Oxbow: The Next Chapter


‘A primal jam, fuelled by pure carnal libido, so get together with some inclined bodies and slap skin together.’ – PITCHFORK

Once again, heading for us like a freight train – the almighty avant-rock giants Oxbow.

‘The quiet kill off the country road, the time before the time when everything went wrong and the last 16 hours of that great love affair are the seminal beginnings of OXBOW.

Designed to be the last aural will and testament of failed humanity, OXBOW actually garnered listeners from among the ranks of the fucked, with their 1989 release FUCKFEST. Followed by KING OF THE JEWS (1991), THE BALLS IN THE GREAT MEAT GRINDER COLLECTION (1991), LET ME BE A WOMAN (1995), SERENADE IN RED (1996), AN EVIL HEAT (2002) LOVE THAT’S LAST (CD+DVD) (2006), THE NARCOTIC STORY (2007) as well as various singles and dance remixes, OXBOW has met with increasing critical acclaim and popular support.’


The OXBOW core membership — DAN ADAMS/bass, GREG DAVIS/drums, EUGENE ROBINSON/voice, and NIKO WENNER/guitars+keyboards — has been supplemented by the subtle stylings of LYDIA LUNCH, KLAUS FLOURIDE, JARBOE, MARIANNE FAITHFULL, RICHARD KERN (SONIC YOUTH et al), JON RASKIN from the ROVA SAX QUARTET, and a string section that would make Barry White wince. 

Though claiming San Francisco as their hometown, OXBOW performed first in London, England in 1990 and have toured Europe and the U.S and almost every other place people will pay them to hear them play extensively for nearly 3 decades. With their unstoppable DIY brute force they have carved new paths in the global underground of alternative noise rock, across which their fans follow loyally.

The experimental outfit is music for the damned, drudging onwards in their quest of carnage.Their notoriety comes firstly via the arresting music they churn out and secondly via their tempestuous live shows, led by carnal pit-fighting gentleman – Eugene S Robinson, with his heavy handed heckler response tactics and striking fearsome onstage presence.


Champions of the scene they hailed from, with a fierce aversion to label politics and demanding their own artistic freedom, the band run their own independent record label, CFY Records.

Oxbow’s 2007 album The Narcotic Story was named the number one album in the “Best of 2007” by Rock-A-Rolla magazine, and was listed with three other bands’ albums in the nomination of Joe Chiccarelli as ‘Producer of the Year’ at the 50th Grammy Awards. Regular collaborators with Steve Albini, Eugene and Nikko Wenner bring us their well-oiled monstrous machine of sound, built from a plethora of knowledge from nearly 3 decades of expedition through the alternative underground of music.

But not ones to rest on their laurels, they continually experiment with new ways to express the Oxbow story. Their multi-dimensional music has seen various set-ups, collaborations and even an Oxbow Orchestra – which we were graced with at Supersonic 2012.

Oxbow‘s trademark elements…the jagged-edged noise rock foundation, the bluesy/Led Zeppelin-ish overtones, and Eugene Robinson‘s squirming vocals (somewhere between a Baptist preacher and an unhappy two-year-old).’ ALLMUSIC

And now, they add a new dimension.


The tendency in the face of the unbelievable is to not believe it, and is if our perpetual faves Oxbow didn’t tend this way enough, they return to SUPERSONIC 2017 with an ensemble of two parts — the band accompanied by a chamber choir and volunteer vocalists — who will perform notated Oxbow music, carrying the crucial elements of what constitutes the Oxbow experience into terra unknown. Absolutely and totally exactly what a religious observance should look and sound like.

In the coming weeks we will be telling you more about this one-off SUPERspecial performance and doing a call out for volunteer vocalists!

One time only. Not to be missed!



Supersonic 2012 – Here’s To Another 10 Years!


It’s hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since we were all frantically rushing around the Custard Factory, putting the final touches to the various wild man posters around the site and screwing in the last few records to the Vinyl Rally’s MDF floor before hordes of music fans rushed in to bask in the eclectic and adventurous sounds that Capsule had loving curated this year – and what a lineup it was! There was truly something for everyone, as Friday ran the gamut between JK Flesh’s absolutely punishing industrial dub, the surreal electronica of the Small But Hard showcase, the free-wheeling cosmic riffery of Hey Colossus, the toy tinkering soundscapes of Modified Toy Orchestra, and of course, the triumphant return of drum’n’bass dark lords PCM to the Supersonic stage.

Saturday brought even more surprises, from the gentle folk strains of Dylan Carlson’s new material to the unholy combination of Merzbow and Oxbow’s Eugene and Niko, a full-on audio explosion that wiped clean the mental state of everyone in attendance. I also have to give praise to the incredible drummer that accompanied Masami Akita’s astonishing feedback theatrics, augmenting the sonic devastation with some jazzy splashes, tribal belligerence and even some well timed blastbeats without ever failing by the wayside of Akita’s incendiary slabs of twsited sonic debri, which is no mean feat! A rare UK showing from Bohren & der Club of Gore was utterly captivating, enveloping the Boxxed venue in a dense, melancholy atmosphere and transporting the audience into the starkest of film noir settings for the entire duration of their set.

