barbed wire garden – strasbourg

we travelled slowly out of lyon, following the path of the river as it wound its way beneath the majestic basilique de fourvière set high upon the hillside, shimmering in the beautiful morning light. having slept so very little, by this time we were already five very weary travellers indeed. crossing the bridge that offered us one last glimpse of the cities glorious diorama we began to ascend into the hills, ready to take the highway on an easterly course as we headed steadily below the foot of the vosges, into alsace, in the direction of strasbourg; this magically historic center of european culture, and one i have not set foot inside for a number of long years.
our journey was smooth and how the beautiful weather continued to bless us with bright blue horizons and a vivid sun to bath the green fields, woodlands, rivers and valleys on our journey to the most easterly edge of france. how each new mile had us all slowly lifting ourselves out of the early start on no sleep from the morning, a number of roadside teas and coffees contributing to the effect. by the time we arrived within strasbourg city limits we were back to full strength, glad to take in the sights of the town as we made our way to the location, and full of absurd jokes and larks; poised to take to the stage for an early show at the endearing maison mimir.
we pulled up at the location to be immediately welcomed by the local troops, as captained by the omnipotent jérémie fallecker, the ongoing king of strasbourg in terms of alternative bookings for discerning listeners. still, the moment we stepped inside the perimeter walls of the maison mimir we were taken aback with how truly picturesque and charming a location it is, and how the atmosphere was directly set to match. a very small gated driveway takes one through an arch into a wonderfully cosy courtyard, the house running along the right side and the musical location along the left. we had arrived in time to catch the remains of a late lunch buffet in the courtyard and we soon equipped with fresh drinks, hugs and wide smiles; wonderful strasbourg.
still, how it was an early show and how we directly needed to set-up, soundcheck and make everything ready for the audience, already making their appearances in steadily increasing numbers as the first shadows of the sinking sun began to drift across the scene. yet more delight was immediately in store though, as we soon found ourselves welcoming the amazing trip saarpreme and his better half, the always charming lisa, all the way from glorious saarbrücken for the performance. how it was such an  honour and a delight to have their presence for the show, and how ideas were immediately bubbling as to finding a way to twist trip’s arm into joining us onstage for a little freestyle action; there simply was no other way.
with pierre, francis and geste working their combined technical powers, alongside the very awesome olaf, our marvelous soundman for the evening, everything was set up and ready for the performance, and how the audience was very much arriving in drones, til by the time it got to show time we found ourselves gathered amongst a completely full room of super-nice, super-warm, super-responsive people, giving us all the opportunity to play out what has ended up to be one of the most enjoyable shows of the tour, one filled with really wonderful memories for all of us.
still, how under meticulous planning from pierre, we also planned to make this particular performance a little more special by mixing all of our sets together, taking turns, one song at a time, to create a really nicely rounded show, thusly also generating a lot more fun and energy for everyone involved. pierre and i had already tried and tested this routine back on the ‘our accents sure are pretty’ tour in north america with all of the gang, and how it did prove to be a real joy in the right circumstances; and how we all unanimously agreed that these were indeed absolutely the right circumstances.

i must confess that i would be hard-pressed to guess the total length of the show, but it must have been in the region of ninety minutes, during which the energy and audience attention level was super-high, leaving us all pretty exhausted by the times the last rounds came about, but how the did, and how we did indeed manage to get the mighty trip on stage during the ‘400 years‘ freestyle, letting him chew horrifically for the eager crowd in a series of expert assaults; a wonderful addition to the proceedings, and one that steadily helped to round the show out, nicely in time for early-finshings, leaving every to start wending their ways back home before the dusk fully descended.
we must have remained at the location for not so very much longer ourselves, only needing to pack away our gear and talk of the full lebanese feast awaiting us back at jérémie‘s to inspire our relatively swift exit, us having really not fed ourselves adequately all day and the excesses of the show taking their toll. just a little time left to bid farewell to the remaining guests, including the ever-marvelous pierre schmitt who had been telling isaac and i some fascinating insights into the world of sign language, particularly within an artistic context; a conversation which very possibly could have continued all night. but our stomachs rumbled harder and harder and how the weariness was calling us to the calm of jérémie‘s abode, and how we loaded into the car and made our short way though the city as the night sky had finally set over the scene, casting all in the slightly unreal light of the street-lamps and rising moon.

to my great interest i found that jérémie no longer resides in the apartment of his that i had grown so very used to; it’s beautiful rooftop veranda always a wonderful location; whether under the stars  after a show, or in the soothing light of the morning before, eating pain au chocolat, ready to face off to the next location. but now he and his flatmates occupy a very magnificent apartment in a tall town-house, traditional of the city. large rooms, high ceilings, great windows, ornate flourishes in the cornices; all combining to create a really charming residence, still filled with all the original character of the building. and how, set along the vast dining table, a lebanese feast, enough for twenty people, sat in an astonishing magnificent spread of colours and fragrances.
i can not exactly specify our number as we all sat down to eat, but we were very many. yet still how we all managed to make relatively short work of this exceptional feast, how every last mouthful was utterly delicious and how it was exactly what we needed; some wonderful food for our stomachs, so wonderfully welcoming friends old and new with which to enjoy the moment, and these most comfortable confides to relax in after three intense days of travelling and performing; the perfect rest point indeed. having taken our fill we all sat back and let ourselves take in the moment before the steps would need to be taken towards farewells being made for the evening; it being a sunday night and early starts for most in the morning.

