Things The Quietus Learned At Incubate Festival 2012

After a week spent at Tilburg’s excellent Incubate Festival, tQ’s John Doran, Rory Gibb and Luke Turner report back with their findings. Header photo by Paul Verhagen

Last week, the Quietus temporarily relocated to Tilburg, in the Netherlands for this year’s edition of the Incubate festival. Along the way we encountered an excess of excellent music, performance art, Trappist beer of varying shades and strengths, a Greek meal named ‘Aphrodite’s Boobs’, and more than we can attempt to fit into a typical festival review narrative. So instead we’ve opted for more of a theme-based overview of the week’s events. Read onward for a baker’s dozen of things the Quietus learned at Incubate.

It’s A Body Thing

The week is all about impact music, especially in the 013 building’s Kleine Zaal and Stage01, where the systems are powerful enough to shatter audience nerves. A precedent is set early, with King Midas Sound’s performance on Wednesday evening (read our live report here) pouring like radioactive waste from the stage and forcing enough energy into the room’s walls to turn them into supplementary speakers.

We resume our place in a corner of the room with unusually resonant properties for Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti’s performance on Friday evening. One of the festival’s highlights, it’s testament to the continual process of reinvention and exploration that’s marked out the duo’s work over the years, finding them reshaping many of their older pop songs into astonishingly powerful techno tracks. ‘Driving Blind’ is turned into a slow and sensuous throb, while the kickdrums on ‘Love Cuts’ turn the guts to jelly. At times they manage to make the already-rich original versions feel thin and stretched by comparison – Carter’s current approach finds him continually tweaking and reshaping the mix, setting Cosey’s vocals and guitar to roiling and propulsive grooves.

Consumer Electronics – aka Philip Best, formerly of Whitehouse – is coarse and nasty where C&C are sensual, but there’s an equally strong engagement with matters of the body and sexuality. There’s an element of the overblown pantomime villain to Best that makes his efforts to shock – screaming about various Nazi leaders, tweaking his nipples, licking a photo of Anne Frank (ok, so that one’s pretty unpleasant) – feel rather calculated in their ridiculousness. He and his bandmate/partner are both onstage, between them generating a screaming wall of electronic interference and toxic rumble that overwhelms the senses to the point that it becomes a dominant entity, forcing the audience into still and submissive roles. Meanwhile, they spend the entire performance looking hungrily at one another as if they’re about to pounce at any moment; a couple of times they violently grab at one another’s necks and chest. It’s clearly on his mind; near the end, he stares with a similarly predatory intensity into the crowd to instruct that "Everybody fuck!" RG

The panel (L-R): Aidan Moffat, Simon Reynolds, Hajo Doorn (photo by Jan Rijk)

‘The Avant-Garde Is Only Good If You Can Drink, Dance, Fuck Or Take Drugs To It’… Or Is It?

This was, as I explained to our panel and guests, a somewhat spurious title that various Quietus people coined, probably while rather refreshed (not sexually, I hasten to add) during a late night of musical adventuring a while back. We thought it might make for an hour of amusing, diverting discussion, so we suggested it to Incubate as an ideal subject for a panel debate.

What transpired was that our panellists – Simon Reynolds, Aidan Moffat and Hajo Doorn – actually wanted to take the subject quite seriously, and refute it. From the off, Reynolds pronounced it "reductive"… which I suppose was sort of the point. It was a great discussion which we’ll hopefully be able to feature on the Quietus at some point in the near future. Incubate was also the perfect place to host it. One of the many great aspects to this festival is their creativity with the panel and conference side of things. Instead of bringing Reynolds over for his millionth reading from Retromania, he delivered a fascinating keynote speech about the origins, and limitations, of DIY culture. It became, as did this panel, part of the overall ferment of ideas that rolled through the Tilburg streets like one of their hot citizens on two wheels.

