Wrekmeister Harmonies will unveil their shapeshifting nature at Roadburn 2018

Wrekmeister Harmonies are atypical, in every sense of the word, and in many ways they are one of those bands who fully embody the spirit of creativity, adventure, culture, innovation, collaboration, boundary-crossing and artistic restlessness that we associate with Roadburn itself.

A project named after a Béla Tarr film wouldn’t be your run of the mill musical endeavour, based on that fact alone, but ever since visionary composer and musician JR Robinson first started operating under that moniker, with the initial objective of performing long pieces in public spaces such as various museums, a mausoleum and even the Golden Gate Bridge, the development of Wrekmeister Harmonies has been an absolute joy to behold.

2009 saw the release of a compilation of some of those public performances, but the first studio recording proper came only in 2013 with the tremendous You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me, an album which boasted a staggering list of collaborators which included Jef Whitehead, Sanford Parker and Bruce Lamont, among others. This signalled the beginning of an impressively fertile period of releases, during which the collaborative and open nature of the project blossomed amazingly – throughout Then It All Came Down (2014) and Night Of Your Ascension (2015, a recording featuring 30 musicians!), JR enlisted the likes of Marissa Nadler, David Yow or Chip King, among many, may other luminaries.
The music, however, never once felt disjointed or scattered – these pieces hold together tightly and strongly, always gracefully fluttering between genres, making up a few new ones along the way, and forcefully driving their deep and thoughtful messages home with an evocative power second to none. 

Always restless, always looking ahead, JR Robinson switched gears after this trilogy and 2016‘s Light Falls was put together by a much smaller group, as a proper “band”, so to speak, with new creative methods helping Wrekmeister Harmonies‘ music to keep reaching places no one else dares to even look. It’s a heavy record in more ways than one, including (and especially) emotionally, and watching the now core duo of JR Robinson and Esther Shaw (on keyboards, piano, violin and vocals) perform pieces from it on stage accompanied by a selection of fine musicians has been a sublime pleasure during the tours the band has undertaken since then.

At times droning and intensely loud, other times sparse and quiet and sounding for all the world like a morose folk/country act, they are unpredictable and constantly fascinating. Now, it’s time for JR and Esther to step onto the stage that probably fits them better than any other, and vice-versa – we don’t know yet how their performance will be at Roadburn, but with Wrekmeister Harmonies, that’s half the fun. 

Wrekmeister Harmonies will be captivating hearts and minds on Sunday, 22 April at the 013 venue at Roadburn 2018. 

Date: April 22

Time: 14.30

Stage: Het Patronaat