In 2017 I only wrote a review or five. Of course I've heard a massive amount of massively awesome stuff while or after Serge was reviewing it, or after the albums were added to our day-to-day playlist, but I suffer from bad memory so it's hard for me to get new names into my head. There are only two new albums that really stood out for me:
Bathsheba's - Servus and a live recording of a concert by Foudre and Christine Ott as a soundtrack to a movie called 'Earth'
Maybe that is the reason why I haven't written write many reviews yet: I think it's your duty as a reviewer to focus all of your attention only on what comes out of your speakers or headphones. No checking out info on the band or trying to find an intro, no conversations or social media or reading or walking in and out of the room while doing chores, no daydreaming or worrying or contemplating, nothing: just stay where you are and consume the music. It is as simple as it is almost impossible. Yes, I can listen to albums in public transport or while walking, but even though I have very good headphones, I still partially focus on the road, the landscapes that pass by, the book I'm reading, what the other people are up to or what my mind is yapping about. That is not 100% attention, that is not listening in the right sense of the word. It took me more than two years of mindfulness practice to be able to listen to music.
And it pays off. I hear new aspects in songs that I already knew by heart. I transform into the feeling that the artist has put in there. I truly appreciate their hard work. I am in the moment. Maybe that's why I'll focus on concerts that I've seen in 2017 for the rest of this article, because at a concert it is much easier to focus on the music alone - if the audience would read and apply
Serge's guidelines for concerts, that is.
And do you know who is responsible for my new ears? Cecilia, the old soul in the body of a young lady, protagonist of Serge's debut 'Cecilia's World'. I'll insert a small break while you go and buy that book:
There you go. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did editing it and re-reading it. Because I don't want to favour one of the headlights of 2017 above the others, I'll go through some mind-blowing concerts I went to in order of appearance. There have been concerts too with me in the audience but me not being there. I had a shitload of shit going on in my head and I had to invent a plunger. And I missed 2/3 of Dunk! festival due to illness, unfortunately.
In January we went to Mol. Opener of the evening was Sitka, and in October we saw Ben perform live again. Sitka brings us lovely drone ambient and we heard him evolve this year. Then came Stratosphere and the same goes for Ronald: we saw him multiple times and we were pleasantly surprised by the evolution his excellent ambient tunes have gone through. After Stratosphere the two metal bands just didn't do the trick for me and then came Ashtoreth. We saw Peter perform too in April, two times, and not two of his concerts are the same. Ashtoreth is the master of meditative drones for me. January also brought Primordial to Antwerp, together with some other bands I can't remember. Primordial, heroes of my confused adolescence, bringing pure pagan black power, what an awesome gig. And they brought a lot of early work too, a very pleasant surprise.
In April we saw a lot of Ashtoreth and Stratosphere, one time they did an improvisation session together which also was memorable. This was the first time we went to living room gigs and we enjoyed that concept very much. And there was Kuro. Kuro! They brought top shelf drone jazz and I liked it from the very first notes.
May is Dunk!Fest month. Due to circumstances mentioned above, Mooncake, CHVE and Barst are the concerts I remember best. Dunk!Fest is awesome. And so are these three bands. In June we saw Chelsea Wolfe and Moon Duo in Antwerp. Moon Duo kicks ass. Go see them when you can. July brought us a day of Gent Jazz festival with two top acts: Archive and Einstürzende Neubauten. Man, those were awesome concerts. Thanks to Belgian railways we had to leave after only a few songs by Einstürzende Neubauten but it was totally worth the trip.
In September we went to see Bohren & Der Club Of Gore in Antwerp. This was the most emotional musical evening for me, a bit of a catharsis. And were they good! A German father and his two sons (or so they claim), all multi-instrumentists, bringing the best dark jazz there is.
And in October it was time for the first musical evening Serge had organized in years. Sitka, Stratosphere and Lord Kesseli and the Drums performed in Antwerp. It was a magical night, one to never forget. Check out Lord Kesseli and the Drums.
In November we went to Brussels for Bonobo. Awesome sound, awesome performance, awesome atmosphere. I loved every minute of it. A few days later there was another living room concert where debuting drone artist Urall convinced me of his capabilities, Stratosphere did the best gig of the year and Thisquietarmy did awesome things as we are used from him.
Closer of the year were Angels Die Hard, highly energetic psychedelic rock with synths, and O Yuki Conjugate who toured for the first time in a very long while. I was baffled by their set. Also extremely memorable.
Thank you to all of these artists, all of the organizers and helpers, all of the Merchants Of Air readers. And all the best for 2018.