In a way, the amount of dancing and other pursuits we did do to the music at Incubate rather proved our point. There was never a dull moment, never a feeling that you had had enough of being supposed to enjoy something when, in reality, it was as devoid of humanity as one of those HR people whose job it is to send out a warning letter over office internet usage. And, although we didn’t want to try and define the avant-garde, there is a sense that it’s all about context. Take, for example, a bar on the way between the N16 venue and the main bit of town, where we stopped for a drink on the Thursday night. Inside, were two white mini-grand pianos, between which sat a drum kit. At one piano sat a fat bald man in a white shirt, playing both piano and keyboards. He’d occasionally swap places with the rather average drummer, and now and then they were joined in the covers of Euro hits and Queen by a female singer in a green dress. The crowd, fuelled by lager and shots (it’s not just England you know), loved this: men danced like men will when they’re practicing for their niece’s weddings. They synchronised, and hugged. The best-looking man and best-looking woman on the dancefloor eyed, ground, hooked up. But take this music and performance out of this context, add some philosophy, some critique, some cultural fucking discourse… and who knows where it might end up? LT

Avant-garde piano bar (photo by Luke Turner)

Incubate Bring The Space Ritual

You’ll never be sure quite what you’re going to get at Incubate at first. But it does make sense, eventually. Take everyone playing the 013 venue for example. The band I’m most excited about seeing are an enigma themselves. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get with Nurse With Wound. Will they be purveying the playful musique concrete of Sylvie and Babs; will they be the masterful surrealist collective whose repurposed tracks helped make Peter Strickland’s Katalin Varga one of the greatest films of recent years; the ruthlessly efficient remixers who rendered SunnO)))’s ØØVOID into the deeply affecting The Iron Soul Of Nothing; the – yes, very occasionally – industrial group who recorded Thunder Perfect Mind; or the summoners of acid blotter chewing avant-psychedelia not often seen outside of a $hit & $hine gig or heard since the Butthole Surfers were in their Rembrandt Pussy Horse prime?

Tonight Steven Stapleton and friends line up behind a table as if they’re about to interview the entire crowd. And to be fair, they do test us at first. A slow, miasma of scraped violin strings, electronic white noise, squalling guitar and gothic piano seep off stage. Already the ominous sound is having a malign effect as Rory from the Quietus asks, ‘Where have all those monks come from?’ which is rendered twice as frightening because I can’t see any monks.

As much as their initially chaotic sound relies on confusing sources, fed in via FX pedals, turntables, tape decks, a bizarre wind instrument that looks like a fluorescent light tube, synths etc, it is very British. As British as the Wicker Man sound track. As British as Daphne Oram. As British as 10 Rillington Place.

This is the kind of drone that is played on horror movie sets long after filming stops and they are locked up for the night to deter burglars. It heralds the appearance of a guest vocalist. She is a jazz singer of sorts in that she does interpretive screaming, she scat howls and free improvises terror. She is not tackling the standards. This is ‘Oh When The Demons Come Marching In’.

Samples of wood blocks run through delay suggesting insect life at night time and elsewhere the impression is distinctly arboreal and crepuscular – think Coil’s Musick To Play In The Dark. Think back to the first time you ever had to walk home on your own after watching a horror movie at a friend’s house at the age of ten.

And a potential theme for the line up housed in the 013 venue starts suggesting itself, as Stapleton worked quite heavily with John Balance of Coil, who had strong ties to Chris & Cosey who are also playing in the building. But this is not a musical connection…

Chris & Cosey (photo by Jan Rijk)

The singer is manipulating tapes of her screaming as an AM cacophony builds in the background. A loose, processed Blue Note break suddenly gives everything form. No matter how chaotic, this really does have very close formal links to psych rock via the beat and cosmically free form guitar solo. Perhaps sensing that they’re not voyaging far enough out, they switch abruptly to a North African rhythm, punctuated with harsh, caustic bursts of feedback and machine noise.

