September 15, 2016
1. First time
As the last summer days are unfolding, my editor is firing me up to finish my report on the 37th edition of Konfrontationen, a festival for free and improvised music he and I hold very dear. He wrote about it last year and now it’s my turn. It happened on the 21st to 24th of July in the Austrian countryside, where it always happens.
This year there were 68 musicians from five continents. It’s a festival with finely defined musical borders now on it’s third state of conscience, after the African-American avant-garde jazz of the seventies and the European wave of the eighties (which included the South African musicians living in Europe): the electronic era (started in the nineties), which merges with the previous two anyway and blends together ethnic stamina with borderless styles – through exquisite curatorial filters.
I left Bucharest for Nickelsdorf for the first time on a Friday at noon with a long-lasting-burning-desire to be there. I traveled mostly on the rails. I left Nickelsdorf for Bucharest the next Monday at noon with a strong conviction I will return the next year. I will now testify!
Ninety-nine point nine hundred and ninety nine-nine-nine and probably so on percent of what’s happening in the world is irrelevant to me, but somehow Nickelsdorf has always been relevant to my life’s story – since it’s first improbable editions in the seventies. That’s a passenger car conclusion I drew on my seat next to my friend Bog in the first quarter of a rather enjoyable twenty hour journey, as I contemplated some good old beer and wine. I was right I believe.
After those sleepless twenty or so hours by train and an hour of huckleberry-refugee style border crossing into Austria from Hungary by foot, I was there to catch a glorious morning, with friends waking up after a second tough festival night. Some of these friends are my direct connection to Nickel so I’ve been very closely related to it in spirit but somehow never got to actually attend. This year wasn’t a very good one so I had to go. I had to go. Seeing one of the few live appearances of Karkhana exhilarated me. Full force is required, these things are not negotiable.
“You can start the day with your sunglasses on, some frugal breakfast at 1 PM, single malt and cold Austrian beer provided by friends. I could, and an hour later I was good to go and wait for the shuttle to take me to the unknown. It turned out to be the moon, and the moon is the perfect place to spend you afternoon.”