Le Guess Who? announces final line-up; Lonnie Holley, black midi, Alabaster DePlume, Yonatan Gat, Yves Tumor & more added

Now in its 12th year, Le Guess Who? is a unique festival celebrating and exploring an immensity of musical territories and artistic expression. The Dutch festival returns to the historic and charming city of Utrecht this November 8th – 11th with over 150 musicians and artists from across the globe and spanning generations, performing in a multitude of idyllic venues from churches and theatres to clubs and warehouses. The organisers, who had already announced an extraordinarily ambitious and monumental program, announced today the final line-up for this year’s event, adding 47 new phenomenal performers, including Lonnie Holley, Tirzah, Alabaster DePlume, Yonatan Gat, Yves Tumor and many more.

We won’t lie, we have been clutching onto our chairs with bated breath for the final additions to Le Guess Who? following the previous announcements, including co-curators Shabaka Hutchings, Devendra Banhart, Moor Mother and Asia Argento, and acts like Colin Stetson, Orchestra Of Spheres, Circuit des Yeux, ONCEIM, The Scorpios and Oliver Coates amongst many more.

Amidst the new exhilarating additions to Le Guess Who?’s 2018 line-up are the restlessly creative, thought-provoking and unpredictable musician and poet Alabaster DePlume; celebrated improvisational artist Lonnie Holley, joined by experimental duo of trombone and drums Nelson Patton; the minimalist instrumental works of Japanese percussionist and composer Midori Takada who unveiled this summer her first new music in twenty years; the weirdly wonderful R&B and experimental pop of Tirzah; explosive and enigmatic South London 4-piece black midi; Brazilian singer and songwriter Negro Leo with his concoction of samba, tropicalia, rock’n’roll and free-jazz and  Finnish producer and composer ISLAJA aka Merja Kokkonen with her hypnotic and beautiful melodies.

Other thrilling big news include a special performance from inventive and prolific composer and guitar virtuoso Yonatan Gat of Monotonix fame, joining forces at Le Guess Who? with Native American powwow drum group The Eastern Medicine Singers to perform his recent record UniversalistsDeep Fried Grandeur is another special and exclusive collaborative performance freshly announced that will bring together Chicago’s cosmic troubadour Ryley Walker and Tokyo’s psychedelic explorers Kikagaku Moyo. Visionary British quartet Seefeel will bring their debut album Quique to life at the festival to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its release.

Take a look at the complete list of performers added to the general line-up:

Swamp Dogg, Neneh Cherry, Lonnie Holley feat. Nelson Patton, Yves Tumor, Tirzah, Cass McCombs, Deep Fried Grandeur with Ryley Walker & Kikagaku Moyo, Midori Takada, Kelsey Lu, Senyawa, Seefeel performing Quique, Yonatan Gat & The Eastern Medicine Singers, Hot Snakes, Alabaster DePlume, Soichi Terada, Vive la Void, Hilary Woods, Madeline Kenney, Boogarins, Linafornia, Negro Leo, Miho Hatori, Virginia Wing, Eli Keszler, King Champion Sounds, Michael Rault, Sourakata Koite, Cindy Lee, Art Feynman, Black Midi, Urochromes, Islaja, Mark Wynn, The Avonden, Howie Lee, Tim Koh, Kaja Draksler & Terrie Ex, Ora Cogan, Luke Cohlen , Dekmantel Soundsystem, Sarah Hennies & Jessica Sligter, Cinema Perdu, Philipp Bückle, DNMF, Valley Maker, Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet, Olan Mill

We cannot wait for November to come for the splendid music celebration that is Le Guess Who? and if you don’t have tickets yet, Daily tickets and 4-Day Festival Passes are now available on leguesswho.com, where you can also find the full line-up and more info.

Future Feminism, RVNG’s 15th anniversary, ONCEIM, and more added to Le Guess Who? 2018

Taking place between the 8th and 11th of November in various idyllic venues across the charming Dutch town of Utrecht, Le Guess Who? had already whetted our appetite back in May with the first announcement of their thrilling and extraordinarily diverse line up, including forward-thinking performers like Colin Stetson, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Circuit des Yeux and Eleonor Friedberger amongst many others.

