This past weekend i went to Latvia to play at an underground noise festival called Kuucvaals. I met lots of nice people and had much fun, so i decided to write a party report about it! And while we are at it why not abuse this oportunity to educate some curious folks about the noise music genre and link to some releases of my netlabel Enough Records.
First you should know that i’m a Portuguese living in Finland. The idea to visit Latvia came to me when i was talking to a Finnish artist friend of mine called Nosfe. he was telling me he was scheduled to play a few gigs in the Baltics this Summer. Nosfe is an artist and performs on several noise projects, including the Enough Records release project Grey Park. I been a long time fan and producer of noise music. Sadly in Portugal the closest thing we have to a noise scene is the ocasional Industrial events which i always tried to support but usually focus more on electro-industrial and not so much on the more harsh post-industrial kind of sounds which i so much love and on occasion, produce and release at Enough.
What is Noise Music
Now if you don’t know much about the noise scene i can try to explain it abit for you even though i’m not really an expert. There are several different kinds and genres of noise, some are slotted as sub-genres of the so called post-industrial genre, a name that signifies what came after the industrial music scene.
If you don’t know what industrial genre means then just know that it is somewhat based on sampling common day materials and making music out of it. Playing music with junkyard or kitchen utensils. A specific label called Industrial Records focused heavily on this music and became a genre setting.
So Post-Industrial Music is music that took influences from those kind of sounds but drifted apart into it’s own sub-niche genres that are mixed with other influences or cultures. So for example when you mix ambient and industrial influences you now have ambient industrial music. And when you mix industrial with electronic music you get EBM – Electronic Body Music. If its extremly brutal and non rhythmical you call it Power Electronics. If it’s focused on distorted beats you call it rhythmic noise or powernoize.
Other genres of “noise music” that don’t fit into the post-industrial include some forms of glitch, breakcore, idm, cinematic and experimental. You can also find lots of influences from doom metal, death metal, sludge metal, dark ambient and drone scenes.
But enough of genre definitions. Noise and experimental electronics is not everyone’s cup of tea, but i like it, so i contacted one of the organizers of Kuucvaals and asked him if i could also come and play. They were very happy to have more foreign projects involved but warned us of the underground conditions of it all.
The festival takes place in a farm in the middle of nowhere, actually abit close to the Lithuanian border i was told. You have to drive some 15 km in dirt road to get there. This farm has an old house that is getting slowly restored by the owners and huge barn where the concerts take place. Folks also bring their tents and just camp out in the fields around the barn. Curious locals from nearby farms occasionally show up to take a look at what the hell is happening.
It’s not a very large festival, only about 100 people maximum showed up, Latvia is not a very big country and this is a very specific niche genre. But word gets around and performing artists usually bring some friends along. In fact i believe probably half the attenders were artists performing at some point during the two days of the event. A total of 21 acts played at the festival.
While Riga was sunny hot, the weather at the partyplace 140km down South was pretty terrible. A heavy rainstorm on the first day probably scared some additional visitors from showing up. On the second day things werent as bad but still abit humid from the occasional shower drizzle. Plus the mosquitos made some nasty battlefields out of our legs. We still managed to have a great time.
The great part of the festival is the ambient around it. It’s a small scene so everyone more or less knows each other and there never were any problems of any sort. Dress code was as hectic as it gets. There were a few casualy dressed folks, but most of the attenders had the black clothes thing going in different variants. Your regular bunch of glowing cybers, some with military boots, other more purely goth. Some folks wearing farmer jeans, others with soccer t-shirts or extremly garish “gay and proud” pink t-shirts. Plenty of folks heavily drunk, others didn’t drink at all. All of them gathered around the bonfire and were not afraid to randomly go peek inside the barn and get some more of their heavy noise dosage.
Here is a snip youtube video of what it was like Nega @ Kuucvaals, performing a set somewhere in the lines of powernoize.