Friday, 28 November 2008

Racebannon/Trencher - Lexington 27/11/08

If my memory serves me correctly (which it rarely does) I used to watch Trencher every week a couple of years ago. Now it seems their shows are significantly thinner on the ground, but no less heavy on the ears, or on my ears at least. Tonight the crowd, which was about ten people strong, was made up of vegetables and the whole performance seemed to pass everyone by, including Trencher. But I enjoyed it well enough. Their casio-horror-metal sound is easily recognisable and they've crafted a decent repertoire out of it, nothing spectacularly good, but they're solid and I'm glad they're still going. All the best to them.

I'd heard Racebannon were supposed to be 'freaking ace' or something, but to me it was more like 'freaking tell your vocalist to leave'. The guys with the instruments are cool. They look like they still practice in their parent's garage. They look like spotty metal teens in thirty-five year old bodies and they play like they look, which is to say they are unabashedly heavy and unironically metal. But the singer is a big whirling curly turd who should whine and wiggle about someplace else.


Friday, 21 November 2008

BBBlood/Legless/Mutant Ape/Horacio Pollard - The Foundry 19/11/08

This American dude Legless has come over and put on a one-off noise gig at shit-art arsehole shithole bar/post apocalyptic teenager's bedroom The Foundry. So I go.

Horacio Pollard plugs a bunch of pedals and a mic and a tape machine and a guitar into a big amp and gets angry in front of everyone while he fiddles with it all. Rolling around on the floor, the noise seems to be working directly against him and the more he protests the more subdued the sound becomes, like he's shouting it down. It's a unique set and really very satisfying.

Onwards and downwards, Mutant Ape plays background drone loud enough for it to enter the foreground. Like a record run-out groove straightened out and laid down a dirt path, slowly going nowhere.

Curator Legless is up next. What new sounds do you bring from America good sir? Good sir I have travelled from America to bring you no new ideas at all. Enjoy! He rattles a tin around to little effect as his trite distortion does little to stimulate anything. Very done. No need to do again.

Then, like a huge fucking bright red beacon of hope, BBBlood headlines the night with an excellent display of total brainfuck horror noise. Ten minutes of highly invasive surgery, lung and gut disrupting bass and high frequency saws cutting your skull into bits. Fuck yes. The Baron stakes his claim as top London noise dog by bayonetting your spastic heart into submission. Beautiful.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Monotonix - The Luminaire 13/11/08

Ten quid advertised, turns out it's twelve and no support. And the trains to Brondesbury are down for the month. this better be worth it.

Having seen them do their three man party thing at ULU earlier on in the year it was a no-brainer deciding whether to go to this or not. I'd be surprised if there was another band with such a huge disparity between CD and stage performance because seeing them play is like taking a trip to the circus. With an extra long forty five minute slot to fill they really need to pull out all the stops so we get a mix of the usual bins on heads, drums on the bar, pint stealing, ass mooning mayhem, with some new tricks in the mix like an acrobatic intro, a bit of stand up and a drawn out funeral and resurrection improv section outro. All this is fine and entertaining and it's all good vibes and partylicious and everything but let's step back out of the fray for a moment, go and lean on the bar and watch it play out from beyond the scrum.

Do they sound any good?

Yeah they sound fine. They're not amazing by any stretch but they've got some good riffs and they've got a good drummer even though he's rarely got his whole kit available to him. The part of the music that's lacking is the vocals, which pretty much do nothing except provide an excuse for the main clown to be there. Don't get me wrong, I like these guys, I love watching them play, but I don't go for the music I go for the laughs, and I wonder how long the gimmick is gonna last before people just sack it off and complain that the main dude basically smells and I wish he'd stop touching me.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Sun Ra's Arkestra @ Hokaben Festival - 93 Feet East 09/11/08

Illness, Stockhausen and money prevented me from attending the friday and saturday night of this decent looking festival that had been in my diary since summer, but I mustered up the energy and the twenty three quid necessary to get down on the sunday evening 'cause Sun Ra's Arkestra were on and despite the glaring omission of Sun Ra in the band due to him being dead, I figure they must be worth seeing anyway.

In the run up to that I see a few other acts, one of which is Lords who have somehow managed to amass a decent following despite sounding like Reef. Ok, that's a bit harsh, it's just the vocals really. And the guitars.

Some other crappy bands played like Rolo Tomassi and, I dunno, some others, including one band called I'm Being Good who, despite spouting vocals weaker than an eight year old with ME and their unconvincingly heavy guitar generics, did manage to have a really fucking cool drummer with that 'pro-basketball jew' look, slam dunking snares and bass drum in your face meester.

With all that out of the way the Arkestra plodded on stage in their sequined space travel ponchos and did some jazz music. Headed up by Marshall Allan (who I saw in Denmark last year playing with a terrible group of kids) they worked their way through a selection of fun time freaky licks before delving into a bit of Duke Ellington, some early Sun Ra stuff and eventually just kind of settling into a more trad sound with a kind of token Arkestra trip inflection underneath it all. It was initially brilliant. Just a shedload of real fun, but by the time I left it had descended into what one might call 'a good wedding band', if one were to be a little harsh. And one is.

