Author & Punisher
The world is a rather small place, especially since the age of the internet. Only a few hours before I left home to attend this promising event at Antwerp's cosiest music venue, my American friend and Merchants Of Air colleague Paul sent me a message. "Hey. A buddy of mine is playing in Antwerp tonight, some place called Palazzo." I replied: "Are you fucking kidding me?" Turns out Paul and Brian (Darsombra) go back a long time. So Paul did what good friends do: send Brian a message to tell him I was coming and he'd better put up a good show. You know, stress always works while touring and playing shows in faraway countries.
I grabbed my backpack and closed the door behind me. The weather was great and I was quite early so I decided to ignore the tram and walk to Palazzo. It's only forty-five minutes, the length of an average drone ambient song. Along the way, I saw hundreds of people, extremely unhappy to be sitting in their cars. Some were smoking, others were yelling at their hands free kit and still others were clearly thinking about homicide. This was about to become a magnificent event. It had all the omens to perfection.
When I arrived at Palazzo, I was greeted by Peter's wife Anja. She was just having a chat with the members of Darsombra so I interfered and introduced myself. We talked for a while and looked around the the lovely garden while VaathV was setting up. Shortly after I set up the table at the door, just as the first audience members walked in. They were pretty much the same people as always at Palazzo, another aspect of the nice and relaxing atmosphere at these miniature events. Among them was Patsker, who is responsible for the great pictures.
Peter told me something extremely cool about this event. Nine years ago, Darsombra became one of the main influences for Ashtoreth. Doing things solo was something that had never occurred to Peter before. The rest is history, Peter became a forerunner and a leader in a massive pool of one-man projects. He also became an inspiration for VaathV, to complete the circle of influence. And yet, none of these three projects sounded the same.
Those aforementioned influences immediately became audible when Vaatv began his set. With candles and incense the gates to the dark and mysterious side of ambient music were opened. A monotonous drone appeared. Maschinenzimmer 412 haunted my brain. Then the artist stood up and picked up his bass. Thick yet minimal riffs began to grind over the drone. The audience became very quiet (except my stupid bloody cunt of a phone, sorry about that).
The gig slowly rippled on. The bass guitar disappeared again and made place of a microphone and deep growls. Little later, new riffs appeared, this time created with the guitar. There were elements of occult drone ambient, industrial noise and funeral doom to be found but the whole thing remained on an immersive and minimalistic level. I was rather impressed, not because I saw a copy of a young Ashtoreth but mostly because I saw another talented young man pick up his equipment and try to make his mark on a massively interesting scene. Excellent opener, no doubt about that.
Ashtoreth with Atma Kripa and Orryelle Defenestrate
After a brief break it was time for Peter himself to blast some tunes into his own living room. For the occasion, he had invited gongist Atma Kripa and violonist/throat-singer Orryelle Defenestrate to join him on this quest. The result was a mesmerizing set of drones, eerie sounds and minimal folk. That gong was huge. Let's just say it doesn't fit into a Renault Twingo. It's a one of a kind instrument that lends itself perfectly to the often haunting sounds of Ashtoreth.
Having a one-man project is one thing but performing in perfect harmony with two other one-man acts comes close to magic and that is pretty much what happened here. The audience was enchanted by the music, perhaps even more so by the warm and immersive atmosphere of the whole thing. The loud and ecstatic applause at the end was not a surprise. This was simply delicious, a living room concert that took everyone in attendance on a mental journey. More please.
Being weird together is one of the most fun thing people can do. Just ask Darsombra who walked to the stage, uttering the words "Let's go be weird." Dressed in white, wearing blue make-up with glitter and delivering the intensity of metal concert, Darsombra seemed to come from a whole different universe (Baltimore, USA). It started rather mystifying, with bells and sounds and noises but it quickly lifted off into a sonic journey through time, space and getting your finger caught between your snares.
While most acts in this scene have a certain seriousness, Darsombra brought humor, adventure and enjoyment. Clearly, these two people have a lot of fun making music together. Their music is love, in the purest sense of the word. Looped rhythms, glam rock guitar licks and geeky synths delivered a whirlpool of sonic joy. People were shaking their heads and I think one of the audience members was having a little dance in the kitchen.
Thàt's how much fun this gig was. Usually, after a show people saw "great show" or "that was awesome" but after this one, I said "that was a shitload of fun." At one point, Brian actually did get his finger caught between his snares. The snare snapped so he simply left to place another one while Ann gave us a gong solo and a lecture about the mountain in the projection. That being said, that projection was brilliant. Everything was.
After a while, Brian returned and continued the gig, much to the delight of the happy few. When the gig ended, the applause was just as uplifting and joyous as the concert itself was. Even now, twenty four hours later, I'm still humming along with the sparse vocals in the music. This was a remarkable evening with three interesting acts but Darsombra raged right to the very top of my all-time favorite Palazzo gigs.
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