Meanwhile, Drunk In Hell’s molasses thick sludge onslaught and Zeni Geva’s vitally intricate sonic attack provided a satisfying ammount of musical filth to wallow in, forcing heads to bang and mosh pits to errupt. Zeni Geva may only exist as a two-piece now, but that hasn’t hindered KK Null and Yoshida’s fury at all, with Null especially firing off an arsenal of bewildering noise outbursts alongside his standard riff warfare via a series of baffling pedals. The icing on the cake was undoubtedly the astonishing avant-electronica of Hype Williams; bathing the entire Warehouse in a thick, eerie fog, the enigmatic duo proceeded to fuse together dub, noise, jazz, musique concrete, electro and garage influences into an uncategorizable and unforgettable performance. As Copeland’s beautiful tones danced across the bizarre volley of sounds emanating from Blunt’s corner of the stage, in which gullet-rattling dub basslines collided with squealing trumpets and reverb drenched car alarms, it was hard to shake the feeling that we were witnessing something of a musical revolution!

In keeping with Supersonic’s inclusive ethos, even youngsters were catered for with this year’s kid’s gigs, in which we bore witness to the heartwarming sight of a room full of children grooving along to the expansive psych voyages of Flower/Corsano Duo – and who knows? In 10 years time, some of these children may be taking to our stages themselves to blow your mind with their sonic wares…

Sunday boasted perhaps one of the most spectacular running orders in Supersonic’s illustrious history, with all manner of heavy weights awaiting today’s eager audience. Gnod’s triumphant set in Boxxed was astonishing, the over-powering throb of their sublimely heavy krautrock-isms gradually reconfiguring the pulse of each listener, unwittingly tuning into their psyche and forcing them headfirst into a cosmic thrill ride the likes of which would make even Timothy Leary baulk at the sheer intensity of it all. Elsewhere, Justice Yeldham revealed to us all the mind mangling sounds that lay dormant in a single piece of glass, Lash Frenzy created an imposing and lucid arena in which achieve total sensory overload, and the mighty Ufomammut invited us to accompany them on a voyage deep into the heart of their latest two-record opus, ‘ORO’. Once these guys peak there’s no force in the universe that can restrain them, and the riffs are flowing thick and fast (or should that be slow?) tonight. Whilst both the ‘ORO’ records are impressive in their own right, combined they are a true force to behold, and to witness this incredible odyssey in the flesh is an awesome experience!

A tough act to follow indeed, but mysterious Swedish voodoo merchants Goat were more than up to the challenge. Taking to the stage in colourful robes, ritualistic gaments and erm, a golden robot mask, the band’s vibrant psych-rock/afro-beat concoction instantly whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Racing through all of their ‘World Music’ debut (including instant classics like ‘Goatman’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Run To Your Mama’) but allowing their songs a bit more room to breathe, the Swedes kicked out the jams with an infectious energy and by the time the extended version of ‘Det som aldrig förändras / Diarabi’ brought their revelatory set to a close, you’d be hard pushed to find a single member of the audience who wasn’t sporting an enormous ear-to-ear grin. Incredible!

Finally, the Oxbow Orchestra provided an enthralling end to this year’s celebrations, reinterpreting some of their classic songs and even treating us to some choice cuts from their upcoming full-length ‘The Thin Black Duke’. Their performance was at once intimate and gripping, but without losing any of the potent intensity that has made the band such a force to be reckoned with over the years. This was due to be Supersonic 2012’s final performance, but it seems you, the audience, had other ideas, as an impromptu and sublimely hypnotic drum circle erupted in the beer tent just outside. As the ringing in our ears began to subside, the communal and strangely rhythmic clinking of pint glasses against benches and a sea of warm smiles was a perfect finish to this year’s festival.

Of course, I’m only scratching the surface of Supersonic 2012 here; beyond the numerous delights of this year’s musical lineup, there was a whole plethora of extra-curricular activities. The sight of a fresh-faced individual feverishly clutching at a copy of their own recently pressed Kim Gordon collab on their way back from the Reverse Karaoke installation become a pleasingly common sight over the weekend, and the procession of startingly costumed members of the Outcrowd throughout the festival site on Sunday was a source of much ceremonial excitement. The ear mutilating sounds of Lucas Abela’s Vinyl Rally were a definite highlight, featuring one of Lucas’ most ambitious track layouts to date. Volunteers hastily scrambled alongside the track as Lucas himself sat within the makeshift nerve centre of the rally, tinkering away whilst the assembled throng routinely found themselves astonished by the sheer spectacle of it all.