Le Guess Who?’s co-curators help set the tone of the festival, inviting their own favourite artists to play, as well as performing themselves. This year Shabaka Hutchings, Devendra Banhart, Moor Mother and Asia Argento enrich the program with their selections.

Prodigious multi-reed player Shabaka Hutchings, who has become something of a regular at Le Guess Who?, takes the curator seat this November, inviting an array of unique and exciting artists. Among the new names appearing in his curation are Martinique-born DJ Noss and New Zealand’s Orchestra Of Spheres, one of the most inventive and outlandish bands on the planet. Hutchings had already invited a slew of marvels and will himself perform with two of his bands, The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet in a special XL format featuring four drummers.

Following her debut at Le Guess Who? last year, Philadelphia based interdisciplinary artist, Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother returns as a curator. Newly added to her program are Amsterdam based Brazilian DJ, producer and vocalist LYZZA, experimental musician Eartheater hot on the heels of her third album IRISIRI, and South African duo FAKA, expressing their black queer experience and identity across various art forms including performance, sound, video, photography and literature.

Added to Asia Argento’s curation is a special theatrical performance by Future Feminism, the project founded by Kembra Pfahler, Johanna Constantine and Anohni, calling on a global feminine collective consciousness to save the world. Pfahler and Constantine, together with The Girls of Karen Black, have a performance in store based on the Future Feminism Tenets. Other additions to Argento’s program include actress and activist Rose McGowan, legendary producer and musician Martin Bisi, acclaimed and subversive artist Joe Colem, whose work encompasses panel paintings, comic strips, installations and performances and Escape-ism, the project of punk provocateur Ian Svenonius whose new album The Lost Record will be out just a couple of months before the festival. A discussion and screening of films will also be part of her curation.

Each year the festival hosts rare live performances and one-off shows and this year is no exception. French experimental orchestra ONCEIM (Orchestre de Nouvelles Créations, Expérimentations et Improvisations Musicales), made up of more than thirty improvisers, will perform two pieces at Le Guess Who?, Occam Océan by French composer Éliane Radigue, and Gruides, the first orchestral work by Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley.

Le Guess Who? are also partaking in the 15th anniversary celebration of boundary-pushing label RVNG Intl, filling the bill with some of the labels finest, including the versatile and daring drummer Greg Fox and Russian experimental producer Kate NV, whose recent album, для FOR, released in June, serves as a score to her “native Moscow environment”. Colombian civil engineer turned sound artist and musician Lucrecia Dalt joins in the celebration with her fusion of Colombian sounds and experimental minimalism. And incredibly talented experimental composer and cellist Oliver Coates, who has worked with everyone from Johhny Greenwood, Terry Riley and Mica Levi to Paul Thomas Anderson, will grace the festival with his new album Shelley’s On Zenn-La, set for release in September. The label’s milestone will also bear fruits at Le Guess Who?, with FRKWYS, their 12-inch series that “pairs contemporary artists and their progenitors”, premiering and recording a collaboration between Finnish electronic music composer Pekka Airaksinen and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ka Baird, known for electronically manipulating her voice and flute. A second FRKWYS collaboration will bring together vocalist and composer Ian William Craig and innovative classical electronic music composer Daniel Lentz.

Exuding and delivering brilliance at every turn, with an abundance of phenomenal events and an incredible array of known and lesser known artists, Le Guess Who? 2018 will be an experience like no other. Full details of the line-up, tickets and other info can be found on leguesswho.com.

Watch Circuit des Yeux’s new video for ‘Falling Blonde’

We can’t put down Circuit des Yeux‘s Reaching For Indigo, a timeless favourite record that made it to our 15 Album Picks last year. Haley Fohr, the phenomenal and adventurous musician behind Circuit des Yeux, has unveiled its fourth single, ‘Falling Blonde’, and an accompanying video directed and starring New Zealand based video artist Veronica Crockford-Pound. Here it is.