You can’t hear what their guest singer is singing. And when you can, you wish you couldn’t: "It’s very quiet and quicklime is prohibited." And before long she is screaming again as the track collapses inwards once the beat is terminated.

And as the first… song… fades, it becomes clear that all the loops they have played so far are still operating in the background. It’s as if Bruno Ganz in Wings Of Desire has found himself forcing his way through a room full of MDMA-addled ravers in full 4am meltdown, and the cacophony of their looped inner monologues are destabilizing his mind.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Nurse With Would have little to do with the other bands playing they are sharing a venue with. After all, who is like Nurse With Wound? (People who think they are ‘like’ Chris and Cosey, despite there being many biographical links between the bands, need their heads checked.)

You are left to draw your own conclusions, to find your own formal links between the artists. It makes more sense to look for unusual bonds between acts rather than to fill three stages with music from one solitary genre.

Chris and Cosey practice personal ritual, which has no bearing on their ecstatic techno & synth pop – or if it does, you could be forgiven for not knowing as they very rarely mention it in interview. As do Nurse With Wound. Carl McCoy of Fields Of The Nephelim takes his beliefs in ritual Thelemic practice very seriously, to the extent that he plans his infrequent gigs to coincide with important dates to him such as the birthdays of Crowley and Lovecraft, but again he’s reticent to talk too much about it.

The troubling yet compulsive Philip Best aka Consumer Electronics reveals himself to be more interested in a pre-sex ritual than provocation with a performance which is so intensely sexualised that almost feels like it should be taking place behind closed bedroom doors. I’d be surprised to find out that Bobby Krlic aka Haxan Cloak actually practices magick but certainly his aesthetic is influenced by this idea. Admittedly, this non-linear approach to the curatorial, means you have to take a leap of faith here and there. After all, with Mogwai, all I’ve got here really is that when they play ‘Like Herod’… they’re fucking magic. JD

Mogwai (photo by Jan Rijk)

There’s No Such Thing As A Typical Incubate Attendee

We’re used, in the UK, to festivals with a deliberately narrow band of appeal, and consequently a relatively homogenous crowd. Even the few that do branch out across genres tend to remain rooted in a specific remit. Incubate deliberately lacks such a binding agent. Across the week all tastes are catered for, thanks to the organisers taking an ‘If we like it, we’ll book it’ approach to programming. The crowd is just as diverse, and with a huge volume of music and art taking place across the week, it’s perfectly plausible that any one person’s route through the festival could differ entirely from someone else’s.

So between Friday and Sunday alone I manage to catch (among other things) obscene and hyper-sexualised power electronics (Consumer Electronics), Moodymann tuning the room with warm and disco-flecked Detroit deep house, Chris & Cosey sharpening their older electro-pop songs into techno-tinged weaponry, utterly bonkers half-sung-half-shouted improv folk (Dead Rat Orchestra), glacial noise/pop from Denmark (VÅR), semi-ambient alchemy (Nurse With Wound), and British Sea Power. The latter in particular, too: one of the UK’s most underrated guitar groups, it’s marvelous to see them slotted into a day that also features Black To Comm and Evangelista, artists they share more in common with than might meet the eye. RG

(Laibach (photo by Paul Verhagen)

British Sea Power: The UK Wing Of The NSK

Laibach. British Sea Power. Both are massively misunderstood in their homelands, and are rarely (if ever) booked to play at festivals of Incubate’s ilk in the United Kingdom. Both play commanding sets on the Sunday of Incubate. British Sea Power’s, made up of music from across the past decade, is energetic and pungent, no vim lost despite it being light outside. The room and excellent sound helps, along with an enthusiastic Dutch crowd.

Laibach later on are equally commanding, even if the set is slightly fragmented – it opens with a segment focussing on material connected to their Iron Sky soundtrack, before coming to life later with the likes of ‘Tanz Mit Laibach’ and appropriations of national anthems (in the literal sense and also the cultural signifiers that are pop songs). "Get this on X Factor!" cries Rory Gibb during their gorgeous cover of ‘Across The Universe’.

