Monday, 14 December 2009

Hulk Dash 10 - Korsan Bar 13/12/09

I don't remember, was this the one Richie was supposed to play at but didn't? I think so. What the fuck was up with all the spanish squatters in attendance? Yeah I remember now, oh god I didn't like anyone who played or attended this evening, oh yeah and the worst offenders were the Korsan bar owners who managed to be even more abhorrent than the crusty spanish squatters, which I honestly thought was impossible.

Anyway, I feel sorry for Guiseppe who organised it and had a terrible night with every cunt there being pissed off with him. Live and learn though eh.

Ramleh/Voltigeurs/Sudden Infant - The Grosvenor 11/12/09

This was disappointing. Just all very underwhelming. Oh well.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

ATP Curated by My Bloody Valentine - Butlins, Minehead 5-6/12/09

ATP gets shitter by the minute. This time I got mugged by a seagull, saw a wasted girl embarrass herself on stage distractingly enough to put me off Lightning Bolt completely, saw My Bloody Valentine again again again and then stayed up in the chalet all night and watched about five films in a row which went something like Grey Gardens, L'Argent, Excalibur, Gummo, The Shining, The Shadows, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

At some point my band played one song and got shut down for being a fire hazard. I don't even fucking care anymore, when are ATP gonna put some new bands on it's an incestuous little fuckfest of alt shit and it's fucking boring. Oh guess who's curating the next ATP guys, it's some band you liked in the nineties, oh shit no way! I wonder who they're gonna put on? Oh look all the same bands as all the previous curators. Oh no way! What a massive fucking surprise!

And Minehead is fucking horrible and depressing. Fuck you ATP, you've lost it. Do something special again, I dare you.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Six Organs of Admittance - Bush Hall 04/12/09

So damn good. This was one of my favourite gigs of the year. Thanks to Miles of Smiles for putting it on, really a lovely venue and a lovely evening, Ben Chasny and his crew really played and it was friendly and intimate and free (spirited I mean, not free to get in, I think it was like a tenner or something) and that one from the Magic Markers was playing with him, whatsername Lisa or Sarah or something and both of them were really fucking wailing on their guitars, really freaking out and doing some of the crunchiest most fucked up guitar soloing I've seen in ages and it was all beautiful and dusty and I felt like I'd started dreaming but I hadn't even got on the tube back home yet but it didn't matter I just floated on it all it was beautiful.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Black Heart Procession/Shit and Shine/Scout Niblett/Todd/Dosh - The Scala 26/11/09

I really don't like the Scala right and I'll tell you why right it's a combination of two factors: firstly it's four quid for a drink right and a shit drink at that, you've got a choice of draught carling or grolsch or strongbow which all taste like the lines haven't been changed ever or you can plump for a can of red stripe. A fucking CAN, for four quid. All the drinks options give you the shits pretty much. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the security they have there. They only employ people who are at least five times as big as the Scala's biggest customer (usually some fey indie kid). All of the bouncers are absolute titans, it's insane, even the woman bouncer is built like a tank. And they always do a proper search so basically there's no sneaking any booze in because they'd find it and they'd kick you in.

So yeah, the Scala is always shit because you go there, you spend £15 to get in and you spend £12 on three drinks which make you ill instead of drunk.

All the bands were shit anyway and Big Alan was being a dick. Ok well Todd were alright I guess.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Night of the Long Worms - Cafe Oto 19/11/09

I don't even remember who played at this night now. I can always look it up on google. Yep, here you go:

Baraclough, Philip Jeck, Bruce Gilbert, Simon Fisher Turner, Leif Elggren, Souls On Board, Meltaot and Joachim Nordwall

I remember Simon Fisher Turner was entertaining on two pianos, Baraclough were notable for having a member who used to work as a runner at the place I used to work at (big fucking deal eh) and Philip Jeck played a set nobody realised was being played until half way through because he was at the back of the room tucked away and it sounded like nothing was going on. I think that was Philip Jeck. Anyway, I missed Leif Elggren and was annoyed. Oh and one of the acts was really bad and I think it was Meltaot.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Hair Police - The Old Blue Last 16/11/09

Turned up late after rushing from the ICA Dilloway gig and managed to catch the end of a set you probably had to see the beginning of to appreciate.

Oh well.

Aaron Dilloway/Chocolate Monk Variations - The ICA 16/11/09

Fucking Aaron Dilloway man. He's fucking excellent. There were various combos of various Chocolate Monk artists to start off the evening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (a clean, serious venue...) including Dylan Nyoukis, Karen Constance, Neil Campbell and yes, Dilloway, and they were all lovely and entertaining and everything and it was a great showcase for inventiveness and playful improvisations but it was Dilloway's solo set in the main hall that was the highlight of the night. A rusty-tooth grinding opening section gave way to heavy drones, driving downhill, a rolling horror, a real cave digger. And then the contact mics go in the mouth and he starts to growl his way out of the pit, up n up, against the tide of his tape machine, and then he's standing, flailing, agonising like a transmogrophying wolfman, and he wins, and it's over, and everyone cheers.

Dorian Gay/Atomck & Others - Cable St Studios 13/11/09

I'm writing this in April 2010. All I remember is Tim Cementimental's cohort throwing a pig's head on a table and getting punched in the face.

Oh and I seem to remember Dorian Gay were passable hardcore.

This blog has gone to shit. I have my reasons, but anyway, I'm trying to catch up to April so it should start resuming normal (average) service around then.

Toshiji Mikawa/Nihilist Assault Group/John Wiese/Putrefier & Romance/Bbblood - The Grosvenor 06/11/09

Everyone was ace tonight, just a slight downer that we lost all of our filming equipment and a powerbook. It was kind of an all stars night and I really enjoyed everyone's sets, I just don't want to think about it...

Maybe I'll come back to this at some point.

Vomir/Mutant Ape - The Others 05/11/09

Vomir was a nice guy and he got everyone to put bin liners over their heads while he blasted out some harsh noise from an ipod. Then Mutant Ape played some stuff using scissors. He's also a nice guy.

That's about all I wanna say about this night.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Colour Out Of Space Festival - Brighton 30/10/09-01/11/09

I won't write too much about this as I'm working on a documentary which includes a lot of it. That said:

-Trevor Wishart was entertaining and odd, wresting vocals from his jawbone.
-Eli Keszler was brilliant, making a drum kit sound nothing like one whilst gurning dementedly.
-Justice Yeldham was a twat and failed hilariously to get anything to work whilst he slagged all the other artists off. Fucking Australian.
-Damion Romero played until his bottle of water vibrated off the table.
-Mechanical Children played until the huge floor speaker vibrated most of the way across the room.
-Edwards/Noble/Wilkinson Trio were Noble/Wilkinson duo and lapsed into samba for a moment there.
-Joseph Hammer rubbed some tape between his mime hands.
-Sten Hanson was enigmatic and sat on a stool.
-Morphogenesis made magic out of trinkets.
-Ju Suk Reet Meate & Oblivia closed the festival with some bizzaro sounds and a horrible video accompaniment.

Overall, a lovely festival full of nice people (apart from that cunt I hate).

Thanks, bye.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Broadcast/The Caretaker/Thomas Ankersmit - The Vortex 11/10/09

The second of the Wire magazine's Into the Vortex nights started with Thomas Ankersmit who I've never heard of before. His set went like this: manic screeching and steam sounds like trains braking hard on their rails, then calm and high, then drone with sax and drool. Having a mental breakdown. It was great. There was a seriously long line of drool from his sax mouthpiece almost down to the floor from all the circular breathing he was doing. Drone sax. Very nice.

The Caretaker hid himself away in the corner - rather effectively considering the size of his hairstyle, a large frizzy bulb - and hit play on his laptop. I don't know if he did anything else but then I don't know what else he could be expected to do with his music. Last time I saw him play was as V/VM where he had a discman which he just played along to with an inflatable guitar and a rubber chicken mask over his head. I guess that kind of performance would jar a little with the nature of The Caretaker material, but he still managed to fit in a cheeky pisstake, allowing his languorous set to stretch out to what seemed like an ending already overdue and leaving just enough pause before starting a whole other section. Much of the room sighed, some laughed, including myself, but really it's music that requires a lengthy listen, so in that respect this was one thing he could affect live. I like The Caretaker's stuff and I understand the concept behind it but it's better suited to solo listening, at night, at home, the exact opposite of this packed out daytime jazzbar. Still, it was as enjoyable as could be expected I suppose.

Broadcast were supposed to be on some hot shit new direction and playing along to a film so I thought hey I'll give them a chance seeing as I haven't listened to them for a decade so I did, I gave them a chance and I watched the whole set, the video was uninspired, dull and hackneyed and the music really suited it. At its best it was inoffensive, at its worst, twee.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Richard Youngs w/ Heather Leigh Murray/Astral Social Club/The Skaters - The Vortex 09/10/09

I'm so behind on these reviews I'm gonna try and speed through them, drawing on my fast fading memories to paint what will probably amount to a not very accurate portrayal of events. This is my gig blog though and the only people who read it are me (when I'm trying to remember whether I liked a band) and people who search for themselves on the internet, so if you're offended it's probably because you're insecure about your abilities as an artist. Feel free to leave a comment backing that theory up. That said let's get on with some quickfire reviewing.

