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Zappanale 2013

Back from the Zappanale for exactly two months now, here are some words and, more important, the photos! For an introduction to what I’m talking about, please see Zappanale! In short, the Zappanale is an annual festival in Bad Doberan, former GDR, devoted to Frank Zappa’s Music. As such, most of the bands show some either musical or ideological overlap with…either the music or the idea behind the works of Frank Zappa and his accompanying bands such as the Mothers of Invention.

However, in the recent years it also became customary to have some more progressive or avantgarde bands such as Doctor Nerve, Magma, Gargantua etc. – brought to you by the great Freakshow’s Charly (for last year’s pictures please see Zappanale 2012)! However, after hosting a huge festival with Magma, Motorpsycho, DeWolff and others plus the Heavy Guitar Days including a show of No-more-Mr-Niceguy Cooper leading to high financial risks, the idea of this years festival was to go back to being more earthy again and not to include heavy names like the ones listed above.

Apart from the traditional festival opening in the center of Bad Doberan on Thursday, this years opening act on the actual festival side, the Galopprennbahn, was one of the stunning highlights, vaguely related to Zappa in a musical sense! Ladies and gentleman, this is from the Swiss mountains Anton and the Headcleaners:

Next on the second stage, called “Mystery Stage”, an original collaborator of Frank entered the Zappanale and kind of started the more retrospective side of the event: the award-winning (Deutscher Filmpreis 2008 for best film score) Ali N. Askin, who was Frank’s musical assistant on his orchestral record The Yellow Shark. Since then he composed mainly Music for theatres and movies and obviously had great fun rocking the Zappa-fans:

…and on with the first real Zappa-Tribute band, Dangerous Kitchen from the Ruhr area in Germany! Arranged for a rich variety of wind instruments, Marimba- and Vibraphone and the “standard” rock Instrumentation, they covered Zappa music which they describe as “Rock, soul, jazz, dodgy, satiric and sometimes wonderfully giggly”.

The next day I started with Coogans Bluff, named after an ancient Clint Eastwood movie. They presented a heavily 70s influenced Grunge-Riff-Stoner-Rock somewhere between Grateful Dead, Can, Pearl Jam and Monster Magnet. Last year they released their 3rd and latest record on which they tend to more complex structures and enriched their Instrumentation by wind instruments. And damn, they rocked – straight, jammed – great start for the day!

Then my personal highlight of the festival: known from the 80s recording “Live at Moers Festival”, Kazutoki Umezu, formerly known as Doctor Umezu, sax-mate of John Zorn and Tom Cora and one of the most influential Jazz musicians in Japan over the last decades returned to Germany and fucking rocked the damn house. The band, blendly named Kazutoki Umezu Kiki band is a four piece, three japanese plus the american drum badass Joe Trump (yeah, he’s the billionaire!! call him and ask for it – he loves it! ;-)) played a heavily rocking jazz set, constantly pushed forward by the never giving-in rhythm section Joe and the funky and probably tightest bass player in Japan! Add the crazy guitar solos by Natsuki Kido who you might recognize from Bondage Fruit or Yoshida’s Project Korekyojin and the free jazz sax by the Doctor and you’ll end up with something hard to categorize: Avantgarde, funk, free jazz, progressive rock, folk, traditional jazz…maybe just call it damn tight complex Jazzrock…?!
Anyway, they recently released a new record and as one could see after the gig, I was not the only one digging it: all their CDs sold out within minutes…

I let the the day sink away watching the long-term Zappa veteran band “Banned from Utopia” consisting of the alumni Robert Martin, Ray White, Ed Mann, Tom Fowler, Albert Quon Wing, Mike Miller and Ralph Humphrey! Of course, they played Zappa songs and of course, they know how to play them. Though, somehow they couldn’t really ignite the audience and the reception was warm but cold…however, after the concert they where personally honored as honorary members of the Arf Society for keeping the heritage of Frank alive!

…and, since Ike Willis didn’t make it to good ol’europe and to his gig with the Pojama People since his name is not his real name but Isaac is, I closed the festival with the show of the stand-alone artist Chato Segerer, who gained attention and great fame in playing with just that Ike Willis on the Yellow Snow Festival Zappa Festival in Norway in 2012. Faithful followers of Charly’s Freakshow Festival may also remember the multi-Instrumentalist by his spontaneous performance in Würzburg in 2012!

…and of course, every single visitor remembers her – at least I remember seeing you guys dreaming:

Thanks for your interest, please leave your comments and hope to see you next year, folks, at this unique, colourful, peaceful and most relaxed festival on this planet! Actually, I already know the line-up for 2014 in bits and pieces…and bands they’re considering…it’s gonna be great!!

Arf Arf,
Eduard Tetzlaff

Doctor Nerve, Jazzhouse Copenhagen, 28.05.13

From Hamburg, taking the ferry, the Nerve-crew arrived in Denmark’s capital: Copenhagen! Sorting out some double booking trouble at the hotel, a very sophisticated jazzclub was entered and taken over. Doctor Nerve played a “double show” with the local “heroes” Selvhenter – a marvelous girls-only jazz noise band you probably will hear off during the next years! The audience didn’t seem to particularly enjoy the metal riffs – at least, there was no reaction at all but hey, thats the Scandinavians! Actually, they rather seem to be consternated or affected! However, as I found out later, they liked it, just didn’t know how to express it…only one guy joined in and danced like a maniac – amazing…

Doctor Nerve, Fundbureau Hamburg, 27.05.13

Station to station! Really! Trains running over this lovely small club in Hamburg – sonorous vibes joining ecstatic riffs cumulating in a night no one of the attendants will ever forget…a furious audience! Gracias!

