They say evolution takes centuries and that is why it was truly inspiring to see how, in barely an year that the Berlin-based festival Epicurean Escapism has reached a point, which other similar initiatives wouldn’t achieve in decades. Last year, when I received the first compilation commemorating the debut edition of the Epicurean Escapism festival (curated by Stefan Hanser, known for his work as Anemone Tube) I wasn’t entirely expecting what this initiative has become today. I experienced the release more like a simple compilation aimed at promoting and reminding people about this event. Now as the second event is already history, I’m looking at the sequel to the modestly packaged tape and DVD that I received, and reviewed a year ago and I can not describe it by anything but the words – an immense leap forward.
Epicurean Escapism II is a unique release with packaging reminiscent of Anemone Tube’s Dream Landscape . It consists of a CD compilation with exclusive music by Ke/Hil, Anemone Tube, Post Scriptvm, Trepaneringsritualen and Dieter Müh. During the festival there was a screening with the short films of Mike Dando (Con-Dom) from the 80s and early 90s, all of them digitally restored and available here on the DVD. And as if this isn’t enough we are also handed a 20-page booklet with an essay and artworks by Alex Tennigkeit, Andrew Liles, Carmen Burguess, Dennis Rudolph, Philip Best & Rudolf Eb.Er. So I guess we shall just take a look at everything I listed.
On the Epicurean Escapism II CD, first we are introduced to Ke/Hil and his short power electronics outburst ‘Dark Germany‘. A thick abrasive ambience, cut by sporadic and distorted vocals, a piece that’s exactly like a statement ‘we’re not safe here‘. Following is Anemone Tube with two pieces, both carrying his signature sound while imposing that sadistically pleasant feeling as if you are being force-fed with rusting metal, while pushed to the floor by heavy, multi-layered, mesmerizing noise. After this (double) harsh sonic treatment Anemone Tube leaves you in the hands of Post Scriptvm, who at first are deceivingly calm and quiet, which is slowly seducing you into their audio realm of eternal cold and emptiness.
All of this only to be again shattered, this time by Trepaneringsritualen. The project, which has been getting more and more recognition lately, and quite deserved in my humble opinion, is here presented by two tracks, both of them extreme, harsh and really dirty, with an old-school industrial flavor, abnormal vocals, and all of this forming a super intense and weird atmosphere. The last piece on the CD is actually the total highlight. With more than 20 years history in this scene Stephen Cammack‘s Dieter Müh closes the compilation with the blackest sound monolith I have heard this year. Bethlehem is over 20 minutes long, it’s morphing from minimalist drone and dark ambient, through desolate industrial soundscapes to noise dominated and lead by heavy ritual drumming. With a lot of subtle details, such as acoustic sounds, lo-fi sampling, fragile, but piercing melodies and voice, Stephen and his collaborators have built an impressive, complex and still extremely musical piece for which we should praise Stefan Hanser, for being able to convince Dieter Müh to dig it out of their archives.
The visual side of Epicurean Escapism II again shows a huge progress. The six Con-Dom movies here are almost my age and it’s insane how effective and current they still are. Mostly based on video collages of static visuals, found video material Mike Dando‘s work is an absolutely mind-blowing mixture of lasting impressions. Resulting in a strong and critical socio-political statement, especially relevant to our times. Another feature is that all six movies are voiced by Con-Dom’s very own power electronics sounds. This DVD is not only a precious possession for all Con-Dom aficionados, but a documentary of our reality through the eyes of an artist, and through the eyes of time. As to the artists and paintings included in the catalogue, at first I was a bit puzzled for they were all quite different from each other and I couldn’t trace a concept or a reason for putting exactly those names in the same place/event. However it’s clear that not always a concept should be present in order to just appreciate the works of familiar or unknown authors, especially when they are all good, dedicated and convincing enough with what they’re doing.
To sum things a bit, Epicurean Escapism II CD/DVD is not only a must-have, but a perfect example how art forms should exist nowadays – in an absolute symbiosis. As the festival is already one of the most meaningful events in (post) industrial so what is left for us is to hope Stefan Hanser will continue to find the sufficient strength and support to keep this oasis for escapists existing for a long time into the future.
Epicurean Escapism II CD
01) Ke/Hil – Dark Germany
02) Anemone Tube – Apocalyptic Fantasy
03) Anemone Tube – Accumulations
04) Post Scriptvm – Leprous Driver
05) Trepaneringsritualen – Vanärat Är Ditt Namn
06) Trepaneringsritualen – End Of Flesh
07) Dieter Müh – Bethlehem
Anemone Tube – Apocalyptic Fantasy
Post Scriptvm – Leprous Driver
Con-Dom – We Who Were Living Are Now Dying DVD:
01) Impressions of a System 6:12
02) The Coming of Christ 13:35
03) Our Pleasure in the Pain/Vilification 8:42
04) All In Good Faith 1 14:18
05) All In Good Faith 2 (Get Right With God) 6:52
06) Hunger for Death 5:57
Running Time: 55 minutes