28th to 30th July 2006
Castle Party Festival: Deathcamp Project, Clan of Xymox, VNV Nation, Dust Heaven, The Birthday Massacre, Leaves' Eyes, De/Vision
Fire and ice, or I should rather say the heat and cold was what we experienced during the 13th edition of Castle Party Festival in Bolków, Poland. And I mean not only musically - the weather tested us quite bitterly, but being a tough one I managed to survive. :) Well, some institutions tend to skip the number 13 in their registers; however 13 seemed to be lucky for CP, as we had really good fun. Eighteen bands in two days, numerous DJs and DJanes from Central and Eastern Europe and abundance of visitors from all over the continent proved a splendid combination once again. Castle Party has been taking place regularly every year since 1994 and it is undoubtedly the biggest festival in this part of Europe. Being a unique event, it attracts "freaks" from Poland and abroad and provides wonderful atmosphere and great music. This year the city was taken over by the dark nation on 28th July and given back on 30th. Here's what was going on. http://castleparty.com
On entering Bolków, a small town hidden in the shadow of the castle dominating over the neighbourhood I always experience this funny feeling: that I've arrived to a colony of fans of gothic scene. The habitants are used to that conquest that takes place every year and the existence goes rather smoothly. Anyway, Friday is usually the warm-up day of the Festival. So it was this time, too. DJs and DJanes did all their best to prepare the audience for what was to come the next days and in my opinion they succeeded. In the meantime the industrial project Job Karma presented their material and visualizations. The rest of the evening we spent in the clubs Hacjenda and Sorento meeting our long-not-seen friends and enjoying the atmosphere.
Saturday welcomed us with cloudy and damp weather, but we were happy anyway: after all black clothes, strong make-up and boiling heat are not a good marriage. The festival started at 3 pm, however, I didn't manage to watch all the bands as the weather played capricious that day and I had to go and change murmurous times for the heavy rains that soaked us in the afternoon. The most interesting concerts are reported below: Deathcamp Project, Clan of Xymox and VNV Nation.
‘Deathcamp Project’ is a duo which was formed in October 2001by Betrayal - responsible for the bass, programming, keyboard production, and Void - vocalist, guitar player and lyric writer. The band has already recorded four demos: "End"(2001), "Wired" (2002), "Away From You" (2003) and "Laxa(C)tivE" EP (2004). The music that is created by the band is something of a classic Goth rock influenced by some elements of post punk, death-rock and dark wave sounds. http://www.deathcampproject.com/
To say that the project was a dark horse of the fest wouldn't be enough... the ‘Deathcamp Project’ performance excelled some of the stars of the fest and definitely took the audience off their feet! Moving to the top, slow but steady, Void and Betrayal are said to be the "hope of the Polish Goth rock scene". Well, in Poland calling the band "a hope" could bring the association with the saying that drowning man grasps at a straw, but it's really not that bad with the Goth scene here. Still, to avoid all the misunderstandings let me just say that as for me the band constitutes a separate, stable and independent entity presenting original, danceable at times and catchy music of strong sound and deep, touching vocal. To describe their music would be quite a task, as it’s of rather a protean quality: it is very gothic at one point and very rhythmic at the other, so the best would be to say that is a cocktail of sentiment and adrenaline, lulling with one song to wipe out with another. Variety and perfect presentation are their advantages, not to mention the other features like strong, deep, extremely characteristic "reverberating" vocal of Void and the lively bass of Betrayal that both play equals in their artistic output. Very refreshing music, I must say, in the sea of worn out sounds; I keep my fingers crossed for the gentlemen to carry on doing their great job!
Methinks guitars have that something to it, as the audience reacted in an uncontrollable way on the ‘Deathcamp Project’ appearance on stage. Never have I seen red bras, string pants and knickers in such amounts (if in any amounts) landing on the stage during a gothic concert... Complete madness! :) Splendid organization of the scene: Void - the vocalist - controlling the audience with the dominating voice and two guitar players on his sides - what a great three treads interlacing to make a fantastic music fabric! ‘Deathcamp Project’ was the only of the so called "young" bands of the festival that gave (and was asked for) encore - I my opinion, totally deserved.
