9th to 10th February 2018
Audiotrauma 2k18 with Aleph, R.Roo, Ex_Tension, Architect, Moaan Exis, Ambassador21, AmeshA SpentA, Atonalist, Ecstasphere, Cardinal Noire, Chrysalide and Horskh
The beginning of February in Prague and there is the Audiotrauma festival here again. Powerful bits, experimental sound, non-commercial projects, unique atmosphere and a lot of interesting music. Under this motto, the Audiotrauma label festival was held already for the third time. And this time the line-up was a little bit more experimental than the previous times.
CD1. Day 1
Track 1. Intro
The Audiotrauma label was formed in 2002 by Sylvain Coeffic who later created the CHRYSALIDE project with his brother. The label is based in Strasbourg and specializes in various industrial and experimental modifications of electronic music. During its existence, Audiotrauma created a very powerful scene and released a lot of interesting projects so they can be called the leading organization in experimental electronics and industrial music in France. There were a lot of various projects mostly from native France (CHRYSALIDE, SONI AREA, HOLOGRAM, HORSKH, AMESHA SPENTA, MOAAN AXIS, NÄO), but recently the label is releasing more international stuff and different projects from Europe (AUTOGEN, NOIRE ANTIDOTE, R.ROO, ECSTASPHERE).
Sylvain and the company actively cooperate with Ant-Zen, exchange the releases and projects and organize events together. Audiotrauma always has a representation at the leading German festivals of hard electronics Maschinenfest and Elektroanschlag and at famous gothic and industrial music big festivals. In December 2015, the first Audiotrauma festival was held in Prague. Not too many people came, so holding the second festival was a question, but in the beginning of 2017 the second festival occurred and in 2018, Audiotrauma in Prague has become a tradition, which I hope will continue to the year of 2019. The festival was held twice in the same club. This year is not the exception…
Track 2. The Club & The Audience
The music club Nová Chmelnice exists since 2012 after the reconstruction of the facility although the place itself dates back to the 1970s, when various events, concerts and performances in different styles of pop and underground music, theatrical art and various banquets took place here. In 2012 the building was completely reconstructed and was bought by a group of founders who began to organize metal and punk concerts of unknown bands, closed parties of various companies and enterprises, dance classes, film screenings and lectures on various topics. The club is 15 minutes from the centre by tram, but in fact it is quite deep in the periphery although it may seem that it is not so far.
The stage is located on the second floor, so everything looks rather strange for the first time visiting this club, but I've already been here many times, so Nova Chmelnice for me is kind of standard. The audience as always on Audiotrauma came from different countries, starting with neighbouring Germany and ending with post-soviet countries, whose representatives this year were part of the line-up. Not a lot of people still, but enough to create a unique cosy and at the same time insane and crazy atmosphere. The performances started with a little delay, but 5-10 minutes is normal. In addition the audience didn’t come on time, so it seemed like the organizers waited people to come. The first performances of both days were good for warming up, but in the middle and even more at the end of the evening their show would not be considered the same as on the beginning…
Track 3. Āleph (Germany)
The first project to perform was the German Italian Armando Alibrandi known for his SUPRSIMMETRIA. ĀLEPH was created in 2015 for experiments with sound and collaborations with other musicians. That's why the sound of ĀLEPH is a bit different from the main SUPRSIMMETRIA, but I would say that it is different in good direction. Armando was alone on the stage, so the super-show was not expected. The projector in the club did not work at all, so background video of all the projects was cancelled unfortunately. The Berliner started his performance from atmospheric quite calm IDM with interspersed ambient, so I began to compare the performance to SUPERSIMMETRIA which at first looked interesting with good sound, but to the middle became boring and pretty monotonous.
However this time Armando did it perfectly for the warming up project. He started with calm material to bring people to the stage and with every new composition and new sound added more and more new features without removing the old ones. Deep ambient flowing into the classic IDM was replaced by more experimental IDM with industrial notes, later everything was supplemented with mechanical electro-industrial sounds and it all ended with an old-school rhythmic noise with a pinch of IDM that ran through the whole performance. That is the beginning of the festival which is needed. ĀLEPH was perfect for the opening act, but I'm sure that Armando as ĀLEPH will be able to play good enough also in the middle before the headliners.
