Kalimera!

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Editorials

That’s how people say hi in the location I am at right now - the same modest but fascinating Greek fisherman’s village I came to know for the first time, a year ago. If last year I spent ten days with my family, this year I opted for twelve full days of total relaxation. Even so, half of my vacation is almost gone and somehow I feel compelled to write something about it. In the last two months I have been receiving tons of albums but  most of them only cast dust into one’s eye. What I mean is that their quality barely makes it to average, in the sense that they totally lack originality. You can find in the last Playlist cca. 100 new entries from the entire musical spectrum which I’m currently listening to and promoting. I’ll be going back to this in a moment. 

Greece is supposedly the first country to be hit so badly by the crisis that it is actually comatose. Even in this small village on Kassandra’s arm – Siviri, the tourists are considerably fewer than last year – which is actually a reason to satisfy my exacerbated egocentrism: no more queues, no crowds, only endless piece and quiet. But so much for my silence - 2 or 3 days ago a group or Romanians “landed” on a beach and kept proving to each other and to others passers by, that life on the beach in the sun must be lived in the most noisy possible way. It’s not hard to spot them, they are the ones who at the break of dawn agonize over bottles of Coca Cola, which they burry in the sand to keep them cool, supposedly, – they one is for the children. For the adults, we have the always present beer cans and the eternal bottle of Jack Daniel’s, that is being passed between rounded chaise lounges with a little table in center, on which a game of backgammon has dominion over the whole view. Almost forgot about the “traditional”crunching seeds – they go so well with beer! Only the ice-cream are bought from the young lady attending the chaise lounges, another Romanian from Hunedoara, who is striving to make a honest living in this foreign land. Therefore, crisis or no crisis, in Silviri people are having fun or relaxing. I am also trying to relax and sometimes I catch a glimpse of my co-nationals, maybe on purpose, sometimes only because of the rumble they make. That’s life, full of Romanians, heh. The ladies carry hidden in their purses tons of oils and crèmes anti sun or prosun, which are supposed to turn their skin into the most attractive tones of brown or caramel. That’s the life...! In the evening, after taking long showers, they put on another set of crèmes which must shine perfectly with their white, yellow or orange clothes worn for the moonlight walk on the beach, just before they fall into the arms of their well deserved sleep. I don’t recall any details about their “kulak” looking gold, but everybody seems to be parading it with tons of pride, since it seems to scream out “hey, look at me, the crisis hasn’t hit me yet”.  

What’s strange is that I really can’t tell if there’s still snow on the Mountain of Olympus because of the constant fog – it’s probably the mist surrounding everything since the crisis. Oh well, maybe tomorrow we’ll be able to enjoy a sunnier day. I’m not a big fan of going to the seaside for my holidays but, I have a room with a view to the sea from where I can constantly hear the waves and on top of that I’m looking at a huge and mystical mountain as well, surrounded by wilderness – everything seems to be falling into the right place!

Thank god for CD players which I can carry around effortlessly, allowing myself to escape the mundane whenever I feel like it or ...maybe just until Sorana, the little 4 year old little girl sitting in the chaises lounges next to us, drops her disco ball near my feet. I smile, the parents smile back, and like that I can feel emerging a little bonding bridge between my family and our neighbors. But I’ll leave that to later, much later and I’m going back to my bottomless corners which are mostly introspective rather than dark, but around which I feel the most comfortable. I am talking about my “strange music” or at least that’s how the people I love call it.  

Anyway, do you know what I have been listening to almost nonstop? The latest KAUAN album, which at first listen I wasn’t particularly so fond of. I received it back in November, and I barely listened to it. This material raveled to me a whole new and wonderful dimension of Ambient music, a dimension of incredible beauty, spreading mixed but exciting feelings. At first glance, I was pretty upset that Anton Belov gave up the aggressive vocals and the Doom Metal passages which fascinated the European scene through out their previous two albums. So I made up my mind that the new album was too light for my taste, too synthetic and too commercial at the same time. After more than half a year since this album first came out, I can frankly say now that this Ambient Post Rock combination (as they call it) is the perfect fitting of melancholic Metal and atmospheric and thoughtful passages. The violin sounds godly! KAUAN’s sound is tonic as it is simple. I’d recommend it to all open to new experiences and experiments meant to open gates never before reached. 