It is around this moment that it becomes abundantly clear that British Sea Power are kindred spirits to, if not unofficially part of, Laibach’s art collective the NSK. Consider the evidence: their music is grandiose, perhaps pompous, visionary, and deals in reappropriating forms seen by the snooty as conservative. They share an enthusiasm for redundant military attire, and the aesthetics of gymnasia where ideology is as important as rope climbing. This has got them into trouble. They have a brilliant sense of humour, of something other, something unhinged, running through their work. Again this is something that most choose to ignore. They are as adept at making soundtracks to the moving image as they are writing and recording evocative albums, or performing stirring live concerts. They attract fanatical followings. The have an affinity for onstage fauna – British Sea Power once using owls, Laibach preferring the occasional stags head. They appear to the lazily eared to be nationalistic, when in fact they subvert such things, and question our devotion to these prescriptive ideas bound by landscape and history. What else are British Sea Power’s ‘Fear Of Drowning’ or ‘Blackout’ if not alternative anthems for our British Isles? Alternative anthems, ripe for covering by Laibach? LT

Damo Suzuki (photo by Victor Van Der Griendt)

The Spirit Of Collaboration

There they come, this phalanx of handsome Dutch on their wide handlebar bikes, hurtling down one of Tilburg’s wide red cycleways. Vroom! Whirr! The spirit of this lovingly-curated festival permeates everywhere, in the sharing of ideas, musical passions and from the artists, in the many collaborations that we witness over the time spent in Tilburg. Nils Frahm gets a man onstage to help him play a piece that requires four hands… Extra folk come up. "It’s not going to be messy," he promises. Good lord! Not ‘Chopsticks’!? They play a pianoforte tag team, one two or three jumping on to play.

Then there’s the three nights of Damo Suzuki’s Network, where the walking legend draws together musicians for lengthy collaborative work-outs. On the Friday, this involves 12 or 13 musicians, including various members of Mogwai. There’s bass, a couple of those, four or five guitars, drums, Korg and keys, with Damo centre stage. Musically his vocal lines are similar to those we heard when he played with Yeti Lane for a Quietus gig a few weeks back. But what’s most interesting about a Damo party is what he inspires the musicians around him to do, how they come and engage with the groove. The Saturday performance is, by contrast, far more reflective.

It’s not just the musicians who are collaborating, too. We have no rivals in the pursuit of putting great music out there, so it is terrific to see John Robb’s Louder Than War and Netherlands-based Incendiary Mag working together to put on a series of super gigs. Best of all are long-time Quietus favourites, the acceptable face of contemporary squat aesthetics, Mancunian group Gnod. During Gnod I’m stood next to a man who resembles God, as a rocking-out hippy lady keeps whopping me around the face with hair. No matter. The low rumble is fearsome, coming on like a bong-fuelled Suicide. "YES YES ARGH FUCK YES!", shouts Incendiary Mag man Richard, summing it up rather well.

Gnod (photo by William Van Der Voort)

"…to slide my fingers underneath your dress / to solve a teenage mystery…" Aidan Moffat, playing in a church up the road, is a marked contrast. There are cream walls, boards for Psalms, a pulpit and two choir stalls along the side. Moffat’s lyrics, though, don’t create a crass juxtaposition of the sacred and profane. The music (piano and warm, intermittent trumpet), is too thoughtful for that. Though this is no confessional, there’s an honesty to all this, and a human realism that only the most strident hellfire and damnation merchant would disapprove of. "I kept the keys when we moved" sings Moffat just gently playing shakers, the again the trumpet and piano sparse, a new Scottish poetic that really ought to receive wider attention. "This is a song about domestic bliss, and how it’s great to stay together for ever and ever. Yeah…" LT