Track 4. r.roo (Ukraine)
Ukrainian project R.ROO was formed in Kiev in 2010 by Andrey Simonovich and in 2011 the Ukrainian released a bunch of albums as his project R.ROO which became the main one and the side project Na-Hag which is more tribal-oriented. Andrey also was part of another project with Sitreus Ramirez (MANDRAGORA’S CHAIN) called SOUND WAVE PRESSURE. The first album of R.ROO was released on the German label Raumklang Music. Then the Ukrainian travelled on various labels until the famous American experiment electronics label Tympanik Audio noticed the artist. After that R.ROO released three albums on Tympanik Audio. Before that Andrey along with other Ukrainian experimental musicians created the local label Someone Records where they released their music enlivening it with their friends and various compilations.
In the mid-10s, Andrey released three albums there and in 2017 his album was released on the French label Audiotrauma. Andrey appeared on the stage with the equipment and immediately “attacked” the audience with experiments from the classical IDM. Ornate atmosphere with a clear ringing minimalistic sound were interesting, but they had one disadvantage: cyclicity. In fact all the compositions were “square-alike” and repeated the same sound pattern several times. This fact slightly lowered down the impression from music, but at the end Andrey went into a more diverse genre adding elements of rhythmic noise and electro-industrial, so the ending was much more impressive than the whole performance.
Track 5. Ex_Tension (France)
Vincent Gendrot and Pierre-Yves Hohmann from Strasbourg created the EX_TENSION project in the year 1997, but the duo was sending separate tracks for compilations and was mainly participating in performances on one stage with such famous projects as HAUJOBB, DIVE, THIS MORN’ OMINA, CLAN OF XYMOX and others. Their first EP was released in 2004 and full-length work was released only in 2006. Then there were two more full-length albums on the French label of electronic industrial music M-Tronic. The last album was released in 2012, so their performance could be attractive for the people who missed their sound. Their studio sound was built on different improvisation with IDM, industrial and post-industrial music.
Nothing special was expected in terms of show. Two people on stage for a different kind of equipment - the standard for this kind of genre. But the French duo was able to make an interesting performance not only musically. Atmospheric music with beats and rhythms was really cool and was making people not only move, but dance. Periodically appearing industrial touches added charm and roughness. In general the noise splash that was created with the help of lying aside keyboards became a kind of a specialty of the project on this show. Each noise impact on the keys and a wave of noise caused violent emotions of the audience, so the musicians made a ritual of this. And it turned out very cool. In general the music was at a high level and the show was very good.
Track 6. Architect (Germany)
Daniel Myer is known primarily for his participation in various well-known and popular projects of his own and other musicians. His HAUJOBB, CLEANER and DSTR are respected projects on the stage of post-industrial music and Daniel's participation in COVENANT, BRUDERSCHAFT and others always keeps the German on the front of the scene. But it's not only about the amount of projects. The fact is that he is a true professional. And if at the concerts of the COVENANT this was not so obvious and the previous ARCHITECT concert turned out to be a little off-topic stylistically at the event where I saw it, this time it was Daniel Myer who showed himself in the best possible form. The ARCHITECT project itself is the second most important project of Daniel after HAUJOBB.
ARCHITECT was created in 1998. All eight full-length albums were released on the German label Hymen Records. The German has his vision of music and all of that you can see in ARCHITECT music. As many have noticed Daniel brings his sound to all projects where he plays. You can like this or you can hate this, but it is a fact. And this is the result of Mayer's ambitions and professionalism on the post-industrial and synth-scene. But besides that he is a great composer, an excellent musician and a real master of sound, he is also a good showman. This feature was seen and felt during the show on Audiotrauma.
He was on stage alone, but his set consisted of classical ARCHITECT music, which spun around a mixture of techno-industrial, IDM, techno, break-beat and much more with vocal parts and the drums parts played also by Myer. Drums added a volume to the sound. Also some notes of rhythmic noise were added to separate tracks. Plus the German did not just perform his compositions and play music, he also communicated with the audience from time to time even forcing the audience to participate in the performance. ARCHITECT did a great show which became one of the best at the festival and presented an exclusive remix for the last track ‘Deconfiguration’, which was never played before anywhere. And the remix was very cool as the whole show.
