Three unmissable live sets tonight – LAFMS royalty THE TENSES in Oregon, MC YALLAH X DEBMASTER in Uganda and the great HORSE LORDS in Baltimore. It’s going to be a sticky night.
Rock N Roll Jackie Stewart and Ju Suk Reet Meate first graced the TUSK stage in 2012 in their Tenses guise, then returned the following year in their role as key players in the LAFMS band of stalwarts, Smegma (alongside drummer Dennis Duck, also of The Dream Syndicate, of course). Their respective singular approaches to turntable and guitar and the appropriation of all kinds of gadgets and gewgaws to assume their roles as sound sources makes for a primitive yet otherworldly brew that could only have come from the Portland, Oregon couple’s minds. Rock N Roll Jackie will also be host for one night of our Virtual output.
Of course now we feel like we’re underselling them – in case the significance of these folks hasn’t hit you yet. Key members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society, trailblazers in forging a world of DIY musicians and artists. Doing what many of us might think of as perfectly normal now but certainly wasn’t half a century ago, when major labels were busy trying to maintain the myth that you can’t be in a band unless you’ve got a silver cape and matching loon pants. LAFMS went against the grain and gloriously still do. All hail The Tenses.
MC YALLAH X DEBMASTER
Fearsome Kenyan-born, Uganda-based rapper meets phat and pounding French producer to make incendiary futuristic hiphop as heavy as dancehall and as direct as a bullet to the brain. Yallah’s furious and liquid flow really is an awe-inspiring delight to the ears – such power channelled through a mic; you don’t have to understand a word to know she really means it. Brought to wider hearing by the Hakuna Kulala label, this is an ecstatic music and a liberating sensation that is way beyond concepts of time and space.
This Baltimore quartet is an at times surprising confluence of apparent influences but one that never fails to make sense. Our ears on first hearing them were drawn to comparisons of the more exploratory instrumental aspects of Liege & Lief, yet through a math rock prism and as though directed by Tony Conrad. Math without the rock perhaps – that genre’s biting riffs are foregone in favour of entwining polythrythms, opposing time signatures phasing out then in, sax-gilted quests recalling both Steve Reich and the recorded work of 75 Dollar Bill. Perpetually dynamic and polyrhythmic, always ready to tip their hat to undersung greats such as Julius Eastman and, with their 2020 album The Common Task, planting another flag in unexplored rhythmic territory.
The internationally renowned TUSK Festival returns to celebrate its 10th edition this October. Having already announced its plans for its expected live edition over 3 days in October at partner organization Sage Gateshead, the TUSK team’s plans were overtaken by events and the global pandemic, rendering their initial intentions unfeasible. So, with aspirations adapted to the new reality and years of live streaming and digital programming experience behind them, TUSK, still working in partnership with Sage Gateshead, are now delighted to announce TUSK Virtual 2020 – a two-week online version of the festival that falls somewhere between a virtual version of one of the most adventurous music festivals on the planet and the most raucous rollercoaster of an avant garde TV station you could ever imagine.
Across two weeks of programming, TUSK Virtual’s uniquely diverse menu of adventurous music has grown even more expansive, normal rules of festival production abandoned by the plague and a whole host of often unreachable international artists now able to join the programme via web connections. Tusk Virtual will also feature an enhanced version of the renowned film programme with nightly midnight movie selections and expanded weekend film feasts, plus talks and discussions from people across the global adventurous music community, guest DJ mixes, a selection of gems from the vast TUSK archive and all held together by our team of guest presenters that includes David Liebe Hart (Tim And Eric Awesome Show Great Job!), Rock N Roll Jackie Stewart from Oregon’s seminal Smegma and the ‘cardboard Prince’ himself, Robert Ridley-Shackleton.
