On Land Festival 2010 — Sunday shows

And the final day of the festival, starting with the Aquarius Records instore that afternoon:

Ilyas Ahmed and Grouper, Aquarius

Ilyas Ahmed and Grouper — “Lovely hushed start, very them for lack of a better term: wordless, lost vocals, rich low guitar textures, massive reverb…The set continues in that vein, some slightly faster songs but otherwise always in the zoned/echoed/postgaze/4AD spot I still adore.”

Christina Carter, Aquarius Records

Christina Carter — “Christina starts in very delicately and deliberately…Alternating between the guitar part and lines being sung from a poem in her notebook. It’s a very affecting performance…Second song begins with a short instrumental introduction — has a similar vocal/guitar/vocal feel but the parts blend more.”

Then later we were off to the Swedish American Hall and one last night:

Higuma, On Land

Higuma — “…Gentle wide open and dreamy guitar to start it off. Evan adding some darker shades that suggest Barn Owl a bit but this is clearly its own thing esp thanks to Lisa’s vocals…Both performers now opening out their parts, Evan really letting fly while Lisa explores both the central melody and vocals…Big guitar part from Evan kicking in, loud but not punishing, more loomingly melancholic. Really great set here.”

Common Eider, King Eider, On Land

Common Eider, King Eider — “…they kick in with a LOT of dramatic feedback and zone…Forlorn wordless vocals, deep echoes, HUGE feedback from guitars and violins, soft piano. Don’t remember last year like this!…Everything much more hushed now. The last band I saw that was quite so extreme was Ghost! But CEKE have their own good style…Now moving into more explosive drum parts and increasingly frenetic strings while the piano part remains serene and steady…George Chen is the modern Animal on drums. Minus the neck chain…Now back to guitars (quick big feedback strum, low e-bow rhythm), vocals and then violin. A massive sounding conclusion…Though now a brief coda? Same slow descending melody, much more skeletal.”

Ilyas Ahmed, On Land

Ilyas Ahmed — “Compared to the instore’s slow, steady hush this is much more improvisational and alternately hurried and quiet…Much pedal adjusting, almost like a constant search to refine and focus the sound as he performs. Vocals now coming in serenely…Ilyas announces “This one’s for Jack” and I’m sure it’s Jack Rose. Still missed, was thinking of him today. A lovely song.”

Bill Orcutt, On Land

Bill Orcutt — “…he takes the stage to a sudden hush…Might sound strange but his performance reminds me of Glenn Gould in a way, the sudden physicality and vocal interjections…It’s almost like the notes get ripped suddenly out of the guitar, quick and fierce, then peace reigns for a moment…The second song is calmer in parts, creating a tension between that and the sudden bursts as they appear. Performance as exploration …Big resonant tones at points — another thing to remind me of Jack Rose tonight, from a slightly different angle…Third song has him suddenly rip into a quick propulsive blast (on acoustic guitar, no less — its wear and tear makes perfect sense)…Tumultuous applause after the fourth song — many cheers — and after asking if he still has time, into one last piece.”

Dan Higgs, On Land

Dan Higgs — “Dan Higgs begins with a warm “Hi everybody” in between his opening chants and gentle instrumental rhythm…”Let’s go insane…because what they call sane…it’s a waste of the brain!” All to soft tambourine and high tones. And why not?…The gospel in his vocals is equally warm, it’s a sudden appreciation, and he invites us to “help me out if you like!”…”Got some dust in my throat…feels nice!”…In response to a claim it’s Holy Bible time he sings of burning it, breaking its spine and standing on it “until your tears run dry”…”What is the Bible?…it’s turquoise blue, it’s neon pink…an ocean of sound…and there is no evidence, no explanation why.”…”Clear away the bricks, clear away the stones, smash the holy vessels with hammers made of song.”…”Learned about my own sense of smell this week!” The story about trying to determine the putrescent smell in his van = A plus…Switching over to banjo…He can definitely come up with some peaceful yet creepy laughs…”Last chance to throat dance! OOOOOOOAAAAAOOOOWUH!”…Gotta say this is definitely my most unexpected set of the festival. Nail filing and all!…”Going to play one last song…it has been a strange pleasure…I’m always looking for new pleasures…this goes out to the ladies!””

Grouper, On Land

Grouper — “…as with last year, in near pitch dark with a film set to screen behind her…The set begins with a crumbling cassette sample of some sort while the film kicks in…Softer, deep buried melodies sound off as she adjusts pedals and other elements…Extremely lovely stuff, as deep blue as her instore set but again like Ilyas not repeating it, not yet using guitar…One of the more deliberate sets of the festival, very slow evolving but also extremely involving, a slow pulling inward…She now starts playing guitar and singing, the rich reverbed tones of both a new layer of dark beauty…Moves to a new melody — a very Windy and Carl feeling now but with Liz’s vocal style one of the clear points of difference…What seemed like a final conclusion was more a quick pause, into a vocal/guitar part that’s the most stripped down yet…The film projections for Grouper have been lovely, black and white images ranging from city business to wintry forests and roads.”

Charalambides, On Land

Charalambides — “”Hi, we’re Charalambides.” And with that from Christina we are go for the final band of the festival…Almost sounding like a slow, none more drawn out blues band at the start, just. Christina’s singing goes big early on…Tom looking almost entranced, Christina seated, eyes closed. Still a fascinating partnership after all these years…The performance feels so far like an extension of her instore with the extra guitar adding more fractured texture, a darkness…Remembering Christina’s wordless keening from ten years back and contrasting it to the focused, suddenly sharp poetry here…She stops singing and their guitars break into a brief, unsettled coda to end the first song. Tom’s dark tones set up the next…Christina’s brighter, sharper guitar parts again a good but always complementary contrast. There’s heavy drama at work…The two now fully lock into their instruments, a focused, intense upward charge. Almost the only comparison point here is Swans. I’m quietly fascinated by the fact that some people near me have suddenly left over these last minutes like they didn’t expect this…Christina’s slow march now contrasted by Tom fully going off, pedals and feedback in a massive storm. Then her singing kicks in…Christina sets down her guitar and takes the mike out of the stand, Tom plays a calm part. It’s a version of a song from the instore…It’s interesting to hear the subtle differences — both her singing and his music adds or stretches out notes, a little freedom. He adds some high scrapes and swirls, she sounds even more commanding and fraught…”Maybe you will dream together tonight….she’s so far away…he’s so far away…Hush now, it’s going to be all right…” While the music’s doom laden repetition suggests anything but that state…Christina takes up the guitar again while Tom adds some softer breaks and quieter tones. It’s like the sudden removal of weight…Her singing now similarly more obviously empathetic, a bit of balm while Tom’s is still loud but now a bit triumphant…Now both of them really amping into some heroic sounding stuff, great to hear. Darkness leading into dawn…Pretty amazing. If this is how the festival all ends I couldn’t imagine a better way to do so. Into some big zoneout feedback…And On Land Festival 2010 is indeed over!”


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