REVIEW: ArcTanGent Festival and Exclusive Interview with Vessels + Lone Wolf

This year’s ATG festival proved popular in it’s 3rd year running, calling connoisseurs of rock charges to bask in the 10-mile stretch of Fernhill Farm hosting over 70 bands across 4 stages. Our contributing Music Editor, George White, was on site across the 3-day festival to deliver his thoughts on the closing Saturday of the event.

The sun comes out for the final day of the festival and it feels like summer! Lone Wolf (Paul Marshall) from Leeds kicks off the day in the Bixler tent, playing some soft keys and vocals alongside a synth and drum. He announces that he is ‘Lone Wolf but I am not alone’, in reference to his band mates.

He switches to guitar later in the set creating some dreamy vocals and bell sounds from the guitar. The set is chilled out and an antidote for many of the audience that partied the night before. He announces that this is his penultimate show under the name of Lone Wolf with the final show at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on 12th September.

Lone Wolf

I caught up with Paul Marshall (Lone Wolf) after his set to find out about the inspiration for his new album ‘Lodge’ and about his plans to stop playing under the Lone Wolf name.

On the name: ‘I changed my name to be ambiguous in 2007-8 when I was signed to Bella Union records as there were a lot of singer songwriters out at the time and that gave them something to differentiate me.’

On the sound: ‘My early stuff was more acoustic but my second album, The Lovers, is a more synthy/art pop record, and although I felt the album was strong I was dropped from the label because of it, which really hurt me.After this I decided I didn’t want to make music again and I suffered depression and anxiety and stopped believing in myself.’

On progression: ‘However, one day I was watching a documentary about Chernobyl and they were talking about the abandoned town Pripyat near where the disaster happened. No one can live in this town because of the radiation. I was looking at the imagery of the deserted and devastated town and I thought, this reminds me of how I feel. After this I felt like I needed to make one last album.’

On the artistry: ‘The songs on Lodge feel onomatopoeic in a way, in association with the documentary, and are about feelings of isolation and feeling bad. On my early albums I started telling stories but for the new album I wanted people to hear what Paul Marshall had to say. The album is named after the studio I record at called The Lodge in Bridlington owned by James Kenosha. I find that when I am in that room I feel human, comfortable and I can write, unlike at home. The studio is due to close and this creates a nice closure for me under the Lone Wolf name.’

Lone Wolf’s final show will be at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on 12th September.  

Next on the Bixler stage are the bass guitar and drums of Tangled Hair, featuring a funky five string bass sound with soft vocals. The band are excellent showmen as well as musicians and have a lot of laughter and banter with the audience.

Tangled Hair are a pleasure to watch as well as listen to and feature some creative playing such as butterfly taps on the high hat, delicate vocals and rich guitar sounds. The sunny weather disappears half way through the set with a deluge from the sky but that just packs the tent out even more.

Vessels are next on the Yohkai stage and they feature a whole host of kit including synths, sound deck, drums, bass and keys. They announce that they played this exact set in a museum in Poland last night and haven’t been to bed.

This doesn’t affect the sound as they begin with some spacey, funky beats and synth, from the new album ‘Dilate’. Vessels have a crazy amount of kit and one guy plays synth and keys together while samples seamlessly come together to create a warm organic sound. The stage feels like it is the helm of a spaceship with the band taking the audience on an electronic groove ride.

Lee J Malcolm of Leeds-based band Vessel spoke to me about the new record ‘Dilate’ and how the tour has been so far:

Vessels

“We have been messing with synch looping and synthesisers and been fans of electronic music since our time together. We have been trying to make our guitars sound like different things and we thought, why are we doing this when we can use electronic instruments and technology? We have taken the ethos behind our songs and brought a dancier element to it. We still do math rock, but the problem with the choppier stuff and the changing time signatures is that it is difficult to get in the groove. As we are getting older we feel we need to progress and there are so many math rock, prog. bands that the world doesn’t need another one.

Like Tortoise we have really tried to make a prominent mark in our sound with the new album and be confident with it. Although it is a change in sound most of our fans have come through with us so we couldn’t ask for more and it has been very emotionally affirming and makes us try harder. We love engaging with the crowd when they shout shit at us and we try and engage with that.”

“By next week we will have played 12 shows and we are now pretty proficient in taking down and setting up the kit. Our setup is always evolving as we come across new things or take things away. We are also limited by what we get on the plane but all the equipment is there for a reason.

We had shows in Holland and Poland this weekend and the Poland crowd in particular were mental. ATG is a fantastic festival and there are bands here that you won’t see anywhere else.”

You can catch Vessels playing songs from Dilate at XOYO, London on 21st October.

Sweden’s Cult of Luna headline the Yohkai stage and they bring a brooding and pounding sound to end the festival. They feature two drum kits, keys, three guitars and one bass and create the impression that we are now on a gothic pirate ship that the band have commandeered.

Their incessant and steady riffs together with the singer’s abrasive vocals build and build until they reach crescendo and the crowd at the front happily thrash around to the sound around them.

That brings an end to this year’s ATG and what quality, from the PX3 introducing tent to the main stage this festival certainly has depth and you can see why people come back year on year, as will I be next year.

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George White
All images courtesy of Tom Dumbleton – http://www.tomdumbleton.com/