And of course, there’s the massive contribution that you yourselves paid to the festival, by arriving in your dozens and flooding the Custard Factory with enthusiasm, joy and good vibes. This year’s edition of the festival was one of the finest of the past 10 years, a truly excellent way to celebrate a decade of passionate experimental arts programming – here’s to another ten years!


The Quietus Grill Jarboe On Supersonic, Swans & Solo Performances


It sounds like Jarboe’s upcoming tour is going to be a truly special experience, as the singer recently revealed some further details about her Supersonic performance to the Quietus

The interesting thing about the whole European tour, which includes Supersonic, is that it’s an example of my own stretch or eccentricity as a performer, in that I’m doing it with a classically trained pianist and vocalist, Renee Nelson. We’re going to be reinterpreting Swans and World of Skin classics in a very beautiful way. When that’s done, we’re coming home and then immediately going on tour with Nachtmystium, a black metal band. I don’t know how many people there are that do that kind of stretch, but I’m in my element. I’m 100% punk rock and experimental and will remain true to my roots. That’s what you get with me – you’ve got to be an adventurous audience!

You can read the full interview here, in which Jarboe also talks in depth about her contribution to the new Swans record, life on the road with Micheal Gira, and writing her memoirs…

Jarboe will perform at Supersonic on Saturday 20th October, as well as taking part in our ‘You Can Be You’ panel discussion alongside Oxbow’s Eugene S. Robinson, Crass’s Penny Rimbaud and the Quietus editor John Doran.



An Interview With Oxbow’s Niko Wenner


Oxbow is a band that should need no introduction; their bold and uncompromising penchant for experimentation has placed them at the forefront of contemporary rock and resulted in a startling sound that no self-respecting music enthusiast can ignore. This year marks the beginning of yet another new chapter in Oxbow’s long and storied history, with vocalist Eugene S. Robinson and and guitarist Niko Wenner teaming up to play Niko’s arrangements and orchestrations with a variety of classically trained string and brass players as the Oxbow Orchestra, news that has sent ripples of excitement through the Oxbow fanbase worldwide. Niko managed to take some time out of his busy schedule to give us a little more insight into how this idea originated, what we can expect from their upcoming album, and some potential collaborative performances at this year’s festival, both scheduled and impromptu…

Supersonic: What can we expect from your set this year?
Niko: It’s a rare and great thing. I’m very pleased that Supersonic has again made it possible for us to make explicit aspects of Oxbow music that, live, are often only implicit. OXBOW ORCHESTRA will bring to the stage new music yet to be recorded, live premieres of recording arrangements, and special music created just for this event.

Our recordings begin our songs. Our live performance solution to the music on our recordings – mass-persona, mass-musical/sound information – is often simply “volume.” To sound like twenty guitars playing at once, turn up the one. Unlike our band gigs, Oxbow recordings have always exploited the performance of larger groups. From the Kecak-inspired chanting and clapping by a Symphony of a Thousand on the recording of “Daughter,” to the massed overdubbed guitars of “Pannonica.” From the string quartet and multi-tracked guitars and rock-band of “Bomb,” to the Hammond B-3 organ, male choir, piano, guitars, et al., in the musique concrète texture of “Acker Sound/Read All Over.” The live-in-the-studio nine piece drone orchestra of “Shine (Glimmer).” The scored string quartet plus woodwind quintet of “Mr. Johnson,” and adding rock band to that nonet:  “Frank’s Frolic.” The aim has always been for an orchestral texture.

Our next studio album ‘The Thin Black Duke’ will feature brass in addition to strings, which suggested the OXBOW ORCHESTRA live line-up. I’ve wanted for some time to bring my friend from Paris-based band Heliogable (and bandmate in Bellflower) guitarist Philippe Thiphaine into an Oxbow performance. Oxbow has by tradition always made a new set minutes before we begin to play. The opportunity offered with the Orchestra is too special to leave quite that much to chance. A great deal of care has gone to arranging and orchestrating music both new and old for this special format of strings, brass, and additional guitar.

There should be surprises for all.

How did the idea for the Oxbow Orchestra originate?
Being asked to perform at Supersonic’s ten year anniversary is an honor. Dan and Greg can’t be here unfortunately. So my desire to create a performance that would arrive at the same transcendent place that Oxbow aims for, but through different means, drove some soul searching. The solution: A chamber music version of Oxbow songs new and old. And from this OXBOW ORCHESTRA was born.

Who else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival this year?
Merzbow; ORE and KK NULL; Ruins Alone; Sir Richard Bishop… I’m excited for everything. Everything I already know and knowing that things I don’t already know will be great too.

If you could pick any artist on the lineup this year to collaborate with, who would it be?
One? Merzbow. And, we have indeed arranged a last-minute collaboration.

