Occultrance Festival
Belgium July 22-24, 2011

By Scott Heller

From Aural Innovations October 2011

This is a very unique, one of a kind music festival and my band, Oresund Space Collective were so honoured to be the main headline act on the space rock stage. They had two scenes at this festival. A tent for the space rock and an outdoor area for GOA trance DJs. The festival was two quite different music scenes combined at one festival: GOA trance and psychedelic and space rock bands on the other.

I arrived on Friday afternoon with the band and was really looking forward to this night to get to see Quantum Fantay and Dream Machine on this night. I was driving the van and the festival site was quite muddy as it has been raining for weeks and it was not that warm today either but the sun was coming out and it looked like it would clear up even though more rain was expected tomorrow. Anyway, we got stuck in the mud and a guy had to come with a tractor and pull us out. After that we set up our tents in the backstage area and I tried to set up the hard disc recorder to record all the bands on the space rock stage. The guys in Dream Machine had arrived as well and were in a really good mood and really nice people. Everyone was smoking joints and in a good mood.

The first band of the day was Etherik. Some of the members of this band would also play in the next two bands as well. They played a kind of psychedelic rock. They had a very energetic drummer. I really liked the next band a lot and they wanted me to come and make some spacey sounds with them but it was a lot of work to set up the hard disc recorder with the great sound tech lady, who was so cool and helpful over these two days. I would have had only 10 minutes to get my stuff so I passed but damn, if I had more time, I would have for sure as this was a damn cool 90 minute show of mostly improvised stuff with three guitar, bass, drums and a guy who played Fender Rhodes and trumpet as well. Later a young sax player joined them. We only had 14 channels to make the hard disc recording and some channels were not recorded for some bands, like the trumpet and sax for this band. Great stuff.

Wheel of Smoke were a 4 piece Belgian band as well and they have produced one CD. They played about 90 minutes and also a pretty cool band. I was not really into the guys singing style, sort of forced and angry but they could really rock sometimes and had a nice psychedelic sound, especially the lead guitar player was really cool. They played a bit too long and Quantum Fantay with their own roadies, professional flight cases for everything, etc. took a long time to set up and now the festival was nearly an hour behind and they have a strict curfew at 04.00 that it has to be quiet for 2 hours until 6 am! Anyway, I had never seen this instrumental Belgian act who is highly Ozric Tentacles inspired. They played quite a few songs from their new record and they got Jon (Dream Machine, ex-Ozrics) to play flute on one of their tracks but his solo was very short and had to fit into their almost pre-programmed and very tight sound. The band is very good and professional but they are just too squeaky clean and smooth. They need some grit, some edge to their sound and performance. I really liked some of their stuff a lot but other times it was too much the same and I was a bit bored. It is all just a little too predictable. They have a great groove and people were into it and the tent was the most packed for any band at the whole festival, with about 120-150 people, so they must be doing something right??

Set List: 1 Ugisiunsi, Cube, Wais Dame Dilamp, Blocktail, Kukuriku pt.1, Follow The Star, Shiver Moments, Agapanthusterra, Counter Clockwise, Kukuriku pt.2*, Niek Shlut, Trip Escape

Occasionally, I would pop over to the techno scene to see what has happening and there was never more than about 100 people dancing and checking out the DJs. Everyone was smoking and having a great time and smiling. The scene was very cool and had great sound as well and not too loud. The visuals late at night were really good.

It was nearly 3 in the morning when Dream Machine was finally up and playing. The band seemed fresh and was really happy to play. I was dead tired and struggling but I enjoyed them a lot. A long reggae space piece as the second number was a bit of a surprise but cool. The songs from the bands last CD sounded really great. The first and last songs were from the first CD. I think the band would have played longer but they were forced to stop a little over 4 as the police were outside. They are all really good players in this band and even though the main synth player was missing, they did well. Alex is a great guitar player although some people think he is too much liked Ed Wynne. I don't see it that way though.

Set List: Intro, Invisible Maze, Dub Dub, Mantra, The Castle Of A Thousand Universes Happy Dragon, Vasta Wazza, The Flying Squirrel

Day 2

The techno music started right away at 6 fucking am in the morning. I had to get some sleep and took a sleeping pill and the band woke me up at 13:30 as they wanted to make a day trip to see the ancient Belgian city of Brugge. So up and off we went. We had a nice afternoon there but I forgot my camera! We got back around 18 and just missed G-delic's set, which was the bass player and synth player from Dream Machine. People said it was chilled out and pretty cool. Damn. I had really wanted to see them.

Nukli was up next and these were really nice older guys (with a young new drummer who stepped in for the gig) and we talked a bit before and after. This is one of those bands that I just never dreamed I would ever get to see. I have the Time Factory CD and some of their old cassettes as I am a huge fan of the 80s UK festival scene music that spawned Ozrics, Magic Mushroom band, Nukli, Omnia Opera, Mandragora and others. Anyway, I was surprised Nukli was just three guys but damn, they were cool with lots of great guitar playing and cool songs. They played about 70 minutes I think. Sadly, this was the most empty I had seen the tent since the early part of the first day. I guess 50 people saw Nukli play. One of the main organizers, Mathias, he was here and very much into it!

Nukli Set List: Rainbow Warriors, Book Of Changes, Free Festivals, Kranich, Sometimes, Inner Daze, Fire And Water, Spiral Dance, Shaman Rock, Psychelektra Trip Sequence/ Visions Of Amber, Red Alert

It took a while to set Omnia Opera up and things were running a bit late now. They were suppose to start at 22 and it was nearly 22:30 or so before they started. Wow... this band was great and the original singer still really had the same exact voice. He sounded great. They originally had like two female singers and this line up only had one and she did not sing all that much. They played a very powerful full on heavy space rock set. The set was a lot of new tracks. The band opened with Second Skin, which was on the Seeking the Elusive release after Red Shift when the band had just become Omnia. I filmed a half of the track Nothing is Ordinary. See the youtube clip. They played two songs from their debut record (they had many cassette tapes before this), Floating Settee and Space Bastard. They did not play anything from Red Shift, their second and last album. They band was suppose to have the new CD for this gig but the artwork did not get finished. Anyway, it was a great powerful set and they had their own guy making some projections which was cool. The stage and tent was already cool when it became dark with these green lasers and stuff.

Omnia Opera Set List: Intro, Second Skin,Nothing Is Ordinary, Floating Settee, Supernova, Destroyer Of Worlds, Under The Sun, Leaning Backwards, The Maigi (Illusions Of The Mind), Space Bastard

It was 1:25 by the time we were all set up and ready to fly into space. As you can see from the set list below, were were into long jams this night, as we only played 5 jams in 2 1/2 hrs. Alex Pym from Dream Machine replaced Nick on guitar during the track called Exploration. We were really well received by the crowd of about 100 people or so and some who had seen us before thought it was our best concert. It was great fun and we really played some cool stuff but sometimes it took us a while to get there.

OSC set list: Preparation 47.45, Outward Journey 20.18, Exploration 26.54, Return Journey & Homecoming 44.15, Preparation II 15.15

We had to leave to go home so we did not see any of the bands that played on Sunday but the techno started right away at 6 am, 1 1/2 hours after we crashed. Crazy. Thanks to Chris for the set list info and audience recordings on dimeadozen and Mathias the organizer for putting so much effort into this super cool small festival. I hope that it can grow.

CLICK HERE to see my festival photos on Facebook

For more information visit the Occultrance Festival web site at: http://www.occultrance.be

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