Berlin Gig Forecast : Rats on Rafts + Howling

Who | Rats on Rafts

When | Monday, October 19

Where | ACUD, Berlin

Normally, I wouldn’t condone judging a band by its (album) cover, but in the case of Dutch band Rats on Rafts’s sophomore LP Tape Hiss, I think it’s safe to say that most preconceptions would be on point.

The surrealist steampunk collage of illustrations of escaped zoo animals, gears and skeletons with vintage cityscape photos is a pretty accurate intro to the music that the Rotterdam-based foursome makes: psychedelic orderly madness. These rats definitely didn’t miss the post-punk revival raft, and they’re making big waves in the underground scene. Their sound is a fantastic combination of melodic and discordant, but the volume knob is nearly always turned all the way up. Much like their label-mates, Blank Realm, Rats on Rafts subscribe to a very DIY ethos. They’ve self-produced this latest album with analog equipment, resulting in songs that are charmingly unpolished, with fuzzy, warped vocals and dirty, roaring guitars. So to coin a term used by Paul Thomson (from Franz Ferdinand) to describe them, you can be sure that the Rats on Rafts show will be nothing short of “tinnitustastic.”

For fans of: Blank Realm, Ought

Who | Howling

When | Monday, October 19

Where | Heimathafen Neukölln, Berlin

If raging guitar noise isn’t really your thing, then electronic duo Howling might be just the kind of act for you. Their sound is super sleek and refined, with an obvious emphasis on production. Beginning some years ago as a one-off collaboration between Australian musician Ry X, of The Acid, and Frank Wiedemann, of the German house duo Âme, the now Berlin-based partnership has only recently become a fully fleshed-out project. But they made good use of the time since releasing their eponymous song ‘Howling,’ as they’ve finally come out with their debut album Sacred Ground just this past summer. The electronic aspects of Howling’s songs remind me a bit of Bonobo, while Ry X’s voice brings to mind those of both Miike Snow and Justin Vernon. In any case, the ambient soundscapes that Wiedeman has created, bolstered by Ry X’s airy, ethereal vocals, make for songs that are melancholic and haunting, but namely, just gorgeous.


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