If you were curating Supersonic, which three artists would you most want to have on board?
György Ligeti is dead now sadly. Of those still living:

1. Ornette Coleman.  Because I realized twenty years ago when pondering who – if I somehow could –  I would time-travel to experience performing that he’s one. And he’s still performing now!

2. Mathew Shipp.  Because he makes music that is like directly listening to a brain at play and at work, without the filter of “language” (à la cognitive scientist Steven Pinker).

3. Elliot Carter.  For his music of course but also so that I could shake his hand. I was too shy to do so when standing next to him in an empty foyer during a break in a performance of his first four string quartets in San Francisco. Not incidentally, a life-changing concert for me.

Which items would you say are essential for festival survival?
A curious audience, daring artists, and the support to join the two.

How would you sum up Supersonic festival in five words?
One, two, three, four GO!

…or maybe better…

Jenny and Lisa create bliss.

Finally, what does the future have in store for Oxbow?
Quite soberly and sincerely, I feel like we are stronger than ever and in mastery of our strengths, in ways I’d barely dared to hope we could achieve when we started. Truthfully, these are partly benefits of simply “not giving up,” tenacity, irascibility, not anything special. In any case IF we can continue, stay alive long enough, inch Allah and gods willing I think the future looks good.

Specifically, our next full length record ‘The Thin Black Duke’.

Niko Wenner

The Oxbow Orchestra will be performing at Supersonic Festival on Sunday 21st October.



The Luxury Of Empire – An Interview With Director Mariexxme


Oxbow fans have much to rejoice over at this year’s festival; in addition to their extremely special Oxbow Orchestra set and frontman Eugene S. Robinson’s appearance in our ‘You Can Be You’ panel discussion, Supersonic will also be screening ‘The Luxury Of Empire’, an enthralling and stylish glimpse at life on the road for one of the most polarising and unrestrained avant-rock bands to walk the Earth. A gripping, warts-and-all portrait of a band maturing whilst having to deal with the trials and tribulations of the touring process, the film features candid interviews and live footage, all wrapped up in a deliciously dark and cinematic aesthetic, informed by Oxbow’s music itself as much as it is by film making convention. The themes of coming-of-age and the difficulties of touring are sure to fascinate anyone with even the remotest interest in live music, but for Oxbow enthusiasts especially, this is mandatory viewing.

‘The Luxury of Empire’ is the work of French film-maker Mariexxme, a former animator who has also filmed the Melvins, Sleep, the Jesus Lizard, Lightning Bolt and Jello Biafra, to name but a few. We asked Marie a few questions about the film, and why it should be an essential part of your Supersonic experience…

Supersonic: What was it about Oxbow that inspired you to make them the focal point of your film?
Marie: It was the 20th anniversary of Oxbow the year I decided to make that film focused on them. A year before that I had interviewed them for a French magazine with a friend of mine and edited a 40 minute video based on the history of the band, which we cut in 4 parts and posted online. That video made me want to go further, 40 minutes of something more! It made me really want to enter their life and make them talk about themselves and their approach to art. That’s why I focused the film more on their way of seeing art and their work.

Also, I’d heard that they were looking for somebody to make a film about ‘The Narcotic Story’, which for me is one of the most brilliant albums of the last few years and one of the reasons I wanted everybody to know about Oxbow! I couldn’t work on a film like that by myself but that’s the reason why my documentary has been filmed in the dark, I wanted it to look like a movie, I wanted it to look like ‘The Narcotic Story’.

‘The Luxury of Empire’ was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Would you recommend this way of funding to other aspiring artists?
I’d never heard about Kickstarter before ‘The Luxury of Empire’, I think it was Niko Wenner who told me about it. At first I thought it was crazy and would never work, but it’s been a nice surprise! Since then I’ve seen lots of other projects reaching their goals, I myself pledged on 2 different projects involving my friend David Yow (The Jesus Lizard), I must admit it works perfectly well. Yes I would definitely recommend it to others, and maybe even use this way myself next time if needed.

Why should Supersonic attendees check out ‘The Luxury of Empire’?
Why? Because I think people coming to a festival like Supersonic are passionate and curious people. Because this film is about one of the most brilliant bands existing and one of the most unrecognized (this film was made for Oxbow’s fans but also, and this is really important to me, for others to discover). Because this film is about Oxbow but more than a film about one band, it’s a film talking about what makes an artist live. Something I got myself inside like anybody involved in any kind of Art, something you could never live without, something that makes you play or paint, write or sing everyday and until the end of your life – whatever happened, even if you know you ‘ll never get rich by this, even if it means doing the same things everyday and living hard times most of the time.

