WGT 2013 Festival Recap by Alex Baker
Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany is the largest Gothic (or as the Germans like to call it, “Schwarz Scene”) festival in the world. The festival caters to a melange of Gothic Subcultures, from to Mansonsites to Deathrockers, metalheads to Neo-Pagans, and New Wavers to Neo Romantics. The new Romantics alone are worth the ticket price; a sea of day-walking baroque Anne Rice vampires with white painted faces at a Victorian picnic.
There are usually legendary headliners featured at the larger venues, Werk II or Agra Hall. 2011 showcased Punk and Post-Punk heroes such as The Damned, Fields of the Nephilim, and Killing Joke.
However, the line-up focus of 2013 was rather different. Instead of spending tens of thousands of Euros booking a few big headliners (which there still were), great care was taken in selecting many new and exciting bands and performers from the Minimal, Coldwave, Neo-Post Punk, Shoegaze, Synth and various other emergent scenes. The theme was definitely new bands. I tried to catch as many performances as I could whilst criss-crossing Leipzig via tram, and discovered more reasons to be enamoured with the darker side of new music.
A fantastic Post-Punk group from Stockholm Sweden who also claim to be Shoegaze (but in actuality they are maybe as Shoegaze as the Jesus and Mary Chain…but hey…who says that’s a bad thing!?). In fact you could compare Principe Valiente to Interpol based solely on Fernando Honorato‘s vocals (not his bass playing!), however that would be unfair to Fernando’s amazing vocal range and Principe’s incredible music…which In my opinion is much more sonic and lush. Okay, okay…speaking of sonic and lush, I must concede there is a definite shoegaze influence in the wall of sound from the effects used by Alexander Chlot–but the noise is more focused and uplifting than deafening. You are not lost in the music, it instead carries you through a dense emotional narrative.
Besides playing at Wave Gotik Treffen–Just recently Principe Valiente opened for the Peter Murphy Mr. Moonlight Tour–35 Years of Bauhaus date in Stockholm.
The followup to 2011’s self titled debut LP from the band will be released later this year, with production from Niklas Björklund, and Ed Buller (who has worked with Suede, Pulp, and White Lies. The new album features the single “Take me with you”.
Principe Valiente are:
Fernando Honorato (vocals, bass),
Alexander Chlot (guitar)
Joakim Janthe (drums)
Johannes Harg (keyboards)
I had missed Sweden’s Karin Park performing in Berlin before…raising an eyebrow at another “new-wave” lady with a keytar (Lady Gaga started out that way afterwall). That being said, I was intrigued that she was headlining a stage Sunday Night at Volkspalast for WGT. Coming in with low expectations…the impact of the sheer showmanship and talent blew me away. At first I did not know what to think, as Karin Park’s look combined with her distinctly Swedish stature was slightly reminiscent of Goser of Ghostbusters fame. Further more…I noticed a voice that could easily be confused with another Karin from Sweden…Karin Dreijer Andersson aka Fever Ray from The Knife…but definitely less pretentious (Shaking the Habitual anyone!?). In fact, Karin Park’s fourth album, Highwire Poetry was produced by Christoffer Berg, known for his work with Fever Ray and The Knife (along with Massive Attack and others). I would definitely pay to see Karin Park again. The two songs that stood out for me were recent singles, A Thousand Loaded Guns, and Restless…with the latter opening, and the former closing her set.
Karin Park features her brother David Park on Drums for her Album and Live performances.
Frank Just Frank
Anthem ‘Szekely’ Skarimbas is everywhere (such as The Grauzone Festival this Past February, and Wierd). Since releasing 2010’s Brutal Wave LP, and partnering with Soviet Soviet on a split LP, Monsieur Skarimbas has toured extensively and has partnered with several different people from the international Coldwave scene, (Such as Frank Deserto from The Harrow), settling on Klischee Eehcsilk of Katz Kab fame. If you are a fan of classic Lively Arts style Touching Pop/Coldwave, you must see Frank (Just Frank) Live- However be warned–on the records the sound is more reminiscent of Little Nemo, and Asylum Party, but live you are getting a more kinetic performance, not unlike Opera De Nuit.