Yeah, it is indeed beautiful near the sea, when you can lie in the cool shade, the reed umbrella hides you safely from the sun, when the sand welcomes an almost perverse penetration or the waves bespeak you. Everything is so natural and simple, almost untouched by the chocking modern all-inclusive 5 star peers who are, nevertheless, of great value to everybody. 

The Diamantis Restaurant, sitting the near the sea, is the most visible in this village and bears the unique traditional aroma (since 1938). Every night you can have the privilege of tasting the fresh fish brought by fishermen a few hours ago (or at least that’s the story with which, Iannis, the incredibly polite waiter, in the company of whom I prefer to eat every evening, “butters me up”) and to enjoy the breathtaking sunset while savoring some Greek whine. How could I explain to you the view I’m facing? I really have no clue but, this was the picture that stayed in the back of my head since the first time I visited the place and I can say this time is even better. Too bad that the Greeks are bend on making everything more expensive than it has to be and then go on blaming it on the global crisis. Maybe that’s why the Turks were victorious in the summer tourism competition even tough we’re talking about different landscapes, histories...and even feelings. The Greeks are probably thinking (in their vanity) that their Gods and Goddesses are more modern and profound than the cheap and sleazy ottoman market trying to get a hold of all the things around it! Even the Russians and their furry coated wives moved to the planes of the golden ex-Imperial crescent. So, I only envision a slow but certain death for the impious of Olympian tourism and that’s a real shame.  

I’ve heard that in Romania the perpetual raining hasn’t stopped and the weather conditions aren’t about to change. Also the politicians seem to be as stereotypical as ever in their thinking and uttering. They say Euro has come around (because of the new loan of course), but everything is still bleak and unmotivating. So I prefer to skip reality, yet still keeping a last connection with this sort of everyday flurry by means of the semifinals which are supposed to be played this days in South Africa. 

But let me start approaching the musical side as well. I’ve read the Sonisphere review written by our new Kogaionon team member and I can say I’m pleased with this super excited view on things. All in all, this three days were meant for the fans willing to see their legends in actions. It’s not my kind of event and I wasn’t keen on the bands either, but even so, it was worth promoting it and backing it up since this is the only way to find out what the crowd listens to and if it is anything else besides mainstream. I’d rather not go into the details, as I could easily reach the conclusion that big isn’t necessarily to be put in the same boat with quality, spoken from my underground point of view. But I’ve read the feedback of those who did attend the event and if their happy, it’s all that matters. I’m thinking that the organizers had their fair share of profit since they employed the help of some serious sponsor. That makes me think that next summer we’ll be expecting a whole new set of bands. Although it would be nice to have a festival of our own. It may sound like I’m advocating here for cheap patriotism but I can’t help it as I was raised and educated that way. Now it’s too late to change anything, to become a true European, enlighten by Bruxelles and evaluated by a compulsory system of virtues made up of the most stylish and elevated approaches. Authenticity becomes a rare form of existence, labeled automatically by the big boys in charge as anachronic nationalist thinking, senseless feeble mindless, sometimes even dangerous to the universal peacefulness. I’m feeling like I’m being part of the rebel base from Star Wars or like a stubborn peasant who refuses to accept that things do change and that it is high time for him to evolve....but unto what? I really don’t know and I’m quite afraid that the anarchist shadow (even if in a dormant form) is continuing to darken my vision of what’s to come....thank goodness for 2012! Gosh, I’ve done it again, starting off with a festival and ending up into the sea of my personal introspections. Except Artmania, in the Metal area there hasn’t been anything else offered on the plate, so Sonisphere filled a void and satisfied many expectations. Ah and I forgot about the AC/DC concert but we can’t label that one as a festival. Coming up next in August we have OST Mountain Fest and a week later Artmania, two events who, I’m afraid, will cannibalize each other, although I’m expecting a whole different crowd to show up for The Sisters of Mercy in Sibiu. Let’s just wait and see what happens! 

