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introTrix XL, Antwerp, Belgium
14th and 15th December 2012
BIM Fest 2012 Day 1: Test Dept:Redux (Test Department), Portion Control, Icon of Coil, Nothing but Noise, Job Karma, True Zebra

When the time has come to do the last preparations for Christmas, and the anticipation starts getting to unbearable due to the gifts that might be placed under the tree, the time had come for the yearly Belgian Independent Music Fest in Belgium. The 11th edition of the festival, as happened in all those before, assembled an outstanding line-up to bring up anticipation to the melting point. Highlight on Friday night was surely the show of TEST DEPT:REDUX

True Zebra

The first band of the evening was also the biggest surprise for me and my personal highlight. TRUE ZEBRA is the project of Belgian Kevin Strauwen who is  a musician, songwriter, engineer and producer. So far, he received amazing reviews regarding his self-released debut album ‘True Zebra’, which was out in September 2010 already. When listening to the live show, IAMX and SONO came into my mind. But there is more in Kevin’s music since he is not only using electronic elements, but also tying rock elements into his music and giving the songs an all-over independent, alternative touch. Tight grooves, industrial-esque rhythms and haunting melodies immediately out you under a spell. As the press earlier said about TRUE ZEBRA, this project is really a discovery. Besides songs from his debut, Kevin introduced also three new songs to be released on his new album, to be out hopefully some when in the second half of 2013. Absolutely great show - supported perfectly by video animations - at an early hour and I hardly recommend you to check out Kevin’s mix of indie music and electro pop. // Setlist: 1. Sounds easy / 2. Everybody needs / 3. Revelation / 4. Get out / 5. The shame (new song from forthcoming album) / 6. Happen (new song from forthcoming album) / 7. The silence / 8. Under control / 9. Push it (new song from forthcoming album) / 10. Delirious // Rating: 8 / 10 // /


Job Karma

After this great start of the evening with TRUE ZEBRA, no other band really could convince me totally. I know, all upcoming bands are surely good musicians, but the opener was just too perfect for me. Besides that, I must say that it in the course of the evening it became more and more difficult to see what’s going on onstage since the light show was more and more reduced. Presenting videos could not be the only reason. Whatever, JOB KARMA were next band. This post-industrial group is based in Wrocław, Poland and started already in 1997 by Aureliusz PISARZEWSKI and Maciej FRETT. Their sounds is basically relied both on the sound of analogue and digital instruments and devices (acoustic generators), as well as on looped trancelike rhythms. And so, the show was also pretty much reduced with the two guys operating mainly behind their desk or fiddling with their devices. Anything was supported by videos to make the visual aspect a bit more attractive. Otherwise the show would get pretty much boring. Being considerable renowned for their audiovisual performances, also the presented videos at BIM were phantastic and made up for the lack of other lighting. All in all, for my taste the spherical sounds being presented were a bit too calm during a whole set. // Rating: 6.5 / 10 // / /


Nothing but Noise

Seems there is no Belgian festival somehow presenting FRONT 242… and if not the band itself, it must be some side project. The first BIM day had NOTHING BUT NOISE on the bill, the trio led by Front 242 mastermind Daniel B and featuring original Front 242 member Dirk Bergen and Erwin Jadot. The trio finally released its debut album, ‘Not Bleeding Red’, on UK independent Future Noise Music. The album is born by the love of analogue synthesizers and inspired by bands like TANGERINE DREAM or BOWIE. Not only the album features an array of rare and vintage analogue synths, also the live translation of the music is based on those instruments, supported visually by video projections and the use of three lasers drawing pictures into the audience area. The album is said to be uncompromising and haunting, but over the whole set length, I found the show a little boring, especially this feeling was caused by the long breaks in-between the songs destroying the whole atmosphere for me. Besides, the sound was not really good with too much bass and bumming. // Rating: 5.5 / 10 // /


