Wednesday, 30 October 2019

On Stage: Pond @ Melkweg

Australian psych rock bands Pond and Tame Impala have been intertwined ever since Pond was founded as a spin off. They first shared many members including Tame Impala's mastermind Kevin Parker, but later it was hard to combine the two. Pond evolves mostly around Nick Allbrook though who in the end left Tame Impala to concentrate on Pond and other projects. This year saw the light of a new studio album Tasmania and a live album Sessions due next week. Best of all, they are visiting the Melkweg.

Pond at Melkweg Amsterdam, October 29 2019

In the ten years the band has been around, they have consistently released albums that slowly evolved from psychedelic rock to a more pop oriented sound. It is one of those bands that is exploring new directions while at the same time are staying true to their roots. All those directions are showing tonight, with Allbrook as the charismatic front man and centre point.

Heavy rock songs with psychedelic jams are following more disco oriented songs, but always there's this incredible groove and hook in every song. It makes their music perfect for dancing and the energetic Allbrook leading the pack with some flexible moves. He is the radiant centre piece of this band, moving around stage with a big smile on his face.

The whole band is clearly in a good mood and are enjoying the show a lot. Combined with a balanced out set with many hits like 'Sweep Me Off My Feet', 'Paint Me Silver' and 'Giant Tortoise' they are giving the eager fans what they want. Live this tight band sounds amazing with a dynamic sound and a loose style of playing. The group ends in style with 'Man It Feels Like Space Again'. It sure does and it feels wonderful!

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01. Hand Mouth Dancer
02. Sweep Me Off My Feet
03. Fire in the Water
04. Tasmania
05. Don't Look at the Sun or You'll Go Blind
06. The Boys Are Killing Me
07. Burnt Out Star
08. Aloneaflameaflower
09. Paint Me Silver
10. Zen Automaton
11. Daisy
12. The Weather
13. Medicine Hat
14. Giant Tortoise
15. Man It Feels Like Space Again

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Monday, 28 October 2019

London Calling #2 2019

The times the London Calling festival was only all about new British bands is long gone. The bands are not only strictly from Britain now and the music is more diverse than ever. It was mostly indie about ten years ago when we visited the festival at Paradiso frequently. But after a few editions with mostly mediocre bands we stopped going for a while. Now post-rock, garage rock, punk, shoegaze and new wave bands are coming to this festival and things are interesting again.

London Calling at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 25 + 26 2019

It's also part of the Indiestad pass selection, which makes it almost a no brainer to go and try to cherry-pick the best bands. That isn't always as easy as it sounds, since trying to make it into the overcrowded small hall is always extremely difficult so we decide to stay downstairs in the main hall and watch the bands there.

Friday October 25


Once started as Romy Vager Group, Australian band RVG draw inspiration from 80s bands like The Smiths, The Go-Betweens and The Soft Boys. Singer Romy Vager sings her lyrics with incredible power and heart, while at the same time playing catchy and clear guitar lines in the greatest The Smiths fashion. It truly is a great introduction to this band, who really are able to impress me.

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Night Moves

Also drawing inspiration from the 80s, all the way to their looks, but from a different perspective are Night Moves. They are drawn to the soft rock side of that era with poppy songs and warm synths. However this is not the most interesting part of the 80s and the sugar coated songs aren't really interesting. There isn't a lot of variation and after a while singer John Pelant's shriek voice is starting to get on my nerves.

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The Murder Capital

Time to get things going again with Dublin post-punk group The Murder Capital, who had quite a year. Their name is buzzing around in the music scene also because of their intense live shows, as I got to witness myself a few months back. The band starts out with a couple of slow songs to build up the atmosphere. While they patiently build up the tempo the boys are all over the stage swinging their guitars around. Singer James McGovern walks around stage, working the crowd, delivering his dark vocals with great power. This is an angry band who have a lot to tell about what's bothering them and know how to draw attention. Of course it is it a lot of show, but at the same time these alpha males here on stage mean business. Their post-punk songs are dark, heavy and intense, clearly influenced by other post-punk bands from the Dublin area but also from their famous fellow Dubliners U2. By the end of their set, the Irish group has turned the whole floor into a wild pit and you'd wish they could keep going for a lot longer.

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I am really looking forward to Squid who were so good at the Into The Great Wide Open festival. This band is rising quickly and for a good reason. Their songs are very clever with Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem references, where they know how to keep things interesting. Tonight they are bothered with a lot of sound problems, that don't really get fixed throughout their set. It doesn't get the band down, but their songs lose some detail because of that, which is exactly what makes them so good. Despite all of that, the band once again proves to be one of the most interesting new bands on the rise this year. The combination of groovy songs with incredible hooks and the somewhat hysterical vocals of Ollie Judge are spot on. It's hard to resist a song like 'The Cleaner' and I can't wait to see them again soon.

