FOUR DOMES SOUND. Survival Music Stage / music stage curator: Daniel Brożek


We made a bold announcement: ‘The courtyard of the Wrocław Feature Films Studio, specially adapted for the needs of the festival club, will be a venue for artists who use contemporary sound strategies which, in contrast to post-modern musical deconstruction, focus the listener’s attention on the directness of acoustic and stage experience.’ What followed was months of preparations, talks, searches, negotiations, dilemmas, doubts. The content of the first edition of Survival Music Stage was definitely a compromise between the idea of confronting hermetic music circles of Wrocław with a programme which would focus on broadly understood sound art, plus the organisational limitations of a still young event. Eventually, we had to make a compromise during a struggle with the forces of nature tousling the June weather.

Shackleton wanted to prove that labelling his art ‘dubstep’ was somewhat accidental since he is trying to diverge from this obsolete kind of electronic music which is heading down a blind alley towards a contemporary vision of ethnic music. That is why he was eager to perform at our non-club event. Unfortunately, it was impossible to test the open-mindedness of Polish dubstep fans – a violent storm flooded the stage, making it impossible to continue concerts on the first day. We deliberately planned to finish the day with a set of QB, one of the most interesting DJs in Wrocław, in order to confront Shacleton’s searches in ethnic music with traditional minimal techno and house whose precise performance is still able to intrigue. What is even more unfortunate, the Briton’s performance at SURVIVAL would take place just before his entering the Berlin label Perlon, one of the most important labels, responsible for re-defining minimal techno in recent years.
Unusual and seemingly absurd combinations make up the music and stage image of Haeyopomania, a music project prepared by Chłopomania especially for SURVIVAL. ‘Songs glorifying Kim Jong Il and his dad’, which turned out to be a mixture of paraphrases of anecdotes from the mythology of the North Korean leader and coarse disco music with an industrial edge, on the one hand broaden the formula of mocking electro-clash, on the other – refer in a cunning way to music bands that use the aesthetics of totalitarian systems (Death in June, Laibach). Within the walls of the Four Domes Pavilion they took on even more ideological colours.
The concert which ended the festival was set in similar aesthetics, but more developed in terms of sound and music. 8rolek presented obstreperous punk texts, breakbeat rhythms and cut synthetic riffs which, when combined with ten years of experience in creating broken disco music, constitute a rather daring combination which escapes clear and obvious classifications. Simultaneously, he manages not to lose contextual obstreperousness, full of references and parodies of the grotesque standards of youth-alternative music. Both concerts (8rolek and Haeyopomania) proved the crystallisation of a Polish scene which is consciously looking for new grounds in dance music and which combines the knowledge of contemporary music with intentional stage provocation.
Dragging an Ox Through Water
The second day started unexpectedly with Dragging an Ox Through Water – a solo project of Brian Mumford, the guitarist of Jackie-O Motherfucker. A bright June evening and the proximity of a park perfectly matched the sleepy music drawing extensively on the tradition of American bards, the master of the ‘out-of-tune guitar’ Derek Bailey and the aesthetics of noisy free-improv. A brilliant and naturally-sounding combination of these elements proved beyond doubt the forgotten potential of the New Weird America movement and showed a very interesting direction of developing the ossified songwriters’ scene. The most unusual concert of the event.
Astral Social Club
Astral Social Club, also known for their cooperation with Jackie-O, derives from a bit older and noisier generation of improvised music. And such was the concert – extremely dynamic, full of dissonance in tones and consistent and conscious work on the sound generated by three amplifiers and an arsenal of guitar effects. By combining electron noise, bass drones and oscillator rhythms, they referred directly to classic experimental music, making it a means to the said ‘directness of acoustic experience’. The contrast between classic sound tradition (here: noise music) and the dynamism and variety of contemporary music, evident in the performance of Neil Campbell, showed the dominant artistic motif of all the Four Domes Sound concerts.
Jackie-O Motherfucker
The star of the night, Jackie-O Motherfucker – a classic blues combo supported by analogue electronics and the surreal poetry of Tom Greenwood – were promoting their newest album Ballads of the Revolution. Considered by many the most song-like and classic material in their almost 20-album output, it turned out to be a starting point to over 10-minute improvisations based on the best tradition of psychedelic music drifting towards a meticulously built wall of sound. This practice, characteristic of music collectives improvising in electroacoustic folk, leading often to dull and chaotic sound actions, here took on a definite and sound-aware form, proving the impact of live music of that type.
The Wrocław duet Krew z Kontaktu comes from a similar tradition, yet much more noisy and aggressive in terms of sound. Experimenting with analogue electronics and studying the limits of stage action, they are one of more interesting formations on the Polish scene of improvised noise. Unfortunately, due to reasons beyond our control, the concert did not take place.