In other wonderful related news, Circuit des Yeux will unleash an expanded eight-piece ensemble featuring members of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra for a special one-off performance at Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? Festival this November. In addition to presenting an augmented version of Reaching For Indigo, Fohr’s performance will also include the first live rendition of previously unreleased music from the album’s sessions. With an initial spectacular line-up already in sight, and Circuit des Yeux as a huge highlight, we can’t wait for November to come.

Guest curators and first names revealed for Le Guess Who? 2018

Nestled in the charming city of Utrecht, our favourite festival Le Guess Who? is a wonderful celebration of sound, with a truly adventurous spirit and welcoming atmosphere. Last week’s line-up announcement revealed 77 stellar names among which are many artists regularly featured on Cast the Dice, including DRINKS, Hello Skinny, Colin Stetson, The Comet is Coming, Circuit des Yeux and Oliver Coates, to name but a few.

Now in its 12th year of existence, Le Guess Who? is back in 2018 from November 8th – 11th. Held around a multitude of idyllic venues across Utrecht, from churches and galleries to theatres and warehouses, Le Guess Who? brings together trailblazing and cutting-edge artists from across the globe, transforming the city into a cultural melting pot of music and artistic experimentation.

Part of what makes Le Guess Who?’s line-up so special is the richness and diversity brought in by its guest curators. This year Shabaka Hutchings, Devendra Banhart, Moor Mother and Asia Argento will be inviting a slew of their favourite artists. Shabaka Hutchings is a prodigious multi-reed player and a longtime favourite of ours. A regular at Le Guess Who?, he’s performing again this year in two of his many projects, The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet, the latter in a special XL format featuring four drummers. One of them is London based ingenious drummer-in-demand, producer and composer Tom Skinner aka Hello Skinny, who is also part of Hutching’s curated program, as is pioneering Indian classical musician Kadri Gopalnath, Japanese noise rock outfit Bo Ningen, spiritual jazz quartet Ill Considered and Ghanian superstar King Ayisoba amongst others. Devendra Banhart’s curation will host the likes of Ghanaian legendary guitarist Ebo Taylor, Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley’s collaborative duo DRINKS, ambient master Chihei Hatakeyama, folk legend Vashti Bunyan and more. After playing in last year’s edition, Moor Mother returns as a curator, inviting Egypt’s Islam Chipsy & EEK, Art Ensemble of Chicago celebrating their 50th anniversary, multi-talented flautist, bandleader and composer Nicole Mitchell and the Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi known as the voice of the Tunisian Revolution.
Director and activist Asia Argento’s program features New York City experimental rockers Psychic Ills, Death In Vegas’ founder Richard Fearless, The Breeders and more.

This year’s edition promises rare live performances and one-off shows including Canadian boundary-breaking musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland as well as a collaboration between Saul Williams & King Britt. There’s two other exciting and unique collaborative performances premiering at Le Guess Who? in November: audio-visual performance collective Jerusalem In My Heart will perform an adaptation of the classical Egyptian work Ya Gorat Al Wadi with an oriental orchestra from Beirut and Circuit des Yeux will perform with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra to present an augmented version of Reaching For Indigo: Gaia Infinitus.

The first round of names for the general line-up have also been unveiled. As always, it’s a spectacular program boasting an abundance of incredible artists, including Oliver Coates, Hailu Mergia, Eleonor Friedberger, Colin Stetson, Anoushka Shankar & Manu Delago with MO Strings, The Scorpios and many more.

Le Guess Who? is an unmissable destination for musical explorers of all kinds. Head over to leguesswho.com to see a list of currently confirmed artists and more info. 4-Day Festival Passes are available for €117,50 until June 7th. Circle the dates now and keep your eyes peeled for more announcements!

Le Guess Who? 2017 Recap: A Musical Feast

“Isn’t this the best festival known to humankind?”, asked Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus during her show at Le Guess Who?, the Dutch festival which took place from November 9th – 12th in Utrecht.