Incubate’s Vibrations Absorb The City

It’s Saturday evening along the main strip of bars leading to Incubate’s central venue, the 013 building, and we’re sat at a table in the street recovering from the body battering of Consumer Electronics just beforehand. A piercing midrange drone – somewhere between the sustained honk of an airhorn and the ominous hum of swarming bees – rises from behind the thrum of chatting festivalgoers, clinking glasses and muffled music. A moped carrying two riders, one with a blaring loudspeaker attached to their helmet, comes cruising, deadpan, along the pedestrianised street. It emerges, passes and vanishes swiftly, with not a word of explanation. Just one of those odd things that inexplicably happens over the course of a week’s worth of festival. We shrug and turn back to our drinks.

The following day, a stroke of provenance finds me sitting opposite the church in the city centre eating lunch when an entire squadron of these human boomboxes suddenly begin to loop their way in long, lazy arcs around the area. Each emits a slightly different tone or texture – vuvuzela whines, chimes like raindrops hitting water, mumbling voices – and as they weave around they turn this entire area of Tilburg into a multi-layered and continually shifting composition. Elements of the music – a series of four pieces composed for the project, entitled William Geerts Surroundsound #2.0 – move in and out of phase with one another as the riders follow their choreographed patterns; at one point chimes from three or four separate mopeds interlace to form a raindrops-hitting-water sequence almost identical to the taut plucked harmonics of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Prelude No 4. The whole thing lasts for about 15 minutes, and afterwards everyone – festivalgoer or not – applauds.

There’s the sense throughout Incubate, with Tilburg’s centre being so small, that the entire city has been physically absorbed into the festival. This simple yet sophisticated piece of sound art directly addresses that idea, by melding the sounds of the city – the honk of fellow moped drivers, shouting children and the roar of traffic – to the sounds of the festival, creating a one-off, location-specific composition that differs each time it’s performed. RG

Ice Age (photo by Michel Meeuwissen)

Incubate Celebrates The Left Hand Path

Any creative impulse which is easy to implement, probably isn’t worth getting out of bed for. Incubate consistently books bands that are their own worst enemy in strictly commercial terms, realising that this has little or nothing to do with artistic, or indeed critical, success. On paper the extreme psychedelic metal trio Ramesses should be a lot bigger than they are – except they’re playing a long game, which looks beyond short-term success. While their mix of psych rock and necrotic doom with death and black metal overtones is immensely enjoyable, the dark artistry and ritual of their craft is more important to the band than playing slightly bigger venues. So not only is it great to see them up close in the relatively small Tilburg rock pub, Little Devil, but it’s a timely reminder that great bands really do throw commercial caution to the wind.

When the three piece, featuring Adam Richardson, formerly of Lord Of Putrefaction on vocals and bass, as well as the former Electric Wizard pairing of Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening, set out to get artwork for their Take The Curse album in 2010, they eschewed normal channels. Instead of opting for an indecipherable logo combined with a painting of some foul atrocity, they set their sights slightly higher instead.

Adam tracked down Jake and Dinos Chapman and handed them a package of their back catalogue, sealed into a box with artwork. The brothers were so impressed with the unholy sound that they immediately offered him access to their collection of thousands of stills from their exhibition Fucking Hell.

This was the easy bit, however. In a sonic refreshment strategy that almost defies sense, Adam wanted the album to be produced by someone who had literally never heard any heavy metal, let alone any blackened, necrotic doom. This led them to James Thompson, who specialised in producing Cuban mambo music. The shock of the job led to the producer going AWOL with the tapes and a two year struggle to retrieve them ensued.

The whole story is entirely congruent with the biography of a bloody minded metal musician who claims that he once went into some tunnels in Dorset with an entire blotter sheet of LSD, only to emerge several days later very dirty and disheveled, a much better guitarist, and with some previously unknown conversational Spanish. JD

VÅR: Luke’s New Favourite Band

Quietus writer Louis Pattison, a man who knows his expensive static (his term), has been telling me to go and watch VÅR at Incubate for months. Your likes of Ice Age (whose singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is, alongside Loke Rahbek, one of VÅR’s two frontmen) and the rest of the current, fertile Danish scene might make These New Puritans seem like jovial Essex Morrismen with their severe, flatland European sounds, but there’s no denying they’re making compelling stuff. It begins like early Laibach: a stand-up drummer, Korg-heavy heady music built around eddies and trout chilling pulses of cold wave synth.