slowly but surely our numbers dwindled, as the kind souls around us slowly made their way to their respective abodes and sleeping places, many a fond farewell was bid in this short time. finally we were left almost to our own devices as we took one more round of tea, pierre and francis attended to some more end-of-day business and how we all slowly let our eyes grow heavy and start to think about getting a little sleep, glad of this relatively early-night after the chaos of the last three days. so, we finally put ourselves to bed, weary as hell, but in high sprits, autoblow-jokes still flowing thick and fast as we steadily drifted into the dreaming.
we arose early in the morning, to the sound of pierre‘s first autoblow-jokes of the day, and took our turns to shower and dress before gathering around the table once more for an early breakfast. tea, coffee, pain au chocolat; all exactly as it should be. how the morning also gave me but a few moments to take in the morning air from the balcony and watch the citizens of strasbourg wander gently in the morning light between the beautiful architecture surrounding them. all too soon it was time for farewells, and how we bid our bold captain jeremie farewell before piling out onto the street, taking the early-morning tetris challenge and climbing into our iron horse to press on across the border, into deutschland, sachsen, leipzig, connewitz; the legendary zoro.
so, might i offer our collective thank you’s to the very amazing jérémie fallecker for his masterful organisation and hospitality, the masterful olaf for the superb sound the whole wonderful maison mimir family for their kindness and enthusiasm, to everyone who came down to the show and shared this lovely night with us, to jonathan, jules, lukas, jess, eve, pierre and many, many more! here’s to next time indeed.

next field report : leipzig

barbed wire garden – lyon

the first order of business as we drove south-east out of paris, en route to lyon, was to set about raiding the vast bag of albums that geste had cunningly packed for our listening pleasure across the long miles of the tour. it would be sage at this moment to immediately mention the almighty double-album from danyèl waro, which proved to be one of the first albums we auditioned and subsequently the one we returned to the most; beautiful maloya sounds along the highways of the old world. still, how the geste collection on this particular drive led to a long discussion between the man himself and swordplay surrounding the facts in the case of the richmond and dc hardcore scene and all the myriad bands therein that they realised they both shared an interest in. while they talked long and in depth, pierre and francis talked business up front and i let my eyes rest a while, desperately trying to catch up some of the missing sleep from the past two nights’; which would rapidly become an ongoing theme indeed.
as our route took us closer and closer to lyon, the weather seemed to improve with every mile, and how, by the time we arrived at le périscope to be greeted by the lovely folk there, we found ourselves in the midst of a truly beautiful spring afternoon. azure blue skies extended above the location and a hot sun bathed everything in the most warming glow as we unloaded our gear, sought to secure ourselves tea and coffee and set about the sound-check situation directly. how le périscope is a truly beautiful location indeed, how the sound was an absolute dream; both onstage and off, and how we could all only be so keenly aware of what a wonderful opportunity it was to play in such a venue. through the exhaustion and the haze of the night before, the makings were steadily building for another magical evening.
still, time was precious and our agenda was packed. with the sound-check all in hand, we steadily made our way en mass via the lyon metro system through the city and to the location of the hallowed jarring effects record store and label headquarters. glad handshakes were exchanged with the omnipotent mo and his expert consorts and how we were treating to a guided tour of their legendary installation before gathering together to take mint tea and talk awhile on the facts in the case of jarring effects, dora dorovitch, the barbed wire garden tour and all else therein. it was in these exact moments that i once again cursed my inability to understand and indeed be able to converse in french. i poured all my concentration into try to gleam any understand i could from the conversations, but was left to resign myself to re-doubling my efforts before the ‘next time’.
subsequent to our gathering, we filed our way back into the store, where a goodly number of folk had amassed in order to catch a small ‘in store’ performance, which we began to set about directly. isaac stepped up to the mic first and treating the audience to three or four songs in anticipation of the nights’ performance and how i followed-suit soon after. with the little showcase very much in hand we filed out onto the street and took in the lyon evening air before starting to think about making our way back to le periscope. it was at this point that the enchanting miss sophie reappeared after her train commute from paris and how our collective evening was once again brightened by her presence and, with our number being unified once more, we steadily made our way back to le périscope with a view to beginnings the evenings proceedings before too long.
once back safe in le périscope we took the opportunity our securing our fill of the tasty food that was now waiting for us backstage and, with our bellies full and the guests having began to arrive, it was time to begin the show. in what was essentially a repeat performance of this night before, francis took to the stage first a set the scene with three of four of his masterful compositions before i stepped up to join him as we made our way through five or six titles together; and how it only became more and more apparent to the both of us how much we enjoyed and how well being onstage together was working out for us. two shows down and it already seemed like we had been working together since the very beginning; these strange intangible musical connexions.
isaac and pierre took to the stage soon after and absolutely destroyed their set. there may indeed have been more people in attendance the night before in paris, but how the sound in le périscope was absolutely crystal clear, and nice and loud; and how it was an absolute dream to get to hear every note, every line, every nuance of their set. truly spell-binding, and how exactly the same could be said of geste‘s subsequent performance. there is something deeply affecting about being able to hear songs in this context, in this undiluted and all-encompassing fashion; one of the many reasons why live music performance is still head and shoulders above any ‘second-hand’ experience by comparison. the strange magic of the arts indeed.
with the show over for the evening, the rest of the night was spent propping up the bar and getting the chance to talk with a host of wonderful souls who had made it down for the performance, many of whom i regrettably let the names of escape me, but how there is so much to be said for these magical moments when the opportunity presents itself to be able to commune with like-minded souls, to celebrate these songs and to simply share some moments together within this curious and magical life. the hour grew later and later and the drinks continued to flow, and how it were as if the spell would never end, but slowly farewells had to be in order and how weary eyes began to signal the slow paths back into the dreaming once again.
at some truly ungodly hour of the night we finally set about loading up the car, bidding fondest farewells to the dearest périscope and jarring effects families and making our way back to the girardeau residence, as per our sleeping arrangements for the evening. as matter-of-fact as it initially seemed, upon following miss sophie to the door of her building and indeed to the door of her family apartment, it quickly became apparent that our lodgings for the evening were far-beyond five star. words can scarcely do justice to how charming the apartment actually was, and how the interior decoration, curated by miss sophie herself, was truly impeccable. i remember that the only compliment i was able to muster in the moment was that it was fit enough for a band of buriers to shoot a music video there; no small feat indeed.
as per what were becoming usual operations, the kettle was quickly brewing and how there was a little time to relax after the chaos of the evening, to take tea and to reflect awhile on these past two days before we would reduce ourselves to but a few more hours sleep before the drive to strasbourg in the morning. slowly but surely we all gradually made our ways into the sleeping; desperately attempting to secure some kind of rest before the early morning light would beckon us up and back into the car once more. still, how perfectly-relaxed a group we were, and how soothing it was to be able to spend even this short while in such a magical safehouse; chances of a lifetime.
the morning arrived far earlier than any one of us would have desired, but we all took it in our stride, even dear miss sophie, who had no actual need to arise with the rest of us, other than her consistently kind and charming nature giving her cause to do so. soon tea and coffee’s were on the cards, the breakfast table was awash with tasty croissant and pain au chocolat treats and we were slowly able to gather ourselves back up to spill out onto the street. after what was becoming the usual morning game of tetris in packing the car, we took our individual turns to thank sophie for her kindness, hospitality and company, before we all piled back in to the vehicle, ready to begin the drive to strasbourg under the beautiful hot spring sunlight. weary travelers on a long road, filled with warmth and ready for the next steps of the adventures.
might i then take a moment to offer collective thanks on behalf of all our number to everyone involved and everyone who made it down to le périscope on this magical night. so many names, and so many of them having slipped away in the sleep-deprivation, but indeed lucas did wonders with our sound, mo and the jarring effects family were gentlemen and scholars indeed, captain alexandre who drove three hours and stayed in a hotel just to catch the show, this wonderful couple who sang along to every word of the ‘tap-water’ songs, the lovely miss sophie for her charming company and willingness to stay up far, far later than i can only imagine she would have desire this night. how we are filled with such gratitude and warmth for all your kindness, and how we can only dream of repeating the performance again before too many long moons pass.
next field report : strasbourg

