Just like countless other festivals, also legendary Dutch festival Roadburn had to make some major changes this year, due to COVID-19. The festival starts today as a free four-day virtual event Roadburn Redux, with an impressive line-up including a high percentage of Finnish music.
Starting on Thursday April 15th Roadburn Redux is a digital festival, which promises to showcase “the very best of cutting edge performances, and highlight the most innovative and engaging artists in the Roadburn universe through a series of commissioned projects as well as via exclusive performances and worldwide premieres”. The line-up includes several Finnish acts – just like Roadburn festival usually does – doing special showcase concerts. Watching the virtual festival is completely free of charge, but the audience can make donations – which is of course recommended.
“Svart Sessions” is a label showcase from the award winning Finnish record company, concepted by Mat McNerney, who represents both the company and several bands probably familiar to Roadburn audiences: Hexvessel, Beastmilk and Grave Pleasures (pictured above at Reeperbahn Festival), among others.
“I concepted and pitched the whole thing to Tomi [Pulkki] and the Svart guys and then to Walter [Hoeijmakers, Roadburn’s Artistic Director]. We'd been wanting to support the festival and be involved somehow and so there was a lot of brainstorming. Once the whole Covid thing hit, it felt like the best thing we could do, in solidarity to a festival which has been so fundamental for our bands internationally, was to offer a showcase of bands in this way ”, McNerney told journalist Jukka Hätinen on the eve of Roadburn Redux.
Mat McNerney has a long history with Roadburn, as well as showcasing Finnish band at the festival.
“Tons of Finnish bands are booked there and I've had my hand in that many times, helping Walter to make contacts and pushing other bands from our scene to him. So for Svart, we feel that Roadburn is part of our story too and we wanted to come up with something that celebrates both Svart and Roadburn and unites them. That's where the Svart Sessions idea originated”, McNerney recalls.
“There is such a strong scene in Tampere and Finland in general of psych rock, akin to say the Tampa death metal scene in the 90s, that we feel these sessions highlights the more established bands like Hexvessel with the newcomers like Dust Mountain and Kairon IRSE!... I am glad we get to put them on people's radar globally and make the Tampere scene known around the world”, Mat McNerney says.
Svart Sessions – band premieres, classic album shows
The Svart Sessions line-up is really impressive: starting on Thursday, eclectic shoegazers Kairon; IRSE! will be playing their latest album “Polysomn” on continuing Thursday and psych-rockers Polymoon will perform their debut album “Caterpillars of Creation” on Friday.
Also on Friday’s bill, Svart premieres their new signing Dust Mountain. At the core of the five-piece is the sibling duo of Henna Hietamaki (Cats of Transnistria) and Toni Hietamaki (Oranssi Pazuzu, Waste of Space Orchestra), while the ensemble also features members from Hexvessel / Dark Buddha Rising and Death Hawks – and their sound is promised to be “occult-soaked psychedelic folk rock”.
Saturday’s schedule includes another international premiere, when Roadburn and Svart Records unveil Haunted Plasma, “a power-house of futuristic synth in symbiosis with the super violence of kosmische Black Metal”. As their influences, the band’s creatives, Juho Vanhanen (Oranssi Pazuzu, Grave Pleasures), Timo Kaukolampi (K-X-P, Op:l Bastards) and Tomi Leppänen (Circle, Aavikko, K-X-P) cite Terry Riley, Massive Attack, a contemporary take on Krautrock hypnosis, psychedelic Black Metal and 90s Techno. Also featuring guest vocals from the aforementioned Mat McNerney and Ringa Manner (Ruusut, The Hearing) Haunted Plasma promises an extraterrestrial experience from some of the foremost contemporary musicians at the heart of the Finnish heavy and avant-garde musical underworld.
Mc Nerney’s band Hexvessel will perform a special set of their debut album “Dawnbearer”, released 10 years ago, on Sunday. Also Hexvessel’s lead guitarist, Jesse Heikkinen, will perform on Sunday with his solo project Iterum Nata. On Saturday Svart is up for an Q&A session with Tomi Pulkki and McNerney.