‘The Luxury of Empire’ shows the inside, what the audience and fans never see, the reality of being an artist, the reality of being on tour, it also includes uncut live performances because it’s important to see the result of the process. It has been made to go with a whole live show filmed in Paris at the same time, my idea was to make a film to explain the inside and one to show the result without talking anymore, like Darkness and Light. It has been planed like that and it’s on the DVD like that with Manuel Libeskind’s tour diary about Oxbow ‘Still Before’ as a wonderful bonus.

Who else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival this year?
Zeni Geva, I haven’t seen them for years, Ufommammut (they are friends of mine), and then Grey Hairs, Dope Body, Bohren und der Club of Gore, Jarboe, Goat, Body /Head, Mothertrucker. But I will have to film Oxbow’s Orchestra experience and rehearsal during the week too, I’m waiting to see the schedules to organize my weekend at the festival.

You’ve filmed a great number of awesome bands, but are there any left that you would like to work with?
I’ve started working with Amenra and I’m really happy about this, they’re one of the bands I really wanted to make a film about. I would have loved working with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, I talked about it but unfortunately they don’t exist anymore. Melvins are second, I really want to work with them. All those bands have their own unique world and that’s what I’m looking for.

I would have loved making a film about Alice Donut but it’s already been done. I must admit I’ve filmed a lot of bands, and since I’ve started working on small video interviews for the Canadian/French website Pelecanus, I’ve been making a short film about a band every month! I just finished one about Converge and will start one for Wovenhand. I had to film Baroness in July but had technical troubles with my camera, so I definitely have to do something with them again soon! I also did Sleep, I must say I’m overjoyed!

If you were curating Supersonic, which three artists would you most want to have on board?
Maybe Amenra, Oxbow and the Melvins, but I could easily find 10 bands I’d most want…..

Which items would you say are essential for festival survival?
For me : a camera, a pair of confortable shoes and a pint. That’s it!

‘The Luxury Of Empire’ will be screening at this year’s Supersonic Festival. For more information about Mariexxme, you can visit her official website and Vimeo page.


Supersonic: A Decade Of Championing The Avant-Garde



For 10 years now, Supersonic has been tirelessly emphasising the importance and beauty of the independent spirit; one need only glance through the reams of musical mavericks that have graced the festival’s stages to see how successful their efforts have been. To celebrate, Capsule have planned a couple of events to highlight the free-thinkers that have helped turn the festival into the glorious tour-de-force it is today.

In keeping with Supersonic’s tradition of featuring enlightening panel discussions, ‘You Can Be You’ promises the audience one of the most intruiging and horizon broadening conversations to ever take place in the Custard Factory, as The Quietus Editor, Vice columnist and all-round music enthusiast John Doran takes the chair to quiz Jarboe, Oxbow’s Eugene S. Robinson and Crass co-founder Penny Rimbaud on how these extremely accomplished artists have maintained their integrity and independence whilst operating in the furthest regions of the avant-garde.

Anyone who’s ever been moved by Eugene’s feral howl and imposing stage presence, Jarboe’s dulcet tones and emotive range, or Rimbaud’s energetic drumming and sneering social commentary will not want to miss out on this. These are artists that divide opinion with their untameable drive to create, and are united in their refusal of musical standards and any perceived rules or guidelines that others may wish to impose upon them, but how is this passion sustained through times of difficulty? Will there ever come a time where this deep-seated desire to create is satiated? There’s only one way to find out… See you there!

Running with this theme of independent creators, Jason Forrest of the new online TV site Network Awesome has curated a film prgramme entitled ‘3 ______ And The Truth’, a loving tribute to the maverick minds that created things that only they ever could, ranging from the ingenious to the downright bizarre! The Network Awesome site features a number of specially made programmes, curated by visionaries like John Zorn and Barry Adamson, and is well worth checking out!


Collaborations – A Supersonic Tradition


There are several exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime collaborative performances taking place at this year’s Supersonic, ranging from Lash Frenzy’s all-star noise ensemble to KK Null’s performance with local tuba-drone pioneers ORE, and of course, the pairing of several string, woodwind and brass musicians with Eugene S. Robinson and Niko Wenner for the much anticipated Oxbow Orchestra. There must be something about the adventurous atmosphere of Supersonic, as the festival has a long history of inspiring musicians to step out of their comfort zones and join forces with one another to contribute something truly special to the festival. Indeed, these one-off spectacles and collaborations are part of what makes the festival so unique, and have provided avid concert goers with a veritable smörgåsbord of cherished memories over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights – which one was your favourite?

2011 – Fire! & Oren Ambarchi

Last year’s edition of the festival saw Swedish avant-jazz trio Fire! team up with Australia’s finest purveyor of drones (and frequent Sunn O))) collaborator) Oren Ambarchi, for an enthralling set that touched on noise, jazz, and musique concrète with the kind of subtle elegance and deft textural sensibility we’ve come to expand from these fine musicians. Evidently these guys enjoyed the performance as much as the audience did, as Fire! recruited Ambarchi once again for their third album,  ‘In The Mouth – A Hand’, which was released last year.

