23.10.2017

Spurensicherung: Troglobatem Festival 2017, Eindruck



Troglobatem 2017 - Review (well, kind of...)

Okay, just like last time, a moody look back on last weekend for all those of you who couldn’t make it. We started early in Wiesbaden and hit the road to Stuttgart at 12:30 and arrived about 15:30 at Günter’s flat. He was busy preparing for his set as DJ Dream Machine. A coffee, a quick chat and off we went to the festival.

Ronnie’s already there, Eric, Hendrik, David, Bent – and of course Virginia, David, Werner, Moritz and all the other helping hands. It’s about an hour before the first band will be on stage. Time for a beer or two to kill time. More and more familiar faces arrive at the scene. Meeting all the friends down here is already worth the trip. (All the shitty pics below by myself and my lousy camera.)



DIE VARJIDSWARA – a trio of Tablas, Tanpura, Sitar and a bit of electronic drum patterns – open the festival. A relaxed start, pseudo-classical-indian-music-jams with a good dose of humor. Unfortunately a Sitar string breaks at an early point of the set, but swabian tranquility helps through the inconvenience and after a ten minutes break they lift off again. I’m not sure, why exactly they need to have the drum machine – sometimes it sounds a bit as if the Sisters of Mercy’s Dr. Avalanche is jamming with Limbus 3, but anyway: nice opener.



Next up is David Edren with his DSR LINES project. During the past years I’ve seen him play several times and he never fails to get me with his meditative compositions/improvisations. This time he seems to play stuff which is similar to his latest release, a cassette called Electronic Gamelan Music – pretty self-explanatory title, right?
 


In contrast to David’s meditative music MARC MATTER’s turntableism provides a very different vibe. Hectic and funny – and fabulous, too! Bits of language and other sonic fragments slowed down, repeated or manipulated in other ways fill the ears.
 


OGON BATTO’s digital cut-/mash-up is a theatrical affair. Bits and pieces of various sound sources garnished by Bent’s dramatic high-pitched vocals. Sometimes it sounded like the Phantom at the Opera sound-tracking Tomb Raider. Very entertaining.
 


The freewheeling improv of AUTISTIC ARGONAUTS was frenetically received. Kind of a next generation Nihilist Spasm Band they took the stage and blew the audience away. I’m biased here, but still: great performance.
 


Brandon Lopez should have been next, but he got stuck at the airport and couldn’t make it. RICCARDO SINIGAGLIA took his place and his playful and impressionistic mix of minimalist and progressive elements mesmerized the audience. 

It was way past midnight when EMBRYO took the stage. I’ve seen the band play in various formations before, now for the first time since Christian Burchard handed the band over to his daughter Marja. Compared to gigs I had seen before this night’s set was more Improv and less Ethno – with a heavy Sun Ra Jazz vibe. No idea if that style is significant for the “new” EMBRYO but I enjoyed it anyway.

When EMBRYO’s set had ended it was time for more (drunken) talk and various kinds of deviant behavior – all accompanied by DJ DREAM MACHINE’s tape-music DJ-Set. I was pretty exhausted and sitting by the fireside most of the time, so I didn’t get in detail what Günter played, but it was a very comforting background noise to have a last beer before heading back to his flat around 6 in the morning. 

After we got up a few hours later and had breakfast it was an easy decision where to kill time until the festival took off again: Second Hand Records functioned as a shelter for hung-over Troglobatem zombies. More than a few of us dug through the vinyl boxes until it was time to head back to the festival. (Vinyl-Junkies from all over the world: If you happen to be in Stuttgart, visit the shop. It’s amazing.)
 


Second day of live music started with SCHLUSS: prepared-guitar n’ electronics improvisations. Very noisy – a bit too noisy for my hung-over head, so I didn’t catch the whole set, just 15 minutes of it. Enjoyable in general, but I wasn’t in the mood.



ANDREW BARKER & JOHN DIKEMAN delivered some serious Free Jazz, loud ‘n heavy. Just right to blast off my hangover.



Next up my personal musical highlight of the festival took the stage: a trio of NICK MITCHELL, DAVID VANZAN and Metabolismus’ bass player who’s name I fill in here when I remember it again. The ripped through a highly entertaining set that at times sounded like Sonny Sharrock and/or Jerry Garcia jamming with Black Sabbath. Heavy Flower Travellin’ Band/Japrock vibes, too. Insane, wild and funny. Like most or all of the festival’s music it got recorded, so hopefully it will be released at some point.
 


LOTUS RETINA was a completely different cup of tea. Aleatoric music / Musique concrète via ipad and other electronic devices. Colorful, like watching swarms of thousands of little fish swimming by a coral reef: Looks chaotic but inherits a certain amount of structure.
 



Something very different again with GRID: dark, dystopian and metallic trio-improvisations on sax, bass and drums. Very New York, somehow. A tad too aggressive for my taste that day, but impressive nonetheless. 



Electronic duo TAV EXOTIC made the crowd dance while I started to have a look for Günter, who had as me to get up early the next day. We had a last beer and a quick schnaps and then it was time to say Goodbye to all the friends around. 

Even though I had to leave earlier and missed the last day of the festival I really enjoyed the trip to Stuttgart again! Thanks to Virginia, David, Werner, Moritz and all the helping hands who put a lot of love and labor into Troglobatem. It’s is a rare opportunity (especially over here in Germany) to experience a weekend full of adventurous music in a totally positive and energizing environment. A warm and welcome diversion from the often dull cultural monotony.

Here’s to the next Troglobatem – 2018!?