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Heavy Lungs

We finally can make it upstairs where we don't want to miss Heavy Lungs who have already kicked off their wild show. Like fellow Bristol citizens IDLES this is a wild punk band. Their music is even more intense, in the same style as METZ. The band's delivery is part of this as well, with wild singer Danny Nedelko leading the pack. The band keeps knocking you over with heavy punk songs in a ferocious way until you simply have to surrender and join the pit. If that is not enough, Nedelko jumps off stage to drag in the last doubters.

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After this explosive show I call it a night. This has been an incredible London Calling night, maybe one of the best in a long time.

Saturday October 26

After yesterday the line-up for today maybe looks a bit bleak. Although today has The Twilight Sad on the bill, which in itself is already a good reason to swing by Paradiso.

Orville Peck

I walk in during Orville Peck's show and wasn't quite ready for a cowboy band. Singer Peck, described as "a masked gay crooner", is dressed in a western style Mexican themed glitter suit. He is wearing a kind of "Lone Ranger" mask with a veil. Like Peck everyone else in the band is wearing a cowboy hat. There is at least one hard core fan in front of the stage, as he wears a cowboy hat as well. Peck sounds like The King singing country songs, which in itself isn't that weird and could be interesting. His voice is pretty good and the band clearly can play. But this is definitely not my cup of tea and it sounds more like The King had a drink and a valium too many. The fan at the front loves it though and throws his hat onto the stage at the end of the set. I'd tip my hat to him if I wore one.

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The Twilight Sad

Every edition London Calling will have a band that has been around for a while and don't qualify as a new promising band. This time The Twilight Sad are the ones to play this spot, who played the festival ten years ago as well. The Scottish band has been around for over fifteen years and released its fifth album in January. I was expecting it to be full but that is not the case. But you can see many people came down to see this band though. They won't be disappointed as the band plays an inspired show. Singer James Graham sings with plenty of heart and emotion, together with a lot of theatre but never over the top. The band takes its time building up the dark songs, that have a lot of depth and detail. There are noise and krautrock elements in their music, which has great melodies and hooks as well. The band proves this tonight with a convincing show that pleases most of us here.

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Like yesterday I'm going out with a bang tonight, this time with YAK. I saw this band earlier this year in the summer at the Loose Ends festival and liked their raw psychedelic garage rock sound a lot. Tonight the trio convince me even more with a lively and hot rock show. It reminds me of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion now and then. The songs are heavy with pounding drum grooves and fuzzed out guitars. Singer Oli Burslem works up a sweat and the youngsters at the front are willing and eager to dance. It is a fitting end to a very good London Calling weekend.

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Thursday, 24 October 2019

On Stage: Navarone @ Paradiso

I'm starting to lose count of how many times I've seen Navarone play live. Slowly I have seen the Dutch rock band grow and progress into the solid group they are now, playing tonight in the main hall of Paradiso. It looks quite full, all the way up to the upper balconies and may have been sold out, or at least close to it. Making it to the main hall of this venue is quite a big thing in this country and something to be proud of, especially when you fill it up completely. It's also a place where I always enjoy going, so I cannot miss this opportunity to see Navarone play here.

Navarone at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 22 2019

Of course it is always fun to see this band play, who will always deliver and are guaranteed to give this crowd a good time. This club tour, called Mixing It Up, they will make it special. After reaching the finals of The Voice Of Holland TV music competition and doing a string of covers for the Veronica radio station, there will be some covers on the setlist and they have plenty of surprises up their sleeves.

The band has a few special guests and friends lined up, people they met during the competition and musicians they like to play with: The Rolling Stones' 'Gimme Shelter' with Patricia van Haastrecht is a tribute to the version The Stones played during their legendary show on this same spot in 1995. Dennis van Aarssen, winner of the competition, joins the band for 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. Saxophone player Robert Van Asseldonk is adding his skills for Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street' and Sanne de Winter joins them for Otis Redding's 'Respect'.

There a couple of other covers, but although Navarone is a great band and plays all of them good enough, not all of them are working equally well. Queen's 'Somebody to Love' doesn't really click. Their 'The Show Must Go On', although started too fast, sounds better, but it really all comes together in Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' that simply is right up their alley. Another highlight is the beautiful version of Eddie Vedder's 'Hard Sun' where singer Merijn van Haren gets help from their good friend Robin Borneman.

