Animistic Beliefs

(c) Kenneth Owens

Animistic Beliefs are inventing a new, creole musical language. The Rotterdam-based duo repurposes forms from techno and electro to create exhilarating hybrids, applying a fresh perspective that is both deeply personal and political.

‘Animism’ is the idea found in indigenous belief systems that all objects, creatures and places possess a spiritual essence. Pre-colonial thought, traditions and music connected with Marvin’s Moluccan and Linh’s Vietnamese-Chinese heritage are key inspirations and tools through which the duo explore their experience as queer POC living in the Netherlands.

Shared introductions to dance music as underage attendees of Rotterdam’s club scenes and a passion for analogue equipment were the initial catalysts to Linh and Marvin’s collaboration. Early on they would meet regularly at a group for hardware enthusiasts, where they’d solder together their own hardware from scratch. Techno, electro, gabber and punk formed the initial backbone of their sound, but as the duo rediscovered traces of cultures that conventional history had erased, South-East Asian tonality, tribal rhythms and texts and poetry have become central components.

Parallel but distinct from their releases, the duo has honed a fast-paced and ritualistic live sound. In a dimly lit room behind a web of cables, they become a powerful force. Layering Linh’s punk vocals beneath detailed, tightly wound metallic loops and pneumatic kicks, these imposing metallic structures give way only fleetingly to passages of brooding, choral melancholy – moments of emotional release made even more intense by their transience. As performers, Animistic Beliefs have been able to transcend the club circuit, and are as comfortable sharing the bill with techno mainstays like DJ Stingray and Helena Hauff, as they are alongside artists like Lotic, Nazar and Jlin.

Increasingly, sights are set beyond music, as Linh and Marvin broaden their output to new media art and alternative fashion. Their avant-garde audiovisual project ‘CACHE/SPIRIT’ with Jeisson Drenth, is the most recent product of their expansive artistic direction, which has included an AV performance for Dekmantel Festival in Amsterdam and Traumabar und Kino in Berlin, an online residency for virtual arts collective DGTL FMNSM and a large-scale installation at an exhibition in Rotterdam’s TENT museum and Dresden’s Cynetart festival.

Driven by tireless technical, historical and emotional research, Animistic Beliefs is a constantly evolving art project. By celebrating and unifying a diverse set of countercultural influences, the duo is challenging the expectations of European techno to make the kind of art that leaves a mark, whether in a gallery or behind a wall of haze and strobes.