Following the release of their avant-black metal masterpiece Het wassen oog, Laster eschewed the “world tour” dream in favor of the unexpected: China. We often don’t think of China’s rich music scene or throngs of fans, and yet a brief new documentary of Laster’s few dates there speak to the country’s ecstaticism and beauty.
Capturing both live performances and the mundane life of urban China, Laster places themselves as a parallel to the hustle and bustle of Chinese life. Literally dancing onstage (to the uninitiated: they refer to themselves as “Obscure Dance Music”), Laster is a romanticizing of city life and constant movement.
Featuring an exclusive track by Laster and their touring mate, Chinese black metal master Zuriaake, “Drone” sets the stage for Laster’s humble documentary: a quiet, droning ambiance which underplays their explosive, moving live sets.
Aside from a few outliers, there is a large disconnect between the Western and Eastern scenes. What was your experience with the Chinese black metal scene like?
Our experience was quite overwhelming. Except for the festivals in Beijing and Shanghai, we only played solo-shows, as is more custom in the country. More often than not, the audience consisted of really attentive listeners, dancing to the music, and expressing their enthusiasm all along. In a way, we often felt they were as grateful for us coming to them, as we were for them coming to us. Many members of the audience approached us afterwards, which to our experiences happens a lot less in the Netherlands and its neighboring countries. All this leads us to thinking that members of the Chinese scene are quite dedicated, which is wonderful.
Generally, however, we found that, from their looks, the audience was diverse in what kind of music they seemed to appreciate. Next to the old-school Darkthrone shirt, we witnessed people wearing flashy haircuts and colorful clothes, which is cool for Laster. We were able to meet many new but also very diverse enthusiasts.
What led you to document this tour? What did you look to achieve with this documentary?
As can be found in much of what Laster does, and again in this document, we like to tell stories of what we come across in life. Our tour through China was not only a musical, band-like thing, but really impacted our lives and our perceptions of the world. What happens behind ours masks, artefacts which at the same time mirror or even create elements of the realities that we live? In a way, we expected that this would happen beforehand and thus we decided to ponder about what we experienced.
What was your experience like on this tour?
Hopefully, much of this can be interpreted from the short documentary, as that determines the extent to which it has succeeded, haha. The venues were incredible, really. Friendly and cooperative professionals, incredible stages loaded with hi-fi equipment, beautiful sound… Combined with the fact that performing here often felt like we were far from home, it made us freer in our performance. We experienced this tour as some kind of ecstatic and weird trip at once. It was accompanied with so much speed, height and effort from all the parties involved that we just went full power and, for example, took the chance to practice new dance moves on stage.
What has your experience as a band been since the release of wassen oog?
We tend to think we have grown a lot since the release of Het wassen oog. Both this trip and the other many shows we have played in the past year have shown us our good and weak points, which was very confrontational at some moment, but also very educational. As we have already started writing new material, we try not to forget about all the lovely people we have met and we are still grateful for being able to have played at a lot of welcoming places.