Of course it was a rhetorical question! Le Guess Who? has come and gone, turning this picturesque and charming town into a privileged stage for music and artistic experimentation, with an incredibly diverse and bold interdisciplinary program that only a few other festivals can match. Exhibiting a unique vision and ambition, a truly adventurous spirit and a friendly atmosphere, Le Guess Who?’s eleventh edition played host to artists drawn from all corners of the musical spectrum indulging people with all kinds of musical tastes. After dreaming of being part of it for so long, this was our first foray into the world of sounds and delightful experiences that Le Guess Who? offers. An abundance of jazz from visionaries like Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra Arkestra, Shabaka & The Ancestors and Peter Brötzmann, ancient Bulgarian folk songs from Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, a 12-hour binge of drone music, hypnotic Gnawa grooves from Maâlem Houssam Guinia & Band, Taarab music from Lebanese legend Abdel Karim Shaar, Siberian throat singing from Yat-Kha, ethereal ambience from Julianna Barwick or William Basinski, experimental and abrasive hip hop from Dälek, and many many more. Such an impressive line-up is also magnified by the festival being co-curated by singular artists who in turn invited their own favourite artists to play. Jerusalem In My Heart, Shabazz Palaces, Grouper, Perfume Genius, Han Bennink and James Holden made this year’s sterling cast of guest curators.

A venue-hopping festival, Le Guess Who? takes place in a range of venues across town including churches, theatres, clubs and cafes. But the heart of the festival was Tivoli Vredenburg, a giant multi-purpose complex centrally located, where a large part of the program took place. Boasting five music halls, each a unique venue in its own right, and several other spaces, linked via escalators and stairs, Tivoli had even more to offer inside its glass structure, from food, record and merch stalls, to exhibitions including this year Le Gig Poster and the stunning Black Power Tarot Exhibition by King Khan and Michael Eaton, featuring prominent African Americans, from musicians to comedians and activists. And for those who like a good ale, the festival had its very own Le Guess Who? session IPA on offer.

With a dizzying amount of artists performing simultaneously in over a dozen locations, and despite our desire to see nearly everything, missing performances was inevitable. Conflicting scheduling aside, we let fate steer us to unknown territories and all we caught was an incredible and enriching musical odyssey. We stumbled upon so many of our favourite artists and bands and made discoveries that turned into favourites.

Thursday opened gloriously with ‘Eann’, a composition by Martijn Comes performed by Malgosia Fiebig on the carillon of the iconic Gothic cathedral Domkerk, which can be heard throughout the city.

Liars

One of the performances we eagerly anticipated was French band Oiseaux-Tempête as part of Jerusalem In My Heart’s curation. We were buzzing with excitement, thrilled to finally see them perform after their recent album, AL-‘AN! became one of our favourite release this year. The duo of Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul, accompanied by Sylvain Joasson on drums, Mondkopf on synths, delivered a dense and intense performance combining music with the live projections of As Human Pattern, brushed with the poetry of G. W. Sok, former singer of The Ex, who joined in with spoken words for a few songs. The band led the audience through a sea of potent and poignant emotions, going from apocalyptic to enlightened, from tumult to beauty, navigating through genres like post-rock free jazz, electronica, drone and Arabic music, with an improvisational flow that ventured as far as the short 45-minute set allowed.

The gig took place at De Helling, a cosy and friendly staffed music venue on the outskirts of town. Later on the same stage we caught Liars who put on a viscerally thrilling performance. In line with the artwork of their recent album, TFCF, Andrew Angus, now the only remaining original member, arrived on stage in bridal dress and veil, accompanied by his two new touring members, brothers Blaze and Reid Bateh. Tearing through a loud, wild and relentless set spanning their career, Angus is more energetic than ever, singing and shouting, jerking his body back and forth, inducing the crowd to dance frantically.

 

The Residents

We were mesmerized by the powerful and emotional performance of Abdel Karim Shaar at Jacobikerk, another beautiful landmark church in Utrecht. His daughter opened the proceedings, performing a few songs in different languages, including Dutch, before introducing ‘the master of Tarab music’. Playing traditional Arabic Tarab music, Shaar and his exceptional orchestra left us with a feeling of celebration.

