PESTILENCE’s Joost van der Graaf Explores Medieval Dancing Plagues w/ Experimental Prog/Funk Project CHOREOMANIC…
CHOREOMANIC saw the light when the world came to a halt in spring 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. With canceled tours and no local gigs, musician Joost van der Graaf (Pestilence, Dew-Scented, I CHAOS) started writing music in which different influences from his past came together.
“I had just joined Pestilence and was busy with the material, preparing for a beautiful US tour with Possessed. Then the pandemic struck. Tour canceled everything on hold. I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands with all the other work canceled as well (music school closed, no more local gigs) so I decided to record a punk album to get rid of some of the frustration and anger that had built up inside. What I started writing had little to do with punk though… It was pretty spontaneous from the start and all I knew was that I wanted to create heaviness without any guitars.” says Graaf.
Somewhere halfway through the material, Graaf got the crazy idea to incorporate horns. He had never written music for horns ever before so he started experimenting with that.
“That’s probably the greatest joy when creating music: having no idea what you’re doing! Being pleasantly surprised by the total sound, I decided to stay on this path. It resulted in something I never thought I would ever do, but apparently, I just did…. Why not go all the way then? Honestly? I’m not even sure there ARE any fans for this, but I do know that listeners of Pestilence for instance, or of one of the other death metal bands I was part of, will probably be a bit surprised at least. I like to think that crazy people (like myself) will appreciate this.” adds Graaf. As soon as the material was ready to record, Graaf reached out to some great musicians friends to help him complete the project. He recruited drummer Koen Herfst (VandenBerg, I CHAOS, Dew-Scented), keyboardist Thijs Ronteltap (Disuse, Epistulum), saxophonist Tommie Freke (Gallow Street), trombonist Jeroen Verberne (Sjef’s Special) along with trumpeter and bugler Gidon Nunes Vaz. Once the full-length was mixed and mastered at Nutsville Noiselab, The Hague, the self-titled debut “CHOREOMANIC” was a fact and ready to take on the world. The album features twelve bass-orientated tracks experimenting in realms of prog, funk, and everything else on the planet that has musically inspired Graaf over his thirty-plus year career. The full length’s lyrical concept explores Choreomania, an uncontrollable urge to dance, especially in a frenzied, convulsive manner also known as the Medieval Dancing plagues. Graaf explains in further detail:
“In 2019, I became pretty obsessed by the mysterious dancing plagues of the middle-ages. I started reading different studies, learning about the different theories about the cause. It’s still one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in history! One of the theories that made the most sense to me is that people had been suppressed by the ruling class (church, inquisition) for generations. There was collective fear of God and let’s not forget about the black plague! So there was this anxiety relief at a certain point that became infectious and caused convulsions and psychotic dancing, resulting in exhaustion, dehydration, and even death. It spread across Europe and there were large gatherings in towns and villages with frantically dancing people, accompanied by traveling musicians and all kinds of interested parties. These things sometimes became true festivals with people selling food, etc. With today’s reality, the phenomenon seems to have become relevant once again! This project is not only a musical statement but also a call to action against (cultural) oppression. May everyone move and create in freedom!”
Recommended for fans of Mr. Bungle, Zappa, John Zorn, Infectious Grooves, and Brian Setzer Orchestra, CHOREOMANIC is due out February 18, 2022.