Fate is a funny old thing. One day in 2011, DJ/producer Tom Trago found himself sharing a train journey with Steven Van Lummel, a DIY musician, artist and co-founder of PIP, an underground nightclub and cultural hub in The Hague. Over the course of a rambling, open-ended conversation, the idea of making music together came up; a few weeks later, Trago travelled to van Lummel’s place – a former industrial unit that was now home to a rotating cast of artists and musicians – and didn’t leave for a month.
Cossetted away from the outside world in van Lummel’s loft, with multi-instrumentalists Janneke Nijhuijs and Wieger Hoogendorp joining them to create a musical four-piece, MEGA WEGA was born. Over the course of four weeks, the quartet embarked on an almost continuous creative session punctuated only by impromptu parties and mixing sessions. Life-long bonds were made and over 70 tracks recorded before the mundanity of day-to-day life came calling.
For one reason or another, the project never saw the light of day, with tracks sat gathering dust on hard drives for the best part of a decade. During the madness and loneliness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trago rediscovered the tracks. Delighted by what he heard, a collective decision was made to add finishing touches and release the resultant album on van Lummel’s PIP Records imprint. Further instruments and vocals were added over two days at Hoogendorp’s studio, before mutual friend Tom Ruig got on board to mix the album.
So, what can you expect from Haunted, Mega Wega’s debut album? First and foremost, it’s the sound of pure creative expression – the distillation of a freewheeling, no-holds-barred, spontaneous musical journey variously inspired by the do-it-yourself ethos of musical counterculture, shared inspirations and influences, epic jam sessions, distant stars (Wega, sometimes known as Fidis or ‘the harp star’, is one of the brightest in the night sky), imaginary journeys across dusty deserts, and the comradeship of four new friends.
Enchanting and alluring, it’s an album that gleefully denies lazy categorization and ploughs its own eclectic, atmospheric musical furrow in vivid sonic detail. It’s a collective exploration of heady musical eclecticism unified by saucer-eyed vocals, low-slung bass, loose-limbed beats, sweaty percussion workouts and hazy electric piano motifs.
Haunted begins with the woozy and hallucinatory slow-burn soundscape of ‘Get Things Done’ – an effects laden shuffle akin to lying flat on your back tripping under an intense desert sun – and ends with the creepy, mind-mangling post-punk funk of ‘Brain Carpaccio’; in between, you’ll find spaced-out, low-tempo lo-fi soul (‘Move Around’, ‘Haunted’), deep and off-kilter opioid jazz (‘Copenhagen’), intoxicating psychedelia (‘Last Night on Earth’), piano-laden dream-pop epics (‘Shake Or Fall’), and Latin-infused, percussion-powered hedonism (‘Chopping Heads’).
Born out of spontaneous collaboration and immersive, almost endless recording sessions, Haunted is an album shot through with imagination and boundless energy, captured for posterity by four friends and collaborators at the top of their game.