You never know exactly what you are going to get with Keiji Haino. The Japanese avant-garde guitarist and improvising singer, curated by Grouper, put on a blistering show. Loud and somewhat brutal, the beginning of his performance felt like a release of tension and aggression, making way for serener moments. Noisy and chaotic in some places, with heavy industrial beats, and peaceful in others. Whether he was screaming and manipulating his rhythm box or dome looking air synth, whether we felt disturbed or reassured, his show was a memorable one.

From noise to folk wonder, close by at the LE:EN, we were charmed by The Cambridge-born, Glasgow-based multi-instrumentalist and improviser Richard Youngs. In a beautiful setting, with the audience sitting on the floor, Youngs kicked things off by asking the audience to give him a tone. Talkative and engaging, he easily triggered a collective harmonic humming which carried on, leaving late arrivals to the show surprised with the participation. Explaining he hadn’t brought instruments, partly due to his 45-minute set, Youngs performance was purely acapella and it felt immensely rich and playful.

As if the spectacular line-up wasn’t enough, Le Guess Who? also unveiled one secret surprise act every night. Shown on the program as a question mark, it wasn’t until the clock struck the scheduled time that audiences were treated to unexpected performances from Amadou and Mariam, Princess Nokia and Gruff Rhys. Friday’s surprise sent our happiness levels though the roof. At Tivoli’s Ronda, four mysterious men took to the stage just as it turned midnight, with the singer wearing a cow mask and suit, and the other three dressed in blue and white checkered suits, and wearing plague-doctor masks. After some delay due to technical difficulties, the initial feel of impatience in the audience turned into exhilaration as The Residents started playing, and included their rendition of James Brown’s classic ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’. With some bonkers visuals intermissions projected on a giant balloon, such as a bizarre clown and a weird sounding Mother Teresa describing wacky dreams, their show was absolutely striking. 48 years into their career, they are as unconventional and utterly brilliant as they’ve ever been.

 

Mario Batkovic

The following day, we were blown away by Mario Batkovic, the Switzerland based Bosnian accordionist and composer whose latest album came out on the Invada label earlier this year. Equipped only with his accordion, he wowed the crowd gathered at Ronda, playing and exploring his instrument in an adventurous and challenging way. Pulsating and mesmerising, experimental and unconventional, the audience appreciated his performance immensely, and Batkovic seemed genuinely touched by their affection.

Ronda was also the stage for our next highlight, Maâlem Houssam Guinia & Band. Curated by James Holden, Houssam is the son and sucessor of Morocco’s legendary Gnawa master, Mahmoud Guinia. An infectiously ecstatic and joyous performance, with Houssam playing the guembri, a three-stringed bass lute, and his band joining in call-and-response singing, playing the krakeb, a large metalic castanet-looking instrument, and dancing whilst spinning the long tassels on their hats. Like skilled acrobats high kicking and flying, they danced frantically, bending down and leaping into the air. It was pure joy and it transported us to a colourful and entrancing world of rhythmic sound and high spirits.

It’s not surprising to find an infusion of Gnawa tradition on the latest album from James Holden, as the musician and producer worked and recorded with the aforementioned Mahmoud Guinia. Opening with two incendiary songs from his new record, and accompanied for the first time with a live band, The Animal Spirits, Holden had me dancing the show away. With vivid psychedelic visuals projected behind Holden who sat crossed legged in the middle, the energy in the room never faded away.

We finished the day with Aquaserge, a French band we’ve been raving on about for the past year. Just back from touring in Brazil, they put on a late show at EKKO. With the venue bursting at the seams, they’ve brought their amazing album Laisse Ça Être to life with a healthy dose of improvisation, displaying their extraordinary musicianship.

Maalem Houssam Guinea & Band

 

Le Guess Who? is a unique festival in that it manages to be tightly organised yet remains friendly and welcoming. This open and inclusive spirit reached its peak on Sunday as we descended on Tivoli’s immense Grote Zaal for a celebration of Alice Coltrane’s music. Devotional recordings from her final decades composed in the Ashram she had founded in California, the Sai Anantam Ashram, were brought to public light for the first time earlier this year by Luaka Bop. These recordings had a European premiere at Le Guess Who? performed by the Sai Anantam Ashram Singers, with guest Shabaka Hutchings joining them on a number, as well as Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus later on a few more. Acting as the Ahsram, with blue carpet and pillows for the audience opposite the stage, the room was filled with a true spirit of community, positivity and sharing. As pianist and musical director Surya Botofasina put it, good things are better when they are shared, and his call for participation was received with huge sing-alongs. The ecstatic and powerful chants and uplifting grooves captivated us entirely.