You kind of hear this in their own songs as well, where the more heavy songs are their best ones. The more poppy ones that are slowly finding their way onto their later albums are maybe more radio friendly, but are not the band at its best. It may not have been a conscious choice to shift their sound in that direction, one that can move them into the mainstream and reach a bigger crowd. That of course is very tempting and could be the difference between failure and success as a band.

But it could also mean they will move too far away from what makes them so good: honest rock songs with a heavy twist, played tightly with a lot of heart and that get the best out of van Haren's incredible voice. Heavy rockers like 'Cerberus' and 'The Red Queen Effect' show the band on top of their game. Songs like that are why I got into this band and started following them. These heavy songs are also the best parts of their shows and prove that they don't need all these covers to please a crowd or put up a good show.

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01. Perfect Design
02. The Strong Survive
03. Showtime
04. The Red Queen Effect
05. Cerberus
06. Somebody To Love (Queen cover)
07. Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones cover) (with Patricia van Haastrecht)
08. Leave
09. Surrender
10. You'll Never Walk Alone (Gerry & the Pacemakers cover)
11. Hotel California (Eagles cover)
12. December
13. Hard Sun (Eddie Vedder cover) (with Robin Borneman)
14. Another Way
15. Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty cover) (with Robert Van Asseldonk)
16. Respect (Otis Redding cover) (with Sanne de WInter & Robert Van Asseldonk)
17. Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
18. Free Together (with Robert Van Asseldonk)
19. The Show Must Go On (Queen cover)
20. Wander
21. Lonely Nights (with Robert Van Asseldonk)

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

On Stage: Moon Duo @ Paradiso THT

Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson started Moon Duo ten years ago together with Sanae Yamada. The duo evolved into a successful psychedelic rock act that released their seventh LP Stars Are The Light earlier this year. I love their groovy sound with repetitive rhythms and a lot of fuzzed guitar. I got to see them only once so far, but couldn't wait to see them again.

Moon Duo at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, October 20 2019

At the venue we see a strange setup of instruments. Not the instruments themselves actually, but the screens that are assembled around them. They show a cube-like construction, that comes more close to a 3D trapezoid. The musicians enter through the back, where Johnson and Yamada are joined by drummer John Jeffrey. It turns out the screens are used to project all kinds of visuals with psychedelic colours, geometric patterns and lovely light effects.

Because of the transparent screens surrounding the band, including the front, it gives a wonderful 3D effect. Those projections alone are already an amazing vision, but combined with the psychedelic songs it is a spectacular sight. This way the three musicians are part of a space that seems to have come straight from a scene in the movie Tron. This is a definitely a stunning experience the two have put together. Johnson and Yamada have added more disco elements on their latest record, which make their songs even more danceable.

Surrounded by the ever changing light patterns, the trio keeps the beat going without many breaks. Yamada starts electronic beats that are joined by Jeffrey's drum grooves. She adds electronic layers with percussive sounds and warm synths. Johnson plays his guitar solos on top, that reminds me of a mix of The Doors and Dire Straits guitar riffs. It's a very effective combination and you simply have to let the music take you away, into that wonderful psychedelic world of music and visuals.

Moon Duo have really outdone themselves on this tour and blended their music perfectly with a light show that, although spectacular, never outshines the music. The ADE event taking place this same weekend probably had some spectacular shows on its own and I'm sure many people enjoying that event would have also loved this show here tonight.

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Monday, 21 October 2019

On Stage: Ty Segall & Freedom Band @ Patronaat

I understand it's been five years since Ty Segall played club shows in The Netherlands. In Ty years that is about a lifetime, considering he keeps releasing several albums every year. He's returning with a two night residency at Patronaat Haarlem with his current tour where he will play his new record First Taste and one of his previous records in their entirety. At Patronaat those are Melted and Manipulator, so I simply have to be there both nights.

Ty Segall & Freedom Band at Patronaat Haarlem, October 17 + 18 2019

I'm off to a rough start the first night and end up late at the venue. I got stuck on the highway for almost four hours because of a horrible accident closing down the road. Ty Segall and his band have already played more than half of First Taste when I walk in. Segall is behind a drum kit and they are playing the groovy and rocking songs with a lot of fire. This new album is a bit different from his other ones, but aren't they all? Fortunately the second night I get to see the whole set and the whole album.

His music is so diverse and he keeps finding new roads and tracks, that he can wander on, something that is very clear during these two nights. It is a journey through the whole rock spectrum and beyond. Even on the same record or in the same song, he will show many different faces. Segall is a musical chameleon, that can change into whatever shape he fancies.