Richard Youngs w/ Heather Leigh Murray was great, frankly. A swirling dual guitar noise gradually giving way to duel repeated vocals, chanting no lights on over and over, or something like that. I'll check it in a minute, it's details like that that really set one apart from the lazy bloggers. I liked it, whatever it was they said. I'm writing this in March so I don't have too much to add really. I remember them doing the vocal bit for ages and going past that point where it stops seeming like too long and starts getting better because it's so long. That's what I reckon anyway.

Astral Social Club played. Good old Nelly Campbell. He was great, he said something about pork pies and then he played a load of pedals and amps and little bits of kit and a microphone, I dunno, I wasn't really looking. He did some nice stuff with mic feedback, I recall. 'Little bits of kit', Jesus how vague can you get. So anyway I was really looking forward to seeing The Skaters but they didn't turn up I don't remember why, something to do with aeroplanes maybe, but so they put on Alex Tucker instead so I didn't bother staying.

Oh and I just tried to check the audio recording of Youngs and Leigh Murray but I think it's on an external hard drive and I dunno if it's plugged into the USB so sod it.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Magma/JP Massiera/Chrome Hoof - The Barbican 06/10/09

I'm gonna make this quick 'cause I'm playing catch up after neglecting this blog, the cogs of my everyday having had some horrible spanners thrown into them in the past couple o' months.

That's the way the cookie shits all over you.

The night before the gig I interviewed Stella Vander and the other, less hardcore, female singer whose name escapes me, and some guy whose role in the band was unclear (sound guy maybe, I dunno, maybe he was a fucking roadie, regardless he didn't say anything during the interview anyway, opting instead for watching sport on the tele of the bar of the hotel they were all staying in and which I went along to meet up with them, in) but vitally didn't interview Christian Vander which was disappointing but then I've a feeling he doesn't speak much English anyway. Whatever, a hugely cut down version of the interview can be found here.

So, the show, well Chrome Hoof were fine, their usual self, silver cloaked psychedelic disco funk, although notably leaving out the proper heavy metal section they usually play at the end of their set, perhaps due to worries about the timidity of the Barbican crowd, mostly comprised as it was of forty to fifty year old men with Dorito remnants in their faded Hawkwind t-shirts. At one point they dragged on a vaguely aware JP Massiera to a rendition of one of his old hooks and set him up with a microphone which he sort of moaned into (very) occasionally and a little sampler which he managed to turn off almost every time he touched it. After a while they dragged him off again, pretending he was unable to go on, in an all too believable display of theatrics. It didn't sound particularly good but it was easily the highlight of the set, shambolic old men being kind of innately entertaining in their own right.

Then woohoo Magma take to the stage. I've wanted to see Magma for fucking donkey's ears and tonight was finally the night and my god it was disappointing. There were moments where I thought things were going to kick off and Vander was gonna unleash his eight armed alien attack on the kit but no. It never happened. Far too much weak operatics, not enough cosmic war anthems. The new male vocalist had a curiously weak voice, offputting, sort of laughable but quite frankly upsetting, and he looked, as more than one of my friends put it: like an opera singer they'd tried to dress up as a rocker. Ripped off sleeves, bandana, the lot. And the way he and Stella sort of slinked off the podium down to centre stage was unnerving and also quickly became a cue that we were in for another tiresome bit of limp back and forth warbling. It wasn't all flaccid though, there was one particular track which was so hugely overblown and euphoric I'm pretty sure it's the music they play at extreme volume as you approach the giant pearly gates of heaven, only instead of feeling incredible you just burst out laughing because it's so fucking ridiculous.

Some positives. The vibes player seemed pretty cool, as did the new keyboard man who played a lovely solo keyboard bit at one point. Vander's vocals were amazing, but sparse, which made the new guy's shit voice all the more irritating in its ubiquity. Oh there I go lapsing back into negativity again, which is probably unfair. There were a few bits I really did enjoy, but maybe due to unrealistic expectations, or sitting in The Gods, the show overall just felt like a huge let down. Maybe it was the new material. Maybe they're just getting old. Maybe it's because it suddenly struck me halfway through that Stella Vander reminded me of my mother.

Well whatever it was, it wasn't much good.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Electric Wizard - The Scala 07/09/09

The Scala was absolutely crammed for this show, a solid mass of black t-shirts, beards and hair. Leccy Wizard have clearly picked up a lot of new fans since they resuscitated themdelfs in recent times, and deservedly so for theirs is a distinct sound, truly heavy, truly metal, smattered with basic fuck the world/worship the occult vocals and seventies guitar solos. But this distinction can act against them. They seem to have a template for writing tracks which they rarely deviate from and when they do stray too far from it the songs are noticeably weaker and fail to retain the essence of the band's sound, becoming less like a generic Electric Wizard track and more like a generic heavy metal track. It's a catch they've apparently failed to find a workaround for. They seem to be a band who've already written their perfect track in tonight's closer, Funeralopolis, and everything else is either a slightly weaker version of that or an unsuccessful attempt at something else.

Still, there's no denying that the band is heavy, and yeah maybe they are limited in range but fuck me they're good at what they do within that and they do it with conviction. There's no irony in Jus Oborn's sleeveless denim jacket's patches, and when he sticks his middle finger up at God before shredding he really means it, and I can feel it, and I can nod my head to it for an hour quite happily.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Sunny Murray/John Edwards/Tony Bevan - The Vortex 01/09/09

I went along to The Vortex to see Sunny Murray because Sunny Murray is a stone cold jazz legend and that's a fact, Jack. Tonight he teamed up with double bass freak John Edwards and multi sax abuser Tony Bevan for a session of free and freaky improvisations. And it was fucking great.

Sunny plays drums with his face, it seems. Every convulsion of lip and twitch of eyebrow channels down through his limbs and hits a drum. And he doesn't stop moving his face. At quieter points you can hear him singing, and by instantaneous extension making the drums sing along. It's really something. Bevan and Edwards are both accomplished musicians in their own right and play their asses off in the company of this crazy old man. Three sets of beautiful madness that hit intense, screeching highs and descend into low swirling masses with slow bowed double bass and languorous deep sax tones that made me feel physically sick. In a good way.

Between the sets, Sunny upsets the white and uptight full house at The Vortex by asking for a joint and talking about the ghetto and AIDS and using the word nigger and all sorts of other shit most of it seemingly off the cuff out of context rambling interspersed with occasional thank yous. It was hilarious really, or I thought it was anyway, not least because of the nervous shuffling it elicited from the upper middle class fifty plus set that made up the vast majority of onlookers. Then he's off again on another excursion into unexplored territory, using his drums as a spaceship.

At one point he says 'I'd like to thank y'all for being here, because we're always together... exploring new things'. Well I'd like to thank Sunny for being there last night because it was fucking out there, a true blue trip and so damn refreshing. So thank you Sunny Murray, thank you for being a true creative. You're a bad motherfucker and I hope you live forever.

David Byrne: Playing the Building - The Roundhouse 08-31/08/09

Having missed out on this whilst in New York last year, I was really quite chuffed to find out that Byrne was bringing his installation to the only nice building in Camden, The Roundhouse. Despite my enthusiasm and the fact that it was on for a month, I nearly missed it anyway, only managing to drag myself there on the last day, twenty minutes before last entry. It wasn't really a gig, but there were people playing an instrument and that's good enough for me so here's a review of sorts.

Walking in to the room the first thing that struck me was how long the queue was to play the organ. See this blurry photo for evidence:

If you factor in that everyone who plays it goes on for about five minutes, that's a long wait. Maybe that's what I get for leaving it until the last day, or maybe the queue was like that everyday, I dunno, but I wasn't gonna wait. Besides, it soon becomes apparent that the building sounds pretty much the same regardless of who's playing it, which is to say, it sounds like a bunch of metallic clanging and whistling, sometimes quite pleasant, sometimes a bit jarring, but nothing particularly outstanding one way or the other.

Something that did catch my attention though - along with most of the people there - were the interpretive dancers who'd decided that this installation provided a perfect backdrop for acting like a loon. Swimming on the floor, climbing about on each other and looking basically like they're unhinged or tripping, but with that irritating flourish of foot, or wrist, or eyes that people seem to catch at drama school and add to every movement they make like some kind of ostentatious sickness. Look, here's a shitty video to illustrate that:

What a bunch of dickheads. Anyway enough from the distracting, prancing fuckwits, let's get back to the installation. The concept is interesting enough - wire up a building and play it like an instrument - I like that, it sounds like a fun thing to do, but in practice the whole thing just seemed a little underwhelming and I have to wonder quite how many people would give a shit about it and sing its praises if it didn't have David Byrne's name attached to it.

