Roadburn festival is arguably the world’s most cutting edge boutique music festival out there, and has been a fertile breeding ground for innovative acts from a broad spectrum of musical genres for many years. Last year saw the unique collaboration of Danish electro-industrial duo John Cxnnor and Hungarian doom-folk artist The Devil’s Trade take the stage to deliver a sonic journey into the void of deep space. Today, we are ex- cited to release this iconic set on vinyl to immortalise this one-time convergence of three akin artistic minds.
Founded by Walter Hoeijmakers and Jurgen van den Brand in 1999, Roadburn festival has been a driving force in the international music scene for over 20 years. Next to organising a well-visited four day festival being named ‘Best Small Festival’ at the European Festival Awards recently, the organisation commissions special pieces and collaborations under the motto of ‘Redefning Heaviness’ in order to stimulate innovation and creativity in the underground music scene. The convergence of Danish electro-industrial duo John Cxnnor with Hungarian doom-folk artist The Devil’s Trade is one prime example of how powerful these collaborations can be, and those who were present at this already legendary show in Tilburg can attest to that.
John Cxnnor is made up of one half of Danish sci-fi-sludge metal juggernaut LLNN and sees the brothers Rasmus G. and Ketil G. Sejersen collaborating with numerous fellow artists to explore the synth side of their main project. Inspired by the Terminator-franchise and the scores of other sci-fi movies, the Sejersen brothers have been creating menacing industrial electronic opuses, the frst of which a crushing rendition of a The Devil’s Trade track.
“We’ve been enjoying the music from The Devil’s Trade for quite some time now,” commented the duo on the release of «Dead Sister Merope», describing it as “an interesting match of musical expressions formed by the same DNA.” Indeed, the haunting atmospheric folk compositions of The Devil’s Trade mastermind Dávid Makó carry a similarly cavernous quality which, when taken to the stage of Roadburn, is only reinforced by the sonic violence of John Cxnnor.
“When Walter invited us to do this collaboration here, we had only one song released”, explains Dávid from the stage. “We had to do a whole set, so we wrote this whole set for you.” Due to a tight scheduling the trio had only three days to piece together a collection of songs, but the result is nothing short of astonishing. Consisting of several reworked and reinforced originals from both acts, as well as some original material, this live recording takes you right down to the darkest depths of outer space.
In the hands of the Sejersen brothers, a track like the album closer «The Call of the Iron Peak» of the same-titled The Devil’s Trade’s album becomes a skull-crushing neurofunk-infused industrial piece in the reworked version, now titled «The Call Of The Doom Mons». Like an infinitely evil universe parallel to their originals, these songs are dark ambient opuses on steroids in which everything comes painted in red and black. With its ghostly trip hop beats and haunting piano shrouded in ghostly ambient textures, the album’s first track is a grasp for the throat. Equally bleak is the trio’s rendition of «I Can Slow Down Time, Pt. 2», which is a textbook example of how everything these gentlemen lay their hands on takes a definite turn for the demented. At the same time it is the quiet, sombre synth break before the grand finale which reveals the fine cinematic aspirations of the trio, and which are carried through in the rest of the set to great avail.
“This silence… is the most awesome thing I can imagine,” proclaims Dávid after a short pause near the end of the set, and the crowd responds with great applause: one of the most powerful moments in a performance that is otherwise characterized by massive loudness and noise. This sentiment reveals an undeniable sensitivity to the art of sound and demonstrates the profound understanding these musicians have of their trade. It is the foundation on which both acts build this impressive performance on, in true alignment with the vision of Roadburn, presenting a grand vision of heaviness redefined.
Unlike many other live records, this set is captured and excellently produced down to the finest level of detail. On centrepiece «Lullaby», the trio seem to have perfected their definition of heaviness, with heavy bass blasts beyond anything you’ve heard before booming from the speakers. Together John Cxnnor and The Devil’s Trade reach new heights in their respective trades capturing both the pressing darkness that gathers ‘round a bonfire at night as well as the void darkness of deep space.