By Daniel Mackenzie (@EkcaLiena)
The unstoppable streams of information that wrap tangles around our brains can get a little confusing to say the least. These restless beams carry huge amounts of images, opinions and sounds around the world, almost blinding in quantity and depth, and navigating to a place of interest can take up as much time as digesting the details found on arrival. One such area that both benefits and suffocates from this endlessness is music. That feeling of there being too much is a direct result of, well, there being too much, but also how most of it is accessible in a few clicks. The eclectic minded individual could well view a simple task of listening to a new artist a daunting feat, akin to decided upon a single snack on a street housing eateries from every corner of the world.
Fortunately there are organisations who take the time to pick through the dense saturation, curating brave and diverse podcasts, events and online archives to assist, even if slightly, those who simply do not have the time. The music festival format has always been a very effective way to see your favourite acts live, whilst also discovering some new names. Le Guess Who? is one such organisation, embracing the diversity of many a UK festival whilst waving a proudly alternative, underground flag, but throwing themselves open to a whole city in what is a truly massive, all-corners-covered spectacle of high quality, defiantly excellent music.
Held in Amsterdam’s charming, quieter sibling Utrecht, Le Guess Who? takes over multiple venues from the tiny, DIY minded ACU to the colossal concert halls of the TivoliVredenburg events centre. Around these most of the city seems to go about its business, though delightful pockets of festival activity crop up in cafes, churches and galleries. It’s clear a lot of work goes into orchestrating something so extensive.
What’s obviously most crucial however, is what these venues actually host. Last year’s event swung gracefully and violently between explosive heaviness from the likes of Swans and Savages, experimental and world music (seeing Einstürzende Neubauten in a hall more suited to a vast theatre piece was quite something), electronica from heroes Autechre, plenty of calm ambience (there was a stage devoted to 24 hours of drone) and plenty more.
The kaleidoscopic programming continues for 2015: Doom drone forerunners SunnO))) have guest-curated their very own portion of the festival, bringing in cellist Hildur Gudnadóttir, Magma, Goatsnake, Keiji Haino and lots more including, of course, the monster of themselves. Elsewhere Prefuse 73 provide beat driven atmospherics for hazy Warp Records heads; Deerhunter, Lightning Bolt and Faust wheel out rock – ‘art-‘, ‘noise-‘ and ‘kraut-‘ respectively, whilst a more raucous punkier mess is covered by Metz, last seen (by these eyes) completely ripping up the Shacklewell Arms in East London whilst everyone got fun-bruises and a couple lost their shoes. Further acts on the outer rims include Blanck Mass, Ariel Pink and the hellishly intense Gnaw Their Tongues, whilst a commitment to presenting more traditional world music continues through Na Hawa Doumbia, Gaye Su Akyol and Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band – amongst plenty of others of course. Alongside the SunnO))) sub-programme there will be selections from Fluister Nights, Jacco Gardner’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Levitation and, pleasing to anyone who has had any interested in post-rock, contemporary classic or leftfield rock music in the last twenty years, the inimitable Constellation Records.
Hands up who likes black metal… hands up who likes cello loops… Swedish psyche-pop-rock… twilight electronica… parties… noise comas… atmosphere… Now, hands up who likes all of it: this festival is for you.
The last couple of months have seen numerous announcements, each building the line up as they appear. Watch the website and Facebook event page for further updates and, supposing you’re ready to throw some money at the thing right now, various types of ticket are on sale, with full weekend passes priced at a quite ridiculous €110.