VARIOUS ARTISTS: 6 Years B-Wave Festival (2020)
Updated: Oct 14
“3 hours of electronic music, mostly unreleased, with 22 different artists flirting with various directions bound by Berlin School…This is a must have!”
1 B-Wave Yourself ! (RMI) 6:40
2 Light Arrows Two (Age) 4:35
3 Memento (E.Wøllo) 6:43
4 Stata (I. Boddy) 7:40
5 Conversie Van De Geest (Onsturicheit) 8:27
6 Rayna (Alienna) 5:11
7 Viral Thoughts (Sensory++) 7:28
8 Q (M.Stearns) 5:49
9 Les Baladins du Vide (Lightwave) 12:32
10 Vertigo (Aerodyn) 8:14
11 Marcel Proust 2020 (Nothing But
12 Eson (Xyrion) 8:14
13 Timeless Trip (Space Megalithe) 17:18
14 First Appearance (The Roswell Incident) 9:03
15 Nebula (Owann) 6:32
16 Belgische Pralinen (BK&S) 11:25
17 Midnight Forest (Nattefrost) 8:19
18 Belgian Rehearsal (Kontroll Raum) 12:19
19 Sequantor (Lounasan) 10:11
20 The Tree (The Tower Tree) 9:39
21 Mellowya (Jovica Storer) 5:48
22 Neumann Etude (Spyra featuring Roksana) 7:46
(DDL 2:54:39) (V.F.)
(Progressive Berlin School)
Well, there is some excellent electronic music in this huge compilation offered by the Art For Ears team. For a few years now, I have been telling you about this new emergence of electronic music in Belgium. Well here is the result of the races some 8 years later. The very first B Wave Festival was held in December 2013 at Cultuur Centrum Muze. Ian Boddy, Age, The Roswell Incident and Nisus were the guests. It was a second breathe for the Belgian EM which had not had such an event for 20 years. This first B Wave was to become the precursor of this second wave of emerging artists, while Ron Boots' label offered its customers the first artists of the style with the reissue of albums from Walter Christian Rothe, Age and Patrick Kosmos. What an artist he was! But back to this second wave and its new artists. Since 2013, there have been 6 festivals. And all the artists of this 3-hour compilation of pure EM took part. Sadly, the 2019 one had to be canceled due to low ticket sales. The sales of this compilation, available only for download on the Bandcamp site of Art For Ears, will be used to help the funding of this non-profit organization which helps promote EM made in Belgium; the Belgian School. In parallel, the organizers are also producing the Ambien Nation series. Do you remember that Ambient Nation Vol. 5? A triple-CD box set that also offered more than 3:30 hours of Belgian EM? And like this compilation, there is everything in this 6 X B-WAVE FESTIVAL.
This long musical odyssey begins with Radio Massacre International and B-Wave Yourself! It had been a while since I had heard RMI's music. And the English trio hasn't really changed their sound, nor their approach of producing improvised EM during sessions and / or concerts. The pace is lively and alert. However, the teeming backbone of the sequencer remains in a neutral zone. Percussive bang-bangs and Gary Houghton's guitar roam behind this stationary rhythmic conveyor whose thrilling nervous rhythm won't take off. The ambiences remain in this spirit of the Tangerine Dream's Encore years. Age has resurfaced with the reissue of Landscapes in 2018 and Light Arrows Two is from the same mold as the very good Lost in Silence where we find precisely the first part of this title which is a good Berlin School with a melodious rhythm where are grafting the spectral chants of a whining synth. If you like Berlin School, this compilation has something to satisfy your gluttony by expanding the frameworks of this genre which is unconventional here. From the start, I think of Marcel Proust 2020 of Nothing But Noise. A solid interpretation of a totally crazy track from the album Not Bleeding Red in 2012. I don't know Xyrion at all, but I can write that this Eson is a jewel of the Belgian School with a big sequencer and a progressive touch that is simply enjoyable. Sequantor from Lounasan is another track that embraces the Berlin School with its progressive rhythm. The sequencer makes weave a spasmodic line that the Belgian musician adorns with good effects and bits of melodies drawn from a bag of surprises. But the synth solos on this track, which is very Tangerine Dream of the Hyperborea years, are breathtaking. We continue our chase for the Berlin School side! After a long meditative-cosmic passage, Space Megalithe's Timeless Trip develops into a good vintage Berlin School with a nice use of the Mellotron on an ascending rhythm structure. On the Mellotron side, The Roswell Incident is a sure bet and First Appearance is part of the cosmic Berlin School genre specific to the Koen and Jan Buytaert brothers' style.