The wealth of new acts now joining TUSK’s programme for 2020 include:
• JIM O’ROURKE & EIKO ISHIBASHI – without question one of the most influential artists to emerge from the US underground in recent decades, in first outside-Japan performance in duo with life and musical partner Eiko;
• ROSCOE MITCHELL – octogenarian hero of avant garde jazz and leader of the very legendary Art Ensemble Of Chicago;
• OOIOO – the incomparable Japanese all-female quartet led by YoshimiO, who you’ll also know from the incomparable Boredoms;
• YEAH YOU – the manic/ecstatic father/daughter duo that made their debut at TUSK 2014 and have since been busy pushing electronic music to new extremes and with wide acclaim;
• ANGEL BAT DAWID – the Chicagoan jazz maestro who, with full band, comes across like the dream marriage of Funkadelic and Sun Ra;
• NIHILOXICA – the mostly-Ugandan sextet merging regional beats with European techno chops to create something truly irresistible.
• BLÓM – blazing Newcastle punk power-trio with new album Flower Violence just out – like Lightning Bolt if they did songs.
And so many more still to announce, in addition to the following already revealed:
• Norwegian noise artist Helge Sten a.k.a. DEATHPROD brings his sensory overload to the region for the first time after releasing his obliterating first album in 15 years, Occulting Disk, via Smalltown Supersound last year. A favourite of Will ‘Bonnie Price Billy’ Oldham who says in the sleevenotes that he enjoys listening to Deathprod with his Mum;
• From Baltimore, the music of quartet HORSE LORDS can entrap the listener mesmerically with their off-kilter, polyrhythmic take on math rock that summons the spirits of early Philip Glass, Tony Conrad and, weirdly, Liege & Lief-era Fairport Convention in its urgent post-rock dynamics;
• Another Norwegian, MAJA S.K. RATKJE, returns for a very rare Northern show following her duo with Ikue Mori in 2012. Renowned as a noise artist, improvisor and vocalist, Maja caught many ears by surprise last year with her album Sult, a beautiful solo suite for pump organ and voice that was written to soundtrack a ballet based on Knut Hamsun’s famously intense novel Hunger.
• SARAH HENNIES hails from Kentucky and is concerned with a range of issues including queer and trans identity, love, intimacy, psychoacoustics and percussion. An increasingly revered artist internationally, her 2017 audio-visual work Contralto was a finalist for the Queer|Art|Prize and she released the great Reservoir 1 album on Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label last year.
• LUMP HAMMER are a Newcastle trio with many fingers in the regional sludge-rock pie and a maximalist/minimalist approach of overwhelming guitar/drums/vox and bloody-minded musical stasis that has seen them perform two hour sets of just one, obliterating song.
Aswell as TUSK’s inimitable plethora of incomparable international music and an expanded version of the always jaw-dropping TUSK film programme (including several new commissions), TUSK Virtual will feature an evolving animate story across two weeks by Scottish artist Malcy Duff, online exhibitions, workshops, a series of online discussions featuring David Grubbs, Vicky Langan, Ilan Volkov and more and our partners The Old Police House delivering another wildly raucous TUSK Fringe for those of you needing to burn your candles at all ends through the two weekends the festival takes in.
Access to TUSK Virtual will be completely free, with chatrooms, online discussions and interactive online workshops to maximize that ‘actually at a festival’ feeling.
So the internationally renowned TUSK Festival returns to celebrate its 10th edition this October, once again bringing its uniquely diverse programme of adventurous international music to the North East of England – but this time in full Virtual mode. Born in 2011, the annual editions of the festival have grown in stature and adventure over a decade, bringing artists from over 30 countries to the North East, most visiting the region/UK for the first time, as well as bringing new audiences to a wealth of underground UK artists and bringing major leftfield artists such as Terry Riley, Magma, London Contemporary Orchestra, Moor Mother, The Necks and others to the region for rare North East appearances. Since 2016, TUSK has produced the festival in partnership with flagship venue Sage Gateshead, a relationship that has seen the festival grow in ambition and impact.
TUSK also has an extensive online video archive of over 100 recorded performances collectively approaching half a million views and has been described by The Guardian as “a multi-sensory showcase of sonic adventures” and by The Quietus as “One of the finest – and friendliest – expressions of underground and experimental music culture in these islands”.
· TUSK Virtual will be free to access online, however audiences will be able to donate to a fundraiser to support the future of the festival and artists online during the event.
· Existing ticket holders can get a refund or donate their ticket money back to the festival. Sage Gateshead will be in touch with ticket holders.
R'OCCii, RADIO PATAPOE, TUSK Virtual 2020