Icon of Coil

Following next was the show of Andy LaPlegua’s ICONOF COIL, which turned out to be the biggest downer for me that day since I expected it to be so much different than it was at the end. ICON OF COIL as a project was established 1997 by LaPlegua and soon he invited Sebastian Komor to join the team. The first release, ‘Shallow Nation’, in early 2000 caused a big stir and the first thousand copies sold out after only two weeks in the stores. Audiences seemed to enjoy ICONOF COIL's energetic and melodious sound fused with Andy's hypnotic voice and the band's success grew. The releases were highly appreciated and several support and headliner tours followed. ICON OF COIL came a long way in a short amount of time. But in 2004, the band has been on indefinite hiatus, only performing a handful of live shows around the world, as Andy has been concentrating on his band COMBICHRIST. But now, the band is back and ‘PerfectSex’ is the first new output for so many years preceeding a planned new album. In the past, I liked ICON OF COIL for its pummeling beats, sympathetic vocals, anthem-like melodies, and sweeping synths. But where were all those qualities during their BIM show? I had the impression just to see a stripped down (stripped down since there were only 2 musicians on stage and not five) COMBICHRIST show. The melodies were hardly to recognize, there were just beats, beats, beats and an Andy running over the stage, hidden in the dark so you could hardly see his face. I was totally disappointed and talking to people later, I was not the only one. If this is the new ICON OF COIL, the band better had been kept on hiatus. COMBICHRIST is not much different to this… // Setlist: 1. Regret / 2. Shallow Nation / 3. Existence in Progress / 4. Thrillcapsule / 5. Mono:Overload? / 6. Perfect Sex / 7. ??? / 8. Shelter / 9. Pursuit // Rating: 5.5 / 10 // /


Portion Control

The dawning of electro punk turned out not even to be an electro diet (portion control)! PORTION CONTROL from UK consists of Dean Piavani (vocals) and John Whybrew (synths) and was in front of upcoming electro industrial scene in the early eighties, being inspired by first experimental industrial acts, such as Throbbing Gristle or Chris & Cosey. They have been name checked by bands like DEPECHE MODE, SKINNY PUPPY or FRONTLINE ASSEMBLY. Until 1986, they constantly released critically acclaimed albums, but when they signed to the label London Records in 1987 they vanished; just to re-appear under the name SOLAR ENEMY, which existed from 1990 to 1993. About 17 years after the last life sign, the band surprisingly returned to the scene with a brand new album ‘Wellcome’ followed by a retrospective CD release ‘Archive’ containing a vast majority of their vinyl back catalogue for the first time in a digital format. Meanwhile Portion Control have been quiet active releasing albums as ‘Slug’ (2008)!, 'Crop' (2009) and their brand new one 'Pure Form'! During their BIM set, the duo presented its quite monotonous stomping electro beats – John as usually operating the machines whole Dean was constantly running over stage, which btw was again only sparsely illuminated. At least the fine video projections took care for some more visual entertainment. Musically, they got the audience moving, though I was not too impressed this time, leaving stage with ‘Amnesia’. // Rating: 6.5 / 10 // /


Test Dept:Redux (Test Department)

Industrial music group TEST DEPT from London (formed in 1981) is one of the most important and influential early industrial music acts, influenced by a strong commitment to radical socialist politics. The core members of the group were Angus Farquhar, Graham Cunnington, Paul Jamrozy, Paul Hines and Toby Burdon. Other members who played with the group at various times. They were particularly notable for complex and powerful percussion, as well as high-energy live performances, being often compared to German EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN for using unconventional instruments such as scrap metal and industrial machinery. The last Test Department live performance goes back to 1998 (UK, London) and their last Belgium concert  was already in 1994. Now they were back on Belgium ground, not as TEST DEPT, but as TEST DEPT:REDUX creating a dense, powerful, vibrant soundtrack for our time by utilizing sounds and images from extensive TEST DEPT back catalogue and enhancing it with new sounds and visuals. TD:R consists of two founding members of TEST DEPT, Paul Jamrozy and Graham Cunnington. The duo was standing on quite a big desk during the performance to operate all those devises or hit some drum pads. For several tracks, one of them stepped forward to the microphone to deliver some vocal parts. The allover performance was technologically driven by using latest audio and visual software to create a fission between old and new materials. For their visuals, the band combined stuff from their archives with imagery from the world as their received it lately, such as pictures from Israel or Gaza. Visually definitely attractive, the music seemed a bit outdated to me, but still the show was a quite impressing experience. // Rating: 7.5 / 10 // / /


When TEST DEPT finally had ended their who, it was time for people to celebrate at the after show party before falling into their beds to gain some power for nine more bands to follow the upcoming day…

All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / / /

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