And that is pretty much what summer will be for me! 

I forgot to tell you about how it was like at the biggest Goth festival in the world – Wave Gotik Treffen! Actually I haven’t had time for this until now, and because I’m on vacation it seems appropriate to write a few words about it. It was too tiring for me to be present at all the representation of the 200 bands who performed there, particularly because they were making their live appearance at the same time on multiple stages all over Leipzig! And I’m not even bothering to mention that it is a huge city considering the concerts, followed a strict very timing. The searing sun was another set back, only for me probably, as the whole city was swarming with black clothes that defied the extreme heat of the few last days. I first went to see Agra, ground 0 of the festival. There, near the huge stage, there was a hall full with musical accessories ranging from CDs and Vynils to the most fetishist Goth clothing. I’ve never seen such a “market” and I was shocked to see all the things you can find in only one place. Titus and Alex have to wait until their nonexistent beards turn white and maybe then we’ll have a festival like this in Romania. Quite interesting and cool this selling exhibition and I believe quite useful for all the participants at WGT. Walking out of this hall, I was met by an entire colorful fauna of fancy clothes, hair styles and behaviors quite odd to my “normal eyes” breed in Gerula’s country. Nevertheless this people were exciting, fascinating and even pleasing to the eye – the participants unique way of spending 4 or 5 days. You can take a look at the picture gallery so you can construct a better view of what it was like for me over there. Lying next to the terraces you could see a few thousand tents neatly organized within a well defined perimeter, featuring very discrete and nice bodyguards. This is what I call civilization! Despite the relative cramming, this year seems to have been the “slowest” one so far, a fact confirmed by the people selling merchandise (it’s the crisis again!). There were estimated to have been over 20.000 participants, but I didn’t see more than a couple of thousands at the Metal scene during the performances of THE VISION BLEAK or MOONSPELL! 

For the first evening, I went to see some Post Rock bands who gathered about 250 meek viewers. It’s no use to tell you how it was like, because for me the Americans of CASPIAN were breathtaking! Also the dynamics and atmosphere of the 3 Irish men of GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT were really impressive! In the crowd I’ve ran into Niege and the rest of live guys of Alcest, who were especially interested in seeing the Irish dudes at work. There are a lot of connections between Post-Rock and Metal, not always melodiously speaking, but that’s why I hope that Experimental Friday coming up in September will draw together people willing to try out sounds like CECILIA::EYES and KWOON! 

In another hall in Leipzig I saw some experimental bands, but the most moving was JARBOE, known for her glory days with SWANS. She had a small crowd as well, about 350 participants. 

I would have liked to see ROSE ROVINE E AMANTI, KIRLIAN CAMERA and BRENDAN PERRY but the idea of wondering through town was beginning to sound very tiresome to me. 

Saturday I choose to go see THE VISION BLEAK and I was very pleased with their German fans. A couple of thousand of people were screaming Carphatia and cheering the musicians continuously. Beautiful show, I’m really curious to see how the public is going to react in Bucharest at Labyrinthic Metal Evening! I’ve also seen two Eastern-European bands who will be performing in a short while at OST MOUNTAIN FEST but they didn’t really make any impression on me...I hope they will at Busteni! Then I switched to Neofolk bands, so I went to see at work HEKATE (Axel of Cascadeur being the crowd’s favorite along with the superb vocalist), SONNE HAGAL (it was a real joy to see Kim Larsen again) and SOL INVICTUS. During SOL INVICTUS’s performance the little amphitheatre was almost full, I think there were about 8-900 spectators who cheered furiously Tony&Co performance. The fans were of all ages, a fact that overstated the obvious again – Tony is a real NeoFolk legend and his participation in December in Bucharest will be a honor for me, but I hope not only for me... 

Sunday I decided to relax and walk about town, while in the afternoon I moved to the most elegant hall of the 20 allocated to the festival, where a night before Alcest played their live show. I didn’t find the time to see them again, because I was way to busy splitting in too many halves. Not to worry, I am almost sure we’ll be seeing them again next year. 