2010 – Lash Frenzy VS KK Null

When these two noise titans clashed together two years ago, the results were akin to a nuclear bomb detonation, obliterating all in its path (it’s rumoured that there are still children being born in Digbeth with tinnitus to this very day). Holding the honour of being one of Supersonic’s loudest ever performances (and, as those who have attended the festival before will attest, this is certainly no small feat!), the Library was packed to the rafters for this one-off show, with a lengthy queue of dedicated noise addicts stretching around the block. Be sure to get there early for this year’s special performances to avoid listening from outside!

2010 – Khyam Allami & Master Musicians Of Bukkake Present Bosphorean

Providing some respite from the ear-bleeding antics of the aforementioned duo, 2010 also found Iraqi Oud virtuoso Khyam Allami teaming up with mysterious psych-rock collective Master Musicians of Bukkake for this exclusive performance. Named after the Bosphorus Strait that divides East and West, Europe and Asia, this was an extremely diverse set that sought to bridge musical schisms, joining Allami’s meditative Eastern melodies with the Master Musicians’ penchant for acid fried jams, taking the audience on an aural pilgrimage to the furthest regions of their collective psyche and sounding rather fantastic in the process.

2008 –Kikuri, feat. Merzbow & Keiji Haino

The pairing of two of Japan’s most extreme musical exports was never going to make for easy listening, but nothing could have prepared us for the deafening onslaught produced by these masters of their respective crafts. Masami Akita’s torrential outbursts of static and rich, layered walls of feedback provided the perfect counterpoint to Haino’s chilling, ethereal wail and guitar mangling histrionics, resulting in an eclectic and vibrant set that’s often spoken of in hushed tones by Supersonic veterans.

2007 – Oxbow Duo Presents: Love’s Holiday Orchestra

When Oxbow’s Eugene & Niko performed at the festival 5 years ago, they brought along an all-star ensemble (featuring Godflesh/Jesu mastermind Justin Broadrick, Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and ex-Head Of David bassist David Cochrane) for an unforgettable and thrillingly intimate set, never to be repeated again (but fear not – Oxbow will be returning this year with a small orchestra in tow, and Justin Broadrick will also be putting in an appearance with his new JK Flesh project).

The performance was captured on tape and released on wax as part of Capsule’s limited edition vinyl series. Unfortunately all 1000 copies are long sold out, but there are still a number of great releases available, chronicling Supersonic sets from the likes of Harvey Milk, Tweak Bird and Iron Lung – the perfect way to relive those Supersonic memories and keep your excitement under control during the wait for this year’s edition!


Oxbow Orchestra, one off collaborations and more


To celebrate the 10th edition of the festival, we are proud to host a number of special collaborations where you can see known performers embarking upon unknown sounds. One such performance we are proud to present is Oxbow Orchestra. Expect strings, woodwinds, brass, operatic backing vocals and classically contained renderings of the Oxbow song book, featuring Eugene S Robinson and Niko Wenner from Oxbow and an Orchestra who will deliver songs new and old in a format unaccustomed to the blood and sweat of a typical Oxbow outing. The textbook definition of ONCE IN A LIFETIME. This ties in very nicely with the first film announcement which will be The Luxury Of Empire, a very intimate portrait of Oxbow at the peak of their artistic maturity, candid interviews and live footage reveals the trials and tribulations of this band. The film programme is coming together nicely with Jeremy Deller’s ‘The Bruce Lacey Experience’ and a number of films curated by Jason Forrest at Network Awesome.

From one large scale event to a couple more (well it is our tenth birthday after all!) Lash Frenzy will perform Vir Heroicus Sublimis’ as an improvised noise collective, featuring members of Anaal Nathrackh, Beestung Lips, Benediction, Sally and Einstellung. Another distinctive pairing will see KK Null and Birmingham’s own ORE in sonic battle.  In many ways, KK Null’s collaboration with Lash Frenzy at Supersonic 2010 (with ORE’s Sam on tuba) acted as a proof of concept for the sound of ORE, so it’s entirely fitting  to bring the two entities together this year.

The issue of creating art in challenging times is one close to the festival’s heart and an exciting panel discussion will see the topic dissected by some truly inspirational practitioners.. The discussion is called ‘You Can Be You’ and will feature an array of maverick artists including Penny Rimbaud, Jarboe and Eugene Robinson. Offering an insight into some of the hows and whys of maintaining an independent spirit whilst on the very edge of the avant-garde, the panel will debate such topics as, how is the drive to make art is sustained under sometimes-difficult circumstances? and after many years of writing and touring music, will the desire to create ever be satiated?