barbed wire garden – paris

as always with touring, i had stayed up far too late the night before departing and, upon arising at dawn, was only operating with a little less than three hours sleep as i wandered out into the mist-shrouded cold of connewitz, ready to take the straßenbahn to the hauptbahnhof in time to make my first train connexion of the day. i rode the line west to frankfurt, drifting in and out of the half-sleep, reflecting on this long journey ahead, and slowly watched the skies turn from grey to blue until, upon arriving at the hauptbahnhof in frankfurt, it had grown to become a beautiful day. i changed trains and rode the next service to paris gare de l’est, slowly drawing myself out of the half-sleep, ready to ride the metro lines to the eleventh arrondissement and rue saint-maur.
as i emerged from the metropolitan, the first thing that struck me, along with how glad i was to be in this district again, was the wonderfully warm spring-like weather, and how it seemed like a different world to the cold grey of leipzig that morning. i paced keenly along the backstreets of the district, bustling with parisians attending to their early-evening activities, the scene unfolding myriad strands and emitting cacophonous waves as i found my weary way onto rue moret and back to l’internatinal itself, only to find both geste and isaac taking in the air outside the venue. how remarkable it was to be stood before them both again, and how it looked as if they hadn’t aged a day since we last congregated. within moments, pierre and francis appeared from across the road and the circle was complete, with hugs, smiles, warmest greetings and firm handshakes. it was on indeed.
being the latest arrival after my long commute, my first order of business was to head downstairs to check the microphone for the performance, and how strangely wonderful it felt to step onto that stage again, the last time having been back in the fall of 2010, alongside babelfishh, james p honey, bill van cutten and mesparrow. how i could not help but reflect on that night as i checked the sound with ‘subduing demons‘ and ‘alhambra’; how so much time has passed since then, and how so very much has changed. how i had to think on how i could never have guessed that it would have taken so long for me to return to paris and how i was overwhelmed with gratitude to unexpectedly find myself in that place, communed with such close friends; about to embark on an adventure whose proportions and magnitude we could have had no comprehension of.
the night was already marching on though, and how the first souls were already beginning to arrive, and how it was the deepest pleasure for the first order of the evening to be introduced to the perfectly enchanting miss sophie girardeau, the better half of sir geste, who would immeditely grow to be a fond face along the route of the tour, along with the equally enchanting miss charlotte gonzalez, who would brighten our parisian evening and later capture an extraordinary photograph of my performance alongside francis for posterity. we retreated below once again to take our fill of some food, to prepare the merch table and to generally gather ourselves for the performance. and how the time afforded us more opportunities to catch up on our news, to marvel at this fantastic union and to talk in keen anticipation of the upcoming stops along the long path.

