French prog rockers PoiL and Japanese singer/satsuma-biwa player Junko Ueda offer a seeing-it-to-believe-it mix of novel and traditional styles. Imagine King Crimson’s most wayward material and drop those works in feudal Japan, and you might get a close approximation of it. Within this cross-cultural tete-a-tete, PoiL’s skirmishing musicianship forms a vast playground for ancient Japanese folk tales sung by Ueda. Though the material doesn’t shy away from addressing the hardship and madness of bloodshed, especially in moments when Ueda performs the satsuma biwa – a lute-like string instrument – without much musical embellishment, a sense of awe tends to permeate in witnessing PoiL Ueda live. But if this all sounds a bit perplexing, think again. Don’t be surprised if you end up shuffling your feet to the strangely infectious, polyrhythmic forays, or wipe away a tear when Ueda – a captivating, charismatic performer – channels the bygone within a decidedly modern framework. Indeed, PoiL Ueda is the perfect alliance between beauty and chaos.
To describe Belgian experimental rockers Nordmann’s as merely jazz rock is an oversimplification. All-embracing, sure, but with that comes moderation. Just like in any good cuisine, certain combinations either work or they don’t, and with enough devotion to the musical outcome, the results often unfold unlike anything else. For sure, Nordmann’s music leaves a lot to the listener’s imagination. Elements of avant-jazz, slowcore and psychedelic rock conspire into raids of cinematic tension (it’s important to note Nordmann have live scored a film noir called ‘Dementia/Daughter of Horror’), lurking moods that court danger, primal force and sensuality. Fans of Led Zeppelin and Coltrane’s Impulse! Records phase alike will find plenty of stuff to like within Nordmann’s adventurous discography.
Artist-in-residence: Under the Surface x White Boy Scream
Few bands have made the kind of radical transformation in their formative years as the internationally-acclaimed Dutch experimental trio Under The Surface. What started as an improvisational outfit rooted in jazz, prog rock and tribal music has become a band that has devised its very own language: one that finds vocalist and composer Sanne Rambags exhuming and repurposing Dutch language from the medieval age.
Within the context of Under The Surface’s well-honed chemistry, their songs often sound otherworldly and breathtaking, engaging in swift tempo shifts and dreamlike melodic layers. Spanning three generations, this revelation inspired Rambags, Bram Stadhouders (guitars/synths/electronica) and Joost Lijbaart (drum/percussion) to take a dramatic U-turn from improvisation to carefully composing their music.
As some lucky souls have witnessed at the start of last year at Paradox, watching Under The Surface live often leaves a lump in the throat. The band can seamlessly veer from blistering cacophony to an almost hymnal tranquility; you can imagine this type of music being played in a distant age, but just as easily believe this is in fact music from the future. That sense of remove only makes the songs more affecting
Under The Surface will host two special shows during Roadburn’s two-day Paradox program: one where they play their own set as a five piece, joined by bassist Lennart Heyndels and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Annabel Laura on Saturday.
On Friday, they present a special collaborative project with Los Angeles-based artist White Boy Scream, plus Nathan Wouters on bass, guitar and vocals. The former is Micaela Tobin, a trained opera vocalist whose album BAKUNAWA uses processed vocals as a means to explore identity and ancestral traumas. A dark, intensely aural ritual about the feeling of being far away from your roots, and a homage to the pre-colonial mythology of Tobin's homeland, the Philippines.
In combination with Under The Surface’s uncanny sonic spells, you can imagine how spectacular this performance will turn out to be.
19.00 - 20.00 h: Nordmann
21.00 - 22.00 h: Under The Surface x White Boy Scream
23.15 - 00.15 h: Poil Ueda