After his stint with the Sai Anantam Ashram Singers, prodigious multi-reed player Shabaka Hutchings, who is no stranger to Le Guess Who?, took to the stage at Ronda with his South-African band, The Ancestors, with similar spiritual heights and politically charged. Drawing from their 2016 release, Wisdom of Elders, with a powerful and poetic delivery, vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu returned to a refrain throughout the set, “We need new people, we need new hymns, we need new songs, we need to feminize our politics”. A transcendental, tight and terrific show with utterly brilliant performances from extraordinary musicians.

 

Sai Anantam Ashram Singers

 

Performing as a trio, Tune-Yards treated us to a mix of brand new songs from their upcoming album I can feel you creep into my private life and hits from previous records including ‘Water Fountain’ and ‘Bizness’. Their entire set had a contagious and vibrant energy throughout with new material sounding edgier and more dance-driven.

We rounded off our weekend of delights with an ensemble who shone brightly, in all possible senses, Sun Ra Arkestra, with its members draped in their sparkling Afrofuturistic attires. As if the crowd wasn’t enthused enough, the Arkestra’s horn section joined the audience up close for a while in a marching band style, spreading their interstellar magic through the crowd. With 93-year old Marshall Allen leading on alto sax, the Arkestra’s performance, centered around their epic 1973 album Space is the Place, took us to another scintillating planet.

So here’s something to put in your diaries straight away – the 12th edition of Le Guess Who? will take place between 8th and 11th November 2018. Early Bird 4-Day Festival Passes are available until Thursday 30th November.

 

Illustrated by Kevin Pinel

 

Le Guess Who?’s Who 2017: Tom Rogerson

There’s only a couple of days to go before Le Guess Who? takes over Utrecht. With over 150 artists set to perform, how do we make sense of such a monumental line-up? We made a list of the artists we’re most excited to see and asked them for their recommendations.

Tom Rogerson

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Performing Friday 10th November at TivoliVredenburg

Photo: Mathew Parri Thomas

Staggeringly talented British composer and pianist Tom Rogerson has impressed us many a time with his creativity and technical skill behind the keys in Three Trapped Tigers, the trio he founded a decade ago. A prolific classically trained musician and gifted improviser, and a long-time presence in the London experimental/improv scene, Rogerson has played and collaborated in various other projects. His most recent venture saw him collaborating with Brian Eno, and Finding Shore is the fruit of it, the first album under his own name. Today he shares his thoughts on which acts he’s most looking forward to seeing at Le Guess Who?.

 

I could have picked from so many. I’ll be trying to watch Julianna Barwick, GAS, Steve Beresford,Tiny Vipers, Prurient, Ex Easter Island Head, Yves Tumor.

But here are my three:

Richard Youngs

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Performing Friday 10th November at LE:EN, curated by Grouper

“Singular vision and artistic courage. Very influential on me artistically, especially in relation to what’s ‘allowable’, how far you can take something. But I’ve never seen him live so this is a must-see.”

 

Visible Cloaks

Official Website

Performing Sunday 12th November at Theater Kikker

“Bit of a highlight of the year so far, so much so that I bought the CD. We’re used to hearing these sounds in ironic contexts, but here it’s tactile and organic. Also the album seems very loose and live so I’m looking forward to seeing how/if they recreate that in performance.”

 

Matana Roberts

Official Website

Performing Sunday 12th November at TivoliVredenburg, curated by Jerusalem In My Heart

“Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee
This album is basically one piece so it’s hard to pick a specific track. Incredible depth of vision and ambition, someone striving to push the form forwards while reckoning with its history. Confrontational, cathartic.”

 

Le Guess Who? will take place 9-12 November. For the full line-up, tickets and more info visit leguesswho.com. And take a look at other artists we’re excited about picking their own Le Guess Who?’s Who.