naturally, the night quickly grew to become a crazed-blur of hazy recollections amidst the din and madness of any given parisian evening at l’international. i keenly recall the arrival of many more dear friends, both those whom i have not seen in so long and those whom i had been yet to meet in person. how it was the deepest delight to see the brother roma and julien babel once again, and how it was such a real honour to finally get to meet the near-legendary magali vannier and céline du buisson; such dearly-wonderful souls, one and all, and how there were so many good people in attendance this night, some of whom i got to learn the names of, some of whom i did not, and how i constantly had to tell myself and those around me that i really had never expected that it would have taken so long to return; how i can hardly believe where the time went whilst i was away.
still, with all the fantastic turmoil and excitement there was also a show to be played and how we all found ourselves communed in front of the stage ready for the nights’ musical selections. as we are disco doom revenge, francis began the proceedings treating us to a perfectly-brief series of compositions which could easily have continued for a long while as far as i was concerned, until he proceeded to invite me to join him on stage and how we began our very first, completely unrehearsed, performance together. we began with ‘subduing demons‘ and, within the first moments of hearing his bass perfectly complimenting the track i knew that we would be on to a succession of really great shows. we kept our set short-but-sweet and retreated offstage to a rousing round of applause and how it was a truly magical experience indeed; the first of many, as time would unfold.

i was absolutely adamant to find myself in the front row as sworplay & pierre the motionless took to the stage and was only matched in my efforts to rap and sing along as much as possible by a super-nice, super-young guy who had also fought his way to the front row and who, after getting to chat awhile afterwards, proved to be a really decent chap indeed. almost needless to say isaac and pierre absolutely destroyed their set, running though almost every track from ‘tap water’ as well as dropping the majestic ‘no dancing‘ from zoën, as well as a sinister cover version of ‘twice the first time‘ from saul williams, just to raise levels to near-unworkable limits. i can hardly relate how much i enjoyed the show and was far too lost in the moment for it to even occur to me that i would get to witness eight more performances before the tour would be out. truly devilish details.
geste took not a moment to mess around and appeared onstage, hooded, scowling and ready to chew through the walls with his unrelentingly-chaotic sound. the hour had grown late enough for the dancing crowds to start to emerge and how i had to retreat away from the stage for fear of getting trampled by teenage girls enthused by the electronic rhythms; not to be the last time this would happen on this tour. but how it truly was a delight to get to hear his solo live-set again, i shudder to think when the last time actually was; sometime back in london at least. i let myself fall away into the waves of bass and let the highs flitter through my mind as i continued to try to let myself believe that this night was actually happening; that this tour was actually happening.

as always the night grew so late so fast. we were already being reduced to bidding farewell to the dear souls that had communed with us on this magical night, and were soon all cramming ourselves, the charming sophie at our side, into the tour car for the first time, driving south through the city, to gentilly, val-de-marne; to the geste safehouse and our sleeping place for the evening. we unloaded the car which gave us a chance to check out the compound; garden courtyard, rehearsal room basement, first floor balcony and charming residence. we took some measures to fix ourselves a little light sustenance, some hot beverages and the beginnings of our sleeping arrangements for the evening. it was in this hallowed moment that pierre first uttered the words ‘autoblow’, first in regard to his portable mattress and pillow, but before long, across the days, in escalating reference to myriad things that ought not be repeated in polite company. how i had almost forgotten what it is to tour with this man; the hilarity unfolding!
slowly we drifted off to sleep at some ungodly hour, and how the morning alarms were sounding out all to quickly. i can hardly remember what time it was we awoke exactly, but how we had scarcely secured three hours or so slumber, before we were hastily making our collective way through teas, infusions, coffees, pain au chocolat and croissants, loading the car and thinking about making our way to lyon. we were reduced to bidding farewell to sophie for now, but were filled with gladness that she would be taking the train to lyon to join us for the evenings performance and, moreover, that we would have the distinct honour of getting to stay at her families apartment within the city this night, a true honour indeed. with our farewells in order we piled into the car and promptly sat motionless for ten or fifteen minutes whilst pierre wrestled to get his smartphone to charge through the cigarette adaptor; an object of paramount importance as it was due to be providing our satellite navigation for the duration. gladly the device began to behave itself and we were on the road to lyon as the morning sunlight steadily began to build across the landscapes unfolding.
next field report : barbed wire garden – lyon

barbed wire garden – initial facts in the case

so, as i find myself once again relaxing in the safe and calm of the connewitz safehouse, my thoughts start to turn to attempting to detail the madness and joy of the recent ‘barbed wire garden’ tour, and how it strikes me that it was such high adventure, to such a great extent, that i am scarcely able to be sure as to how to possibly manage to adequately convey the delights therein. but, try i must, and how i might well begin by taking a moment to draw together some of the initial facts in the case, in order to do begin to really do justice to this life-changing set of performances.
i would do well to reaffirm the fact that i was very much a last-minute addition to the chaos and wonderment of this tour. i had been aware that swordplay & pierre the motionless were due to be touring the EU, and was indeed deeply involved in helping to organise their leipzig show, and how i did indeed marvel from afar their overall itinerary, with not the slightest inkling that i might be involved to the final extent which i was. needless to say, when i took the call from pierre a week or so before the first paris date, i was absolutely beside myself with delight and excitement at the chance to get involved; the horror and turmoil of it all.
i have been fortunate enough to have been good friends with isaac [swordplay] and pierre for many a long year now, our paths first crossing in north america in the spring of 2009, and how it took only moments to become greatly fond of them, as artists, but moreover as wonderfully kind people. pierre really is one of the most amazing men alive, so incredibly kind, decent and loving, and with the most wicked sense of humour one could ever imagine, and how isaac is equally amazing, never a more considerate, understanding, honest soul there was. the two of them combined, on record, on stage, and in person; really is a union that has to be witnessed to be understood.
still, how the prospect of this tour also brought with it the realisation that i would get to finally cross paths again with the masterful geste, another dear friend i had grown acquainted with during his time in london, through collaborating on materials various together, as well as performing at glastonbury festival together as part of the 2econd class citizen live band back in 2010. how he really is such a exceptional man too, fiercely-talented to an incredibly technical degree, but also filled with such honesty and compassion, understanding and empathy, a true gentlemen and scholar indeed.
lastly, i keenly understood that this tour would mean at last crossing paths with the masterful francis esteves, a man who i was still only learning the importance and magnificence of. our paths had first crossed online during his re-launching of the beautiful doro dorovitch label, by way of the ‘connect the machine to the map‘ compilation, and how we had been exchanging a steady slew of communications over the long moons from then til now. i fully understood how great and opportunity it was to meet him, but how i could scarcely have anticipated the complete picture of quite how much of an affect our meeting would have, as we traveled and performed together across these nine shows.
the tour really was absolutely outrageous in so many respects. we played nine shows in nine days, across four countries, over five thousand kilometers, averaging three hours of sleep a night and six hours of driving a day. we were five men driving into a surreal dream of sleep-deprivation, saturated with night after night of astonishingly warm souls welcoming us into their worlds and offering such kind words regarding our music. we pushed everything to the absolute edge and came out dazed, weakened, elated and filled with warmth. i will do my absolute best to detail the facts in the case, and how it shall be a strange ride indeed.
first field report : barbed wire garden – paris

