Austrian Music Highlights – June 2024

Photo of Nawa Orchestra (c) Georg Cizek-Graf
Nawa Orchestra (c) Georg Cizek-Graf

June is bustin’ out all over! And so, it must be said, is Austrian music. The official beginning of summer brings with it early summer tours, new releases, and much, much more. Take a deep breath of humid, pollen-filled air, and rejoice: it’s the solstice edition of Austrian Music Highlights!

At the Movies

The multimedia era arguably began at 12:01 a.m. on August 1st, 1981, when MTV aired its first-ever music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star“. Four decades(!), it’s more marriage than murder: film and music often combine to make something that isn’t quite either one – but decidedly more than the sum of its parts. Case in point, the clever, unsettling winner of this year’s Austrian Music Video award: oh alien‘s “The Dream”, directed by Clemens Niel.

Video: oh alien – “The Dream”

In the words of the jury: “With cineastic elegance, a compelling visual language, and strong direction, the music video narrates, with precise clarity, a humorous story with a serious uindertone.” We heartily agree, and congratulate director Clemens Niel on his success and oh alien on their impeccable taste.

At the Fair

On a completely different note: our prime directive here at Austrian Music Export is promoting Austrian music in the wide, wide world – and the best way to do that is to help people help themselves. As such, we’re excited to extend an invitation from the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich) to join them (and us) at WOMEX, Europe’s foremost global music expo.

This year’s edition of WOMEX, the 30th, will take place from October 23 – 27 in Manchester, UK. The Aussenwirtschaft – Creative Industries department of the Chamber of Commerce has secured funding for an “image booth” to represent Austria at the trade fair. The most important data at a glance:

  • WOMEX is the largest forum for world, roots, traditional, regional, and folk music. The event brings artists together with companies and music professionals; the Austrian booth offers the perfect platform for artists to present themselves to an international audience.
  • WKO members and self-employed music professionals (“neue Selbstständige”) can co-register at the booth for the reduced price of €350. The offer is open until August 30 (you can register later, but it will be more expensive).

So how about it – feel like joining us in Manchester in the fall? You can sign up at the Chamber’s event page (Achtung, German) beginning immediately.

For further information, allow us to point you to our recent article/invitation to join us. If you have further questions, you can contact Reanne Leuning at Aussenwirtschaft – Creative Industries: +43 (0)5 90 900 36 13 or aussenwirtschaft.creative@wko.at.

At the Festival

The summer festival season can probably still be said to be “looming” rather than “in full swing”- but the transition is gradual, and a few highlights are already knocking on the door…

STadtLandFluss 2024

Photo of Jazzorchester Vorarlberg and 5/8erl in Ehr'n at Glatt&Verkehrt (c) Sascha Osaka/Glatt&Verkehrt
Jazzorchester Vorarlberg and 5/8erl in Ehr’n at Glatt&Verkehrt (c) Sascha Osaka/Glatt&Verkehrt

When talking about cultural centers in Austria, people are apt to mention Vienna, Salzburg, and Graz before Lower Austria’s capital city of St. Pölten, home to a little less than 60,000 souls. But Lower Austria has a knack for weaving cultural events into the (often breathtaking) countryside and daily life, and StadtLandFluss – happening on June 21 – 22 at various locations in St. Pölten – is a perfect example. Program highlights include Alicia Edelweiss, Katharina Ernst, and Bipolar Feminin on Friday and Kompost3, Endless Wellness, the 5/8erl in Ehr’n & Jazzorchester Vorarlberg, BEX, and Elektro Guzzi with Rojin Sharafi. For more info see the event pages for Friday and Saturday.

NAWA Festival

Mahan Mirarab (c) Georg Cizek-Graf
Mahan Mirarab (c) Georg Cizek Graf

Closer to home (for us, anyway): Vienna is home to a large and highly creative diaspora of musicians from North Africa and Western Asia, and the Nawa Festival of contemporary music and film from those regions will take place for the second time this month from June 26 – 29 in Vienna’s Theater Nestroyhof Hamakom. Make no mistake; this is no “ethnic” or “folk music” event: the festival’s focus is on inclusive, contemporary, interdisciplinary art. Program highlights include Mona Matbou Riahi‘s Parasang, the Rojin Sharafi-led trio Huuum, and the Nawa Orchestra, led by festival founder Mahan Mirarab and featuring luminaries like Riahi, Golnar Shahyar, and Omid Darvish.

Glatt & Verkehrt

Speaking of the breathtaking Lower Austrian countryside: the ridiculously picturesque Wachau – part of the Danube valley about an hour west of Vienna – is home to the sprawling festival Glatt & Verkehrt, which features a wild assortment of Austrian acts, international names, and fantastic niche artists on formal stages and in the midst of the vineyards and monasteries scattered across the area. The festival runs this year from July 12 – 28; Austrian highlights include wh/m, a new project from bassist Beate Wiesinger, keyboardist Philipp Jagschitz, and drummer Michał Wierzgoń, Özlem Bulut & Orwa Saleh in duo, and Georg Vogel on Clavitone, featuring field recordings by Ö1 tonmeister Martin Leitner and text by Bodo Hell. For complete program and tickets check out the Glatt & Verkehrt homepage.

At home

"Ok Ocean" cover (c) Zanshin

Zanshin – Ok Ocean (Affine)
We recently published an in-depth interview with the Vienna electronic iconoclast: the new album is something of a departure from his previous work: the bombast is muted, the rough edges smoothed out, the glitching and scratching subsumed in a heavy, pulsing, oceanic ebb and flow. Music to stretch your limbs out and float to.

Danyèl Waro & Mario Rom’s Interzone – Live at Glatt & Verkehrt (Traumton)
Danyèl Waro, a native of La Réunion (a French territory in the Indian Ocean) and a legend of the island’s native Maloya music, first joined forces with Interzone in 2022, when the trio traveled to the island to work with him and his band. The first fruits of this collaboration are captured on this live album, which crackles with energy, freshness, and the spirit of revolt, hope, and courage that the best jazz shares with Maloya. (BTW: this is a fair sampling of the kind of thing to expect from the festival)

Album cover - Danyèl Waro feat. Interzone
Album cover Schtum  Skulptur

schtum – SKULPTUR (Ventil)
Deep feelings can be expressed in many ways: schtum, the duo of bassist Manu Mayr (of Studio Dan, Kompost3, et al) and guitarist/composer Robert Pockfuss (P:Y:G), offer a live set of their own, a sculpture of sound constantly in flux. With live resampling and stereo-panned effects pedals, they ply their unique form of epic storytelling, blasting clouds of fractured melody and distorted harmony. Powerful stuff.

That does it for this month: we’re going to go find a lake to jump into. See you next month! – Philip Yaeger