Maybe I'd like it a lot better if I got to play. Maybe I could give a fairer review. Maybe somehow I would magically have fallen in love with it. But I didn't get to play, and I didn't fall in love with it, so this is what you get. Another disaffected moan. Woohoo!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Bangface - The Arches 28/08/09

Through some convoluted turn of events I ended up going to Bangface on Friday. I was supposed to deliver a reverb pedal to Scotch Egg as he was playing with Go from Dokkebi Q in their new project 'Devilman'. I thought sure why not I haven't been for ages and I'm up for watching their new venture and maybe I'll even enjoy some Vibert or Ceephax or Mike Dred and hey Electrowercz is only down the road so sure I'll do it just stick me on the guest list.

Except it wasn't at Electrowercz it was at The Arches which is in London Bridge and well out of the way for me and actually upon arriving at London Bridge I don't know where this place is and after a lot of traipsing around I end up getting there ten minutes after Devilman are due to start and immediately I realise that what the fuck am I doing coming to Bangface with no drugs it's fucking horrible. But in a way it's queerly amusing, like being on safari in fuckhead land. There's the big lug gurning and pretending to bum his buddy for amusement, there's the girl dressed like a clown being helped outside by her mates because she's stopped being able to vocalise or move her limbs, she'll be alright in a bit, then leaping past her there's the guy in shorts with a water bottle feeling on top of the world and becoming even better mates with his best mate.

I force my way through the BO and backpacks to the smaller room to find Shige and Go running on time and playing sans delay pedal on the bass guitar, not that it seems to matter I guess, they're going down a treat, a dub bass excursion infused with Shige's Scotch Egg style melodies. I hadn't really thought about what they might sound like but upon hearing it I suppose it's exactly what I should have expected. It's alright, and I could probably dig it if I was in a different mood, but I was in a tired old bastard mood and without anything to alter my mood or the will to find anything to alter my mood I decided to go for a fag and check out all the stupid outfits in the smoking area.

I saw a bit of that incredibly irritating swinging stuff around on strings thing (what's that shit called again?) and some guy looking for his drugs that he just dropped because he's completely off his tits and that was it, I left because it was all doing my head in. I had to negotiate this little shirtless midget with dreadlocks simulating dog sex with a shapeless, fucked up cow of a girl on my way out which was disgusting, but just outside the club I saw this K'd up guy having extreme difficulty standing up on perfectly level ground but clearly loving the fact and that was pretty hilarious really.

So I didn't see Vibert or Mike Dred or Ceephax, and Shige didn't get his delay pedal, but you know what I don't feel like it was a waste of time. I actually enjoyed it in a strange, detached way. I used to go to Bangface quite a lot because it was always a good old rave-up, and it was good to be reminded why I stopped going. 'Cause I stopped taking loads of drugs. And 'cause I'm becoming a moaning old cunt.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

noise=noise - The Foundry 26/08/09

So I missed the second and third wednesdays of the month of noise=noise due to an impromptu camping trip and a bout of something I don't remember, but I made it to this one, the final one. And I missed the first four acts or so, but nevermind, it's not like the rest of the night was much cop.

I think the first act I saw was called Baraclough, it's always hard to tell at these sorts of things because there's never any setlist on display and if anyone is introduced it's through a distorted mic that makes everything sound like you're drowning in mud. Anyway let's say it was Baraclough that I saw, well they were passable, a mixture of placid throbbing drone and some naff delay. I could liken it to a sawmill cutting through iron logs, but it was probably far less harsh than that would actually sound. The finale was the best bit, a bright wall of sound that almost touched on euphoria there for a minute.

Next up, this older guy played a laptop drone set which was both the least dynamic and most satisfying set of the night (that I saw). A heavy wodge of harsh drone, a tonne of black rubble rolling deep under high frequency squeals just shy of piercing.

That's him, I don't know his name but he was pretty good actually. Dunno if that comes across in this shitty photo.

I then managed to miss Cementimental which was annoying because all I did was smoke a fag and he'd finished. Apparently he smashed up a bunch of equipment. I got downstairs in time to hear some applause so I'll go ahead and say he did a good set anyway. Or at least good enough that some people clapped.

I don't know what the next guy was called but he had really long dreads and he was shit. He mixed a bunch of wavs together with a lot of jumping about and waving his skanky hair about but not much thought or talent. In fact no talent. Maybe I'm biased because I fucking hate dreadlocks, which is another thing actually, how come like ninety percent of the people in The Foundry have that shaved head apart from three dreads sticking out at a jaunty angle haircut? I don't get the idea. They look like hairy shits. One nearly touched me last night, nearly touched my face when this guy turned around near me. Pretty much ruined my night. Asshole.

The last guy, EQ-AV had less dreads than whateverhisnamewas and proportionately more talent, like some kind of reverse Samson effect was in play. However, he still wasn't particularly good. Mixing video files in Traktor, projecting the results on the wall and manipulating the audio in the standard EQ knob twiddling way, he started out promisingly with some cacophonous footage of London traffic creating the impression of being repeatedly run over by a bus, but went steadily downhill until he was basically making shit industrial techno using boring footage of some iron bars and a plant.

I was glad to get home and shower to be honest.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Stereo Juggernaut/Uncle Pedro/Voltage Players - Catch 25/08/09

Taking their cue from every successful North American alt rock band since the nineties, Voltage Players sound like an amalgamation of every successful North American alt rock band since the nineties. With a leaning towards Shellac.

Taking their cue from every successful North American alt rock band since the nineties, Uncle Pedro sound like an amalgamation of every successful North American alt rock band since the nineties. With a leaning towards Fugazi.

Taking their cue from Placebo and Evanescence and shit like that, and the fact that they have a midget in a leather jacket with a teenager's haircut as their frontman and a clueless German miniscule square of chin hair wearing beefcake on emotive keyboard, Stereo Juggernaut sound like shit.

Faux-harmonica keyboard solos can never be excused.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Colour Ride All Dayer - The Windmill 15/08/09

I was pretty distracted during this whole thing due to attempting to film it all, but after getting a taxi to the wrong venue in the wrong part of London and lugging a load of equipment to this
back road pub, here's the stuff that stood out:

- A big old Irish cunt serving up barbecued food with a scowl and the temperament of an irritated bear. Procuring a burger has never seemed so frightening, or amusing.

- KK/KK opening the day with a decent bout of slightly too quiet drone.

- Mutant Ape delivering a solid wodge of noise in a biscuit tin.

- An awful gaggle of fools channelling their inner retard in the smoking area via the medium of shit instruments played with feckless abandon.

- Drums and sax free jazz outfit Rose-Nichols Duo (I presume) who would probably have been more impressive had I not had Alex Ward, Alan Wilkinson and Yoshida Tatsuya make my ears cum the weekend previous.

- French improv pedal pushers Motherfucking inadvertently looking like they were furiously wanking and enthusiastically sucking dick whilst playing, which was hilarious and yes, puerile, but way more entertaining than their music, unfortunately.

- A horse-riding looking woman swaying over some space journey synth. Stellar Om Source, I believe. She was average and Dutch.

- Blood Stereo cancelling.

Overall the lineup was as varied in its sound as it was in its quality, but the infectiously laid back atmosphere remained constant throughout the whole affair. Whilst nothing wowed this cynic, it was at least a relaxing day, even with the effort of recording bundled on top of it. I appreciate the work put in to organising something like this so respect to Colour Ride for keeping its knuckle down and promoting the experimental, even if half the experiments produce stinky results.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Drum Eyes w/ Damo Suzuki - Hoxton Bar & Grill 11/08/09

Drum Eyes change line-up every time I see them, and tonight, despite the absence of Trencher Liam on drums, was their best yet. Two drummers, two synthers, one guitar and Scotch Egg Shige alternating between bass, laptop and synth, they brewed up a psychedelic storm heavy enough to drench the busy bar and grill. There were times where it turned almost to grey soup but at their best they sounded like a heavier version of Goblin, which is a mean synth horror and no mean feat.

So then what happened in the break? When (most of) Drum Eyes returned to the stage to improv with Damo Suzuki it all started out very timidly as a slow, background ambience and went nowhere. Where did all the energy and verve go? And volume? It was weak. The last set had sounded frightening but this one just sounded frightened, like no one wanted to take the responsibility of picking the track up and running with it, no one wanted to grab Damo by the balls and say freak out to this Suzuki you old fuck. So there it was, old Damo waxing lame over some pretty uninspired drone muzak. I gave it about fifteen minutes and left feeling like I'd given it hours. Maybe they should lay off the spliff in the interval. Fuck knows.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ruins Alone/Alex Ward and Alan Wilkinson - Cafe Oto 09/08/09

Well this was so damn good now where do I start? Well where did they start? Alex Ward and Alan Wilkinson pick up their clarinet and sax respectively and immediately fill Cafe Oto with an intense scream that has no business being made by just two men and a couple of tubes with holes. And it doesn't let off for the length of their first piece, even when both guys decapitate their instruments and get to playing little chirps with the severed mouthpieces, it's all done with such relentless energy that it manages to sound fierce and like a delicate dawn chorus all at once. Impossible! But No! Wilkinson was playing the sax with his leg at one point. Leg saxaphone, no shit. They enter into their second piece a little more subdued, little lower, little slower, lulling us a little before they simultaneously have heart attacks into their instruments and Alan abandons his altogether and goes pure vocal, freaking out like some kind of cock-eyed, farcical gorilla and then it's just some moans, moans and groans, moaning down through a dismembered clarinet, groaning into a baritone sax, whatever, it's brilliant.