Track 7. Moaan Exis (France)
After a relatively experimental though rhythmic ARCHITECT show the French duo MOAAN EXIS came on stage. A more rhythmic and more insane performance was expected from this band. More breakaway, thrash and madness. In good sense of course. The duo from Toulouse was formed in 2015 and began to make noise in the post-industrial scene in 2016 after releasing two EPs. The debut full-length album by Mathieu and Xavier was released in 2017. That was basically a usual mixture of rhythmic noise and industrial with break-beat elements. But it was on the CD.
At the concert, the structure and the sound were a little or not a little bit different due to the presence of live drummer. Xavier sat on the drums and made a crazy rhythm while Mathieu just burned the dancefloor with a techno-industrial super energetic frenzy periodically making a drum battle with Xavier. Very powerful show which was built exactly on the drive and power and not on special effects and other technological features. The audience got insane, jumped and raved about during the show. So by the end of the first day before the show of the Belorussian headliners the audience was all in high spirits with a high degree of not only alcohol but also adrenaline.
Track 8. Ambassador21 (Belarus)
The Belorussian headliners of the first day were AMBASSADOR21. The A21 project is already quite famous in Europe for their insane show and protests to the system. The project was formed in 2001 and became the first Belorussian post-industrial project which made its way to the big stage outside of Belarus. The duo of Natasha and Alexey has already nine full-length albums that were released mostly on their own label, but some releases were distributed through some of the leading labels of the dark scene in Europe: Vendetta, Alfa Matrix and Hands Productions. In addition the project is constantly performing as solo headliners, also warm up project for the known bands and taking part in well-known big gothic and industrial festivals. Also AMBASSADOR21 collaborated with :WUMPSCUT: SYNAPSCAPE, CHRYSALIDE, HYPNOSKULL, CONVERTER and many other representatives of the industrial and post-industrial scene.
Their studio recordings are filled with provocative, protest, pure aggression and a variety in the musical genres of rhythmic noise, Hardcore, break-beat, techno, electro-industrial and IDM. The explosive mixture which at the concert with the correct pitch should be a bomb. Therefore I expected this kind of bomb show from the Belarusians. The performance started with an introduction that grew into a gradually spinning clump of energy consisting of powerful hard electronic beats with live guitar and drums. The beginning actually turned out to be quite good, but when the composition moved to the main part or the most rhythmic part of the show, the sound became chaotic in the bad sense. The vocals were heard, but words that are not the least important part in the A21’s music, it was difficult to understand even fragmentary.
Of course for those who know the tracks of the band by heart, the chaotic sound did not really matter. From time to time the chaos became music (mostly when the guitar was resting). When Natasha and Alex both came to a console and laptops it turned out very well. In general it seemed that the sound was not tuned exactly as it was needed. There was a might, there was energy, there was thrash and burnout, but there was no sound. The sound that I actually wanted. Well, I've always been sceptical about using guitars and live drums in post-industrial music. Sometimes it fitted a lot for the sound, but in most cases live drums and live guitars were just not part of the music. Unfortunately AMBASSADOR21 guitars and drums were not the exception.
Track 9 Outro
The first day of the festival was mix of experimental and energetic at the same time. Atmospheric quiet performances were replaced by frantic danceable shows. I always liked the cosy atmosphere of the festival, so it does not matter who performs in which club, but Audiotrauma will never disappoint. On the first day no one disappointed or fell out of the general mood. Keep it like that. After AMBASSADOR21's show I stayed at the club for some moment to hang out with friends, talked to the people and then went home to take a rest before the second day of the festival.
Track 1. Intro
The second day was expected to be more rhythmic and mainstream and not so experimental. Mainly because of performances of dark electro and electro-industrial projects which play more melodic and danceable music although the experiments also were present and enough noises were expected. I arrived to the club shortly before the first performance. People still didn’t come as it is expected. Everybody came for the second show. But the first one was also not bad...
