Le Guess Who? has just announced the first round of artists for its 13th edition, taking place in various idyllic venues across Utrecht from 7-10 November. Joseph Shabason, Tyondai Braxton, Mary Lattimore, Conrad Tao, Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, Minyo Crusaders and Angel Bat Dawid are amongst those confirmed to perform this year.
Le Guess Who? celebrates its 13th edition this year and so far, the organizers had only announced the list of its curators: Fatoumata Diawara, Jenny Hval, Patrick Higgins, The Bug, Moon Duo, and Iris van Herpen & Salvador Breed. Each year, Le Guess Who?’s curators contribute to the festival with their own selections, enriching an already magnificently diverse program featuring both emerging and well-established artists, traversing geography and genre. Today we get a first glimpse at some of their selections, as well as the first names from the general line-up.
Avant-garde composer, guitarist, and producer Patrick Higgins displays his creative vision with a sublime programme. His curation includes young pianist and composer Conrad Tao, whose work as a soloist includes recitals in Paris, London, Munich, Berlin and appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphonies, among many others. Also invited is Brooklyn based cellist, composer, and sound-artist Leila Bordreuil, experimental violin and harp duo LEYA, incredibly adventurous violist and violinist Miranda Cuckson and Berlin based vocalist Stine Janvin, who explores and stretches the flexibility of the voice and its surroundings. Higgins will also host the classical-electronics hybrid of prodigious composer and musician Tyondai Braxton and Canadian virtuoso Vicky Chow, who is also the pianist for Bang on a Can All-Stars, New Music Detroit, and a founding member of piano sextet Grand Band, and piano duo X88.
Prolific British musician and producer Kevin Martin aka The Bug returns to Le Guess Who? in 2019 as a guest curator, hosting Caspar Brötzmann Massaker, hot on the heels of their albums reissue program on Southern Lord, legendary duo Earth celebrating 30 years with their new album Full Upon Her Burning Lips and South East London-based Jah Shaka Sound System, active since the early 70’s and known as the king of the roots reggae Jamaican sound system. The Bug’s curation further includes multidisciplinary artist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, the hypnotic blend of jazz, country, noise and minimal electronica of Berlin based Polish instrumental trio LOTTO and Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, the project of techno pioneer Mark Ernestus with a revolving cast of Senegalese sabar musicians. Some of The Bug’s other projects will also take to the stage at Le Guess Who?, including his trio King Midas Sound, featuring poet Roger Robinson and vocalist Kiki Hitomi, and Zonal, his duo with Justin Broadrick, set to perform with Moor Mother. He has also lined up the world premiere of his collaboration with London based Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit, whose music draws from a variety of genres and traditions, including western classical music, Japanese folk, whispering, and poetry reading.
Known for performances and an artistic output that embraces a variety of arts forms and vehicles for expression, Jenny Hval´s curation reflects precisely that. Joining her bill is experimental composer and poet Félicia Atkinson, with a new album called The Flower And The Vessel coming out this July, the quirky and experimental Alina Astrova (Inga Copeland, Hype Williams) under her new alias Lolina, and the otherworldly experimental rock of Moon Relay, a four piece orchestra who draw influences as disparate as krautrock, techno, no wave, surf rock and free jazz. The Norwegian multidisciplinary artist has also invited the wonderful and inimitable multi-instrumentalist and improviser Richard Youngs, whose album Belief was one of our 15 Album Picks of 2018, Canadian Los Angeles-based musician and musicologist Sarah Davachi, Swedish, Ethiopian-born, Oslo-based singer and composer Sofia Jernberg who describes herself as a “maker of things”, and DNA? AND?, the Oslo-based collective formed in 2013 that brings together kids with learning disabilities with professional musicians to play improvised music. Jenny Hval will present her new interdisciplinary piece The Practice of Love together with an ensemble of musicians and artists.
Psych-kraut stalwarts Moon Duo invited cosmic afro jazz mavericks Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, minimal synthesist and experimental composer Michele Mercure with a recently released retrospective anthology, Beside Herself, featuring tracks from her early cassette releases, Liz Harris’ new project Nivhek, with a new record composed during and after residencies in Portugal and Russia, and experimental harpist Mary Lattimore who pushes the boundaries of her instrument using effects and an improvisational approach. On Moon Duo´s bill is also the blissful and pastoral sounds of Prana Crafter and Träd, Gräs och Stenar (Träden), hugely influential on Sweden’s DIY and ‘progg’ culture.
Le Guess Who? has become a privileged stage for rare performances and unique collaborations and continues to pride itself on nurturing them. Amongst those confirmed to play is singer-songwriter, producer and actress from Mumbai Asha Puthli, known for merging traditional Indian influences with contemporary Western pop and Pakistan’s 75-year old Ustad Saami, a master of the pre-Islamic vocal style known as Surti, passed on from generation to generation since the 13th century, and of which he is the only practitioner left in the world. There´s also an exclusive European performance in store with legendary Ethio-groove performer Ayalew Mesfin, performing with Boston´s Debo Band. Mesfin’s work came to prominence last year with the release of his compilation album Hasabe (My Worries).
There’s a lot more on offer for the 13th edition of Utrecht’s Le Guess Who?, with the first performing artists within the general line-up now announced. Appearing on the bill is talented Toronto based composer and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Shabason whose beguiling and affecting album Anne, in the realms of jazz and ambient, is among the finest releases of 2018, cult nurse-turned-musician Doug Hream Blunt, accomplished jazz composer and drummer Makaya McCraven, Chicago-based clarinetist, vocalist and composer Angel Bat Dawid, Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon, the loop-heavy, psychedelic groove of Chilean trio Föllakzoid, the afrofunk sound of Ghana’s highlife singer, composer and instrumentalist Gyedu-Blay Ambolley & His Sekondi Band and the Rajasthan folk of Lakha Khan mastering its traditional string instrument, the sindhi sarangi. Also announced are French collective Oiseaux-Tempête & Friends, Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano, Tokyo based 10-piece big band Minyo Crusaders, and Somalia’s Dur-Dur Band with their exuberant pop funk.
Many more artists will be added to this initial tremendous line-up over the next few months, including the curated programs of Fatoumata Diawara and Iris van Herpen & Salvador Breed. But it is already clear it will be an adventurous musical paradise, covering just about all music spectrums. Full details of the line-up so far, tickets and other info can be found on leguesswho.com.