Yoshida Tatsuya plays next as Ruins Alone, playing drums and keyboard and vocals and flicking around with backing tracks. The whole set is a torrential outpouring of ideas, overloading, utterly insane, rabid music. There's a lot of Zheul type material in there and some metal and there's fucking ridiculous synth noise bits and there's a section comprised of tiny segments of various national anthems, pop classical favourites and the phantom of the opera. What the hell is that? It felt like he could have played forever, never running out of energy or material, as if this is just what's happening in his head all the time and if you give him a drumkit to sit behind he'll let you in on it for a bit. When he stops it's abrupt and comes from nowhere and you realise you're still trying to process the stuff he was playing five minutes ago and by the time you've caught up with him he's had a ten minute break and it's time for all three guys to play together, time for the trio.

Ward swaps clarinet for electric guitar, then swaps back and swaps back again until by the end of the set he's playing both at the same time. Yoshida channels the gods and rains down an almighty storm on drums and keys, while Alan cheekily farts his saxaphones around it all. It is on the fucking limits man, it's crazy, it's heavy, it's mesmerising, it dips into Slayer then chews up the tape and throws it in a pond. It is freaky fucking music and it's infectious and the whole evening was so right on and so fucking righteous that when it's all over the crowd start barking like dogs because they've just had their minds flipped fully upside down and that's what crazy people do, they bark like dogs and they wiggle their tails.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

noise=noise - The Foundry 05/08/09

The first of a month of wednesdays for noise=noise at the finest of the fixed gear cider hippie hangouts The Foundry, and what a month it looks set to be. I started off in fine form, arriving just in to time to miss most of the acts, including but not limited to Ryan Jordan and Joel Cahen, but their sets were probably great so that's what I'll say. I saw Cementimental play even though he wasn't on the bill. He played five minutes or so of harsh nonsense using his homemade Noisebox, essentially a black box with knob and switch protrusions on several sides, none of which have any kind of chilled out setting. Good fun that.

John Wall played next, a whole different proposition altogether, playing far from harsh noises on an easily recognisable piece of silver kit with a glowing fruit in the centre of it's lid. It's been quite some time since I've enjoyed a pure laptop set but Wall's highly considered improvisation was teasingly seductive and expertly reined in. With one hand constantly up, fingers tweezering as if plucking the sounds out of the ether, he made his apple weep in restraint, his soundcard capitulating to constipation, often emitting barely more than a hiss while the remnants of the last yelp were given room to die completely, alone.

After hanging around outside for a bit, drinking a can from the shop and soaking up the multifarious fumes of the relentlessly busy intersection outside the Foundry, I made my way back to the basement in time to hear the last three notes of Cheap Machines' set, which sounded nice, I guess. It's not much to go on really. Regardless, the evening was a relaxed and pleasurable one and I'm very much looking forward to the next three Wednesdays. Fo sho.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Supersonic Festival - Custard Factory, Birmingham 26/07/09

In a rare feat of economic acumen, I decided to just go to Supersonic's Saturday this year, which meant no Goblin (they're on the Sunday) unfortunately, but there's a recession on and all that, and Saturday had the bulk of the big draws for me so there you go. And here I go, off to bloody Brum again, home of metal.

After ordering a pint and being told by the barman that it was four quid, and him even adding in a thick Brummie accent that 'it's dayloight robberoi', I was thankful I'd smuggled a hip flask full of Sainsbury's own Bourbon past the docile security guards. Four quid. Jesus. No worries though, the sounds of the Flower/Corsano Duo offer a relaxing start to proceedings, their freeform space jazz ambling along very pleasantly indeed. They're an entertaining sight to behold too, Corsano clearly having a ton of fun playing around with his kit, laying rags around and putting pans on the skins, while Mick Flower kicks out his leg like mule and freaks out on the synth.

Diagonal seemed worth a watch going by the blurb in the booklet but turns out they weren't. A lot of people on stage doing not much to get excited about. They sounded a bit like a crappy Goblin, at least for the bit I watched, which only served to remind me that I wasn't going to see Goblin this weekend, so I left and checked out Tartufi, who weren't much more entertaining - just middle of the road drone guitar with some dawdling drums. It wasn't that it was bad, it was more that it was so slow and quiet they might as well have not been there. Partly the fault of the PA and sound engineer I reckon.

Nevermind eh, a quick trip to Birmingham's optical nightmare The Bullring to use the facilities, and it's back in time for The Master Musicians of Bukkake, whose name I won't explain because if you don't already know what bukkake is then consider yourself lucky. Congregating on stage in red silky robes with white quaker hats and black netting over their faces, they look like Satan's beekeepers, and they call upon their gilly suited frontman with an alpine horn. Sounding laid back and woodlandish, like Earth reached the end of the dusty plains and headed into the lush forest, which makes sense considering the band is largely made up of Earth and Burning Witch members. The theatrics are pretty stupid but the band sound great, so it's with some regret that I drag myself away to see Nisennenmondai. Not too much regret though, seeing as last time I saw Nisennenmondai I considered it to be one of the greatest things that had ever happened. This time wasn't as awe-inspiring as the first, that's probably too much to ask anyway, but still these girls are great to watch, each one perfect and individual in their style and supremely tight knit as a group. It's euphoric trance music, but not like the shit that's usually associated with those words. This stuff is genuine, and genuinely uplifting.

And so on to something totally different, Iron Lung are the sound of violence. Incredibly brutal drumming and harsh guitar noise, it's hard to believe there's only two of them, so powerful is their assault. The fact the drummer is the size of a gorilla probably goes some way to explaining it. Fucking hardcore. After a brief sojourn to the car to refill the bourbon, and a brief visit to the burger stand to eat a shitty patty, the first of the big names is due on.

There's a lot expected of Thorr's Hammer for a band that was only around for six weeks fifteen years ago, perhaps understandably so, given the credentials of the members and what they've done in the interim. But any worries they might not satisfy were crushed as soon as the first string was struck. An unfathomably heavy set ensued, Runhild Gammelsæter producing deep, blood curdling vocals from some hidden pit within her slight frame. It was clear everyone on stage was enjoying the reunion as much as everyone off stage, O'malley and Anderson particularly relishing the opportunity to play something a little faster paced and less straight faced than their Sunn O))) excursions. Heads banged steadily throughout.

Back on the outdoor stage with the crappy sound, Zu were heavy rocking their stuff, stomping on everyone's ears with a tight laced boot of bass, the sax squealing over the top like a spectrum loading cassette gone off its spool. I'd have stayed but something special was about to begin over on stage 2. The elusive, anti-everything, Japanese doomsayers Corrupted play their first ever UK show. Playing slower even than any of the recorded material I've heard of theirs, they create a wall of sound so heavy it subsides and shifts under its own weight, a crushingly beautiful end of days soundtrack, that should have marked the end of this day. Unfortunately Monotonix got that honour, and how disappointing they were. I loved Monotonix when I first saw them, and I enjoyed the second time well enough (although the novelty had started to wear thin), but this time it seems the inevitable has happened. They've gotten too cocky, too predictable and too big for their boots. They're barely a band anymore, certainly the singer might as well not have a microphone seeing as all he uses it for now is to bark orders and insults at people. Gone is the feeling of spontaneity, the bin on the head of the drummer is now so rote they bring their own with them. The pint stealing, the mooning, the standing on the kick drum, it's all an attempt to distract you from the fact that they sound like shit, the arrogant guitarist's riffs are uninspired and the drummer, who seems like he is a pretty good drummer in all fairness, never has his kit in one place long enough to play it. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against bands being mental and causing mayhem, I'm a fan of that in fact, but this is all so contrived and predictable now it doesn't seem like fun, it seems like a sweaty guy rubbing his back on your face, because that's exactly what it is. It's not enjoyable, it's not funny, it's not my idea of a party. All it is is just plain boring. And without decent music to back it all up I can't see them lasting much longer.