field reports from the old world : amidst the woodland hillside still

the main hall of  české budějovice hlavní nádraží was a throng with passengers queuing for tickets, watching the announcements and awaiting seemingly myriad arrivals and departures. i was for a moment a little hesitant that i would make my service back to praha in time to catch my subsequent connexions, but how the line moved quickly and i was able to secure myself the appropriate ticket with enough time to make my way up to the correct platform and board and early afternoon service back north across bohemia. how the route was slow and beautiful, the rolling hills unfolding as a little mist began to creep across their surfaces, and how a few familiar spots along the route had me reminisce on previous outing through these lands; the hlavní nádraží at tábor and the still half-drained jordán being the keenest reminders of magical times of years now steadily passing.
our service pulled into the hlavní nádraží in praha as the sun had slowly sunk below the horizon and the night was begin to paint the sky in the darkest hues, and how a light rain was beginning to fall, slaking the scene in a shimmering haze of neon and amber. i had a short while to kill before the kolín service would depart and managed to find a nice spot out of the rain, sheltered by the ornate facade of the old station entrance walls affording me views of the busy traffic that runs incessantly along the major thoroughfare. i just sat a short while, reflecting on the last couple of days and keenly anticipating the next couple still to come. i wandered back down to the platforms and took the kolín service, letting my eyes rest awhile in the carriage, the night now fully descended.
by the time i changed in kolín and boarded the kutná hora service a heavy rain was falling across seemingly all of bohemia; even for a brief while reminding me of the deluge of last spring upon these already green and lush lands. gladly, upon my arrival at the hlavní nádraži there, i was met by my contact for the evening, a gentleman by the name of vit, who quickly grew to legendary status in my estimations within the first hour of our meeting; his first effortless move being to have secured the use of a car enabling us to escape the brunt of the inclement conditions as we ascended the hillsides above the town to his outrageously charming residence high up within the woodland glades that offer such a peaceful shelter within the heights of the hilly districts.
all was very much in hand, it clearly seemed, as we made our way into his super-comfy abode, his beautifully gentle dog klaudie greeting us at the door, the oven having kept the ground floor nice and cosy for our return, tea soon brewing and a wealth of treats by way of a very special dinner prepared by lenka, vit’s clearly wonderful other-half. i took the opportunity to enjoy a much-needed cup of earl, as big a plate of this rich feast as i could manage and a little less than an hour to relax whilst vit and klaudie ran an errand to the local veterinarian, before we re-grouped and gathered ourselves together before starting to think about making our way down to the venue, the newly-established, and not-actually-quite-fully-operational holubnik, a new enterprise undertaken by vit, his brother josef, good friend mao, and abetted by the support of the local scene folk.
we made our way back down the hillside by car, winding along a path which soon had me quite disorientated until suddenly we were on the grounds of what used to be a very large brewery, but since thrown into disuse by way of economic ‘developments’ in the region. there cobblestone car-park had our vehicle judder and bounce its way to an appropriate halt as i gazed up through the windows to marvel at this impressive piece of industrial architecture, and how delighted i was that they had managed to secure themselves a new venue in such an impressive and culturally significant location, and how, as we unloaded and made our way inside, offering warmest greetings to some of the folk already on-site, i found myself opening an inocuous door into a really cosy, delightfully small and exquisitely-rendered room which served as the current venue for the operation.
within minutes i was delighted to find myself also in the company of the very cool josef, aka inau, who i had the pleasure of sharing a performance with on my first czech tour, on the final night in plzeň and how i have had the pleasure of crossing paths a few times since, but how he always manages to surprise me by appearing in a different location each time. still, this time proved to be yet more of a surprise as, after some short while, i got to learn that he and vit were actually brothers, and how the connexion seemed wonderfully sublime to me in the moment. two clearly legendary gentlemen had just revealed themselves as legendary brothers; splendid, splendid stuff indeed, and how i felt doubly-honoured to have made their dual-acquaintance in this, their newest venture in support of the outrageously fascinating czech music scene.
still, beside all of this newly-realised warmth of connexions, there was a show about to take place, and i can only imagine i was the only one in the room who really had no idea what was about to happen when the astonishing edoshův kurník took to the stage. from my, still regrettably quite limited experience, i have noted quite a theatrical-bent to a goodly number of czech hip hop acts, and so having had the term bounded around before the show i had a mild inkling in the right direction, but to see their performance in action really was something massively different indeed. i would not be able to do justice to the full spectacle in these short lines, but i can reveal that we are dealing with a four-member rap team, two male, two female, all super-young, and all seemingly bent on completely distorting reality for the duration of any given performance. i promise that you have absolutely no idea, and i am still trying to come to terms with being able to fully comprehend the madness in which they threw upon us this night. be sure to investigate.
