Focus on the Music: Reporting from Denovali Swingfest Essen


This dropped in BC's mailbox today and we just had to share it with you:

Hi guys,

back on the train to Munich racing through German landscape with 300 km/h. A blur of colours. Still full of impressions from the festival. The venue: a rather small hall with a lot of steel and stone - perfect for that kind of music. Formerly part of the Krupp Werke, which played a crucial role in the build up of the Nazi war machine, consequently distroyed to a large part by the Allies after WWII. Located right next to a small parc, which was nice as the sky was cloudless and one could sunbath in the gentle autumn sun between the performances and have a cold beer or a casual chat or just watch the beautiful young girls and the young men so eager to please them.

The atmosphere was totally relaxed, not at all what I know from the usual large scale festivals - much, much more agreeable. I am talking about a group of dedicated music lovers gathering to have a good time, ranging in size from some 80 in the afternoon to 200 for the evening performances.

What amazed me was how young the audience was - mostly aged around 30 with me being one of oldies, as I have grown to get used to on so many occasions. What also amazed me was how knowledgeable these guys were - at least judging from the conservations I overheard. They were throwing names around of the strangest dub, doom, industrial and whatever bands that I had never heard of and probably never will again. Ok, I am not really an expert, but...They went into in depth discussions of the latest action films from Korea and Japan and discussed the endings of illegally exported graphic novels from Northkorea that they seem to get via hidden sources in the web. Quite fascinating I must say.

The music and the shows: one hour sets with 30 minute breaks. As always on those occasions the quality of the shows differs. For me the three highlights of the day were clearly the young German John Lemke, Greg Haines and Bohren & der Club of Gore.

Bohren's appearance lived up to their strange and outlandish music. These guys are OLD as their music is SLOW. I would assume they are all in their late 60s. They played without using lights to speak of - just kind of pocket lights to see their own fingers. One could make out only their silhouettes. This created an air of being dead without being dead. People lay down and closed their eyes. The floor looked as if everybody was under hypnosis. I never experienced anything like that.

John Lemke on the other hand is a young, energetic guy putting forward his powerful and colorful music with great artistry. You will find a little surprise in the mail in a couple of days as John and I had a chat after his show about all the people in favor of the Denovali music but not able to come to a remote place like Essen - that is to say YOU!

The last show of the day - at least for me, as I had to skip James Holden due to the fact that midnight is quite late when you got up at 5 a.m. on the very same day to travel across Germany - was Greg Haines. He was quite a thrill! Boards of Canada came to mind but with much more powerful sequences and less romance, if you know what I mean.

I went back to my hotel, grateful, happy and full of music. I woke up this morning with a million ideas for future paintings. What more can you expect from a day like that?

I very much hope that one day we can all go there together and am optimistic that it will eventually happen.

So much, so good. Munich is just an hour away now with the last day of Oktoberfest and the accompanying craziness and aesthetic nightmares with people in cheap Lederhosn and fake Dirndls all over town. I will try and keep the spirit of yesterday's music as long as possible to fend all this away. May I be successful!

All best wishes to all of you!


Written by our dear friend and fellow music -lover, Claus-Martin Carlsberg.

Leave a Comment

Name *
Email address *
Comment *
*Required fields. Email address will not be published.