So that was it, we walked out and I fell asleep in the car while being driven back home to London. A one day festival for me this year, and a pretty fucking great day it was too, all things considered. If Supersonic keeps it up, it's on its way to being pretty much the best festival going. Finally someone giving ATP a run for their money. Next year I wanna see Zeni Geva and Sleep. Go on you can do it. And a Swans reunion. Ha.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Hulk Dash 9 - Korsan Bar 19/07/09

So Hulk Dash celebrates its first birthday. Here's some stuff that happened, I think I missed a couple of acts but shit happens you know, sometimes I need to smoke a cigarette, or cook some sausages on the barbecue. Yeah, there was a barbecue, promoters take note. Anyway...

Opening proceedings, Jack Shirt played some kind of Clangers on ketamine synth stuff and segued nicely into an unsettling fairground guitar section before ending it all with some drone. Lovely stuff from the little man in the shoes. Shortly after that, Lion Lies Down ran around a circular drum set up incorporating the world's tiniest cymbal, played some really cheesy little guitar melodies and sang vocals through a kind of gurgling effect pedal, sometimes all at once, sometimes not at all, sometimes really good, sometimes not at all.

Then I missed some guys playing at the bar. Then Kayaking went fucking nuts. There's no other way to explain it. And Cau_cational Betreet somehow followed that up and fucking destroyed with possibly their heaviest set ever, sounding like a metal band getting its head kicked in and run over by a tank.

Hooray for Hulk Dash, may it live for many years to come.

Morrissey/Doll and the Kicks - The Troxy 18/07/09

I didn't plan on this. I'm cycling past the Troxy and there's a long queue so I stop and ask someone who's playing, they say Morrissey and offer me a ticket. I used to like The Smiths, I wonder what The Troxy looks like inside, I have nothing to do, I lock up my bike and say ok.

After getting in I realise I should've waited outside for a while 'cause now I'm stuck in here for ages. I get a three pound fifty bottle of bud in a little plastic cup and realise I won't be able to get pissed while I wait. The support act finally comes on and I realise I may have made a huge mistake. An irritating showtune voice gogo girl and a band made up of fucking Gaultier models. Does that sound any good to you? Because that sounds fucking shit to me. The preening and prancing about is as utterly fucking terrible as the utterly fucking terrible music. You can occasionally see up the girl's skirt a bit, but it's simply not enough to make up for the soulless bullshit they call a show. Doll and the Kicks they're called. This years 'ones to avoid'.

Finally, after I go off to hide in the smoking area for a year, Morrissey strolls on and opens with a big Smiths tune. The familiar sound of This Charming Man brings a big grin to my face and manages to convince me that ok maybe I didn't make a mistake. It's maybe a testament to Morrissey's lyricism that I enjoy a lot of the solo stuff I've never heard before purely on the basis of his vocals, but it's still the Smiths' stuff that makes up the vast majority of high points. How Soon is Now? is particularly outstanding.

The set wears on a bit, the second half considerably weaker than the first, but I amuse myself by looking at all the fans. Morrissey fans all look like Morrissey wearing a Morrissey t-shirt. It's great. They're also either all old, fat and gay or young, skinny and undecided. At one point he sticks the mic in the crowd and this guy grabs it and shouts, emphatically, Mancunianly and, I think, through tears "Morrissey we love you, we've come all the way from Manchester again to see you and we will follow you everywhere you go because we love you Morrissey". It's great, I mean, it's hilarious. I'm enjoying the gig but it hasn't turned me into a teenage girl at an NKOTB concert. Grown men crying. Brilliant.

After his encore Morrissey rips his shirt off, wipes it all over his large sweaty trunk and lobs it into the crowd. They love it, obviously, and I like it because it makes it clear I shouldn't wait around for a second encore. As I leave the support act are trying to give their CDs away in the foyer. No one wants one. Because they are shit.

And for all those crazy obsessive Morrissey fans that may stumble upon this review, here's a setlist:

Action Beat/Agaskodo Teliverek - Buffalo Bar 17/07/09

Action Beat play hard, breaking sweats, strings, sticks. They conjure up a whirlwind of distortion, the faintest hints of melody swirling around with it, occasionally surfacing to something approaching clarity before being dragged back into the maelstrom. Eventually, one of the guitarists has had enough and dives into a drumkit, then another drumkit, and finally one more drumkit, as it becomes apparent that the coolest thing about having three drummers is that you can do three drumkit dives at the end of your set.

In contrast to the loose rocking style of Action Beat, my old friends Agaskodo Teliverek play their unique line in schizophrenic surfy grunge-pop, jerking and grooving, switching between wonky guitar melodies and bumblebee swarm riffing, jungle breakbeat and easy listening jazz drumming. The set is a bit sloppy by their standards, but that's not to say it isn't good, after all, their standards are higher than most.

Friday, 10 July 2009

1st Annual UK Noise Conference - Old Blue Last 07/07/09

The way this was set up the abundant acts were on constant rotation playing really short sets so I don't think I managed to quite see everyone, but I saw a whole bunch of good stuff. Here's some mini reviews in no particular order:

Sloppy Seconds did a twin rabbit costumed drum and guitar confusion, smashed up a clock and chalked times on the floor, with the audience trapped inbetween them looking a bit bewildered.

Blue Sabbath Black Fiji were described by someone I overheard as 'fun'. Not really my idea of fun but I can't deny that they are chock full of beans, and every time they play they spill those beans everywhere, all over their stuff, all over the place, and it makes a big fucking racket.

Cementimental freaked out with a modded megaphone, flailing around, fighting with his tools.

Timothy C Holehouse played vile plunger triggered noise with a screaming beard and little hat.

Defibrillators had a very exciting looking drumkit, which failed to excite too much.

Team Brick looked a bit annoyed.

A guy I know only as 'Ryan' played the highlight of the night, an intense strobe experiment that stabbed eyes and ears simultaneously, repeatedly, rapidly, with sharp bursts of blinding light and damaging sound. Extreme, almost agonising, utterly brilliant.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Thou/Moloch/Jackal Headed Guardian Of The Dead/Haar - Henry's Cellar Bar (Edinburgh) 25/06/09

Disclaimer: In truth I'm writing this a month after the show and I have no notes to reference and I don't remember too much about it, but I don't like to skip over gigs on this blog so here's some stuff I'm pretty sure happened...

I can take a certain amount of theatricality and gothic affectation but Haar strayed into silly territory and I can't take silly seriously, so I went outside and smoked a fag. Next up were Jackal Headed Guardian of the Dead who were like a sloppy Sleep, with a drummer who seemed to not really know what was going on and a guitarist who put as much emphasis on standing with his legs wide apart and sticking his tongue out as he did on his riffs, but the spirit was genuine and the show was solidly entertaining.

Comprising some ex-Army of Flying Robots and some other guys, Moloch stepped on stage and straight away hoisted a weighty bucket of sludge upon the audience, covering our heads in it and getting it in our ears, which is what we wanted to hear, here, tonight. I think. It's fine, nothing new really, but done well and played well by good musicians. I particularly like the guitarist who looks about eight. That's a good look.

Crawling all the way from the swamps of Louisiana and headlining the night was Thou, soon to be put out on Southern Lord, which for any sludgey doom type band is a great thing to have on your CV. They sounded the part for sure, and even had a satisfyingly redneck looking vocalist, wild eyed and weasely, with a hell of a tortured scream on him. With heaving, droning guitars, crushing drums and deep, slow bass penetration they ticked all the requisite boxes with a pen dipped in the blood of a sacrificed goat. Not jolly, but a jolly good show.

All in all not bad for a night chanced upon and attended on a whim whilst in Edinburgh. I even picked up a copy of The Hardcore/Punk Guide to Christianity from the zine section of the merch stall, which by the way all shows should have a zine section. It answers questions like what does Jesus think of tattoos. It's not as funny as it sounds.

Mogwai - HMV Picturehouse (Edinburgh) 24/06/09

This was the UK Premiere of the ATP film, where they'd promised an 'extra special Scottish band' was going to be performing after the film, which I already knew was going to be Mogwai, but I came to see the film so that didn't put me off. Anyway, they played and I was there so I'll do the review.

They were boring as usual.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Burial Hex/Saturn Finger/Kinit Her - Cafe Oto 16/06/09

Kinit Her up first with an odd mixture of growling, extremely high pitched vocals and staid metal riffs which you'd assume were a joke if they didn't look so serious about it. I wouldn't recommend it.

I'd come to see Burial Hex who was apparently going to perform a set especially adapted for the idiosyncrasies of Cafe Oto, which turned out to mean he played Oto's grand piano for a bit before continuing on as normal, smashing bits of metal into each other and manipulating distorted loops with effects pedals. The piano was accomplished and morose in the extreme and accompanied by some chanting and growling vocals, with very quiet, soft, noise under it all. It was all satisfyingly gloomy. The perfect intro to the crushing noise that made up the rest of the set, like something irascible was lurking there and spurred to erupt. Very angry, almost frightening, and utterly engrossing.