Let's talk about the big names known to a wider audience.
Erik Wollow offers a delicately sculpted rhythm through the chime effects of a glass xylophone. The rhythmic melody is more confusing when the guitar tears brush against it to create a latent crescendo that ends in the fury of a big electronic cosmic rock. A great track this Memento. Ian Boddy offers his Chinese shadows that copulate with imagination in Strata, while Sensory ++ plunges us into a futuristic universe which is very Blade Runner with the saxophone pads in Viral Thoughts. Michael Stearns throws us a powerful tribal trance with Q. Absolutely stunning! Well I would have liked that to attend his show… Owann is equal to himself by offering an ambient rhythm flooded with big angelic layers. Nebula is the kind of morphic melody that will accompany my nights of insomnia. Equal to themselves are also Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder with the increasing rhythm of Belgische Pralinen. Incredible all the same to note that this Berlin trio continues to bring us these palettes of hitherto unedited sounds. A very good Space Groove with good percussive elements and synth solos singing like the Ondes Martenot in an attempt to communicate with aliens. A solid title on this compilation! A derivative of BK&S is Kontroll Raum with a Belgian Rehearsal which plunges us into the early years of Keller & Schönwälder. Spyra closes this incredible compilation with the famous perfumes of the InSPYRAtion album. Roksana's voice is so much closer to Lisa Gerrard on this track. I was about to forget the superb Midnight Forest from Nattefrost. If one has a single hit to come out of this compilation, that would be my choice. An excellent, very catchy track by Bjorn Jeppesen.
Now the unknowns and the forgotten!
Onsturicheit is a regular at Art For Ears' compilations. I really appreciated his collaboration in the splendid Sonic Emissions. Here it's different. The structure is ambient-cosmic with good buzzing layers and a strange conversation with a spirit. It's modular art ... with those awesome moves and phases that are always way ahead of their time. I like it and the cosmic orchestrations are intense. Alienna is a bit of a modular genre full of interferences and spectral voices with Rayna, a title that demands a tomorrow and more. Vertigo by Aerodyn is not an easy title too. Sino-Tibetan tinkling aside, there is a lot of interferences and organic noises to an ambient rhythm structure, designed to make our neurons dance. Without the papal voice of, one would say Demis Roussos, the title would be swallowed up more easily. But we start to like it from the second listen. So not that bad! And insert just before Nothing But Noise, it goes better 😊… Eson from Xyrion shines immediately after. I had already heard the music of Jovica Storer on the Ambient Nation Vol. 5 compilation. The first part of Mellowya offers strange grunts. The title evolves with organ scents' synth layers and with percussions which structure a childish rhythm. If it's so/so at the beginning, the title evolves towards a good Belgian School with psychedelic ornaments which surround an ambient stroboscopic rhythm.
Now, those we have forgotten in the time!
Ah Lightwave… it's been years, possibly around 20, that I haven't heard their special sound. After a musical two minutes, the cinematic vision of the group resurfaces. A short structure of rhythm beats like a train on the boulevard of Les Baladins du Vide. A cosmic landscape comes into contradiction with a panorama of mortuary ambiences and a chthonic vision anchored in the grainy wooshh and a Mephistophelic choir. It's not for everyone, but Lightwave had a big esteem success, therefore not paying off, in the late 70's and early 80's. Because of the presence of Paul Haslinger who already played for you know who 😊. The very last one remains The Tower Tree which gave us an incredible album in 2015, Transposing. The Belgian duo perform here the opening piece of this album The Tree.
Three hours of electronic music, mostly unreleased, with 22 different artists flirting with various directions bound by the Berlin School, 6 X B-WAVE FESTIVAL is an essential compilation sold at a friendly price and the proceeds of which will be used to get this festival back on its feet. How to say no to such an invitation?
Sylvain Lupari (October 13th, 2020) *****
Available at Art For Ears Bandcamp