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PREVIEW: OFF Festival
Julian Marszalek , August 3rd, 2016 12:12

Julian Marszalek takes a look at what treats lie in store for those attending this year's OFF Festival in Katowice

This is the time of year when this writer gets particularly excited about heading back to the cultural motherland for the annual OFF Festival in Poland. Held in Katowice’s Dolina Trzech Stawów – that’s the Valley of Three Ponds to you, guv – the OFF Festival has come to provide a refreshing change to the any number of domestic festivals that have come to fight for prominence every summer. But what is it that makes the OFF Festival so special? The simple answer is a sharp focus on a truly diverse range of music that’s clearly motivated by love, care and a sense of adventure.

Indeed, a mere mention of the festival to these ears will elicit a Pavlovian response that instantly recalls Swans’ earth-shaking set that’s still spoken of in wide-eyed terms, an early performance from Savages that displayed their power and determination as well as career-spanning set from Neu!’s Michael Rother that saw an audience reject reverential head-nodding in favour of outright abandon. Then there’s the fact that every year you’re guaranteed to find a new favourite band: immediately, Nissennenmondai spring to mind with a powerfully driving set that saw techno being played on rock instruments.

But what’s also special about the OFF Festival is their dedication to the promotion of Polish talent. Over the last few years, memories of knock out sets by garage rock nutters Kaseciarz, or the hypnotic, psychedelic jazz of the supergroup Innercity Ensemble and the dreamy pop of Coals – among many others - have all left their indelible mark. This year, OFF Festival is presenting even more homegrown talent than ever before and that’s sits well in this corner of the internet.

With this in mind, rather than concentrating at this stage on well anticipated sets by Kiasmos, Daniel Avery, Mudhoney and GZA among many, many others, allow tQ to guide you, dear reader, through the Polish acts we’re looking forward to seeing:

Zimpel/Ziołek

tQ has long admired mutli-instrumentalist Kuba Ziołek, most notably in his guise of Stara Rzeka. Here, he teams up with celebrated clarinetist and improviser Wacław Zimpel for what promises to be seamless blend of psyche-tinged folk with Polish jazz.

Mgła

Thanks to policy of public mask wearing, these black metellers have cultivated a reputation for mystery and secrecy. Indeed, for all we know, Mgła might just well be Jesuit priests out on an ear-shredding jolly. In fact, you kind of hope that they actually are Jesuit priests out on an ear-shredding jolly. Some chance. But there’s every chance that they’ll blow the place apart so we’ll just have to settle for that.

JAAA!

They do love a get together in Poland and so it comes to pass that various members of Contemporary Noise Quartet, Napszykłat, and Daktari pool their resources on this project that’s yielding impressive dividends. Their self-released debut, Remik, has made waves in their homeland courtesy of bubbling electronics and a progressive outlook and they’re promising impressive visuals for the OFF Festival.

RYSY

Did we say that they love a get together in Poland? We think we did but hey, it’s worth mentioning again. RYSY is the meeting of Wojtek Urbański (V/O) and Łukasz Stachurko (Sonar) and, as evidenced by ‘The Fib’, they’re more than capable of knocking out banger as good as the best of ‘em. RYSY are making considerable waves back home and we’re keen to see why.

Księżyc

Though hardly newcomers to the Polish music scene, the much-lauded Księżyc returned after nearly 20 years away with their sublime new album, Rabbit Eclipse. Part psychedelia, part folk and all-encompassing, this is a set that may well unite the generations.

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