Rounding off the night were Saturn Finger, who just sounded like a couple of amiable but demented alpaca farmers calling upon some Peruvian god for god knows what. Something exciting maybe? Their god wasn't very forthcoming.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Wooden Pigs - The Winchester, Bournemouth 06/06/09

I'll be honest, this is my cousin's band and that's why I went to see them. I knew they liked Kings of Leon a lot so I wasn't expecting it to be my bag, and it wasn't really my bag, but it was a good bag nonetheless. A bag that a lot of people would love, I'm sure.

This was a charity gig and to please the crowd they played a bunch of Kings of Leon covers in amongst their own stuff, which was uneccessary really, because as far as I could tell, their stuff was better than the KoL stuff. The band has all the elements in place, pretty much. A solid rhythm section, a talented guitarist and a singer with just the right amount of attitude. It's all there and if they can find their own voice just a little bit more then they could do really well I reckon, selling their bag in all good retailers nationwide.

Primavera Sound - Parc Del Forum, Barcelona 28-30/5/09

Barcelona is so lovely and the line up for Primavera Sound looked pretty amazing so I thought I'd go along and miss quite a lot of it, due to having free beer on tap all weekend thanks to my friend sorting me out with a magic ticket.

Here's some stuff I remember. The first thing I saw was Lightning Bolt, which was surprising because usually most people can't actually see them because they're on the floor in the crowd. But so this time they played on stage, I don't know if that's a first, but it was a first for me and I've seen them a whole bunch of times. Considering it's like an integral part of their shtick that they play on the floor, it was actually really great to see them play on stage. Perversely it had a kind of novelty value, I guess. Seeing a band on stage. Anyway, they rocked pretty hard.

Then I saw Jesus Lizard again, which was even better than last time I saw them a couple of weeks ago, somehow, although there was nowhere near the same level of stage diving action from Yow. He made up for it by doing a lot of freaky dancing though, which was a sight to behold. I think I saw Dead Meadow next, who were drunk as hell, just like me. It was great, they just locked into their grooves and played real slack. It was obvious they were having a good time and it really osmosed into the crowd and everyone was swaying in that drunk and stoned manner that people do at laid back psychedelic shows, until the bass player stumbled backwards a bit too much, knocked over his wine bottle and said something to the guitarist that I presume was Man I'm so fucking drunk I can't play because they stopped pretty much right then and were rewarded with much slack applause and heartfelt but flaccid whistling from the wasted crowd.

Made it back up to the big ass beer sponsored stage to drink more sponsored beers while it was fingers in your ears for My Bloody Valentine's increasingly infamous noise holocaust finale. I like watching other people watching this bit, it's funny how much everyone is looking forward to seeing MBV play and how much everyone can't stand listening to it by the end. Different strokes and all that, I just like listening to solid noise played really fucking loud.

What was next, oh yeah, Aphex played a way better set than at Bloc, despite it being a bit 'going through the motions', but I mean whaddya want from the guy? Some stuff to dance to with a bit of a fucking weirdo attitude to it, pretty much. Really great visuals too, including some scat stuff that made me glad I hadn't managed to get any drugs because that would mess with a my high something terrible.

Squarepusher played next but he's a boring old self cheering muso whose current output is overwrought, soulless bullshit really isn't he? So I called it a night.

The next two nights were far less eventful, friday starting out terribly with Art Brut, possibly the most vile band I've ever seen. Hey this next one is about when I realised that there's only two things that matter in life and that's DC comics and chocolate milkshake. Hey this next one is about heroin addiction. I mean seriously just fuck off. So damn punchable.

Thankfully Sunn O))) played a brief but great set. Seeing the Grimmrobe Demos outdoors in Spain as the sun is going down is really a special thing, especially when you turn around and the path leading down to the stage is rammed full of people throwing horns in the air. I love that shit.

Jarvis Cocker is endearing.

Shellac are incredible. I don't know if it's the intoxication of holiday, or alcohol, or heat, or what, but this set is the best I've seen them play in a long time. Solid dirty crunchy fucking snide rock music.

And that's about it. Saturday just had a disappointing Neil Young (he finished with a Beatles cover and keep on rocking in the free world for Christ's sake) an underwhelming Sonic Youth and a Zombie Zombie that played really late that I couldn't be bothered to sit through the Black Lips for because I really can't stand the Black Lips. Man I'm a bit gutted, I really wanted to see Zombie Zombie you know. Oh well.

Overall I guess I liked the festival, although it climaxed on the thursday for me and then just had two more nights pumping away with dwindling effectiveness. It was certainly nicer than Sonar, but almost all the good stuff was on the ATP stage, so I dunno who to praise really. I'm getting pretty fed up with praising ATP, but it's not their fault they keep putting on great bands now is it?

Right, now the festival is over I'm off to the beach to get constantly hounded by people trying to sell me shit. Fun in the sun, people.

Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu)/Prurient & Cold Cave - Cargo 25/05/09

I went to this because the Prurient set I saw a couple of years ago was fucking incredible. This show tonight was a load of shit. I mean it was laughable. He was playing with Cold Cave. I don't know who Cold Cave are but I can tell you one thing, they look like gestapo hipsters. Actually, two things, they sound like shit New Order. Prurient sticks some noise behind it all but it's no use. It's beyond help. I go outside to smoke.

I hoped that Jamie Stewart would be a nice surprise, he was the reason this was so expensive after all. Well, turns out he was a surprise, not exactly good, more just very odd. An obviously heartfelt performance, stripped down Xiu xiu tracks for the most part, just vocals and guitar with an occasional blurt of casio keyboard. Really very inventive in many ways, but trite in as many others. Extremely crass gay lyrics which fluctuated between brilliant and stupid and managed to get the high density bear crowd emoting all over the place. I really couldn't decide whether I liked him or not but I felt fairly compelled to continue watching him, and that's better than most acts manage I suppose.

Kayaking - The Macbeth 25/05/09

Two lovely girls, one heavy gig. Industrial and brutal drums over pyschadelic synths, it's the soundtrack to an outer space mining colony. I'm biased, because my girlfriend is one of the two girls, but they are dead good and everyone should check them out. Just don't hit on the tall one.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

ATP vs The Fans - Minehead 8-10/5/09

All Tomorrow's Parties again. An odd line-up all in all but that's what you get when half the bands are chosen by the fans. Still, having Jesus Lizard, Sleep, Harvey Milk, Electric Wizard and DEVO all on the same bill makes me happy enough that they could flesh the rest of it out with utter crap and I'd still be more than up for it. It turns out they did pretty much fill the rest of it up with utter crap.

Well whatever, Beirut and Spiritualised just aren't my bag. And Liam Finn is a bag of shite. Frankly, I'd seen a lot of acts before and didn't want to see them ever again. There were some exceptions though, well, one exception that I can recall, and that was Nico Muhly. He was one of those acts I really had to drag my ass out of the chalet to go and see during the day. Turns out that a tired ass on a comedown is a great thing to sit on whilst listening to this guy. Sounding like some strange avant-garde ambient folk music, all the parts adrift on a calm sea, slowly washing in and out of sync, it's genuinely soothing music and a real contrast to everything else I was into this weekend. He was my new discovery, of which there is always one (and only one) at each and every ATP.

The rest went as planned, pretty much, I saw all the bands I wanted to see and all of them were amazing, especially Sleep, who closed my weekend with one of the greatest sets I've seen from any band, ever. Heavy fucking riffs. David Yow was everything you'd hope for with Jesus Lizard, stage diving before he'd even spit his first acerbic line and repeat offending to the extent that he probably spent more time on the crowd than in front of it. I should give a mention to Killing Joke, not because they were any good, but because their hilarious rants about supermarkets intentionally poisoning our food really tickled me, the crazy old shitters. Other than that, my band played and got shut down, then played again, didn't get shut down and were awarded the accolade of "best moment of ATP" by whoever wrote the review for Dazed and Confused. Oh and, perhaps - in retrospect - inspired by DEVO's urge to devolve, I stripped down to my pants and ran into the sea.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

USA is a Monster/Shigeru Ishihara - Bardens Boudoir 03/05/09

Shige is aka DJ Scotch Egg and he plays tonight with Horacio Pollard and a couple of other guys, jamming with synths and guitars, Shige conducting by way of the mixing desk. It's a cosmic happening you know, it swells and freaks out. I could hear it through my skin, like a spilt liquid narcotic. It's hip, babe, and I can dig it with a space shovel..

I didn't know anything about USA is a Monster other than LOAD record affiliations and a general murmur that they are supposed to be the hot shit. They come out looking like four schools made a band out of their number one least popular kids. The drummer looks like Robert Crumb's self portrait got tied and dyed, the guitarist looks like a big wodge of cake someone trod into the carpet, and the other guys... I don't remember. One was a girl, actually. But whatever, they get going and it's like what. Never has something looked so wrong and sounded so right. Fucking insane drum licks, shifting time, and everyone keeping up, the trodden cake's terrible dreads flailing around as he frantically fingers his guitar like a mum watching Manilow. It goes all over the place too, from exceptional grooves to stuff that sounds like American college chants at sports matches. Only about half of it actually sounds appealing, but the whole thing is absolutely enjoyable purely for its sheer imagination and the wonder of it all. Like how much practice that must take. And how does that drummer's brain work?

