. So, you have to fight the ‘What’s the point?’ feeling we all have here and there. On a personal level, I went deeper into midi editing, how to record vocals correctly, how to create weirder sounds, that kind of thing. I surely learned a lot, but always with the goal that live music will be a real thing in the future. I don’t want every musician to turn into a YouTube shred warrior, there were plenty enough before the world stopped.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance?

“The Commission work is something special that includes aspects we would probably not do under the Wolvennest banner. It’s a little more violent and dark, I would say. We got several guests who were crazy enough to say, ‘Fuck yes, let’s do it!’ That gives us strength. And Temple will be fully performed, with Thousand Lost Civilizations bringing new visuals. I know they spent countless hours working on that. I’m curious to see the result, and by that I mean to feel the result while we will perform. They have total freedom and the best way to respect that is to discover it while playing.”

What does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“Expect the unexpected’. Roadburn always brings weird surprises, joy and collaborations, and we are happy to be a little part of it. On a human level, Roadburn was, is and will be a place where you just feel good. Shitloads of people are there to have fun, listen to good music and meet people from all around the world. You walk in the street, you have a chat, you laugh hard and then you realise you just missed a band you absolutely wanted to see. We all experienced that at Roadburn!”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“Mysticum, for sure: one of the best visual experiences when it comes to black metal. Cold, harsh, mechanic. It was a frenetic descent into madness, and a perfect performance from start to finish. I would also put on the top of my list Aluk Todolo and The Ruins Of Beverast [performing Exuvia], in a packed Green Room. You can experience those bands in a small venue with an aggressive vibe, but it’s another thing when they both benefit from a stellar sound.”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“Live shows mean freedom, and you can’t have that feeling with restriction, plain and simple. We’ll do the best we can to still offer something special here and there, but as everybody involved in live music, we are waiting. I don’t have faith in collective and individual intelligence, so I’m mentally prepared to wait for years before it becomes again what it used to be. We entered the data world, not only for health, but also for, for example, schools. What’s the next move? Covid should not be a Trojan horse. That scares me a lot. Is this all we are, data? My strongest hope is that the word ‘human’ will start to mean something positive again, not only for us, but for what’s around us as well. Concerning Wolvennest, we got our own studio, so we’ll always be able to create and experiment. Musically, the best can still happen, it depends on us.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“First of all, I hope that the countless efforts of so many people involved will pay and will bring some joy for the ones who will watch it. It’s quite a challenge to prepare, but we did everything we could to make it happen in the best way possible. You can’t control everything, but if you give your very best, you’ll not have regrets. Restrictions are quite strict, so I’ll wait for a normal Roadburn for the memories and the beers in the street!”

Wolvennest (The Nest) will perform Her True Nature on Saturday at CEST, and Temple in full on Sunday at 20.40 CEST.


Interview: Dead Neanderthals

"We've decided from the very beginning that we would keep on rehearsing weekly and this has led to a plethora of Dead Neanderthals releases such as Blood Rite, Cosmic Slime and Rat Licker."

From shimmering ambience to maxed-out noise, Roadburn is a riot of contrasts, and few bands are more instinctively riotous than Dead Neanderthals. Purveyors of a warped and hostile blend of clattering grind, freewheeling noise and screeching sax, they have revived the spirit of John Zorn’s early experiments in heavy music and pushed the whole thing to the edge of delicious, swivel-eyed madness. Check out the recent Rat Licker EP for a pure adrenalin rush, delivered with the kind of shit-eating grins that make you fear for your life, even as you dance like a lunatic.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

“Apart from all booked shows falling through, things are moving forward at breakneck speed. We’ve decided from the very beginning that we would keep on rehearsing weekly and this has led to a plethora of Dead Neanderthals releases such as Blood Rite, Cosmic Slime and Rat Licker. In the meantime we’ve written IXXO and are preparing for the Roadburn Redux performance. We’ve also made demo recordings for a couple of new albums.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance?

“Not too much, as we’re keeping everything firmly under wraps. Only thing we can tell you is that we’re super excited and that things sounded fantastic during rehearsals.”

What does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“It’s a place to meet friends and colleagues from the scene and in that way it’s similar to the late Incubate Festival, which also took place in Tilburg. It’s always good to surround yourself with friendly and like-minded people.”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“We’ve been to Roadburn many times and some standout shows were those of Zombi (2015), Church of Misery (2008), Obliteration (2014), Magma (2014) and Mühr (2014). And of course the Dead Neanderthals show in 2016 was important to us, we even made a Live at Roadburn album out of it!”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“Playing shows with a crowd right in front of us, of course! Talking to friends and fans at the merch table. Let’s hope we can already do this in 2021.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“Working Wi-Fi!”

Dead Neanderthals will perform IXXO as part of Roadburn Redux on Sunday 18 April at 16.50 CEST.