The fact is the older, more longserving members of the Arkestra looked pretty apathetic (it's in the eyes, and the way they can't even be bothered to put their special outfit on properly), or like they just plain didn't want to be there (checking their watch after each solo). And I got the kind of impression that no-one liked being bossed about by Marshall Allan.

It's unrealistic to expect something akin to a classic 60's freakout performance, especially considering the main man is dead (or on Saturn or whatever) but I think it's fair to set your hopes a little higher than a slowly deflating balloon of a set, considering the credentials of those involved. It was just pedestrian, which is not what you want from intergalactic travellers, but I suppose even spacemen gotta pay the bills.

London Sinfonietta play Stockhausen - Southbank Centre 08/11/08

First up is 'three songs for alto voice and chamber orchestra', which commences once the giant conductor Oliver Knussen heaves his way onto the stage. The three pieces are constantly at odds with themselves, jerking and flowing, evoking an air of dread one moment and goofy frolics the next. The effect is enhanced by the alto whose resolutely no nonsense voice is offset by her zany facial contortions, all inquisitive and laughing and frighteningly stern as if in the throes of a particularly strong microdot experiment. She looks so confused whilst perfectly fronting the sinfonietta you imagine she might have been bestowed with this incredible vocal power minutes before being thrust on to the stage. Perhaps it comes from the magnificent green velvet dress she's stuffed her toad-like german bosom into, like the singing equivalent of football's Billy's boots.

In fact much of the enjoyment is garnered from watching the various personalities evident within the Sinfonietta, an activity at least as entertaining as the music itself. The nimble fingertips of the hulking conductor and the intense concentration of the barely used xylophonist are two particular highlights, and so it is that when the second section is presented, completely pre-recorded, with the lights out and nothing but the suggestion of a full moon (one spotlight) left on stage, that events become significantly less delightful. 'Urantia' is a great swirling mass of electronically manipulated string sounds with a lone soprano emitting drone notes over the top as it all gets panned around in glorious surround sound in the dark. The result is nausea, plain and simple, followed by a sense of admiration for the effectiveness and tenacity of the piece, followed by a premature desire for the interval. It comes eventually.

For the last section a different iteration of the Sinfonietta appears on stage, sans German lung muscle, and play (for the first time in the UK!) 'Zodiac', which is fine and dandy and suddenly becomes elevated to highlight of the night status when from out of nowhere (stage left) a ruddled man appears with a tuba and deep farts in the silence. The tubby tubist then proceeds to plod about the stage, stopping intermittently to deliver another preposterous pomp, much to the crowd's amusement. After a circuit he's done, he bows, he leaves and the Sinfonietta finish off the piece.

A pleasant, if somewhat accidentally amusing, evening.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

ATP Release The Bats Halloween Party - The Forum 31/10/08

Wow what a great line-up, glad I got tickets before it sold out, this is going to be one hell of a halloween, I just hope it isn't ruined by security staff who despite mostly being black and not 1940's Germans, think being a Nazi is fucking right on.

There is no need. There is simply no need for it because there is not going to be any trouble at a gig whose audience consists solely of indie kids, most of which are over thirty and the rest of which are twigs. And why can't I have a cigarette until half nine? And why do we have to walk clockwise into and out of the dancefloor area when there is literally no congestion at all. Who is in charge here? Please leave.

Oh right, the bands. Lightning Bolt are good but their stack falls way short of filling this large venue. Plus it's half six. How the fuck are you supposed to listen to Lightning Bolt at half six?

The beer is £3.50 a can and they pour it into a plastic pint glass so you get a non full pint of non draft beer. Fuck you Forum.

Pissed Jeans are fancy dressed and rock semi-dissappointingly, with the singer doing a drag act that's so convincing it's distracting and ultimately has you wanting them all in jeans and t-shirts just rock n rolling and no fucking about.

"You cannot stand unless you are standing in front of a seat".
"But I'm not blocking an aisle, or a fire exit or in any way whatsoever being potentially hazardous or inconvenient to anyone".
"That is not the point".
That is exactly the fucking point.

Om are the same as every other time. It's fine but quite frankly, I don't want to go back in. I like it outside with my cigarette. Back in the free world, you know.

Les Savy Fav are crap and blurry.

Shellac have the best costumes (Steve Albini makes a great mummy and Todd Trainer is a vampire) and they rock because they always rock but their staid old palette of songs isn't enough to make up for all the shortcomings of the night and I leave a few tracks before the end and wait outside for my buddies with a bitter taste in my mouth despite all the sugary fake blood around it. I've had a good time but nothing compared to the potential of the night.

Maybe I'm just pissed off 'cause my Jojo the dog boy costume was a failure, but I wouldn't have won the competition anyway. No, that award has to go to the Forum itself, for its incredibly convincing 'fascist state' disguise.