somehow, it seemed, i was supposed to follow-up their performance in the best manner that i could, and feel that i might just well have managed to acquit myself admirably enough, performance an almost-pauseless blend of iron filings and sellotape materials combined with a number of songs from my recent ‘six six seven‘ tape into quite the psychedelic whole, and allowing myself enough room for a few quieter spoken-word sections to drift in between the more chaotic peaks, and how the crowd was gracious enough for me to be able to perform a suitably-enjoyable rendition of ‘listen the night‘ by way on an encore. later i would realise yet-further how suitably fitting this was, when vit revealed to me that my dear older brother 2econd class citizen had performed a house-show in his beautiful hillside manner the year previous; marvelous stuff indeed, and yet more splendid moment of warm connexions further realised.
with the shows wrapped up by ten o’clock in order to comply with current legislation, the audience of dear friends slowly made their seperate ways onto different locations to continue their evening whilst a few more of us remained, finishing our svařené víno and shutting down the marvelous holubnik compound til we were reduced to just myself, vit and his good friend mao, who was very keen for the three of us to head on to ‘na valech’; his absolute favourite pub in all of kutná hora. vit assured me that this was very much the place we ought to head to, and how i needed no further convincing. with the venue secured for the night we made way back through the winding streets once again til arriving at this extra-special location, and how it did indeed reveal itself in that way from the very first moment.
although i am a little hazy on the exact detail, the name ‘na valech’ relates to the name of the original old wall of the town and how the pub is indeed set within the architecture of what remains of the medieval construction to protect the people of kutná hora from invaders in distant times. still, how the pub itself is an immediately welcoming prospect, the perfect tavern that could almost appear ‘unchanged’ in the last thousand years or so, and how we were soon sat at a long table surrounded by a group of immediately charming and wonderful friends of vit and mao’s; regulars in this fine establishment, no doubt. how i immediately got to make the fine acquaintance of deka and his very charming wife míša, and exchanged very friendly smiles with a whole host of warm souls gathered along the full length of the table. conversation was soon flowing thick and fast and how, nikola, the very enchanting barmaid, was quick to repeatedly set a host of dangerous shots on the table for us; one of which being labelled as the ‘devil’ itself. big business indeed.
how the night bled on into the early hours with a mix of fascinating conversation from all quarters, a goodly deal of amusement, silliness and roaring laughter, more and more drink and dangerous shots arriving at the seemingly merciless hands of nikola, and how it was indeed really rather difficult to force ourselves to bid farewell to the souls communed on this wintry night. still, vit, mao and i stumbled out into the night and bid each other farewells as vit and i made the final walk back up the hillside to the quiet and safely of his hillside manner, and how the heavy rainclouds had been swept away by the evening breezes, causing all of the stars to emerge over kutná hora and our path offering beautiful vistas of the town drifting away below us as we made our ascent to our sleeping quarters, with just enough time to take a final tea, take in the last of the evening air and then retire into the dreaming once more.
how i must have slept incredibly well, vit’s house being so particularly comfy and the snoozing klaudie to watch over me as the morning crept onwards. i must not have arisen until around eleven o’clock in the morning and how the bright sunlight was streaming in through the windows from between the trees of the woodlands opposite the house. for the first moments, i wasn’t sure if i was alone in the house and had to reduce myself to knocking on the door of the master bedroom, only to find vit himself still slowly coming out the dreaming. we made our arrangements regarding my departure to the hlavní nádraži and how it afforded us enough time to handle our online business, drink a little earl and feast upon some much-needed toasted sandwiches conjured up by the man himself. but time was short and how my next train service beckoned.
at a little after midday we stepped back out into the fresh air of the kutná hora hillsides once more and took a gentle stroll through the copse and down into the disctrict of sedlec which lead back to the hlavní nádraži. it was, of course, at this exact moment that it dawned on me that it was the very same sedlec that contains sedlecká kostnice; the world-famous ossuary which i had so often had the greatest desire to visit, even planning it into the itinerary of my last czech tour with my dyxz.born.rndr brothers, only to be foiled at the last minute, and here i was again, just some hundred meters from the site, but with no time and a train to catch, the horror! i think my mix of disappointed excitement rather amused vit and how i distinctly recall arranging that we must make time to view the site, next time! we arrived at the hlavní nádraži and he graciously waited with me for the last ten minutes before my trains arrival, a gentleman to the last, and a wonderful guide and host on a wonderful excursion to this magical new spot on my czech map.
so, might i take a moment to offer so much thanks and appreciation to everyone involved and everyone who made it down to the show at the charming holubnik. the masters brothers holub, vit and josef, the very cool captain mao, the very exceptional edoshův kurník for their amazing performance and very kind words afterwards, to the very cool kubeat for his outstanding beatbox contributions and kind words, to all those whose names i didn’t get to learn, to lenka for the super-nice food that gave me the energy for the adventure, and to deka, míša, nikola and the whole of the wonderful na valech family, who made me feel so very welcome in their extra-special world for the evening. how i am sincerely looking forward to next time so much already.
next field report : fog shrouding the steel heart of the republic