There’s a definite kinship here with the material Wes Eisold produced on the Cold Cave Cremations release, or Dominick Fernow’s Prurient and Vatican Shadow. But this is more than mere nihilism pastiche. For a start, both Rahbek and Rønnenfelt are formidable frontmen. Over one particularly juddering track of portentous declining synth, Rehbek shouts throatily into two microphones, a distressed panicked look on his face. If that’s not enough, you suddenly notice that the drummer is stood, stock still, hands behind his back, glowering at the crowd in an unsettling manner. It’s quite a contrast to ‘In Your Arms’, a more pop moment (do not allow your brain to tell you it sounds like Glasvegas) which has already been sent out into the world via an enjoyably homoerotic video. Aptly enough given the name, the aesthetic here is very much ‘lied about their age to sign up in 1914, about to get cut to pieces before even a clasp to a French whore’s bosom, Flanders 1916’. No panto, though – it’s extremely intense. An ugly poetic is to be found in these anthems for doomed youth. LT

VÅR (photo by William Van Der Voort)

Knackered House – Not So Knackered After All?

Andy Stott, who jokingly coined the phrase ‘knackered house’ to describe his Passed Me By EP in an interview last year, makes a convincing case at Incubate for the term’s redundancy – at least where its effectiveness on a dancefloor is concerned. His slow and extremely grubby takes on techno and house, on record, frequently feel as though all of their tension and rhythmic elasticity is attenuated by the litres of murky water that flush through them. His set at Friday night peak clubbing hour, though, proves that they have remarkable stamina and kinetic energy, with the funk and forward drive that seems absent on record restored when played at high volume. Kudos, too, for managing to keep playing through the technical difficulties that introduce an unwanted element of snd-style glitch to proceedings.

The following evening, Daniel Martin-McCormick’s set as Ital (he’s also played as Mi Ami and Sex Worker during the festival) proves that he’s the most accomplished and adventurous producer to emerge from the scene surrounding 100% Silk. With the tracks from this year’s Hive Mind LP already stripped from his live show, he focuses on new material from its imminent follow-up Dream On. It works the same digitally overloaded aesthetic – R&B vocals smashed into splinters, bitcrushed synths that peak in painful shrieks – into far choppier and harder music, with the dreamy ooze of his earlier material lost in favour of raw, Jamal Moss-esque cuts and weaponised percussion. RG

Do It Yourself Is A Way Of Life

Incubate helps artists who help themselves. The DIY aesthetic is always mentioned in connection with punk but it is something that infuses all the other scenes represented at this festival from techno to industrial to metal. That said, if there’s one person here who represents the spirit of DIY, it’s the redoubtable Gentleman Of Punk Rock, John Robb. He is here with his band the Membranes, is appearing on panels at the DIY conference, is curating a stage featuring bands signed to his own record label and is reporting for his website, Louder Than War. I wouldn’t be particularly surprised to find out that John had also fashioned himself a pedalo to get here. I caught up with him to talk about DIY means of filming one’s own promo video.

When did you decide to make the video for ‘If You Enter The Arena, You’ve Got To Be Prepared To Deal With The Lions’?

John Robb: While we were recording it. The song came out of a jam in the studio and we thought it sounded great, really dark and heavy, and I wanted a dark and heavy video to go with it. We recorded the track for a Membranes single in Southern Studios in Wood Green during the sessions for the new Goldblade album. I was sleeping on the floor of the studio and every morning went for a run round the nearby Alexandra Palace and the idea came on the runs. I thought it would be great filming a gladiator video in the tress by Ally Pally and against the backdrop of the building itself, because its small brickwork looked like Roman brickwork.

