This weekend I made the drive upstate to Hudson, New York for the 3rd edition of Basilica Soundscape. The festival takes place in Basilica Hudson, the an old train-wheel factory that was converted to a performance space. It’s a small-scale festival limited in scale and attendance, with finely curated booking fit to the bill of readers of Pitchfork, who help put on the fest.

There’s a real calm and relaxed vibe to Basilica that you’d be hard pressed to compare to any other festival, especially in New York. They have good food, good beer (Lagunitas Brewing Company), and don’t oversell tickets, making it one of the more comfortable festival experiences I’ve had.
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1_Swans_Basilica Soundscape 2014

One by one the members of Swans came out to their drawn out opening number. First it was percussionist Thor Harris who began his work on his gong, then out came drummer Phil Puleo who added his own strikes. The percussion only groove was broken up by lap steel guitar player Christoph Hahn who joined them for a few minutes until the rest of the group, led by Swans head honcho Michael Gira, joined them. This opening number went on for nearly 20-minutes, giving you a clear understanding of what exactly you can expect from a Swans live show.

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Truthfully, I’m not much of a metal guy. If you frequent this blog, that won’t come as a surprise. But I’ve heard nothing but glowing praise from mostly everyone I could think of about black metal band Deafheaven, even from the sort of people who don’t normally have anything to say about metal at all. Last night I got to see the perform at Basilica Soundscape and see what all the talk was about.

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1_White Lung_Basilica Soundscape 2014

White Lung’s recently released Deep Fantasy is a ferocious beast of a record that hits hard in all the right ways. It’s one of the best punk albums you’ll find all year.

I saw them play most of it this summer when they played Mercury Lounge. It was a good show, but it got one-upped by their performance last night at Basilica. The empty warehouse space that Basilica Hudson provided was a scarily fitting atmosphere, and the fact that Deafheaven and Swans were up next gave the stage that extra special feeling, and it bleed through not only from the crowd but from the frantic performance of the band.

It was a delightfully heavy show with an unstoppable energy that had me head-banging gleefully.

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Drenched in complete darkness (as you can see), Majical Cloudz, the Canadian duo of singer-songwriter Devon Welsh and producer Matthew Otto, captivated an audience with a performance as personal as you’ll find.

Welsh’s singing isn’t perfect, but it has a raw validity to it that helps convey every word that he offers. While singing, he scans the room, walking slowly from side to side, making sure his point is being communicated. He would even stomp up and down at times while performing, even if it had nothing to do with the beat or tempo of the song, just because its what helped him express that given lyric. He lead the show, but you couldn’t forget the steady electronic music that Otto provided, giving us the music template and background that supported it all.

It was a powerful performance with no gimmicks, just pure music and emotion. It was refreshing, to say the least.

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Guardian Alien at Basilica Soundscape 2014

By Will Oliver, September 14th 2014 Other

1_Guardian Alien_Basilica Soundscape

Guardian Alien is the project of Brooklyn-based drummer Greg Fox, as well as vocalist Alex Drewchin. Their set at Basilica Soundscape yesterday served as my introduction to their work. All I can say is damn, Fox is one hell of a drummer.

Their songs are of the experimental/avant-garde world, with Drewchin’s vocals and electronic work built around the unstoppable steady force that is Fox behind the kit. Their songs took a while to get going, but once they hit that groove, it was hard not to be taken over by what they were doing.

Fox is so good behind his kit that Basilica brought him back out to play solo from an elevated area above the stage to warm the crowd before Swans took the stage. Now that’s saying something.
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1_Emily Reo_Basilica Soundscape 2014

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Bedroom pop artist Emily Reo from fellow music bloggers and music fans, and everything they said was true.

Reo kicked off day 2 of Basilica Soundscape, captivating myself and the rest of the audience in the North Hall. While her set is composed of electronic compositions built around loops, vocal effects, its power is rooted from a natural songwriting ability that shines through everything else.

She played tracks off of her 2013 album Olive Juice, including highlights “Wind,” “Peace,” and her cover of Built To Spill’s “Car.” She finished with an new song that featured impressive vocals and layers that she built to an incredible cathartic finish. Based on that song, I can’t wait to see what Reo releases in the future.

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1_Richard Reed Parry_Basilica Soundscape 2014

Richard Reed Parry is best known as the tall multi-instrumentalist of Arcade Fire. He also happens to be a talented composer. A few months ago he collaborated with chamber ensemble yMusic to release an album called Music For Heart and Breath. That album can be taken in the most literal sense, as it’s compositions based around their own heartbeats. It’s hard to believe that no one else had previously thought of this, but it’s good for Parry’s sake.

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1_Tim Hecker_Basilica Soundscape 2014

Montreal-based electronic musician Tim Hecker makes the type of brooding electronic music that was practically created to be shared in a place like the old factory Basilica Hudson where Basilica Soundscape takes place.

For those unfamiliar to Hecker, his electronic style is one of the brooding ambient/drone nature. While the earlier moments of his set were comprised of slow-stirring ambience, the set gradually built to levels of thick layered bass that literally shuck your entire body. The bass so thick that many ear-plugless fans were seen sticking there fingers in their ears.

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1_Gamelan Dharma Swara_Basilica Soundscape 2014

I knew nothing of Gamelan Dharma Swara headed into their set at Basilica Soundscape. But once I saw that crowd members began sitting in a circle around their extravagant instrument set up that was placed in the middle of the crowd area, I knew this was going to be something a little different.

As it turns out, Gamelan Dharma Swara is a Balinese gamelan ensemble based out of New York City, and the extravagant instruments at hand are known as Gender Wayang and Gamelan Semara Dana. The nearly 20 members that group was built of sat cross-legged as they struck these instruments, creating rather lovely blissful arrangements that were different than anything I’ve heard before.

Rather than songs, these pieces were expressions shared within each of its players, which then spread to create a connection with the audience, some who were sitting, some who were standing. They went on to takeover the entire room, surely one of the best discoveries for me of Basilica Soundscape 2014.

Find more photos posted below.

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