Track 2. AmeshA SpentA (France)
The first project of the second day was the Frenchman AMESHA SPENTA. Sébastien Béné-Le Touarin is the only member in the project and the project itself exists from the end of the 00s and has already released two full-length albums with a mixture of techno-industrial, IDM and rhythmic noise elements and tribal industrial. Plus to the electronic sound he also had a guitar on some tracks. Sebastian was alone on stage and created rhythmic noises and electronic soundscapes in with playing guitar periodically, but quiet often. Sometimes the songs sounded arrogant and interesting, sometimes minimalistic and boring and sometimes the performance slipped into a tooth-grinding bit with a chaos in the sound. The show was interesting for warm up, but I would not say that the Frenchman played on 100% of his abilities.
Track 3. Atonalist (France)
During the performance of the first project I noticed unusual weird instruments especially for this kind of music. So I started to guess, who will use them. It was hardly expected from CARDINAL NOIRE, CHRYSALIDE and HORSKH, but the ATONALIST could fit there. The French duo began their music career in the second half of the 10th with the efforts of Arnaud Fournier and Renaud-Gabriel Pion. Renaud came from experimental music based on electronic styles starting with IDM and industrial to musique concrète and Arno played free jazz and various improvisations with more guitar indie orientated music, but not less experimental. Both musicians play a certain amount of different musical instruments, so their performance could have been a pure improvisation.
It all began relatively silently and even in monotonously with very slow and minimalistic IDM and improvisation on various kinds of wind instruments. We thought that the whole performance will look like this all the way to the end, but the due switched in the middle to the more noisy sounds in two tracks adding a guitar and even more wind instruments inside. But still it was not super rhythmic and not super energetic. It was very noisy rhythmic sound with a trumpet and other similar instruments. That sounded unique, unusual and very powerful for this kind of genre. After two such tracks Arnaud and Reno returned again to more relaxed experimental electronics, but ended the concert again with a burst of energy noise.
Track 4. Ecstasphere (Germany)
One of the two non-French projects of the second day and the third German project on the festival became the girl Ophelia The Suffering with her project ECSTASPHERE. Ophelia has two projects that were created at the same time in the middle of 10th. Her APHEXIA is more quiet mystical and atmospheric at the same time as ECSTASPHERE sounds more tough, noisy and powerful and probably more experimental. Within the name of ECSTASPHERE Ophelia released three full-length albums. The last one was released on Audiotrauma label last year and sounded pretty variegated. Rhythmic noise with break-beat, IDM with techno-industrial and many other genres were heard on the album.
Ophelia was alone on the stage in front of a bunch of equipment. It all began with an atmospheric introduction with a very cool aerial vocal of German girl, which u do not expect to hear in the genre of rhythmic noise usually. The vocals harmoniously tuned into the overall sound complementing and emphasizing not only atmospheric part, but also the aggression and roughness contrasting beautiful melodic vocals with mechanical noises and dirty beats. From time to time Ophelia took the guitar and blew up the dance floor although without the guitar her music sounded danceable and kicking also. Ophelia did one of the best shows of the festival thanks to her talent, ability to incline the audience, very cool behaviour on stage and of course because of the nice and multi-genre music. ECSTASPHERE became for me a pleasant finding this year’s festival although I’ve heard her music before. ECSTASPHERE’s show was subjectively the best performance this year.
Track 5. Cardinal Noire (France)
The Finnish due Cardinal Noire project was formed in 2012 by Kalle Lindberg and Lasse Alander. In 2015 the duo released their first album which sounded in the genre of the old-school dark electro with a hint of modern sound. Just a week before the festival the second album of the Finns was released which continued with the sound from the debut album, but became more modern and less melodic. Many listeners compared CARDINAL NOIRE to the early works of SKINNY PUPPY, but at the concert everything turned out differently. A duo from Finland stared the show with a gloomy introduction track. The vocalist immediately began to roll his eyes and play with her face in every possible way to express his emotions, most aggressive ones. After an atmospheric intro the club was filled with a rhythmic madness which at first sight seemed interesting.
At first it sounded like a golden mean between a tough old-school dark electro and its modern hard dance version, but after a couple of tracks the thought of missing parts didn’t leave the mind and ears. Something was missing in their music. First of all there was no melody. Not at all. Secondly there was no noticeable structure of compositions (the choruses sounded like couplets and therefore the entire track sounded monotonous and without development). And the last missing part with in fact the consequence of the previous two points is the lack of hits. It was nothing to remember in their music, but in such music the brain and ears are looking for a melody, are looking for something to be connected to. Therefore a band with good potential to the middle of the performance became boring although I expected from CARDINAL NOIRE more interesting show.
