Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hunters Moon 2012

What's this, you say? Well readers, I am finally having a crack at writing some kind of review of the Hunters Moon festival of October 2012, because the tickets for 2013 are now on sale and writing about last year's might just help to drum up some interest. I am writing this in a rush, so everything is a bit sketchy, but maybe some interest will be found.

As you will recall, this festival takes place in the small town of Carrick on Shannon, a conveniently short train journey away from Dublin. Carrick is in Leitrim, a county to which many artistic types have decamped over the years. I like to think of Hunters Moon as their festival. It typically combines music and stuff to do wit the visual arts, with performances taking place in the Courthouse arts venue and also in an olde church and, this year, in a couple of coffee shops around the town.

Many of the people who had played at the 2011 Hunters Moon also played at this one. But in some of these cases, they were startlingly different, or else my opinions of them had somehow undergone a radical metamorphosis. So, Jennifer Walshe performed this year, not alone but with Ludo Mich, an old Belgian fellow who is a surviving veteran of the Fluxus art movement. You may recall that I have previously failed to enjoy Jennifer Walshe performances, but this was completely brilliant in a hard to describe way. Mich and Walshe were doing voice work, and their performance was like some kind of strange non-verbal dialogue. At times it was like Walshe was some kind of sorcerer and Mich an unruly demon being summoned and bid to work. Or maybe they were meant to be something else, but there was a lot of her holding a hand forth at him and gibbering while he gibbered in a different way and tried to break free of her spell. If that description is not very helpful then I must ask you to take my word that their performance was awesome.

As with 2011, it turned out that the mad for it weirdoes wandering around all weekend at the festival were in fact members of GNOD, who are a music group from somewhere in England. Their appearance seems a bit different this year, which matches their complete change in musical nature. In 2011 they were like a psych rock freak-out band, but this time they had ditched all the rock instruments and gone electronic. So they were more like a techno dance act of yore, only still with an acid rock freak out mindset. There were three of them on the music (and it was interesting to try and work out which of them were the least mad for it and so the most responsible for the music) and one lad on vocals, which again seemed to be of a largely non-verbal nature.

GNOD combined their set with amazing projected visuals of the conspiracy theory nutter variety (New World Order, Illuminati, Secret Chiefs, Orchestrated Money Crash, Freemason breeding programme, Zeta Reticulii Greys, etc. etc.). I love conspiracy theory nonsense, even though I do not believe it (apart from things that have been objectively proven, like the sinister role played in the world financial system by the Knights of Columbanus). So I found the visuals a great foil to the dance-tastic music, though I understand that some who are less open to THE TRUTH found them a bit challenging.

In fairness, I should add that there was one element to the crazy conspiracy stuff with which I was somewhat uncomfortable. Basically, it did seem like they were leaning a bit close to going on about evil Jewish financiers rather than evil financiers generally, and we all know where that kind of talk leads.

Some other interesting acts included the following.

Josephine Foster played in the St. George's Church venue, backed by a small band that included that drummer guy from Trembling Bells (seen by me some years ago supporting the Unthanks). They seemed to suffer a bit from the acoustics in the church not being ideal for rock instrumentation but I am not one of those people who worry about such things. For me the focus here was really on Foster herself, and it was this performance that formed my impression of her as someone who both is very serious and calculated at what she does while being somewhat reserved and possibly uncomfortable as a live performer. For all that she threw herself into her performance, she retained a certain austere detachment. The music itself was of the broadly folk-rock variety, with the tunes designed to give free rein to her soaring voice. And yet there is a loose, sinuous quality to the music that makes it more than just filler. Writing this makes me glad that I will be seeing her later this week when she plays with The Swans.

Melodica Deathship are an Irish hip-hop duo. Wait, come back! I think possibly one of them (the rapper) is actually American, but even if he was not they would still be fascinating. Their thing is that they make doomy nautical themed music that some have dubbed ship-hop. The songs all seem to be about haunted ships, murderous pirates, people cast adrift on rafts with no hope of rescue, and so on. And they play melodicas. You could imagine them making a concept album based on the Black Freighter from Watchmen. Their set accompanied by some great visuals that may have included particularly doomy images from the film of Moby Dick. They also sampled vocals from a decades old tune from Irish folk-rockers Mellow Candle, which seemed to amuse Alison O'Donnell of that band, who was herself performing at the festival.

Tarracóir were billed as 'death metal jazz', though they seemed to be more freak out rock than anything else. There were three of them, and they played unbelievably loud music in a tiny café in the middle of the afternoon. It would have been great if some old dear had come in to for a nice cup of tea only to be blasted out by them, but sadly the place was filled with festival heads who all enjoyed things greatly.

Tomuttonttu is apparently the main guy from Finnish superstars Kemialliset Ystavat and may also be the fellow who runs Fonal Records. In today's guise he was largely providing us with full on electronic dance music while presenting us with a series of comedically clichéd visual images of Finland - snow, reindeers, Moomins, people wandering around in the nip, etc.

Wizards of Firetop Mountain are that great Irish post-ironic rock band. This time they played to the visual accompaniment of Hot Chick Stoner Barbecue (in which some biker ladies describe how to safely prepare a tasty barbecue while stoned on drøgs). The Wizards continue to rock hard and I hope that one day they will release a record of some sort that people can buy.

We did have a bit of a look at some of the experimental film stuff, which was of variable quality. One piece I saw seemed to be a series of very low quality images of people in the past being miserable. I made my excuses and left. Later, however, I read about its bizarre genesis in the programme and saw it again with more enjoyment. The film was called The Poorhouse Revisited, directed by Michael Higgins. All the footage, however, came from film rushes from an earlier film he found abandoned and decaying in Ringsend. The rushes were from an earlier RTÉ drama directed by Frank Stapleton and adapted from a short story by Michael Harding set during the Famine. The film stock found was apparently a load of outtakes, camera tests, and the like. With that back-story to its origin I could forgive the final film its poor visual quality and lack of any discernible narrative. Instead the decaying images seemed to evoke the horror and despair of that dark time in Irish history.

But for all that watching films about the Famine, I did not go hungry, eating take-out pizza from a restaurant in the town that made a most delicious product.

There were many other exciting people and things at the festival. And there was a noticeable lack of wankers in the audience, making this somewhat unique among Irish festivals.

It was recently announced that the 2013 festival will be taking place on the 25th to 27th of October - perhaps I will see you there? I think the "big draw" this year is Rhys Chatham, though I suspect and hope that all the Hunters Moon regulars will show up again. Further details are available at .


My experiences at the 2011 Hunters Moon: Part 1, 2, and 3

Hot Chick Stoner Barbecue (trigger warning: meat)

The Poorhouse Revisited

more amazing pictures (not including cat picture)

When I saw Kemialliset Ystävät

Hunters Moon store - where you can buy a copy of the Hunters Moon Drome Dome CD, making that cat somewhat happy.

An inuit panda production

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