Nooumena – Argument of Eagerness

On first listen Nooumena’s (not to be confused with the  finnish Melodic Death Metal band Noumena) debut album Argument with Eagerness surely comes as a double-edged sword: unquestionable one can hear great talent and potential but on the other hand it denies to ignite the listener on the first go – well, the sensed potential dictates a second, third and forth round…and, as it turns out then, many more! But before diving into the music, let’s do some background research in the meantime.

Nooumena is a band from Caen, France, who doubtlessly adopted their name from the Greek νοούμενον, which in philosophy denotes the antipode of a phenomenon. Actually, as always in philosophy, notions undergo a certain change or fluctuation in meaning such that precision is blurred over the centuries. For example, Kant connoted noumenon with “the thing itself” whereas Plato, who’s definition in my opinion fits the idea of the band better, describes it as “what is to be seen (or understood) by the mind” in contrast to a phenomenon, which is something to be experienced by the senses.

The band recorded their first demo In Memory of a Next World in 2006 (free download by clicking on the link!) and after that, concentrated on getting other projects going (Les Yeux De La Tête, Rhùn) before in 2011 they finally came together to record this debut. Though their demo carried more metal influences with growling vocals and brutal, direct riffs they couldn’t deny their weakness for more complex structures and psychodelic postrock passages (e.g. Hail to the anomist).

However, having refined their idea of music and widened their pool of instruments over the years, the second and third and fourth spin reveals the enormous musical finesse presented here. The opener Nameless Reward quietly comes up with a threatening atmosphere built up by shimmering percussions, a minimalistic sawing strins and a voice like Toby Driver’s, heavily reminding of Kayo Dot! Bouncing guitars speed up the track and drums join in before ultimately wind instruments turn it into a disharmonious bombast best listened (very!) aloud. Actually, the vast variety of instruments allow for quick changes of styles, from claustrophobic avant to jazzy licks, from rolling drums to monolithic choirs in Decadence, from typical repetitive Zeuhl passages to Uli Jon Roth guitar licks to lunatic laughter in Le Plouc or the quiet, repetitive and oppressive Somehow this record contains every possible facet of avantgarde music without ever losing its incredible flow and intensity. The dominating depressive atmosphere is supported by lyrics such as “Boredom is no more a problem but reality” or “”How to reach harmony when bleeding to death…” to cite only a few lines. To include some more references, one may think of Time of Orchids, some more refined Opeth tracks or even King Crimson.

One of the highlights of this record besides the extremely tight Le Plouc is definitvely the closing track Taedium Vitae, a name which refers most likely to its usage in philosophy meaning vaguely distaste for life or in Freudian psychoanalysis where it is used for the abatement in lust for life in the context of a depression. Well, this feeling is perfectly transported by returning to the close similarity in atmosphere to Kayo Dot, which opens the track. Percussions, organically scratching sounds and again, a claustrophobic singing a la Coyote which ascends to monolithic, intense and disruptive disharmony.

All in all, what Nooumena present here is a tight, multilayer, complex record where one can completely immerse oneself in. Its pocketing atmosphere is certainly dark but not depressing. Its sheer opulence in ideas is overwhelming and after several runs the listener is convinced this is one of the best records discovered long since! But be aware, there’s always a blank spot you didn’t discover yet. Fabulous! Get it, dive in!

P.S.: the record was released by Antithetic Records in an digipack edition of 250 which are sold out as far as I know (there are some copies left at Wayside, though)! The digital version may be ordered on the band’s bandcamp site for only 4 $ (or more)!

Doctor Nerve, Rider’s Cafe Lübeck, 26.05.13

Leaving Paris, after a “secret gig” at Lutz Diehl’s Eisenwerkschänke in Schwelm, where the nervous Doctors were fed the probably best beefsteaks they ever had, and after one day of at the dutch countryside, the next city was attacked: Lübeck! And what an event: Avant-Jazz-Metal in a bikers club…great! Well, to take over the world you gotta walk all roads…here are the pictures (including some rare and yet unreleased backstage shots, revealing some hot details about…well…they can read (and write!!!) notes):

Doctor Nerve, Le Triton Paris, 23.05.13

Two days after their Würzburg show and after a kind of “secret gig” in one of Paris’ grottos, one of the most famous clubs in Paris was occupied: the Triton, Magma’s Christian Vander’s ideological “living room”! Yves Duboin invited friends and family, which was one of the reasons Paris was cooking that night – two sets, less “rock-ish” than in Würzburg, more jazzy – and here are the pictures:

Doctor Nerve, Cafe Cairo Würzburg, 21.05.13

The fabulous NYC Avant-Jazz-Metal band Doctor Nerve started their 2013’s European Tour at one of if not the German top address for avantgarde rock these days: announced in course of the series “Freakshow-In-Concert” they played an awesome gig, totally on spot from the first minute on they were out to nuke the Cafe Cairo in Würzburg. No words can describe how they rocked the stage and could only hardly be stopped by the closing hour. Being a grateful attendant some pictures were taken! Please share and leave a comment!

And last but not least, let me warn you: loads more from the other venues are just on their way, so stay tuned!