We went to a house party after with Shige and the trodden cake and got kicked out straight away which was cool because the party was terrible. We stood and drank outside for a while hoping people would fall out of the window, but no-one did.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Eugene S Robinson - The Old Blue Last 30/04/09

Eugene is a big fucker. Anyone who's seen him on stage with Oxbow will attest to that. He is a hulking man, and not only that but he enjoys his size. He enjoys the theatrics of it all. He enjoys being imposing, appearing powerful. He doesn't enjoy violence though, he's just interested in it. Well that's his official stance on the subject anyway.

He's promoting a book he's written called 'Fight: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ass-Kicking but Were Afraid You'd Get Your Ass Kicked For Asking' which is a compendium of stories about his youth, interviews with various fighting types from pro's to bar room brawlers, and illustrated tips on how to beat the shit out of people. Sat downstairs at the Old Blue Last he relays stories of violence over the general noise of the pub. He's a decent enough raconteur and the stories split evenly between him getting beaten up and him doing the beating. They're all pretty nasty. He maintains that his interest lies in investigating the nature of evil and the red mist that takes over when a violent man gets violent. Apparently he talked to Charles Manson about it and he didn't know what Eugene was going on about.

It's entertaining enough, if a little worrying being sat close enough to see how his eyes kind of crazily wander off when he starts talking about kicking people in. I'm not convinced by his motives though. It seems to me he's attached this ponderous human psyche angle to what is essentially a love of violence. It's odd because actually behind all the fighting talk he seems like a really nice guy, and certainly an interesting character, and his stories stand up without this unconvincing justification he's attached to them. But you know, whatever, I'm not gonna argue with the guy, he's a big fucker.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Horacio Pollard - The Black Sheep 29/04/09

This was in Croydon. Fucking CROYDON. I'd never been to Croydon before and within minutes of getting off the train it became obvious why as I saw a two men trying to kill each other, one of them eventually picking up a length of I think corrugated iron - I mean like a large pointed shard of rusted fence - and chasing after the other one with it.

So that was fun and I found the place, late, missed Cementimental and Bbblood and got a terrible pint of cider from the bar. Horacio Pollard played a wildly different set to the manic screaming horror of the recent show I'd seen, this one more of a sombre affair, but no less imposing. Slower and lower, an ocean liner of tortured corpses, perpetually sailing into a midnight harbour. The screams, sickening. Literally sickening. Even moreso than the stuff they serve on draught here.

A hellish landscape that fit Croydon like a black leather glove.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Ingested - Old Blue Last 25/04/09

I am way behind on these write ups, so much so that I can barely remember this gig other than I was supposed to be going to some terrible club to see someone but at the last minute got told not to bother because everyone was leaving and just to go to some other place and wait, at which point I got a sudden recollection that wasn't there supposed to be some metal gig on at The Old Blah Blah so I went there instead because it was just around the corner and lo and behold there WAS a metal gig on and it was a blast.

Sure, it was probably helped by the fact that I dodged a dodgy dance club bullet and ended up there by surprise, but regardless, it was decent. There was leather and hair and sweat and BC Riches. They played death metal I guess, who knows, metal genres are a fucking minefield but they were tight, fast and heavy and really fucking entertaining so what more do you want from them? Saved my night. They tore it up and looked dead pleased with themselves. And rightly so.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Skullflower - St Giles in the Field Church 18/04/09

As the drone swirls within the capacious domes and alcoves of the St Giles in the Field church, the slow figures of Matt Bower and his comrades sway in front of the altar, guitars strung low. It's the perfect setting for Skullflower's dense, spiralling sound, the building manipulating the group as it swallows and reverberates at will, a complex mind of its own.

A darkly alternative church service, consuming, forever escalating and ultimately... queerly soothing. It's not quite a religious experience but it's certainly a pleasantly affecting one and it has me slipping from pew to aisle as the heaviness plays literal on my head and I lay there supine, fuzzy and content.

Monday, 13 April 2009

David Byrne - The Royal festival Hall 12/04/09

I booked these tickets so long ago that by the time tonight came around I was pretty much vibrating with anticipation. David fucking Byrne in the grand surroundings of the Royal Festival Hall. Yes please.

So we sit down and the show starts and Byrne is humble and joking around, looking perfect in all white with silver hair and he kicks into some Byrne and Eno stuff that I'm not mad into but it's fine, and then he really gets a groove on and it's the oddest thing just sitting there in the RFH. Just sitting there while Byrne struts that signature jerky head pecking style, it's awkward. I want to get up and move and I want everyone to get up and move because this is just a real strange thing to witness right now, sat here in a seat, thinking about is the woman next to me pissed off 'cause I'm using the armrest there. It's like how do you go to see David Byrne and sit there and barely even nod your head to the beat, people? Bizarre. It had the feel of all the fun was on stage and the crowd was just staring at it.

And then he plays Crosseyed and Painless and thank fuck people are hoisted up and we run to the front and dance and we don't stop for the rest of the set and we dance through two, three, four(?) encores and it is a wonderful thing as he goes from one incredible groove to the next. Grooves worn in to your ears but never worn out. Impossible to wear out. And surrounding those grooves is the performance on stage, choreographed but loose, the cynic in me wanted to dismiss it - these silly prancing dancers - but it's too much fun. It's only good vibes and you can't ignore good vibes big enough to fill a place like this.

So. Damn. Fun.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Wet Paint - The Old Blue Last 09/04/09

Ah Wet Paint, you sound like my own personal nostalgia. All Pavemented and Dino Juniored up, I can hear you from bygone times, the buzz of youth still audible in your amps, despite being drained from your faces.

It's maybe a year since I last saw these guys and evidently they've been practising. They're tight now, but still retain the appealing fuzz to it all, like they've been serviced but neglected to opt for the full valet. And with welcome new addition Macks Faulkron chewing away on bass they've injected a touch of the Thin Lizzy into the proceedings, which is like who wouldn't want that?

So hooray for Wet paint, a band far more entertaining to watch than their literal namesake. I will see you again, because you are my mates.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Aaron Dilloway/Nate Young/Family Battle Snake - The Grosvenor 07/04/09

Slowly slowly builds the background, swirling up behind the insistant dull thud that almost sounds like it's coming from next door. It's drone and it's a fairly unremarkable set from Family Battle Snake but it serves as a decent enough warm up to the evening's events, lulling everyone into a half asleep, half wired state, perfect recepticles for the slow noise meanderings to come.

Nate Young sits in front of his contraption stacks with a single drum at his side and gurns his way through a quiet, creepy set. All itchy contact mic abuse, delayed into a rhythm and uncomfortably sustained as if restrained by shackles, prevented from dissipating into the atmosphere. There's even a bit of spoken word in the middle there, evoking black holes and bottomless pits, complementing the soundtrack far more than sounds likely on paper. And there's a stunning transition midway, when the almost overwhelmingly tense, slowly growing rough boulder of sound is suddenly crushed to a distant rumble, only to become the deep beat running under the rest of the set. Affecting stuff.

Not to be outdone, Aaron Dilloway takes to the stage and sets in motion the whisper of a tape, the loose loop of it hanging over the back of his desk, artfully placed on the heads so it slithers around, wrong and organic looking. And the set winds slowly denser, with more tape manipulations and noise administrations, the quiet caution gradually abandoned until two contact mics are stuffed inside his cheeks, wires trailing out of his mouth like a war torture victim and the creature that seemed so reluctant to be heard is suddenly bearing down on you, fitting and spasming and tearing at your ears, a pained sound, attacking out of fear like a cornered animal until it's abruptly shot dead by it's own father.

Fucking excellent.

Monday, 6 April 2009

International Noise Conference: Laundry Room Squelchers/Bbblood/Horacio Pollard/Blue Sabbath Black Fiji/Girl Mountain - Gramaphone 06/04/09

The concept for this Noise Conference evening is punchy little sets with no lappies. Kind of a raw noise smorgasbord. I caught the second half of the eight act roster, still reeling from a heavy weekend, I figured a noise gig would go down a treat. And it did.

Girl Mountain are a one boy one girl duo sitting with no shoes on running vox and mini keys through a rack of pedals and knobs in a set that was just one long crescendo. Like being
pulled through a forest of dead leaves, the howling wind slowly picking up and distorting more and more but with a warmth there, under it all. Not unpleasant, quite soothing even, but ultimately the lack of dynamics rendered this set a right old plain jane.

So then on to the markedly different Horacio Pollard old buddy old pal. Stripped down to just a mic, a few pedals and a guitar amp, Pollard rips the atmosphere to shreds with a wild beast of a performance. Pure aggression just tears through the mic, like being shouted at by an angry, industrial goliath. It's all spontaneous and reactive but it's controlled which is the real trick here, the intent. There's nothing extraneous, no leaking feedback, just a fucking staccato horror that demands your full attention. And you give it willingly.

