Following Portishead last year and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) (two years ago), this year Mike Patton and kindred spirits (The) Melvins compiled an exciting three-dayer in Minehead (UK), not far from the famous Stonehenge.
Noticeably fewer folks this year at this ATP edition, that still goes by the name ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. That might well have something to do with the fact that both Mike Patton (under the many names of Fantômas, Tomahawk, Patton & Fennesz, Peeping Tom,…) and (The) Melvins have appeared on just slightly too many European stages over the past few years… However we were equally convinced that it would be interesting. The location? Still the local version of our Center Parks, with performances in casinos with red carpet that includes the faded smell of Guinness that has been trying to dry out of the carpet for days. Basically: the message is to concentrate on the music.
To start with, a number of shows to forget: The Butthole Surfers (a shame, considering their record), Mastodon (who made-do with one member less) The Meat Puppets (check out their Nirvana link, never did have a strong live-reputation unfortunately) as well as the retro-electronica of White Noise and (the joke of ATP this year): punk legend The Damned (now really, what's a synth doing in a punk band?).
Shall we head to a higher level then? Yup, Locust still plays short sets but never surpassed themselves, then the rap with industrial beats from Dälek came across as rather heavy. Isis played well but suffered from a rather tame sound, just like (The) Melvins.
Another level up then? The Black Heart Procession, the return of Teenage Jesus & The Jerks (Lydia Lunch looked smaller than ever, but with Thurston Moore amongst the members), a burly Icelandic Mugison, an impressive Taraf De Haidouks (pretty much the gipsy odd-one-out) and also Patton’s Fantômas (always a pleasure to see) and finally Soulsavers feat. Mark Lanegan who did a one-off. Always interesting on paper but bands who aren't in the full swing of a tour, often perform rather stiffly.
On to the top-shelf then: Squarepusher was simply fantastic. Instead of a fusion-trip, Tom Jenkinson presented a mix of uh… metal-drum ‘n’ bass. Wow! Beatboxer Rhazel is another in a class of his own and he impressed everyone. With the new album ‘The Black Sea’, Fennesz (now with ring-beard) is totally back again and lets his electronica be heard in a very fine and humane manner. The Italian trio Zu presented power-jazz like you've rarely seen. And the revelation that everyone spoke of at ATP wasn't much musically but was a bomb visually: This punk-trio from Tel Aviv plays in the middle of the hall, but drums fly into the air after 3 minutes already. Cymbals and musicians follow shortly after …
Wow, saw a lot again. The overkill of noise and rock ’n roll clearly took its toll. That result was certainly noticeable in the national hearing test from Radio 1. Hmmm, after the check I seemed to notice a dip in the right ear. Thank you, Mr. Patton!