This artist needs no introduction, but just for the sake of formality, here it goes: Thurston Moore is a co-founder and backbone of the New York noise rock icon Sonic Youth, an excellent and original guitarist, a legendary songwriter, an experimental music and film score composer, and an independent writer and publisher. Fans and critics were enthralled by his 2011 collection of beautiful acoustic ballads, Demolished Thoughts, produced by Beck. We find all of Thurston’s incarnations – noisy or melancholy and soft – equally convincing, which is why we’re very happy to welcome him to his first performance at the OFF Festival.
anbb: alva noto & blixa bargeld
Combining two perfectly matching halves isn’t what makes duets powerful: it’s the juxtaposition of fire and ice. That’s precisely the formula applied by Carsten Nicolai, better-known to experimental electronic music audiences as Alva Noto, and Hans Christian Emmerich, who tears down walls and musical conventions under the name Blixa Bargeld with Einstürzende Neubauten, and for years accompanied Nick Cave in the Bad Seeds. Alva Noto is all about minimalism and cold precision, while Blixa Bargeld represents courage, expression, and a dash of unpredictability. The two have been collaborating for years, but their official debut didn’t come until 2010, when they released the excellent record Mimikry. Let’s hope we hear the rest of that story at the OFF Festival…
Baroness are, next to Isis and Mastodon, one of the most interesting metal bands to surface on the American music scene after 2000. Their drumwork and massive riffs are clearly born of the heritage of Metallica and perhaps even Black Sabbath, yet they boldly explore new sounds and search for inspiration in genres so distant from orthodox metal as punk and garage noise rock. After two critically acclaimed LPs, Red Album and Blue Record, as well as a series of performances alongside metal heavywieghts, Baroness decided to take 2011 off. Or, perhaps more accurately, they took a year off to work on their upcoming album Yellow & Green (to be released this July), enlisting John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, St. Vincent) as the producer.
Josh T. Pearson
Texas native Josh T. Pearson was once the frontman for the much missed group Lift to Experience, with whom he released just a single, legendary album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. He’s been performing alone for almost a decade, but he hasn’t seemed too eager to record: his first solo album, Last of the Country Gentlemen – a true folk diamond released on Mute Records – was recorded just last year, when the singer found himself living in Berlin. “These are less songs, more open wounds,” notices one Mojo reviewer. This is gearing up to be a show for audiences that aren’t ashamed or afraid of their emotions.
Born on the last day of summer vacation, Nosowska must be one of the Poland’s hardest-working vocalist. Not a year goes by without a new album – solo, or with her main band, Hey. And while Hey continues to cling (although not as desperately, nowadays) to the general rock aesthetic, Katarzyna Nosowska’s own albums eschew stylistic boundaries and roam freely between guitar rock and cold, electronic sounds, as evidenced by her sixth album (subversively titled 8), which was among Poland’s best alternative releases in 2011.
Łukasz “L.U.C.” Rostkowski and Bartłomiej “Spaso” Spasowski are getting back together: the Wrocław-based Kanał Audytywny is coming back for the OFF Festival! Blurring the boundaries between hip-hop, jazz, new electronic sounds, and performance, Kanał Audytywny released three albums (Spasoasekuracja, Płyta Skirtotymiczna, and Neurofotoreceptoreplotyka Jako Magia Bytu) before splitting up. But now they’re back to surprise, teach, and entertain us once again.
That’s not all the good news. We’re glad to announce that the British magazine The Quietus will be an official partner of the festival and the curator of one day at the Experimental Stage. Their guests will include anbb: alva noto & blixa bargeld and Josh T. Pearson, as well as the previously-announced Colin Stetson, Shabazz Palaces, and Container.
What happens when you transplant rural American folk music into a New York City garage? Not only does it not wilt, it actually blossoms with feedback, tearing apart traditional song structures and bearing the fruit of new sounds, without losing its roots in good songwriting. Akron/Family’s studio experiments and live jams have rightfully launched them to the forefront of a genre known as freak folk or new psychodelic rock, depending on how acoustic or electric the sound is. Their performances should be proof enough, but their albums are worth listening to as well, particularly their latest release _Akron/Family II The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (2011).
Megafaun are good friends with Akron/Family and a certain Justin Vernon, with whom they collaborated in the band DeYarmand Edison before each went their separate ways: Justin going on to fame as Bon Iver, and Brad Cook, Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund venturing into the unknown as Megafaun, exploring post-hippie music not limited by trends or time. There’s a bit of the country tradition with a rock edge in their sound, and even oddities worthy of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, all performed in laid-back style that you won’t find anywhere outside North Carolina. One Pitchfork reviewer describes their music as “well-suited for a night strapped into headphones as it is a lazy Sunday morning, dancing around the bedroom.” In that case, it’s well-suited for the Radio 3 Stage too.
When this Warsaw group debuted over a decade ago with Płyta pilśniowa, they drew comparisons to The Roots and were lauded as the great hope of Polish hip-hop. Today, following the release of Piosenki po polsku, enthusiastic reviewers see Afro Kolektyw more as a worthy heir to the best Polish pop-rock traditions of the 70s and 80s. As hard as it may be to keep up with them, two elements of Afro Kolektyw’s style have remained constant: their excellent instrumentalists, whose groove remains unrivaled in the land of the Vistula, and their one-of-a-kind frontman, Michał “Afrojax” Hoffman, against whose sharp tongue, witty humor, and irony few local wordsmiths dare compete.
Unfortunately Black Face (US) have disbanded and will not be performing at the festival.