What do you think of bands signed to majors or large indies who still make big videos?

JR: They’re mostly out-moded and redundant. Thin on ideas and fat on cash. Unless they are Rammstein, who made a brilliant run of videos a few years ago.

What money did you outlay?

JR: £4.00 on borrowing the Gladiator outfit and the toy lion’s head.

What did you film it on?

JR: The video was filmed on my iPad by a friend of ours called Nick the Hat. I directed it as I went along. I knew what I wanted. Me and the bass player out of Goldblade Brother Keith went into the woods and I did the martial arts sword thing into the sunshine which always looks great. I didn’t want another performance video… I’m really bored of those. I like the idea of the video not matching the song… lip syncing and miming is boring. I love the shots of the trees and we got loads of close ups of the leaves for the pagan effect…

How did you edit it?

JR: It was edited on a Mac… we wanted it blurred and slowed down to create more atmosphere.

What’s your advice to anyone who wants to make their own video?

JR: Use your imagination and use your mobile phone! Most have HD quality cameras in them now. A simple idea is always effective. A band called Fawn Spots on my label made a great video for their single in the same sort of way; they just filmed on a mobile phone. There are a lot of great guerrilla videos getting made for songs now. I like the idea of every track on the album having a video and will be attempting to do that for the Goldblade album. JD

Chance Events, Strange Occurrences And Other Assorted Items Of Note

Laser Poodle, an Amsterdam-based duo with a dreadful name but a devastatingly effective line in Drexciyan aquatic techno, shredding 303 lines and ear-gutting distortion.

"See, I’m playing records – and sometimes, they skip": Detroit house maestro Moodymann, politely but firmly requesting that a particularly well-oiled reveler remove himself from the vicinity of the decks.

Being informed in scientific detail, thanks to the Incubate programme, of the origins of the band name ‘Pink Sock’ (Google is not your friend on this one).

Luke’s raw herring: Incubate co-ordinator Joost took me to the market for this Dutch delicacy. The fishlady fillets the fish, and covers it in raw onion. The trick is to then hold the fish by the tail, put your head back, and dangle it into the mouth before biting. This viking sashimi is an intense thing, but curiously refreshing in its firm coldness and hint of the sea. One’s enough for me, but Joost polishes off more, assuring me they’re the perfect hangover cure. LT

Hail Schlager & Lager!

We might have been at it for five days, sleeping on floors and getting harassed by mendacious cats, but everyone at Incubate insists we go along to the festival afterparty, which is taking place in a metal bar calld Little Devil. The last time John and I tried to find a metal bar in the lowlands of Northern Europe this happened, so caution was advised. No need. This is one of the most high-spirited and lunatic nights the Quietus has had out in a long while. The disco is a peculiar mix of rap and alternative bangers, interspersed with classics of the European Schlager repertoire. As soon as one of those songs is dropped, everyone goes beserk, creating lager flak and forming a huge conga around the room. Everyone is swept up in it – musicians, festival staff, Simon Reynolds, the Quietus, all joyously promenading around the room.

Then two old gents in pink jackets appear and start doing the Shlager live and in the flesh. The place goes beserk, for these are legends De Deurzakkers. It’s hard to think of a British parallel for this. Perhaps it’s like having Black Lace turn up at the end of ATP to do ‘Agadoo’ and ‘Gang Bang’, but that doesn’t feel quite right. Then it would be laden in irony and cheese. This, by contrast, feels like a massive letting off of steam, a sense of Dutch and North European pride that demolishes borders with song. It is very Laibach. It is very British Sea Power. One is reminded of the latter’s pan-European hymn, ‘Waving Flags’ – "You are astronomical fans of alcohol… So welcome in…" Amen to that. Until next year, Incubate, Tot ziens! LT

(photo by René Genten)

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