Date: 7th December 2018
Review and Photos: Ryan Whitwell
I review a lot of bands, a lot of loud electric guitars and growling vocals, so it’s a rare treat to witness an act that doesn’t rely on effects and noise to create atmosphere. Jozef Van Wissem is one such act that I have been fortunate enough to see twice this year. Once at Desertfest Antwerp (where this review’s photos were taken) and once more at Walthamstow’s Mirth, Marvel & Maud.
It was a blustery and cold winter’s night in London, so getting out of that weather and into the venue was quite a relief. The chaos and noise of a Friday night high street was also a stark contrast to the music we were about to hear, as Jozef van Wissem is known for his minimalist compositions and lute playing. I’m not much of an expert on the instrument, which appears to be a complicated piece of craftsmanship that I dread to imagine trying to tune, so to hear someone play it so well and create such intriguing atmospheres throughout a set is incredibly inspiring.
There was a haunting tone in each song he played as those in attendance listened intently to every note played. I loved the macabre, almost doom-like tones, with minor key notes creating an oddly intense atmosphere considering the fact it was one man. Those in attendance had an attentive attitude, really taking in every note with an air of appreciation for the talent they were witnessing. I assume most of the people are already fans, being quite a niche genre, and from what I could tell they were not disappointed with enthusiastic applause greeting Van Wissem at every opportunity.
Josef Van Wissem is seemingly always playing shows, so I highly recommend you check him out if you get the opportunity. It’s a great experience, especially if, like me, your live music experiences are usually far more aggressive.