01. Divine Words
03. Fuckin' Deathrock
04. Rule and Control
06. Dead Hours
07. New Dawn Fades (joy division cover)
Total 8 (8.1)
Clan of Xymox
The band, which is said to have no competition in the Gothic Rock / Dark Wave scene, was formed in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in 1983 by Ronny Moorings, Pieter Nooten, and Anke Wolbert. The first EP "Subsequent Pleasures" was self-published and followed by the first album "Clan of Xymox" in 1985. And hence, the history of highly estimated albums creating the image of gothic rock had begun. As for now, the sum of releases ends up with the one entitled "Breaking Point". Members: Ronny Moorings, Mojca Zugna, Denise Dijkstra, Agnes Jasper and Mario Usai. http://www.clanofxymox.com/
Sometimes it seems to me that talking about ‘Clan of Xymox’’ music is like "dancing about the architecture", especially when I think that being a Polish fan of the band I'm so used to their music that I tend to "feel and experience" it rather than assess, analyze and discuss it in a detailed way. Having a long history of the band's concerts in our country, I believe we tend to approach it very emotionally, sentimentally even. Sounds like a poor attitude as for a good reporter, doesn't it? But that's that - the concert was amazing and I cannot stick to anything. For the COX absence on CP last year, this year the fans had been waiting for them impatiently, especially that the concert was expected to feature the material of the new album "Breaking Point". And so it did, however, only two of the new ones were performed: "Weak in my knees" and "Calling you out". The old songs prevailed and as far as I could see the people freaked out... Well, no surprise: the band played their best hits which usually leave no fan indifferent (and still :)). The music that filled the air was sort of a novelty and yet it evoked the recollections of the previous editions of the festival on account of ‘Clan of Xymox’ being connected with the history of Castle Party so much. Great music performed in an even greater atmosphere.
The band appeared on the stage after quite a moment of impatient waiting within their fans and the applause welcomed them at their very entry. The dim light, the musicians wreathed in smoke, hidden in a cosy darkness - the image I captured at a certain moment made me think of old vignettes, but it was just a flicker - then the rhythmic and yet melodious sound took control and I could only think of the music vibrating in every cell of my poor, tired body. :) Powerful and ravishing sound, Ronny Moorings mastering the spectacle like a discreet conductor, the guitar players - Mojca and Mario giving the whole show an appropriate power and Denise in the background enchanting the audience with the keyboard music (and a very stylish jacket I must say ;) - that was spectacular. It was one of the best concerts of the Festival.
01. Intro HAL
03. Weak in My Knees
04. Calling You Out
05. Jasmine & Rose
07. This World
09. No Tomorrow
10. A Day
11. Back Door
13. Muscoviet Musquito
Total 8 (7.9)
For the biography of the band, check here. http://www.vnvnation.com
That was the first concert of the band in Poland and I think the success of ‘VNV Nation’ exceeded all expectations! Three or four encores (at certain point I lost the account :)), enthusiasm, dancing, singing, hundreds and hundreds of hands in the air and enormous, sincere applause! Such welcomes rarely happen in Poland to be honest! Actually they are reserved for the long-awaited, highly adored bands that present the music that appeals to and is acknowledged by the most of the fans of dark independent music only. They played the songs of the new album "Matter and form" like e.g. "Chrome" or "Homeward", but also the old tracks that added to the band's popularity: "Darkangel", "Carbon", "Epicentre", "Beloved", "Honour". The power and strength, the danceable and monumental music, beat and calm: all these characteristic features that fans of the band adore so much, could be found in their show and I believe the hopes of the audience were not disappointed.
Well, the concert of ‘VNV Nation’ was nothing new to me, as I already had a chance to see the band last year on M'era Luna and also this year on WGT, however, much as I'm used to the enthusiasm the band evokes among their fans, the collective madness I witnessed in Poland was absolutely extraordinary. The festival area was full of people; and me standing on the side could observe the sea of hands: right from the front to the exit gate. That was really a splendid view and I believe the energy and joy people were bursting with was highly contagious - I saw no person indifferent to the music and show. I rarely saw people letting them selves go so open, unrestrained and joyful: that was a great party with the band, an exchange of positive emotions and extremely good fun. Well, seeing the reaction the band promised to come back again, so we're looking forward to it!
Total 8 (8.1)
On Sunday the sun cream was necessary as it was boiling hot. The music and temperature made us crash and burn, but for the music we went to extremes. :) Of the bands playing that day I've picked up four - in my opinion most interesting: ‘Dust Heaven’, ‘The Birthday Massacre’, ‘Leaves' Eyes’ and ‘De/Vision’.
Ukrainian band playing danceable, ravishing and extremely catchy music consists of Anastasia Bukina (voice) and Alexander Grechanyk (synths/programming). The group ‘Dust Heaven’ was formed in the spring of 2001.The music of the band can be described as the mixture of synth, gothic and wave. The music of the project combines elegant lyrics on a powerful electronic basis. As it was already noted by press - this is the only similar project on the Ukrainian scene. http://dustheaven.com/
It was not the first show of ‘Dust Heaven’ in Poland. They'd performed on Dark East Music Festival in Warsaw. However, the concert in Bolków was the first chance to present their music to the wider audience. The music presented by the band was a combination of rhythmic, a bit aggressive electronic music, very danceable and powerful and the sweet, melodious vocals of Anastasia Bukina. Like I said, it was very hot on that day, but still plenty of people started to dance, jump and clap their hands. Very impressive vocal line, lyrics partly in English, partly in Russian, soft, clear and deep voice interlaced very nicely with the pulsating sound. The concert was relatively short (25 minutes) so as I suppose it didn't cover most of the band's artistic output, however, what they managed to present gave impression of wonderful scenic energy and potential dance floor hits.