But all his songs have his unmistakable signature, that will tell you it is a Segall production. All of his songs also have golden melodies, that will make them irresistible. He has an incredible and unique musical talent, where besides being an amazing musician, he also is an amazing song writer. And yes, this guy can also shred a guitar like one of the best. He proves that so many times, where he will throw his head backwards and squeezes out another incredible riff or solo.

Segall doesn't waste time talking in between songs, but instead keeps the engine running at all times. The lights change colour halfway the show when the band finishes First Taste and move onto the album of the day effortlessly. Segall always brings a great band and this tour is no difference. Partner in crime Mikal Cronin turns out to be playing with him as an attentive reader pointed out (thanks!), although I wasn't able to recognize him from my position where he's mostly in the shades. I do recognize Shannon Lay on guitar, who I also saw play with Feels a while ago. Together with Segall they make the songs sound so good, with a lot of groove and beautiful harmonies.

After finishing the album of the day, the band leaves the stage but return for an encore both nights. This is almost two hours of rock heaven with one of the best around. Ty Segall is an absolute giant, a one of a kind artist that has been on top of his game for quite a while. I feel very lucky to have been at his show two nights in a row.

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Setlist October 17:
First Taste:
01. Taste
02. Whatever
03. Ice Plant
04. The Fall
05. I Worship the Dog
06. The Arms
07. When I Met My Parents Pt. 1
08. I Sing Them
09. When I Met My Parents Pt. 3
10. Radio
11. Self Esteem
12. Lone Cowboys
13. Finger
14. Caesar
15. Girlfriend
16. Sad Fuzz
17. Melted
18. Mike D's Coke
19. Imaginary Person
20. My Sunshine
21. Bees
22. Mrs.
23. Alone
24. Cherry Red (The Groundhogs cover)
25. You're the Doctor

Setlist October 18:
First Taste:
01. Taste
02. Whatever
03. Ice Plant
04. The Fall
05. I Worship the Dog
06. The Arms
07. I Sing Them
08. When I Met My Parents Pt. 1
09. Radio
10. When I Met My Parents Pt. 3
11. Self Esteem
12. Lone Cowboys
13. Manipulator
14. Tall Man Skinny Lady
15. The Singer
16. It's Over
17. Feel
18. The Faker
19. The Clock
20. Green Belly
21. The Connection Man
22. Mister Main
23. The Hand
24. Susie Thumb
25. Don't You Want to Know?
26. The Crawler
27. Who's Producing You?
28. The Feels
29. Stick Around
30. Fanny Dog

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

On Stage: Sleep @ Melkweg

I love a good stoner rock band, although sometimes when it gets too close to doom metal I find it hard to stay interested. I didn't know the band Sleep from San Jose, even though they have been around since the early nineties. They did breakup for more than a decade, but reformed in 2009. A friend of mine came over to see them play and of course I joined him.

Sleep at Melkweg Amsterdam, October 9 2019

Apparently the band are arriving in a space ship, because we get to hear the moon landing's radio transmission. After the three have touched down, they start playing their heavy grooves. The songs are long, slowly built up stoner rock anthems with only a few lines of vocals. Mostly it is bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Jason Roeder laying down a concrete foundation, where guitar player Matt Pike plays his riffs and solos on top of.

Sometimes when stoner moves into doom metal territory I find the slow metal music too heavy to enjoy for a long time. That slow low tuned music is of course the idea of the genre, but it isn't always for me. That's why I like stoner a lot better, where a psychedelic element is added to the mix. Sleep does have this element as well, where you can even hear traces of early Pink Floyd. The trio also showcases great virtuosity from all three members. It keeps their music interesting enough and I can enjoy it for the whole ride.

Cisnero cooks up some incredible riffs and sounds with his bass guitar. He gets a few moments alone, where he is able to show all that. Pike has some stunning solos where he is showing his skills with some tasteful shredding. Roeder is playing the complex grooves with great ease and makes the odd time signatures sound natural. All three are playing in a very relaxed way, which enables them to let the music breath. Clearly this is a very good band with talented musicians that play stoner and doom metal on a very high level. It's good to see a full Melkweg is able to appreciate it too.

