I really wonder what rock I have
been hiding under for years. I never heard of Cakewalk before their event at
the 2014 EKKO Festivalen.
Saturday, 21:45, the main event floor for the EKKO Festivalen.
The sound was deep, Ten metric ton heavy, DOM-DAH-DOM-DOM-DAH, with the guitar doing WHAAAAN-WHAAAANNNN-DHAANNN-WHAN-WHAN-DHANNN, synth going WHEEHWHIWHHWIIWWEEEWIWIWEEEEWHWWWWW-BLLLEEEEEEP! Then sprinkle on some heavy Saxophone wizardry, take the clarinet to its limits … you get the idea.
Wow! And WOW! And another! WOW! My mind was shattered!
I transported Cakewalk's instruments, and the band members. I noticed that they brought real instruments with them - not just flight cases with black pling-ploing boxes inside. Also a huge bass-loudspeaker weighing around 45-50 kilos (I know, because I helped carry that beast up three floors the following Sunday). This is it, I thought. Oh! Boy - was I right.
Saturday, 13:27, in transit to Østre (the EKKO venue).
It rained heavily, this Saturday in October. October on the Norwegian West Coast without rain is a silly notion. It should not happen. One of the band members remarked that this was an ordinary Saturday in Bergen - and he was right. It was an ordinary Saturday morning in Bergen, Norway - where the next stop is the fricking cold North Sea, then the North Pole. If you want to experience the colour HEAVY GREY - then Bergen in October it is.
Saturday, 21:45, the main event floor for the EKKO festival
They started soft, warm and heavy on this rainy day. And, by heavy, I mean a sonorous, 4-meter thick wall of complex and warm hard-hitting synths and everything nice. 30 seconds into the act, the heavy grey was gone and all we could take in was some heavy summer temperatures. This may not be beach music, but still summer music. If you are inclined to feel the blue during the autumn - then put on Cakewalk. They have currently two albums released (Transfixed and Wired) on the excellent label Hubro. Actually - I withdraw the notion that this is summer music. This is pure October soundscape suitable for this very North Sea climate I live under.
Compared to the previous day at EKKO, these guys use actual (physical) instruments (both analogue and digital). Not to say that Friday was a bad EKKO day - it was not - but for me, Cakewalk when this is written, on Monday, were the absolute best performance so far in the festival.
It's said that the sound of Cakewalk consists of, among other things, noise. If this is true, then it is noise within a planned context. Listening to these guys for approximately 60 minutes, I could not find any noise. Only a collection of superb sounds and rhythm tagging each other as they came and went - all intertwined in a smart, unique way. One particular musical idea I really enjoyed were the high overtones supplied by the guitar. It was so gentle - so thin, but with enough bandwidth not to drown in the previously mentioned complex soundscape. In my humble opinion, this is the mark of true craftsmanship.
Stephan Meidel is the guy behind Cakewalk, and performed like a true guitar wizard this Saturday night. I must also mention Øyvind Skarbø banging on drums in an aggressive, but controlled way. Then we have the excellent keyboard player Øystien Moen, and Kjetil Møster on saxophone. These guys really were impressive in the Cakewalk setting, given that they are not the usual members of Meidel's Cakewalk.
One of the tunes they played started quite slowly with Øystein on a lead synth. Slow compared to the rest of the tunes - then going faster and faster - and even faster. I cannot agree with myself if this was the best tune - they were all superb, absolutely excellent. Normally, I do not notice these things too much; however, this one did stand out. When I had the chance to chat for a couple of minutes with Øystein on Sunday he told me that he had a small mental blank there and then - resulting in the slow start. I think they should adapt that small mishap.
When creating a massive, heavy, wall of sound, I guess the cheap way out is to go down the monotonous route - but not Meidel & company. This is so far away from repeat, with so much variation thrown into the short timespan this concert lasted - it is nothing but admirable. Not that I do not like repetition in music, I do. But this was something completely different from the day before - and from what took place later that evening.
I felt so at home with their soundscape that I immediately went on to acquire their two albums. If you are into big, lush, heavy sounds and scapes - go investigate their two records. Actually, just buy them. They are as badass-good as the concert at EKKO 2014.