The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


PREVIEW: Le Guess Who? Festival
Christian Eede , November 4th, 2015 13:37

Ahead of this month's Le Guess Who? Festival, Danny Riley takes a look at some of the potential highlights that the Utrecht festival has in store

Once again Le Guess Who? festival is returning to Utrecht from November 19-20, with a line-up that is characteristically righteous. The bill is so steeped in outlier music makers both contemporary and canonical that tQ has decided to provide a short run-down of must-see acts for those bamboozled by the lineup’s quality. Below, find our list of essential acts to catch at the festival.

Sunn O))) Presents

Well, would you just look at that. It would be a fool’s errand to attempt to surmise the embarrassment of riches that is gloom lords’ O’Malley and Anderson’s impeccable curation, however there are certainly a creamy crop of acts any self-respecting music fan should be ashamed to leave Utrecht without seeing. Occult rockers Aluk Todolo, who fuse harsh black metal sonics with the zen patience of minimalism and prime period Hawkwind, are an essential prospect, whilst Om have been hitting that sweet spot on their last two albums, their sound now perfectly poised between Al Cisneros’ anchoring dubwise bass, Emil Amos’ conquering rock god drum theatrics and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s thought-destroying soundscapes. While the words ‘psych-folk’ have been often thrown around of late to describe the music of Haley Fohr, in reality her performances as Circuit des Yeux are a much more strident and commanding presence, and it’s quite likely that she may out-heavy the doom-mongers with her acoustic twelve-string. Finally, who would Sunn O))) be if they were to leave out fans of Japanese free improvisation? With that base covered, the inimitable Keiji Haino, if nothing else, is guaranteed to be 100% Keiji Haino.


These highly underrated stalwarts of Swedish psychedelia have been happily knocking out album after album of exquisitely formed, hypermelodic prog-pop long after the critical furore around their excellent 2005 album Ta Det Lungt subsided. With a sound that looks as much to Stones Throw hip hop as it does to Sweden’s rich history of explorative rock and folk music, this year’s Allas Sak saw the band staking their claim to be amongst the first and foremost of latter-day psych. Expect quicksilver acid-burn breaks from guitar master Reine Fiske and workmanlike song craft from bandleader Gustav Ejstes. Other highlights from the Jacco Gardner-curated Cabinet of Curiosities bill include Tropicalia godfathers Os Mutantes, who promise to bring a ray of lysergically-tinged sunshine to the proceedings.

Laura Cannell

Perhaps it’s the nature of what Laura Cannell does - essentially an improvisatory approach to fragments of medieval composition - but every time I see the virtuoso violinist and recorder player live her improvisations seem to grow in scope, confidence and emotive resonance. While her debut effort Quick Sparrows Over The Black Earth pricked ears in underground circles, this year’s Beneath Swooping Talons has been her most recognised and lauded release yet, marking a milestone in her efforts to blend landscape, history and spontaneity. With feet in the seemingly contradictory worlds of trad folk, Early music and cutting-edge experimentalism, Laura Cannell navigates, reconciles and ultimately makes a mockery of such dichotomies.

DJ Paypal

While UK festivals have found themselves at pains to represent the growing left field interest in dance music, it seems that they’re not so bothered with the need to cross over in the Netherlands. Look down the bill of this year’s Le Guess Who? festival and you’ll see a lineup fairly sparse on beats. It seems in the hyperactive stylings of the excellently-named DJ Paypal, the festival bookers aim to make up for this shortage and then some. The Brainfeeder and Teklife-afiliated DJ takes the hectic pace and frenetic collage aesthetic of footwork to its logic confusion, with schizophrenic sets that see J-pop rubbing up against breakneck jungle. An ultra-modern antidote to Sunn O)))’s arcana.

Mustafa Özkent ve Belçika Orkestrasi

Özkent is one of the many Turkish artists record collectors went wild for after labels like Finders Keepers began reissuing their work a few years back (see also Ersen, Erkin Koray and Selda Bağcan, who also performed at last year’s LGW?). There was good reason for this. Özkent’s collision of crunchy western funk and rock with wild Turkish folk and pop still sounds astounding today, his early recordings imbued with an almost preternatural funkiness that belies their age. Özkent plays Le Guess Who? on the Sunday - get down there early for some Anatolian thunder!