Given the success of Imperfect Cinema’s cinematic workshop last year, we have invited the team back to host a free workshop exploring DIY modes of filming and cinema only this time, the footage people gather using Super 8 cameras will be edited and used as visuals for Drunk in Hell’s performance. All in all, an exciting opportunity for festival goers to be part of the performance and for them to utilise the unique industrial backdrop in a highly creative way. If you’re interested in booking a place, email [email protected] with ‘Imperfect Cinema’ in the subject line.


Vinyl Rally will be a large-scale installation combining sound art, video art and kinetic sculpture into every kid and kidult’s dream-hybrid; an immersive participatory play-set playing off vinyl fetishism, video arcade mystique and the machismo of motor sports in a video game played within a real world setting! Classic first person video racing is simulated as remote control cars with styli attached, race across a track constructed from a mass of disused vinyl records. This installation will be realised by Australian artist and glass eating expert Lucas Abela AKA Justice Yeldham. Who’s excited to have a go on this mean machine?


Phew! Lots more info to come, as well as day tickets and volunteering opportunities. Weekend tickets are available to purchase via https://supersonicfestival.com/tickets and don’t forget, if you want to see these sorts of ambitious projects continue, you can support us via our We Fund campaign


You Can Be You


Offering an insight into some of the hows and whys of maintaining an independent spirit whilst on the very edge of the avant-garde, this panel will feature a number of maverick artists. How is the drive to make art sustained under sometimes-difficult circumstances? After many years of writing and touring music, will the desire to create ever be satiated?

Supersonic Festival is now in its 10th year, beginning as a one-day event it has become an internationally renowned weekend of music, art and more. The panellists have hugely influenced the festival producers, as well as many other artists performing at Supersonic. ‘You Can Be You’ (the title of the Honey Bane / Crass EP) will offer a fascinating insight into the drive and motivation behind some of the most prolific experimental artists around.

Panellists include:

Penny Rimbaud is a musician, poet and co founder of anarchist punk band Crass in 1977. A prolific writer, he has published over 14 books, set up Dial House and Exitstencil Press plus continues to release music three decades after Crass disbanded.

“If there was one message we had in Crass, it was that ‘there is no authority but yourself’. You don’t need to accept that you’re nobody, you can trust in yourself.”

Jarboe is a musician and artist who came to prominence in the mid-1980s with the highly influential Swans. With founder Michael Gira, the duo was the core of Swans until the group broke up in 1998. Since the band’s split she has made 17 solo albums, many self released and is a prolific collaborator, often working with new and emerging artists.

Eugene Robinson is the vocalist and co founder of the legendary avant rock band Oxbow. They formed in 1989 and have since been a prolific force in the experimental music world, touchng noise rock, musique concrete, free jazz and blues over the years. Oxbow are tireless touring band and the subject of a series of films looking at the whys of art creation, touring life and 20 years in, the motivations for continuing to do what you do.

Chair – John Doran is the editor of The Quietus and a music journalist/cultural commentator for many a publication. He is a regular columnist for Vice.


The Luxury of Empire


Mariexxme’s lush documentary “The Luxury of Empire”, filmed on the French leg of Oxbow’s 2009 European tour offers an intimate portrait of a band in full artistic maturity. It sees them undergoing the daily trials of touring with grace and provides sometimes touching and humorous insights into an otherwise mysterious band. The film’s dark, cinematic aesthetic was inspired by the atmosphere of Oxbow’s recent work. It echoes its title and is interlaced with live performances and candid interviews in which the band peel away the layers of their processes and which bring the viewer as close as it’s possible to get to a band without being in it.



Oxbow Orchestra


In advance of the world assault subsequent to the band OXBOW’s spring 2013 release of their long-awaited new record the THIN BLACK DUKE, there is this, the OXBOW ORCHESTRA. Strings, woodwinds, brass, operatic backing vocals and classically contained renderings of the OXBOW song book and featuring EUGENE S. ROBINSON and NIKO WENNER from OXBOW, the ORCHESTRA delivers songs new and old in a format unaccustomed to the blood and sweat of a typical OXBOW outing.
A textbook definition of ONCE IN A LIFETIME.


This performance is one of a number of special collaborations taking place at the tenth edition of the festival.


Rock-a-Rolla Q&A


Rock-a-Rolla: Q&A with editor-in-chief Vuk Valcic
For our 12th Q&A we’re going off-piste and instead of talking to the artists performing at Supersonic 2011, we’re checking in with Vuk Valcic, editor of Rock-a-Rolla magazine. Capsule has a long standing relationship with the magazine and we salute their coverage of independent, progressive music.  Read on to find out Vuk’s fondest Supersonic memories and why he thinks the festival is essential.

How would you describe your relationship with Supersonic Festival?
Rock-A-Rolla has been Supersonic’s media partner since the very early days of the mag – in fact going all the way back to our first year of existence. Capsule have always had a knack for selecting interesting and vital artists, and the line-up has always been spot-on in terms of what we cover in the magazine. We’re also friends and fans.