Interview: Of Blood Of And Mercury

"The lyrics are focused around the universal perception of death. When you go really deep into the core of any religion or spiritual movement, they all seem to agree."

Few records released in 2020 were as magically transportive as Of Blood & Mercury’s debut, Strangers. Primarily a creative collaboration between underground mavens Michelle Nocon (Death Penalty/Serpentcult) and Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (also of Emptiness, another act involved in Roadburn Redux), the Belgians’ sublime blend of amorphous ambience, ghostly textures and bittersweet melody promises to be an oasis of shadowy calm amid the world’s ongoing turmoil. Most importantly, the band’s newly commissioned piece promises to showcase the real-time evolution of Of Blood & Mercury’s unique sound.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

Michelle: “We have been quite successful in adapting ourselves through history to all kinds of changes. The question is, should we adapt to this, or rather fight our current situation? In terms of creativity, it has been challenging as well. Where we normally make all the music ourselves but play live as a quartet, we decided to play live as a duo. Covid restrictions were going back and forth on how many people could meet, so we took matters into our own hands and didn’t leave room for unforeseen changes. Because of this choice, we didn’t only have to write a new music piece in the time given, but we also had to produce and mix it, as we wouldn’t have all our musicians playing with us. Olivier has written all the music while working full-time and having to prepare for his band Emptiness as well. I wrote the lyrics and vocals. Concerning the rehearsals, we had to figure out a live set up: a backing track, samples, and all we could do ourselves as musicians on top of that. We also had to learn to work with new programs, new devices, some of which we build ourselves. So, a lot of challenges in an already challenging year, but there is beauty in that.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance?

“The lyrics are focused around the universal perception of death. When you go really deep into the core of any religion or spiritual movement, they all seem to agree. They all embody the exact same ideas represented differently and from various angles. But the very essence of it doesn’t differ at all. It is only now and mainly here in the West that the ideas on death, our beliefs are completely distorted. Nowhere on the planet, at no time in history have people been so deluded concerning spirituality as they have been for the last millenaries. We are not the rule, we are the exception, no matter how crazy that sounds. We have very poor understanding and insight on who we really are and what life or death really is. But that too has a role to play. Musically we approach this theme as Of Blood & Mercury, meaning that we merge our music with this topic. We build a noise-box around the concept that gives power, visually and sonically. Furthermore, it carries an element of surprise, randomness and chaos in itself that we found to be fitting for this project. Because of this, the performance balances between order and chaos, skills and fate. On our previous album we already explored the ghostly world surrounding us. We took that a bit further too by using distorted tapes; old tapes that we found and looped. These are tapes from people that already crossed the other side.”

What does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“My first experience with Roadburn was playing there with my former band Serpentcult in 2008. I was very happy to witness such an already diverse music festival. Although more directed towards doom metal, it was a festival where you could easily discover a versatile range of bands. From then on, I was a frequent visitor to the festival myself. I had the honour to play there with my other bands: Death Penalty in 2015, Bathsheba in 2017, and now with Of Blood & Mercury as well. I’ve met many great people there that have become my close friends, I’ve bought music that has become very special to me. I’ve discovered bands I would have never discovered. As a musician, I never had to worry about not being able to do my job right. Roadburn is by far the most well-organised festival there is, and it is also the most honest, integrous and authentic festival I know. Apart from that I think the respect that Walter and his crew show for the artists is very touching.”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“One of the best memories I had at Roadburn… it’s honestly a tough question, because I have so many, both as a visitor and an artist! But I have two memories that stand out. The first was in 2009 when I discovered Bohren & Der Club Of Gore. Their concert was a mind-blowing thing to behold. At the end of the gig, a fan recognised me and told me we were watching his favourite band and he was very happy I liked it too. He had bought their LP and wanted me to have it. Of course, I refused because although very kind, I didn’t want to take the gift. But he insisted on me taking it. Who knows, he will read this and recognise himself here!

“The other memory was Earth, in 2008. I was there with my friends from Serpentcult. I was very touched by that concert. Steven, our bass player saw that and said, ‘It’s beautiful isn’t it?’ I nodded and as I looked around me, I saw in people’s faces that they felt the same way. The whole room was as touched as I was. I will ever forget that.”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“We will focus on working on a new EP or an album and keeping creative. We hope that we can also go back to playing live. Creating is one thing but playing live is something we both enjoy as well.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“Roadburn is always an opportunity to discover different artists and different acts. This time many things will be different, but not that. We are looking forward to seeing acts like Lustmord, Autarkh and Primitive Man. We are naturally curious to see how other bands managed to work under these special conditions. There are plenty of good bands on the line-up and many bands we don’t know yet, so we are surely going to discover a lot of great music. We hope to see a happy Roadburn crew as well. Walter and his crew have had a tough year with last year’s Covid situation. They made the impossible possible this year so we hope to hear from them too on the platform.”