field reports from the old world – under a wintry full moon

having taken our fill of afternoon sustenance, myself along with the entire at bona fide, benelux and odeur de violettes team reconvened at the pohoda music club to load out into the two cars that would take us on the drive south to české budějovice. the dusk was descending and the temperature dropping fast, not to mention a few spots of cold rain starting to fall. still, the gang attended to the task in record time and we soon had our two vehicles filled to capacity before we spread our number evenly between them and took to the highway heading south out of the city.
for my own part i was still so weary-headed from the lack of sleep the night before, and the sounds of the honeycombs only served to lull me into a light sleep as the night fell and the highway wound its way down towards the old city. i awoke from my half-slumber as we entered the české budějovice city-limits, the soothing sounds of jesu now emitting from the car stereo. the night was bitterly cool as we parked our vehicle and stepped out onto the wintry streets outside the location, the full moon hanging bright above kredance and fast-moving clouds trailing quickly across its surface.
we made our way inside and were soon greeted by the very cool tomas, our bar-man, promoter, organiser and host for the evening; and what a true gentlemen in every sense indeed. a firm handshake soon turned its attention to a freshly brewed cup of earl sitting on the bar for me as i took in the delights of the super-chilled location that is kredance. how it was a pleasure to relax for a short while as the other members of the gang dealt with their equipment, even allowing myself the chance to utilise the wifi to finalise some more of my travel plans, as well as to send word back to the leipzig safehouse that all is well.
once we had all taken our fill of a particularly satisfying pasta dish, the stage was soon being set up, soundchecks happening and the guests starting to arrive, and what a pleasure to it was to see some familiar faces as well as getting to meet some new folks; this being my first time in the city. how much jovial conversation was had as we all slowly warmed up into the evening; a splendid constellation of people taking refuge from the cold of the wintry night together in close communion, all in the name of taking in some rather special live musical performances, of sharing the experience.
benelux took to the stage once again without delay, and how the acoustics of the location seemed to favour them a little more this night; how yet more staggering waves of their performance cut through the monolithic sound that they were able to extract from their speaker-stacks, and how a second chance to audition their live set only served to reveal yet more details and facets of worthy note. and how it was very much the same story with at bona fide, both bands taking full advantage of the sound situation and getting to unveil the full might of their shoegaze splendor on the wholly-receptive audience.
still, soon it was my turn to take to the stage and how i deliberately set about crafted a less frenetic and more considered performance than the night before. in plzeň, in the chaos of the pohoda, i had the chance to deliver a faster-paced, shorter, more tightly-woven set, whereas in the kredance i took my time to draw out more atmospheric spoken-word moments between the chaos and clatter of my main compositions. there seemed to be a calming still in the air, one that gave me the chance to perform at my own pace, and one that resulted in what ended up being a very-well-received and very satisfying performance indeed.
naturally, with the performances safely-handled, it was time to spend the rest of the night propping up the bar, which we did to long and good effect. i made my way through two or three more earls whilst embroiled in conversations with a splendid gentleman by the name of petr, who would later reveal himself as my co-host for the evening, and how he being a rather-well-traveled scholar led to long talks on various cities around the world and our own personal takes therein. zuzka and the others were also very much on hand to lend their worthy remarks to our discourse, and how the whole evening wound down most enjoyably as the location slowly emptied, til we were the last ones left, tomas holding the keys.
zuzka and the rest of the remaining gang were still keen to head on to another place, but i was very much ready to turn in for the night, and so how tomas kindly escorted me back to his place, where he soon turned in for the night, and where i set about brewing one more cup of tea and handling some small admin chores in the wonderfully warm and cosy environment of his apartment. and how it was very much a delight to find myself accompanied by his beautiful cat, who goes by the name of cuketa-courgette, and was sure to keep a curious and inquisitive eye upon me as i slowly managed to find my way back into the dreaming once more; a head full of new and wonderful experiences.
i must have been so deeply embroiled in the dreaming, and still so weary from the previous night that i managed to find myself sleeping til almost midday, and had to arise with a start to be sure about being ready to take the necessary train from the hlavní nádraží, my schedule taking me on to kutná hora via kolín and a tight one. luckily there was enough time to briefly cross paths and offer thanks to both petr and tomas again before i made my hazy way back down onto the streets of české budějovice, the first time in the daylight, and paced earnestly in the direction of the hlavní nádraží with plenty of time to board the kolín service and begin my next leg of the adventure.
how it was such a memorable time indeed and a wonderful first visit to this new location on my czech map, and how i would very much like to take the chance to offer such thanks to everyone involved and everyone who made it down, new friends and old. extra-special thanks of course going to tomas for helping organise such a splendid night, for petr for making it all the more pleasant, the mighty kredance for hosting such a nice evening, to the benelux and at bona fide families for yet another night of wonderful music, to the mighty george-jirka for the crystal clear sound, and all those who offered me such kind words, praise and the feeling of being so very welcome. here’s to next time indeed.
next field report : amidst the woodland hillside still

field reports from the old world – returning to the ancient heart of bohemia

how unusually mild winter weather it was for my latest excursion back to the wonders of the czech republic. i arose in the very early morning and made my way via straßenbahn from connewitz to the hauptbahnhof here in leipzig under gloomy grey skies threatening a few drops of rain, but the ground remained unfrozen, and the winter wind only blowing cool. i followed the trainlines a short ways northwest til the skyline of dresden loomed on the horizon, the schloss, the frauenkirche; all bathed in the muted winter half-light. til, finally the trainlines bore us in a southerly direction and into the heart of bohemia, it’s majestic captial; the city of praha.
it was early afternoon when i stepped wearily out onto the platform and made my way down to the main concourse of praha hlavní nádraží; its sights now becoming wonderfully familiar to me. i set about fixing myself some czech koruna, a fresh bottle of water and my ticket to plzeň, before stepping outside to take in the mild wintry city air from one of the benches sitting on the small strip of parkland bordering washingtonova. how weary i felt from the long journey out of sachsen, but how glad i was to find myself once again in this beautifully romantic land, filled with such treasures and wonders; always just waiting to be uncovered.