Which acts are you looking forward to most in this year’s line-up, and why?
As always, pretty much all of them, but for my part Secret Chiefs 3, Zombi, Zu93, WITTR, White Hills, Circle, Fire!, Barn Owl and The Skull Defekts are all particularly unmissable. Secret Chiefs 3 should be every festivalgoer’s top priority.

What has been your ultimate favourite performance at a previous Supersonic and why?
Tough question. There’s no way I can choose just one, but let’s go with Oxbow Duo and Wolf Eyes in 2007, Asva and Dälek in 2008, and SunnO))) and Thorr’s Hammer in 2009, all of which were memorable for various reasons. And of course Zu a couple of years back – one of the best live bands out there.

How would you describe Supersonic to a potential, fresh audience?
In one word: essential. It’s the only festival that keeps getting it right year in, year out. For crucial, cutting-edge underground rock, metal and experimental music, there’s simply no other festival quite like it in the UK. On a more personal note, it’s like getting all the bands you read about in Rock-A-Rolla together in one place for an awesome weekend.

What does Supersonic offer differently compared to any other festival?
The line-up is just plain different to any other UK festival you can think of, and it’s always outstanding. It speaks for itself, really. Other than the band selection, the Custard Factory setting makes this a completely different beast to the outdoor festivals doing the rounds – no mud and Portaloos here, just great music and a great atmosphere.

What impact does Supersonic have on Birmingham’s music scene?
I think it goes beyond Birmingham – and the UK for that matter. It undoubtedly plays a major part in putting Birmingham on the map and of course brings festivalgoers to the city, which can only be a good thing, but more importantly Supersonic has far-reaching impact on underground music worldwide.

Interview by Ross Cotton



Film week, day 3: ‘Still Before’, a film about Oxbow


Film week, day 3:  ‘Still Before’, a film about Oxbow

‘Still Before’, a film by Manuel Liebeskind, draws the most intimate tour portrait of this exceptional band from San Francisco and is perhaps as close as one can come to the exhaustion of everyday tour life.  Here at Capsule HQ we’ve only seen the trailer, but, believe us, that was more than enough to whet our appetites.  ‘Still Before’ is also highly notable for being filmed entirely on an iPhone with a 640×480 pixel resolution, probably the first feature-length to be so.

We can’t imagine it would be easy to get close to a band like Oxbow, so how did Liebeskind do it?  Turns out he’s their former booking agent, soundman and general man-Friday and thus the band gave him unprecedented access.  Through his film, Liebeskind attempts to uncover the obsessions, machinations and thought processes behind making, playing and touring music that embraces art as though its life depended on it.  Across five countries, over a dozen shows, and in front of rapt audiences, ‘Still Before’ explore the whys of art creation, the touring life and the motivations for continuing the process over two decades.



STILL BEFORE from Manuel Liebeskind on Vimeo.




STILL BEFORE is an intimate portrait of San Francisco art brut quartet OXBOW, recorded by their former booking agent, soundman and man Friday MANUEL LIEBESKIND, during two weeks in Europe in late Fall 2009.
Given unprecedented access, Liebeskind attempts to uncover the grinding obsessions, the machinations and the underpinning thought process behind making, playing, and touring on music that embraces art as though its life depended on it. Across five countries, over a dozen shows, and in front of rapt audiences OXBOW, and chronicler Liebeskind, explore the WHYS of art creation, the touring life and 20 years in, the motivations for continuing the same.
STILL BEFORE is filmed entirely on an iPhone with a 640×480 pixel resolution and edited for the screen.



Blood, Sweat + Vinyl : DIY in the 21st Century



This captivating documentary is the product of five years of obsessive filming of live concert footage, exclusive interviews, and historic documentation focusing on three fiercely independent music labels and their bands.

Featuring Neurosis, ISIS, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pelican, Oxbow, Evangelista, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Cave In, and many others whose music and art found ideal homes in the artist-run record labels of Hydrahead, Neurot, and Constellation.

These labels combine hard-to-define, heavy music with a visual aesthetic that has enraptured worldwide fans, without the need for radio or corporate media outlets. They uphold the legacy of treating music as an art form, not as a product.

This film is an answer to those who question where the spirit of punk rock is today.

Over 20 bands and visual artists.
3 record labels.
1 philosophy.

“Blood, Sweat & Vinyl provides a keen glimpse into crucial corners of the modern music universe where corporate concerns are disregarded and the artists are given (and receive) the respect they deserve.”
– J. Bennett, Decibel Magazine

“It’s a goldmine of exclusive footage for fans, but it’s also a compelling piece for curious onlookers… It’ll make you proud to listen to this music.”
– Etan Rosenbloom, www.metalsucks.net


Blood, Sweat & Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century (Trailer) from kenneth thomas on Vimeo.