The hall I was talking about just now is very similar with the Cultural Centre Reduta from Brasov but twice as big, with a capacity of about 650 persons. I spend here a lot of time, watching bands like Novalis Deux, Seventh Harmonic, Loell Duinn and Arcana. It was really interesting – SEVENTH HARMONIC’s debut was shy because of a sound technicality, the Croats of LOELL DUNINN charmed the whole audience and ARCANA were very relax putting up a beautiful show with Johan (DESIDERII MARGINIS) instead of Stefan. Here, I had the chance to see and talk to some of the fans of this kinds of music from France, Estonia, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Italy – friends who attended last year’s Dark Bombastic Evening. And without making any pressure or allusion to the December edition, they all assured me that they won’t miss it, in spite of the crisis and other obstacles that might show up on the way. It was a nice feeling, especially since the team I was with in Leipzig was proudly wearing Dark Bombastic Evening t-shirts! And if I got here well then...in the next few weeks I will be announcing a few little changes concerning the structure of the event due in December (speaking of dates and location). I hope it will cause no inconveniences for those who already made plans for the second edition of Dark Bombastic Evening. 

I was talking to Cecilia/ARCANA and I didn’t know if I was supposed to be happy or not because at the same time when ARCANA was due to play, on another stage across town, DIAMANDA GALAS was also supposed to go on stage. Unfortunately or fortunately she could not make it to the festival and so I had the chance to see my favorite Swedes do what they do best. Nevertheless, I missed the chance to see live one of the most important female singers of all times! 

All in all, it was a mighty festival, bringing together bands of all sorts (I wasn’t too interested in seeing the Electro/Cyber/Industrial movement, represented by bands loved by the public, especially the German one....maybe Viviana/VIVA MUSIC would be the most adequate person to tell us how DIARY OF DREAMS turned out to be live, for example, or other bands...much too rhythmic for my ears) from different musical styles and a civilized and peaceful public wanting to spend their 3 days in the most Goth way possible. A necessary experience for me, a way to see how a perfect organization for such a big event functions, and last but not least a joyful chance to met up with friends from all over the place. The ticket price for the 4 days was 80 euros (cool idea not to sell individual tickets per days) and the event was worth all the money. People are coming from different countries to see their favorite bands (and not only the mainstream ones) and to discover new ones, and that’s a reason for me to say that this people want to see something more than old plain boring Metallica or I don’t know what other oldies but goldies band who lives off their history and success in the post-communist countries. 

Next year, this festival will be monumental, because it’s going to celebrate it’s 20th birthday. People who never attended this should try it and those who already been there don’t need my recommendations anymore. Next year, the festival will be set in the beginning of June, about 2 weeks sooner than this year, so I’m hoping the weather of 2011 will be a little more bearable! 

Let me come back to the Playlist now and recommend you some interesting releases! I have some good quality CDs in the goodie bag, ranging from the most extreme, sickening and mind-blowing to the most experimental and avant-garde music. 

PROFANATICA is one of the most important American Extreme Metal groups who has been around for years. Despite, it’s long history, the trio has unleashed recently it’s second album after a long line of EPs and demos. If you haven’t listened to Profanatica yet, go get your hands on their albums now! Its up to you what you discover within them, whether it is Gore, Death Metal or Blasphemic Metal. Even though I haven’t listened to brutal stuff in a while, the new material was a real fire starter for me, so I really would like to check them out live. Coro/Axa Valaha would be, in my opinion, the right person to bring them in here for a show. 

Frostscald Label has come up with two new interesting releases. The first one is a re-issue of LIK’s album “Kapitel III”, know better as ARMAGEDDA or LONNDOM. A unique combination of Nordic Folklore Black Metal with Black Occult Melancholic Rock – could easily satisfy the taste of those who some years ago enjoyed the project ISENGARD and their majestic album “Hostmorke”. Among this influences, we find riffs that remind the listener of FORGOTTEN WOODS, FLEURETY or JOYLESS. The second breakthrough comes from Sweden as well and it’s called SKOGEN, a truly beautiful Black Metal project, that mixes harmoniously aggressive vocals with normal ones, forceful passages and acoustic ones, deep guitars solos in the KATATONIA vein and a whole range of atmosphere. For fans of DRUDKH and PRIMORDIAL! 