i boarded the plzeň service in the late afternoon and watched the bohemian landscapes stretch out before me as i headed west along the line, even catching glimpses of two sets of deer couples frolicking in the fallow fields together, until the sun quickly began to set and dusk began to bathe the landscapes in a swift and steadily descending darkness. but how perfectly warm and cosy the carriage was and how friendly my fellow compartment passengers were. we followed the line all the way to plzeň and disembarked at the beautifully-crafted hlavní nádraží, its architecture hinting at the marvels of this ancient city; only serving to remind me how glad i was to return.
the mighty jan sinko from the místní borci crew was poised to collect me from the station and how it was only a short walk to the location, a walk which took us passed the now demolished old theatre, an empty lot waiting to be turned into luxury apartments or a shopping mall most-likely; a tragic blow to the city center. still, how we pressed onwards and arrived at the very cool pohoda music club, slung low deep within the basements of a bigger complex of perhaps three or four bars and clubs. but, embedded deep within the confines of this safehouse the rest of the world seemed like a million miles away.

the earl grey was soon brewing, stage preparations being made, two dogs were running wildly throughout the bar and all was very much in order. after some short while things were made even more comfortable with the arrival of the wonderful at bona fide family, their benelux counterparts at the later-to-be-staggering odeur de violettes. with the whole gang assembled and the guests arriving in droves it was clearly almost time for the evenings entertainment to begin; once a little backstage sustenance had been devoured, naturally.
benelux took to the stage first and quickly revealed a well-crafted line of what could possibly be described as ‘surf-gaze’; a fine blend of elements that had me think of east bay rays‘ guitar lines for early dead kennedys, of velvet underground inspired noise-action, all being held together by a warm field of indie and shoegaze vibes which all melded to create a splendid whole. i had previously been told of their work, but how it was certainly a delight to hear it for the first time being issued at a megalithic volume within the confines of this small underground cavern.

to the best of my understanding odeur de violettes is one girl, that goes by the name of laví, who performs a very stunning line in super-heartfelt acoustic singer-songwriter material, and is very much in control of what she is doing. her first order of business was to refuse playing on the main stage through the sound system and rather performing acoustic in the relative quite of the fussball antechamber. at first just a few of us huddled together to hear her curious magic, but by the end of the set almost the whole club was squeezed into this tight room and marveling at her stunning pieces. truly magical indeed, and well worth investigating.
before too long, at bona fide were ready to take to the stage, and how it was an event i had been anticipating for some long while. zuzka, their bass-player, was my first connexion in ostrava on my first tour to the czech republic and how i have come to be very good friends with the ostrava family, but had long had to wait til there was a chance to get to see them perform their own fantastic music, and how it truly was a delight indeed. just massive, massive waves of full-noise-field-shoegaze; truly epic in every possible way, and managing to drown us in velvet’s noise work-outs as well us bathe us in shimmering dream-pop waves en route; thoroughly excellent work indeed. still, how even-luckier i was to be able to join them onstage for one song before beginning my own performance; magical times indeed.

how i must also take a moment to say how much of a pleasure it was to perform, to audition some of the songs from my new album for the first time, and to have such a warm audience listening keen in attendance. still, with the live music concluded it was time to start the serious process of drinking long into the early hours. luckily, for my part, the earl grey kept flowing and how i was treated to a host of wonderful conversations, not least of all with the enchanting miss katie elznicova; the singer, guitarist and songwriter behind the very amazing manon meurt, an upcoming plzeň dream-pop / shoegaze band who have already had the pleasure of supporting my bloody valentine for their recent praha show. our introduction came by way of the very wonderful miss vendula skalková and how the rest of the evening was spent discussing music, the arts, life and all therein; a thoroughly fascinating conversation within the chaos of the ever-maddening bar.
still, how ‘the end‘ came very literally in the form of the doors being played on the sound system. we all ferried our was out into the very early morning hours, yet how the city still seemed to be a blur of activity; late night bars with folk still spilling in and out of them, the buses and trams clattering and droning along the main-streets. slowly our number began to splinter as we began to bid each other farewell for the evening, some with plans for sleeping, some with plans for more drinking. for my own part i wandered to the quiet of our sleeping location with zuzka, to join the others that had retired previously and to get some precious sleep before the excitement of the new day dawned.

i awoke around midday, wrapped in my sleeping bag, on the floor of a kitchen in a second or third floor apartment. most of the gang were nowhere to be seen, but zuzka and a couple of other late-risers were still on the scene, and how, after a quick tea, we gathered ourselves up to head out into the afternoon, to re-commune with the others and find ourselves a little something to eat. the day was relatively mild still as we walked down towards the old square, connected with half of the rest of our team at the foot of the towering katedrála sv. bartoloměje before walking on to a nice cosy pub to meet the rest of our number and take some much needed lunch, and start to think about making our way by car to the next location.
how it had been a really wonderful, crazy, chaotic night indeed, and how i must take a moment to send so much thanks to everyone involved and everyone who made it down. so much love to the mighty jan, petr and the místní borci crew for arranging such a magical event, the whole pohoda crew for making us feel so welcome in their magical venue; standa, ráďa, and all those names i didn’t get to learn, vojta for handling the sound so well, the awesome benelux, odeur de violettes and at bona fide for the wonderful music, matěj hošek for his awesome photography, and extra-special thanks to vendula and katie for the wonderful conversations. sending all the love, and here’s to next time indeed.
next field report : under a wintry full moon