FAUST, OSEES, SON OF KEMET AND PLUS PLAY THE GUESS WHO? 2021 | Articles
In Utrecht concert halls on Sunday 14 November, signs can be seen saying “Celebrate the change”. It’s an admirable way to spin a potential disaster. A four-day multi-site gathering of bespoke independent and global sounds and cultures organized since 2007, Le Guess Who? was hit by a nationwide COVID lockdown just two nights after starting his run. After two years without music festivals, this sounds like a particularly cruel joke.
It all started so well, with a bulging bill promising OSEES, a live performance of Faust IV, Sons Of Kemet among so many other mysterious flavors for the traveling musical epicurean. Thursday started strong with the new R&B group Gabriels in the Ronda hall of the Tivoli Vredenburg complex: in a golden dressing gown, singer Jacob Lusk is masterful, moving from spooky abstractions in a vintage jazz ballad to a maximalism of soul gospel. Then, place at the Janskerk, where the ragas of the modular synth from Arushi Jain’s dream time make ancient stones resonate. Back to the Ronda, the furious intensity of Irreversible Entanglements, whose sounds of liberation afrofuturist free jazz are accompanied by ferocious declamations of LGW? Regular Moor Mother and allusions to the invisible world of quantum physics.
Jacob Lusk from Gabriels at Ronda. © Ben Houdijk
Should we act like a quantum wave, or a particle, or both? Tokyo minimalist master Midori Takada is one of this year’s curators and might have a message for us. His new “lasting sound work” entitled [THUS TIME GOES BY] is installed at the Jacobikerk and offers keyboard and marimba meditations accompanied by manipulations of light diffused on an antique brass chandelier.
The day is no less curious and reveals the random and global splendor of the LGW? model: Bosnian-Swiss accordionist Mario Batkovic sculpts the dynamic weirdness of the old world into the tune of the Stadsschouwburg concert hall, while back at the Jacobikerk, the Egyptian voice and percussion ensemble Mahazer performs the sung polyrhythmic music called Zãr, a music generally reserved for business women to banish demons. With the evil spirits defeated, we make our way to the Grote Zaal in Vredenburg where the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio Choir perform the mystical 1910 Alexander Scriabin work, Prometheus, Le Poème Du Feu. As its monstrous climax draws near, Prometheus’ myth of forbidden wisdom and thunder punishment from above reminds us of the press conference the Dutch government held earlier that evening, when it announced that ‘a lockdown was imminent.
Om Sameh from Mahazer to the Jacobikerk. © Tim van Veen
The huge and world-famous Mega Record And CD Fair is set to open in Utrecht on Saturday: instead, the venue cancels the event before a single Near Mint collectible LP can be purchased. On the other hand, the organizers of Guess Who? refusing to wrap up, reading the fine print and making Herculean adjustments, editing Saturday’s schedule until 6:30 p.m.
Knowing that the end is fast approaching adds a certain thrill. Selected by OSEES conductor John Dwyer, California-based Earth Girl Helen Brown Center for Planetary Intelligence Band brings big beats, saxophone and wild Fender from guitarist Doug Hilsinger at lunchtime instead of LE: EN : a cosmic bar band with a magnetic singer, they’re ‘perfect for party people who need to have some fun earlier than usual. Then, at the Jacobskerk, LGW’s ability to program remarkable music you never imagined continues with a mesmerizing performance by Circassian folk experimenters Jrpjej and singer Zaur Nagoy. Presented by the Ored Recordings label, their traditional instrumentation and ancient songs of dogs meeting wild boars, an invasion and a court make the performance as elementary and haunting as a meeting of Popol Vuh and Morricone.
Zaur Nagoy and (right) singer Jrpjej Daiana Kulova in Jacobkerk. © Maarten Mooijma
Returning to the modern world at Pandora Hall in Vredenburg, Los Angeles producer / rapper Pink Siifu and her band combine thunderous jazz, yacht rock trumpet jams and Bad Brains punk, complemented by moshing and a spiritual major. to the forces of reaction. Everyone is kicked out afterwards, only cinemas and theaters remain open, but Mojo hears about a secret concert in the daring and avant-garde WORM venue in Rotterdam, where Estonian folk electronics ace Maarja Nuut organizes laptop synths, looping vocals, and field recordings. bewitching effect.
On Sundays, an increased appreciation for all the amplified music is evident in the now seated crowds, such as when DJ Hairy Krishna performs African reggae a la Ronda before John Dwyer’s Bent Arcana took the stage. With TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone on a modular synth, the group’s improvisation-fusion whirlwind with krautrock accents makes it an excellent introduction to Jean-Hervé Péron’s faUS playing the 1973 album Faust IV of his former group. Rearranged and performed out of order, the show is as cheerful and eerie as the original group, to which Péron pays full homage from the stage.
Jean-Hervé Peron from Faust at la Ronda. © Jelmer de Haas
Yet the clock of misfortune is ticking. Down in the Grote Zaal, rediscovered neo-soul voice Eddie Chacon (he had a hit in 1992 with Charles and Eddie’s Would I Lie To You) and keyboardist / producer John Carroll Kirby are joined by two wind instrumentalists to play songs from the cathartic 2020 LP Pleasure, Joy And Happiness, and it’s electric. After a few last bursts of jazz energy from LGW? favorites Sons Of Kemet, we end at Pandora with cult Belgian veterans Aksak Maboul, whose Pulp-like rock art is accompanied by live drawings of singer Véronique projected on a screen.
Eddie Chacon © Ben Houdijk
The fun is over at nine o’clock, but as we step out into the night, it’s hard not to conclude that after so long hungry for music in such a diverse and open-minded profusion, the return of The Guess Who? was always a huge success, and more special because of the unique conditions. The wish to go back to long nights of unrestricted concerts is understandable, but for now, think you damn not to be there. 2021 faced Le Guess Who? and Le Guess Who? won.