On Land Festival 2010 — Saturday shows

Into the second half of the festival:

Le Revelateur, On Land

Le Révélateur — “Very serene start here especially with the projections, but with some faster spacerock bits…Some expected comparison points but done nicely — Harmonia, Gottsching, agog 70s electronics…Sound now starting to get very harshly pretty, rougher distorted edges coming out more. Good way to start the whole evening…Am also liking the shift to proto-Tron graphics as a bass loop begins. Very busy Tangerine Dream/Ash Ra arrangements now, but it also has something distinct to it. Hard to put my finger on…And over…but it turns out there’s another piece! A nice surprise, I’m used to set-long pieces at this stage. More treble now.”

Metal Rouge

Metal Rouge — “…soundchecking. It’s already ridiculously loud in the best way (those drums alone!)…Actual set starting off calmly, Andrew and Helga’s guitars in dank and beautiful interplay, Caitlin’s drums starting to rumble up…Helga’s vocals now starting as a new guitar line appears — this is one of the most entrancing times I’ve seen them yet. It’s slow burn but always focused rock epic buildup in their own vein, a nice equivalent to the previous performance…This is really turning spectacular now. A clear highlight of the whole festival. Arcing off into even more huge spacebound blasts. Every couple of minutes something new and bigger kicks in while the beat continues and ramps up. This is Neu! “Lila Engel” level…Only now shifting into the more freeform feedback/wail/drum clatter I’d expect from them but here it feels like exultant release.”

Grasslung, On Land

Grasslung — “…now kicking in — the drones are loud, deep and duly ominous, therefore perfect. Much less busy than the previous acts but builds well, understated melodic tones, shifts to bigger/louder keyboard roars…Starting to really get mind-meltingly huge, in a weird way it almost synthesizes the previous two sets, electronic epic progression…Huge crackling in the monitors now. Happily it is intentional, and controllable.”

Date Palms, On Land

Date Palms — “besides Mari and Gregg K there’s “trevor montgomery on bass and michael elrod on tanpura.” I’ve seen Marielle and Gregg separately now so seeing them together = should be really great…Tanpura setting an initial rhythm followed by the bass as Marielle and Gregg kick in. She’s on violin, he’s got nefarious devices…Performance is very deliberate and measured, setting a calm tone blending old and new discreetly. Gregg K’s work is the subtlest…After a pause into a new song sans Elrod. Gregg’s got a couple of stringed instruments hooked up to the gear and both are kicking in…The slow deliberation continues — I like it quite a bit, the performance clearly aims for a steady, unhurried control…Lovely blending of Gregg’s drones and Mari’s violin parts now. A free-floating haze, suddenly punctuated by bass…A quickening of pace, a slow pulling back to a new swirling Gregg K drone part, some of Mari’s violin returns.”

Xela, On Land

Xela/Zelienople — “…as I suggested, Xela takes the stage in his contemporary Iron Maiden shirt. Good man…Should also say that Zelienople has been soundchecking as well — hmm, epic jam session?…And as Jefre has announced, Mike from Zelienople will back Xela, who in turn will join Zelienople without a break between sets. Nice!…So John begins with various low tones while some fucked up Crusader horror movie clip runs. Of course! Movie apparently called The Blind Dead, Spanish film. Seems about right. Mike now adding cymbal parts to the echoed tones…

Xela and the Blind Dead, On Land

…Xela’s got a central whooshing/rising tone loop, heavily echoed, that he’s manipulating as he goes. The film gets trashier. Spanish muttonchop man with big polkadotted bathing towel + this performance = already a show for the ages…Xela now adding treble-pitched vocal parts, also heavily treated. Ghosts in caverns plus strange machinery. The film has meanwhile become a train set exploration of swarthy men and seventies backpackers with convent school visions…Mike now full out on drums, Xela’s mix an increasing electronic howl. Music builds to a climax and then zones out further, new windhowls entering. Film has actress wandering around evil ruins. Mike laying down a slow, steady beat, John again singing, female film character settling in for a night’s haunting…

Xela and Zelienople, On Land

…The rest of Zelienople now takes the stage as Xela cuts back to a crumbling flow of sound. Guitars start to ease in over it. All very gazey at the start for Zelionople, works for me! Not just that sonic quality to be sure — good use of space and mood setting, sudden changes in volume, drum parts setting pace…Film still going BTW — thank you black ashened ghosts on horses. Music now making me think of early Codeine a bit. The contrast of the moody music and singing and the film is even more o_0 now. Xela adding vocals…Movie just shifted from slow motion horseback chases by ghosts to smoothies at a coastal resort. The song then ends…And into a new one, more of a big epic sound, while green leisure suited men argue on screen. This really is a wonderful set…Spanish actors in green and orange argue in ruins near a bloody body while the musicians play on. Do they know?…Music = a big if still melancholy chug and blast. Movie = sleazy mustachioed men with seventies haircuts. Oh and more bodies…New song now. Zelienople being the most traditional rock band on the bill serves them as they still fit into the On Land aesthetic of drone. But for them it’s more implied in the slow burn of the performance and the crushing volume. (Film: mannequins, sleazos, blood.)…And a new twist in the film, we got zombies killing men playing with frogs! Music: feedback zone gone beautiful…Film now featuring cameo by the young Leon Trotsky. Xela adding in vocal textures, Zelienople creating beautiful rumble…And into a quieter arrangement while a zombie kills a redhead in a mannequin warehouse. This all makes sense in a dreamworld. No I take it back, it’s the zombie getting killed. These details are important. Song: a lovely, mournful piece…Skronky guitar heroics while the Spanish Michael Landon confronts the Spanish Sonny Bono. Let there be rock! Big blasting grind and stomp now, another Pink Floyd tribute in a way but now circa 1979. The movie is now indescribable…Xela confirmed after the set that the movie was his choice. He wanted something ‘macabre yet mundane.'”

The Alps, On Land

The Alps — “And with a Johnny Rotten quote from Jefre, into the Alps set to close out the evening…As suits the backing films of sunrises and slow dawns, a very gentle, nicely mysterious start, tanpura, guitars and more…Big shift via bass then drums into a blasting rumble, feedback on high, while background zoneout continues…Extended drones while something gets talked out among the band, then Jefre returns to acoustic guitar and things get blissed again. And the gong now gets played! But not in a loud way, more understated reverberation with the keyboard drones. Jefre back to electric…Okay, gong parts now much louder! But fitting the bigger, fraying edges of the performance now…Arrangement now focused on tanpura again, calming down again for the moment though the bass just kicked in again…Building to a big ending, a pause, cutting back to bass, then a nicely monstrous, majestic arrangement. Bardo Pond would approve.”


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