Of Blood And Mercury will perform The Other Side Of Death on Sunday 18 April at 18.40.


Interview: Dirk Serries

"For this commissioned work I’ve invited two musicians, with whom I already worked closely together before: Tom Malmendier on drums and Rutger Zuydervelt on electronics."

An esteemed legend of the ambient underground, Dirk Serries has been incredibly prolific over the years. Aside from his enormous catalogue of releases, both under the iconic Vidna Obmana banner and in a variety of other guises and collaborations, Serries has become a staple of Roadburn line-ups, offering some of the most transcendental sounds to ever grace the festival. This year, minds will be blown once again, albeit within 2021’s unavoidable restrictions. If anyone can transcend the moment and send us skyward, it’s Dirk

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

“Of course, the pandemic left us all quite breathless for a while, cancelling all planned concerts, studio sessions, and so on. So it took a bit of time to adjust to this new way of interacting, but creativity doesn’t fade if you keep on thinking and re-creating the possibilities. I do realise there’s no digital concert that equals the experience of a live concert in your favourite venue, but nothing else is possible right now, so why not? This is where Roadburn really excels, in organising this fantastic alternative. But also, on a more compositional level, you do have software tools which allow you to play with your fellow musicians online. It’s most likely not suitable for every genre but, at my own free jazz label, we already did a full album using such software during the first main lockdown. So to keep on creating you do have possibilities to explore, you just need the will.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance?

“Since I started with music in 1984 I’ve been exploring different genres, from the heavy industrial music in the eighties to drone and ambient music in the nineties and noughties, and currently being deeply involved with the free improvisation scene. Amazingly, Roadburn has followed me on this path. I’ve been enormously fortunate enough to have played Roadburn six times already, each time with one of my different projects (from twice with Fear Falls Burning, solo or with Yodok III). The support of Roadburn, specifically Walter, has just been amazing, and their faith in what I do has boosted me to creative heights.
“Now being invited for a commissioned work on Roadburn Redux is more than an honour, and it’s a fine opportunity to introduce my ambient music to the Roadburn audience, and not only because the digital concert format gives me way more freedom and less pressure than during a real live concert, as the construction and build-up of my ambient music is slower, more detailed and refined. Also, since the beginning, this is the music for which I’ve been acknowledged worldwide, and through which I got to know a lot of fellow musicians who already played Roadburn themselves, so it’s time to share this with the festival. I originally worked on this style of music exclusively with synthesisers and electronic devices, but in the late nineties I slowly started to convert it to electric guitar and effects, making it way easier and flexible to perform live. For this commissioned work I’ve invited two musicians, with whom I already worked closely together before: Tom Malmendier on drums and Rutger Zuydervelt on electronics. Two fantastic musicians who will for sure play their own part to create along with me a beautiful space to experience. It’s partially composed but with still a lot of freedom to interact in the moment of creating the live experience. I’m really looking forward to it!”

What does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“Roadburn is a philosophy. Every year, with every edition, it becomes a way of living differently, meeting up with comrades inside but also outside. And it’s fantastic to see how the city of Tilburg embraces this event, becoming the village for such kindred spirits. But also Roadburn wouldn’t be the same festival if it would just book the same bands and the same genres, but over the years they have taken up the brave opportunity to introduce their faithful audience to new genres, new bands, new projects and to expand the scope of what Roadburn stands for. On top of that it’s just amazing to experience first-hand that the audience just embraces the adventurous programming of the festival. It lifts you as a musician to way higher levels.”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“The festival is always the highlight, but of course some are printed in your memory forever. On a personal level when I played with the fantastic Kristoffer Lo (on amplified tuba) and Tomas Järmyr (on drums) with our band Yodok III. The way we were able to interact with the audience in a fully packed Green Room was just overwhelming. Another one was when I was able to accompany good friend Justin Broadrick for the return of Godflesh to Roadburn with the performance of Streetcleaner. Amazing to see and hear that monumental album live in the big hall, helping him out with setting up and doing the live mix. Goosebumps.”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“Hoping that I can continue with my A New Wave Of Jazz label releasing exciting music and arranging concerts and studio sessions, and wishing for those Kodian Trio and Yodok III tours to happen, which were cancelled last year. And of course, staying Covid-free!”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“Absorbing the atmosphere of a real Roadburn festival will be impossible, and completely understandable. All performance slots are full separately so hanging out with the other musicians and bands will not be possible. Nevertheless, I hope to catch most of Friday and Saturday before fully dedicating myself for my own performance on Sunday. It goes without saying I’m super psyched to be part of this unique edition and Roadburn can already be very proud of making this happen.”

Dirk Serries will perform Epitaph as part of Roadburn Redux on Sunday 18 April at 14.50 CEST.