Since I’ve mentioned LONNDOM earlier, I can say a few things about their new album which takes a new Rock Country shape unseen in another Metal rooted band before. A different approach to Folk Rock coming from Sweden, even harder to comprehend because of the lyrics sang in that particular language. I’d love to see LONNDOM play live, opening for WOVENHAND, a project of Davids who’s rich dynamics has won its name in the Indie Country Rock scene. I have included in the Playlist their new album, launched a couple of days ago, about which I am very excited since it exhales a fantastic energy. The voice could be considered as the landmark of the WOVENHAND sound! I’m afraid I’ve fallen madly in love with this band! 

From my experimental goodie bag I’d like to point out another band – STROSZEK, an Italian group who have had their fair shot of music since 1994 with their black metal project FROSTMOON ECLIPSE. I reckon not being familiarized with STROSKEZ up until now, but before long I was caught up in their very avant-gardish sound which reeks of MONUMENTUM influences. I can’t really put my finger on what is STROSZEK really playing...maybe a sort of Country Folk with acoustic guitars and lower pitched vocals on which they sprinkled some nihilistic messages to give the whole package a depressive aura. All this makes you think they were probably influenced by Johnny Cash or Tom Waits! This band is the real deal, so I’m going to try to promote them as much as I can, because their approach to music is unique and has nothing to do with fashion, or a well defined musical style....it is colorless and odorless, it just is....out there in the bleak daily life style of all of us, not drawing any lines of delimitation. This is their second album and they also have an experimental MCD out.  

Also from Italia comes the long expected VOID OF SILENCE new album, which presents us with the same Avant-garde Metal style as usual, now made even more entangled and maybe a little more soluble in its approach, even tough the overall structure seems to be highly complex. If your not having your most happiest day, listening to this new material could make you remember the fact that even suicide can be an open gate towards something...even if that something can be a big NOTHING. 

The new OCTOBER FALLS makes a statement about the Doom Death Metal not being dead and buried with their 3 tracks, which are very beautiful indeed, but yet seem excessively long. At least 2 of them could have been made simpler and arranged in a less sophisticated manner because those prolonged elements (not actually repetitive) don’t bestow upon me that characteristic levitation feeling. All in all, an elegant material. 

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT sticks its head out with a very advertised and bombastic new material, with an excellent dynamics and rhythm. I bet that the Irish folks released this album mainly for the fans, because it seems to me that their new songs are a simplistic continuation of the older tracks, very few new elements, that don’t stand out too much. Regardless of that, as I have told you, I also seen them perform live, their music is very catchy and enjoyable. 

WATAIN has return with fresh strength by means of a new Black Metal album with a touch of commercial elements on a CELTIC FROST background. I am sure it will not fail to impress the whole Metal scene. Of course that the tracks which they perform live in the memory of old BATHORY augments their cult band halo. They are probably dueling with a recently created band – TWILIGHT OF THE GODS – Alan’s from Primordial band, who’s purpose is to ensure that fans don’t forget the old glorious BATHORY albums.  

I was meaning to tell you, for some time now, about the Australian group AUSTERE. Their last effort, that came out last year, can be perceived as a real Depressive Black Metal jewel which I recommend without any holding backs to all of you. WOODS OF DESOLATION makes a case for Australia and its quality Black Metal scene, so you can try this project out! 

Another interesting bands I had no clue about up until now turns out to be MOROWE and it is presenting us with a polish twisted Black Metal, in the DODHEIMSGARD and VED BUENS ENDE vein.  

MUSK OX is a Canadian acoustic musical project with roots in old EMPYRIUM and TENHI. If you plan to relax, this album will guarantee total relaxation! A band I know the guys of AGALLOCH also enjoy. FELL VOICES is another American project who launched a fabulous new EP for all you Transcendental Black Metal fans out there. 