Track 6. Chrysalide (France)
The trio consisting of the brothers Sylvain Coeffic and Arnaud Coeffic and third member Yoann Amnesy I've already seen twice in previous festivals, but the performances turned out to be a bit crooked with a simple minimalistic “squared” sound where the beat is the main sound and distorted vocals aside it. So I did not expect a brain explosion from the owners of Audiotrauma festival. Maybe this is the clue to the good show: not to expect it. The project was created in 2007 under the influence of cyberpunk, SKINNY PUPPY and ATARI TEENAGE RIOT music. Because of such music influences the brothers could not invent something trivial, that's why their music turned out to be harsh with a discontinuous electronic beat and interlaces of such genres as break-beat, digital Hardcore, Drum’n’Bass, rhythmic noise, cyberpunk, techno-industrial and many more.
The concept and performances of the French trio are based on aggression and protest to the system. The idea resembles AMBASSADOR21 however in a more anarchic and punk alike form. Only at the concert this time there was a bit of punk and no sound hodgepodge, so the audience which is not fanatic about CHRYSALIDE music could enjoy also if they don’t know the tracks. The Frenchmen as usual came out with a mad dirty makeup under a gloomy “calm before the storm” introduction. The introduction before “a sound of thunder”. Immediately the musicians started out with a very tough material in the style of techno-industrial with intertwining distorted vocals and super powerful energy which was immediately picked up by everybody in the audience and sent back to the band.
The audience started a frenzy madness in front of the stage. This time unlike the previous ones the sound was not so rough and harsh and sometimes even a melody jumped out. Not noticeable aggressive hard but still a melody. This was not a stupid rhythm-and-dance stuff, but it was a really interesting manifesto against the system calling to revolution. The audience was attracted to musicians who periodically jumped out into the dancefloor and then returned on the stage. This time I really enjoyed the performance of CHRYSALIDE and felt its strength. It took three shows to do this. And the concert was really good.
Track 7. Horskh (France)
The headliners of the whole event was the French project HORSKH which I’ve already seen at one of the previous festivals. They pleasantly surprised me that time. And even more surprising was the fact that they had only two EPs released at that time and the debut album was released only in 2017. If the early works sounded interesting, unusual with special peculiar feature of HORSKH, the debut full-length album turned out to be too standard with popular modern electro-industrial with dark electro elements. Nothing unique, nothing unusual. Two members appeared on the stage. One of them sat down for the drums and the second dealt mostly with keyboard, guitar from time to time and vocals, which was the main role for Bastian. Bastian for sure has the potential to become the next generation on the modern post-industrial scene, the next step of development. Or at least half a step.
This time it was no longer an old-school sound, but there was a modern modish sound combining techno-industrial with dark electro turning into classic TBM without noise effects. HORSKH had a melody, there were hits, though not so powerful and dancefloor killing, the project had its own sound, there was the energy spread all over, the vocalist's charisma and professionalism on stage were also visible and felt. But there was no zest that could attract. At least me. Objectively HORSKH deserved the right to be called the main headliner of the festival and be considered as the most clerkly and high-quality performance of Audiotrauma 2k18. But for me they were too poppy which quite probably happened in comparison to their previous performance which affected me with the freshness of sound and not with energy and madness. This time is was more madness and show, than music.
Track 8. Outro
The third Audiotrauma festival passed in a gorgeous and unique atmosphere. This happens rarely in the Czech Republic. I don’t mean the festival, but events with this kind of music genres. There were many interesting projects, many new discoveries and new sounds on the festival. And if at past years the musicians made shows with a visual accompaniment, so even if there were other advantages, they were streamlined by visualization, this year the bands performed without a projector that did not work, so more attention was paid to the performers themselves and playing on various musical instruments which became a unconditional twist of this year’s festival. The festival is slowly becoming a spicy tradition which I hope will continue also into the year 2019. Thanks to Audiotrauma crew for the music experimental weekend. In noise we trust! 2k19 is on the way…
All Pictures by Count_Death