01. Scarlet Tea
04. Sovereign of Delusions (2nd version)
Total 8 (7.55)
The Birthday Massacre
‘The Birthday Massacre’ was formed in 200 in Toronto, Canada. So far the band independently produced and recorded their first two albums, "Nothing and Nowhere" and "Violet". Being famous for combining numerous means for artistic output TBM combines beautiful music with fashion, visuals and lyrics. Members: Chibi (Vocals), M. Falcore (Lead Guitar), Rainbow (Rhythm Guitar, Sequencing), Aslan (Bass), Rhim (Drums) and o-en (Keyboards). http://www.thebirthdaymassacre.com/
‘The Birthday Massacre’ is the band said to combine various means of artistic expressions: music, fashion, image, light, lyrics and other forms of art. During the concert in Bolków, we did not have a chance to see them all as I presume because the concert was played in the daylight, which definitely imposed certain limitations. Still, it was vibrating with Chibi's characteristic voice, her manner on the stage and dynamism of the remaining musicians, all very lively and engaged in the show. Chibi is an extraordinary vocalist to be true - she is a musician, but also an actress at the same time and her mimicry and behaviour on the stage highlights the particular image of the whole band. I was talking to the fans of TBM after the concert and they claimed they'd been waiting for this particular show for months and that they were really delighted. Definitely, TBM is not the band that could be skipped in the mass of others; their charisma, clear and highly defined scenic appearance and artistic influences make them unusual and very special. Definitely, the number of fans of the Canadians has increased dramatically after their visit in Poland.
02. Lovers end
03. Play dead
04. Horror show
05. Promise me
07. New song *untitled*
08. To die for
11. Happy birthday
12. Video kid
For the biography of the band, check here. http://www.leaveseyes.de
Honestly spoken, I'm not familiar with the music of ‘Leaves' Eyes’, so I cannot give the full image of the musical presentation of the band. Being an ignorant in this respect I concentrated fully on watching and blending the images with the musical background in my head. The show was definitely a background for the amazing voice of Liv Kristine. She was simply marvellous: to listen to her changing voice, raising and falling, gave us thrills and I must say it was a great feeling. From time to time the vocalist - Alexander Krull - appeared on the stage and I had an impression it was intentional clash of womanish delicacy, charm, sweetness and softness with the manly energy, power, heat and strength. Two faces of music, two voices interlacing as if the silk was entwining sharp sword. For such an electro maniac as me: very soothing experience.
Like I have already mentioned, the show was centred around the musical dialog between Liv Kristine and Alexander Krull: the former being incarnation of charm, the latter - of passion. The lady was wearing an extremely stylish gown - red with a corset which contrasted very nicely with her fair hair. Both artists were scoping the audience's attention and the musicians provided a wonderful musical background for their presentation.
Total 8 (7.9)
‘De/Vision’, a German Electro-Pop band, was established in 1988 in Darmstadt, by the vocalist Steffen and keyboardists Thomas and Markus. The trio released several full-length albums, EPs, and remix albums. Markus left the band in 2000 and ‘De/Vision’ kept working and recording as a duo. Their recent publishing is entitled "Subkutan". Members: Steffen Keth and Thomas Adam. http://www.devision-music.com/
Poland has the reputation of being full of Synth-Pop and Electro-Pop fans. Well, I'm not sure if the fans of the genre prevail really (after all I'm not one of them), but the fact is that plenty of them appeared in Bolków but for ‘De/Vision’. That was the second visit of the band in Poland and many expectations were connected with their Sunday show. Impression? When it comes to legends of any scene, not only the dark independent scene, I always wonder whether it is easier for the bands to play having all the years of experience, or harder. The fact is that the comments after the concerts varied: some people were delighted, the others disappointed - the usual thing. Still, one thing is sure: ‘De/Vision’ gave a concert that was good musically and a bit static as far as the performance is concerned. Gents played the tracks of their new album "Subkutan" and some old stuff, like for example "Your hands on my skin", which particular song made the audience sing with the vocalist. Steffen Keth was dancing on the stage and encouraging the audience to join him: he even partly succeeded. :) For the fans of ‘De/Vision’ it was definitely a sort of a treat - for me - a chance to see a legendary group playing live.
03. Drifting sideways
04. I'm not enough
05. New drug
06. The End
07. My own worst enemy
09. Your hands on my skin
10. Strange affection
11. I regret
12. Still unknown
14. The day's not done
Total 7 (7.4)
Pictures by http://yesternight.pl