Now, if your into ALTAR OF PLAGUES, you could try the SORGELDOM experiment, a weird Swedish group who approaches Black Metal from an intelligent angle, mixing brutal parts with Post Rock and even with Shoegaze. At this point I have bring into discussion the new LANTOS album, where Neige from ALCEST makes us understand why Post Black Metal is gaining so much territory in this sea of monotonous Black Metal bands. The new album is the “living” proof that the duo is on the right track, even if the songs don’t seem to belong to a very organic concept. Maybe I’ll find what I am looking for on the next album, especially since the two are going back in the studio in the next days to record the third album. I really have high hopes for this. 

Matt of SIEBEN has launched a new tasty new album (like the others before it) where he puts his violin skills to good use, alongside important guests. EF is a Swedish Post Rock group which has a new album out, a very fresh and comforting one. The same goes for AARTKTIKA and CARTA. SARAH JONES is the promoter of a sort of music that makes you think of American Country but what allows her to stand out is the sensible voice, so easily noticed even from the first accords of the song. Her new album is dedicated (most of it), curiously, to ambient music. ION presents the listeners with a new album on which we can hear some Romanian spoken lyrics, a material that will breake many adoring girls hearts in love with the new style approached by the ex-Anathema member, Duncan. It’s not really something outstanding but it’s fairly decent if played on a romantic night.  

CYNIC has come up with a very interesting experiment, inserting in its music ambient and Shoegaze beams which will drown the spirits of the more “brutalistic” fans. LUSTRE mix BURZUM with SUMMONING in an original way, QUO VADIS comes out with a new technical piece – Thrash Metal oriented, GRAVDAL is trying hard to step out of the shadow with an typical average album, only noticeable because of the Niklas’s (SHINING) presence. WINTERHORDE is striving even harder to maintain their Oriental Metal style - over melodic and too atmospheric. TAMERLAN advertises a reshaped NeoFolk approach concentrating on percussion, LOELL DUINN makes it more clear than ever that she’s quite capable of opening for ATARAXIA or ARCANA anytime, SPIRAL 69 takes a lot of inspiration from SPIRITUAL’s FRONT music and provides us with a well rested Pop Rock album, who still manages to fade in comparison to Simone’s music, A COSMIC TRAIL insists in showing music lovers a Progressive side worth taking into account in the future, MOON FAR AWAY comes out with an excessively introverted album who streams a strange mystical dimension. I could go on, but I already overstayed my welcome. 

And last but not least, the new VULTURE INDUSTRIES album, provides the listener with an incredible sample of Avant-garde Metal which we will be talking about real soon, as it’s live release will be taking place in Bucharest, in October. On the same night, you can enjoy the release of the new Shining album, officially available a few days earlier.  

You should also take into account the night of 5th of November, because DonisArt has in stored for you something really provocative, details soon... 

Until then don’t forget about Experimental Friday on 24th of September – with two Post-Rock and Shoegaze bands showing their skills at work. DonisArt might even take this opportunity to assure itself that this sort of music is worth being backed up in this country who is pretty much unaware of its own preferences, that is - in spite of the colorful offers that may seem sometimes too bright! Or to many? Or maybe the crowd is disinterested? Exciting things to find out, although it’s sort of risky, heh! 

Going back into my shell now, you’ll be hearing from me again, we’ll see each other and maybe even have a conversation. All’s good! 

P.S. 

For all those willing to take a mouthful of wonderful Orchestral Post-Rock, RED SPARROWS is the perfect choice...their latest album is a masterpiece of the genre and at the same time a unique way of expressing a musical style that can not be confused with any other band. Their sound is as Instrumental as it is Progressive, the guitars make you forget yourself and throw you in a different state of mind, all is complex, dynamic within a transcendental shadow. I recommend you “A Mutiny”. It’s like I’ve been living in the 60-70, under the Flower/Power regime that was making wonders among levitating fans! Remarkable!