An EP Frères d’armes was released through aufnahme + wiedergabe on May 17th 2013.
Die Selektion has something about them that takes me back to the Wax Trax era. Sure, you can hear Influence from DAF, NITZER EBB, and DIE KRUPPS. However Die Selektion’s sound is not really Industrial nor Early EBM . Perhaps they could be described as coldwave, but that does not fit either. Regardless, with their cinematic synths and innovative use of melodic trumpet playing, Die Selektion is a band you would expect to open for a Malaria reunion.
Check out their single Faust released on aufnahme + wiedergabe.
Luca Gillian – Vocals & Synthesizer
Hannes Rief – Trumpet & Vocals
Samuel Savenberg – Bass & Electronics
Martial Canterel + Xeno and Oaklander
It is my firm opinion the Minimal revival started in NYC with a group of music nerds (Or perhaps prentious elitist according to the tongue in Pieter Schoolwerths cheek). Back in 2002 Sean McBride formed the limited edition minimal mixtape business model performing in decaying Brooklyn dives under the name MORAVAGINE. Sean Mcbride continued to make his music through his alias Martial Canterel, and by being half of the duo Xeno and Oaklander (the other half being Liz Wendelbo). Both acts practically becames the house bands at Schoolwerth’s Wednesday night Wierd party at Home Sweet Home.
These days, Wierd may rest in peace, but Sean continues to be an international hit with You Today an Empire under the guise of Martial Canterel. Let us not forget Xeno and Oaklander whom have shared the stage with Austra, John Foxx, and The Soft Moon. (One of my personal favourite Xeno and Oaklander tracks is Desert Rose off of 2011’s Set and Lights LP.) Xeno and Oaklander have released a new single Sheen via Electronic Voice Records. Sheen is a fantastic track blending complex poppy beats with haunting coldwave/shoegaze vocals from Liz Wendelbo.
Martial Canterel and Xeno and Oaklander: Essential Synth for Minimal Purists.
She Past Away
When she She Past Away appeared on-stage at Ankor Saturday evening—they could not be more shy as they started their set. This humility, however, slowly dissolved into a talented performance of catchy post-punk and darkwave music that quickly won the crowd over. Being that they come from Turkey, and have been in existence since 2006 (a span of time that has seen some excellent bands come and go.) I can’t help but feel intrigued by their music, and the Turkish Post-Punk scene overall. Their debut album “Belirdi Gece” was released in 2012, and is available digitally and on vinyl.
Check out their new video for the single Asimilasyon
In name sounding like some Soviet Era offshoot of SMERSH. In actuality this is the initials of Klaus Von Barrel, who had intially formed KVB as a solo project back in 2010, later added Kat Day full time on synths and visuals in 2011. The KVB is an amazing fusion of Lively Arts Style coldwave and minimal synth, meeting the core 60’s garage fuzz and droning vocals that inspired the original shoegazers of the late 80’s and early 90’s, in addition to being remiscent of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Ravonettes, and The Horrors (Primary Colours onward). Definitely one of the best bands on Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave Records.
2012 saw the release of their debut album, “Always Then”, and “Immaterial Visions” in 2013.
Check out their amazing single Run Away
Esben and The Witch
An odd band that some seem to be calling “Gothic”. Despite having dark elements, I would describe Esben and The Witch as shadowed Indie Rock shimmering in the flash lit dark. More Nico, Pj Harvey, and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, than any generic Siouxsie comparison. However, all that being said, there is something in the layering of the compositions and guitar effects that harkens back to the Hollow Hills of Bauhaus, further tempered to a stageshow devoid of of most light save of the minimal amount to frame the mood. 2013 saw the release of their second album, “Wash the Sins Not Only the Face”, which featured the single “Deathwaltz”.