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01. Marijuanaut's Theme
02. Holy Mountain
03. The Clarity
04. Sonic Titan
05. Giza Butler
06. Leagues Beneath
07. The Botanist
08. Dragonaut

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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

On Stage: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ TivoliVredenburg

By now you'd think King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard would take it more slow. But these guys seem to be on tour continuously and recording albums at a murderous pace. The Australian band is heading for Europe though after releasing their second LP this year, the trash metal album Infest The Rats Nest. They are opening this tour with a two day residency at TivoliVredenburg and tonight is the first night.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, October 7 2019

They brought two more bands from Down Under to support them, ORB and Stonefield, who are both on King Gizzard's own label Flightless Records. I walk into the venue during ORB's last song, but fortunately I get to see Stonefield. The four Findlay sisters play heavy stoner and 70s hard rock and I like it a lot. Drummer Amy Findlay is also the singer of the quartet, who play a tight and convincing set. I simply have to get their latest record Bent after the show.

These shows sold out in no time, so it's a full house tonight. It's a nice mix of young and old, although the younger generation are vastly outnumbering the oldies on the floor. They are eager to go wild with King Gizzard who give them what they ask for right away, leading off with 'Rattlesnake'. Immediately there's a pit forming and everyone around me starts dancing.

A big screen behind the band is showing psychedelic visuals, while the band is turning on the heat. They are off to a flying start and the crowd is greeting every song with loud cheers. They cool it down a bit after a while with some of their more mellow and jazzy songs, showing their best dance moves during 'Cyboogie'. It's amazing to see how easily these guys switch from psych rock to prog rock, back to blues rock, basically anything ending with rock.

The only thing missing so far is the trash metal of their latest album. The last part of the set takes care of that, where they play a few songs from that album. I thought maybe their fans would find it a bit hard to get into, but judging from the euphoric crowd I couldn't be more wrong. "Euphoric" is the right word for the whole night ,where everyone is eager to have a good time.

The band closes the night with a lovely long version of 'The Bitter Boogie' where Ambrose Kenny-Smith takes his harmonica into the crowd. After more than two hours, the band leaves a sweaty crowd behind that had an incredible night. This band doesn't do encores, but will play have extra song in their regular set instead of leaving the stage for a couple of minutes. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard still are one of the best live bands around, one that will turn every venue upside down and inside out. They can do whatever they want, record whatever kind of music they like, it never disappoints. I will be there again next time for sure.

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01. Rattlesnake
02. Sleep Drifter
03. Anoxia
04. All Is Known
05. Alter Me I
06. Altered Beast II
07. Mr. Beat
08. Evil Death Roll
09. Acarine
10. Cyboogie
11. Beginner's Luck
12. Let Me Mend the Past
13. Inner Cell
14. Loyalty
15. Horology
16. Mars for the Rich
17. Organ Farmer
18. The Great Chain of Being
19. The Bitter Boogie

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Friday, 4 October 2019

On Stage: Motorpsycho @ Paradiso THT

It's been two years since the last time Norwegian rock heroes visited this same place in Amsterdam. Back then I wrote I couldn't wait for the Motorpsycho space ship to dock again, which is absolutely true. There's a new album The Crucible with only three songs, that kind of continues where the previous LP The Tower left off. Tonight it feels like they are continuing where they left off two years ago as well.

Motorpsycho at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, September 30 2019

The band doesn't even have to release any new music for their hardcore fanbase to show up. I'm glad they do keep recording new music, since once again The Crucible is of epic proportions where the title track takes almost 21 minutes. All three of the songs make it on the setlist tonight with that monumental song in the middle of the set as the proud centre piece.

The band hasn't changed since the last time and only switched some bigger stage lights for ones that don't light them out as nicely. Together with continuous smoke it is impossible to make decent pictures with my small camera, which explains the poor quality of the ones in this post. But it's not about photography of course, but it's all about music. With this band you know you get a lot of that.

For two and a half hours the band keeps playing tirelessly taking us across the whole rock spectrum and beyond. From prog rock, to hard rock, to stoner and back, with dazzling solo's and mind blowing jams. Bent Sæther and Hans Magnus Ryan both take out a double neck guitar at one point and dive into another epic journey. Tomas Järmyr adds plenty of fireworks behind the drum kit, while Reine Fiske has joined them this tour for additional guitar and keyboard parts. These four together create this thick sound, that makes your head spin.

With so many albums full of long songs, the band could probably play for days. They stick to two and a half hours tonight and even throw in an encore. This is a unique band, that I keep coming back to whenever they release new music and visit a nearby venue. Looking forward to next time again.

All Pictures

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01. In Every Dream Home
02. The Alchemyst
03. Mountain
04. Pills, Powders + Passion Plays
05. The Jig Is Up (Kiss the Snake)
06. The Crucible
07. A Pacific Sonata
08. Überwagner or a Billion Bubbles in My Mind
09. The Pilgrim
10. Psychotzar
11. Hogwash
12. No Evil
13. Hey Jane
14. Fools Gold

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