Up next are Glasgow based lovers Blue Sabbath Black Fiji and their enthusiastic crunchings. Full of verve they roughly spank their guitars and drum machine and etceteras, It's all very free and fun and full of verve but really it's not doing much, the excitement visible on stage never really managing to emerge in the sound. An edgeless blur, an unfocused experiment, lacking results.

So to a personal favourite, the Baron, Bbblood. This is the guy. A man at one with his switch array, it's all power. All clunking metal. It's a terrible car factory built wrong, spitting out lethal vehicles. You can make out the screams of the twisted car frames in pain, and Bbblood is taunting them, poking at them with an electric prod and guiding them into the compactor. A sadistic foreman with absolute authority over his machinery. Fearsome stuff.

And topping off this lovely evening are the amorphous, Miami living, Rat Bastard headed gang o' weirdos, The Laundry Room Squelchers, with a two minute long freak out of screaming, singing, flying about, dragging along and inadvertant wire unplugging. It's a condensed mess, it's fine, it is what it is, freestyle over substance.

Wevie Stonder/Agaskodo Teliverek - Some secret location in Limehouse 04/04/09

The big, secret gate opens and I go down and around and down and around to the bottom of what is pretty much just a big empty squat and there's a load of wobbly squatters all watching Agaskodo Teliverek doing their thing. Their thing has changed up a quite a bit too, most tracks rearranged, re-goulashed with new bits, new jerky stop start bits, groovier sections and better drums. Much better drums actually. And new tracks to boot. They've upped their crazy game substantially and I like it a lot. It's fun, it rocks, it's jiggy, it's like they've made lego models out of duplo and technic and regular bright red bricks and left them in the garden to get a bit dirty. It's a jolly good time.

And then yes, so, waiting for Wevie and this place is whirling almost exclusively with drunk guys sporting caps and tracky tops and slaughtered girls with skirts over jeans because like why. But it's a good vibe nonetheless and when Wevie S hit the stage it's a big dance comedy party. The freakishly tall freakishly toothed frontman stamps a rubber stamp on my arm that says Wevie Stonder: Survival of the Shittest as they all jump around in wigs and hodgepodge coats made of photos and fur toys, playing instruments and pretending to play instruments in equal measures, it seems. For a complete load of nonsense it's all very accomplished really, the whole ridiculous thing like some drunk old bunch of seaside circus anarchists. There's even a knobbly knee competition with a disqualified contestant. See. Thoroughly bloody enjoyable.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

BLOC Weekender - Butlins Minehead 13-15/03/09

Load of crap.

I decided to go because I had a free ticket. I decided I'd miss the Ramesses gig at the Old Blue Last on the saturday because there would be enough stuff at BLOC to make up for it. I made an incorrect decision.

Rather than go through and explain that almost everything was shit, and not just shit, but somehow shitter than when I went two years ago and had a terrible time, I'll just highlight the highlights. Because there's no need to say that Carl Craig was shit. Or that FSOL were shit and didn't even come to the festival, opting instead to play from their studio on a shit webcam. Or that pretty much dance music has just gone to shit. Or that the Butlins staff were once again being complete fucking assholes... ok I can sympathise to an extent this time, I suppose, because the punters were mostly wankers. Wankers in hats. But still, Butlins police, no thanks.

So yeah, I'll do the highlights, here goes:

Friday night - Big Alan insists that this one kid is really amazing, this one kid who's playing at fuckin' 5am or some shit. So I endure the rest (gay cowboy dancers?) and wait for Rusty. And yeah Rusty is actually dead good. Mixing all kinds of bass heavy stuff in very odd and inventive ways, with that crisp baseball cap and oversized cartoon t-shirt smirky attitude that only a genuinely talented eighteen year old can pull off. Yeah, I'm glad I stayed up for that, I'd go see him again.

Saturday - Egyptian Lover was a laugh, dead old in a fancy black shirt doing the shit you'd want to hear him do, his old electro shit. And he was dancing, which was entertaining, and he picked up his 808 and went "you know what this is? Eight-Oh motherfuckin' eight" and played with it and that was entertaining. He was a dude.

Aphex Twin and Hecker, one of two reasons I thought it would be worth coming, turned out to be disappointing. I believe the idea was to have Hecker do surround sound effects while Aphex played whatever he wanted but they hadn't tried this out beforehand and it was all a shambles and didn't work properly and was very underwhelming and the set was a disjointed load of stops and starts and hard techno and kind of naff. I got a nosebleed towards the end which I suppose counts for something.

Sunday - The second of two reasons I thought it would be worth coming, Russell Haswell, DJ'd on sunday evening and didn't disappoint, thank fuck. He did his anti DJ thing of like mixing nasty techno really badly and then abruptly stopping it to play some fucking really quiet bee swarm sounds or a helicopter ride or something. I really like it. It's completely fuck everyone.

He was followed up by DJ Bennetti aka William Bennett of power electronics legends Whitehouse, who stood there in a fur coat and mixed really bad italo disco for an hour. I was intrigued but it was no fun, and so I left.

So there you have it, an almost complete waste of time. And apparently Ramesses were amazing. Fuck you world!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Sunn O))) - Corsica Studios 22/02/09


As the robed protagonists take to the stage the call of a lone youngster on drugs breaks the grim theatrical atmosphere Sunn O))) just spent twenty minutes building up. And the show is all the better for it. This one off gig, celebrating a decade of extended doom, sees the band stripped down to its two founding members Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson, within the notably diminutive confines of the Corsica Studios. An intimate bare bones set up that manages to yield probably the most affecting Sunn O))) set since the first time I saw them.

Going to see them play multiple times is like going to the theatre to see the same play over and over, but with a changing cast in different theatres, so to be wowed anew by them is quite a feat. Everyone there was into it, everyone caught up in it, swaying entranced, and when O'Malley turned around during the final section of amp dial fiddling to see his and Anderson's guitars both hanging from the ceiling surrounded by fog and undeniably sublime frequencies, and to see a crowd of horns raised in approval, he grinned. Which I'm pretty sure is a first.

Flower Corsano Duo/Arrington De Dionyso/Zun Zun Egui - Bardens Boudoir 20/02/09

I liked Zun Zun Egui and I liked the way the dude incorporated slagging off the placid London audience into his frankly weirdo vocal style and managed to make it sound pretty cool still. They were a bit 'world jazz' but enough psychedelic for it to not be a problem when it went all virtuoso instrument noodling. Yeah, fun.

Arrington De Dionyso is fucking terrible and drove me to up my drinking which meant that by the time Flowers/Corsano came on I was too easily distracted by stuff like Big Alan getting punched by a teenager outside and like, pinball.

Chris Corsano looks like he's just been born, like he just fell out of a vagina onto a drumkit and started hitting them and my theory here helps to explain why he plays like he's never heard anyone else play the drums before. Which is a good thing, in this case, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dopplereffekt/Mu-Ziq - Corsica Studios 07/02/09

NOTE: I forgot I went to this gig, so it's out of chronological order. So what? Fucking sue me.

Motherfucking Dopplereffekt! I've wanted to see these guys for a decade. Gesamkunstwerk is amongst my most worn out records and my gawd I'm hot for this shit tonight. They step up in black masks and play korgs facing each other and barely move for the entire set, it's eerie, it's regimented, it's science fiction but it's happening right there and I can see it with my big flying saucer eyes. The audience reaction is mixed, with a lot of people expecting to hear some bad ass underwater Cold War electro type shit seemingly disappointed by the stark alien planet soundtracks seeping out of the speakers, some of them even fucking incredulously standing there for the entire set talking over it about how they didn't like it and shoving their big fucking tarlike hairdo into my face instead of shutting up or getting out like any reasonable person would. Other people did like it though, me included. Apparently it's their penultimate gig and I'm so damn glad I was there.

Mu-Ziq was shit surprise surprise who cares.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Il Goblini/Lasers from Atlantis - Old Blue Last 13/02/09

Lasers from Atlantis are about twelve, they were so cute. You just wanted to eat them up. Aw. Their sound was a nice little psychy proggy sound for kids, it was like a birthday party freakout. It was SO cute. Anyway, maybe I should afford them more respect, but whatever. The guitarist and the keyboardist are probably destined for great things, in about ten years. Bless 'em.

Continuing the kids out past their bedtime theme of the night, Il Goblini are Goblin covers band at a school band bash. Comprised of virtuoso kids dressed up like what they think adults dress like, they've emerged from their bedrooms to bring us the music of the best italian horror funk band, with none of the italian horror funk. It was lacking, like playing pacman on a phone. Il Goblini are the wank, to Goblin's full sex. Sure they're fun, and they're tight, but they just don't compare. But then, how could they?

Friday, 13 February 2009

Cove - january some time.

I ain't been keeping up to date because I've been away, abroad or something, I dunno. Playing with my balls. Anyway, I saw Cove play in January and they were drunk. Especially Dave.