Archive for November, 2015

‘Mesumamim’ means ‘On Drugs’ in Hebrew. With this new single offering, Spiritwo, the musical vehicle built around Yael Claire Shahmoon, who TimeOut describe as ‘The Queen of Tel Aviv Underground’, create an exotic, pan-cultural musical blend, which is accompanied by a video that’s visually compelling to say the least. Released as a double a-side with ‘Face To Face’ on 13th November, you can watch the video here, now.

 

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The fact it’s early days here at Aural Aggravation, and we’re a mere 25 posts in, excuses us somewhat for failing to represent the Italian Alt-Digitalist scene. The unveiling if ‘’the sblime semi-ambient digital shoegaze masterpiece that is ‘Crash’ by Shirley Said gives us the perfect excise to rectify the situation, though.

Shirley Said are a two-piece, comprising Giulia Scarantino (lead vocal, synth, piano, fx) and Simone Bozzato (backing vocal, guitars, programming, efx).

About ‘Crash’, according to the press release: ‘Emerging from a dense euphonious haze composed of sustained guitar notes, sparkling synth bursts and skittering glitchstep rhythms, Shirley Said’s distinctive vocalist Giulia delivers an angst-ridden ballad about doubt and abandonment. “The ceiling’s coming down/I am crashing to the ground”, she breathes across a gently insistent chorus hook. In exploring the quest for appreciation and reassurance from loved ones, Shirley Said have produced another soundtrack of rich, harmonic electronica, heavy on noirish atmospherics and unorthodox progression.’

Enough text. Here’s a tune.

Christopher Nosnibor

OK, so I’m something of a sucker for the old-school goth thing, but equally, have a deep-seated ambivalence to the scene in general. I love the Sisters, Bauhaus, Danse Society, Skeletal Family and a handful of others, but take issue with the majority of the rest of the bands, because they all sound, and feel so derivative. And while in my teens I was an immense fan of The Mission and still have something of a soft spot, I’m painfully aware of how bad Hussey’s lyrics are, and it’s a shame that many a great ‘goth’ tune has been marred by lyrics that are similarly built upon the blind recycling of cliché

And so it was that I felt a bit uncomfortable at times during Dead Eyes Opened’s set. Craggy-featured Spooks (ahem) is a compelling front man, with strong echoes of Dave Gahan about him. He seemingly embodies the tortured angst the lyrics convey, and they’re strung out over needling tripwire guitar lines, thumping bass grooves and quintessential mechanised goth drum patterns. Reaching forward, outwards… the audience just out of reach. Trapped by the theoretical confines of the edge of the stage but 4” high… The band calls to mind a number of the superior bands of the genre, not least of all Suspiria. There are also hints of the Lorries, and I keep waiting for them to launch into ‘Adrenaline’. What they lack in originality they compensate in presence and quality of material, and if sounding like Rosetta Stone is their worst crime, then they’re clearly doing something right. The drum sound crisp, with some good programming on display. There are Sisters of Mercy lifts aplenty, with the last track nabbing chords from ‘More’. A revelation? Not after all these years but a decent live act with some cracking tunes played well? Very much so.

Dead Eyes

Dead Eyes Opened

As for York’s own Berlin Black, singer Chris Tuke comes on channelling Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy – not just through the hair, but in his energetic stage presence. There’s no doubt that there’s a fair amount of booze involved, but he’s got charisma and presence and the element of unpredictability as he teeters on the monitors and various tables and other elevations around the room adds to the excitement of a dynamic performance.

It’s been a couple or so years since I’ve seen Berlin Black, and during that time they’ve evolved a fair bit. I’d also forgotten just how sharp a pop band they are, often calling to mind The Psychedelic Furs circa ‘82 to ’84. Tuke even straps on a keytar for a handful of songs, and on a lesser band it would be cringeworthy and cause for ridicule, but Berlin Black pull it off with aplomb. It helps that they’ve got some great tunes, which emerge from the chaos in pristine form.

Berlin Black 1

Berlin Black

The live drums provide a distinct contrast with their touring partners, both sonically and in terms of flexibility, and Berlin Black feel a lot more spontaneous, thanks in no small part to the tautness of both their rhythm section (notable for former March Violet Jo on bass) and some intuitive guitar work. The combination of energy and a less derivative sound than many of their peers – not to mention less obvious lyrical tropes – are Berlin Black’s clear strengths, and it’s not surprising that at this hometown show, they go down a storm – and deservedly so.

Berlin Black 2

Berlin Black

While half the city was out watching fireworks under heavy cloud cover, those who chose to celebrate the first Saturday of November by staying indoors with some decent beer and some decent bands for a mere fiver definitely got the better deal.

Christopher Nosnibor

Killing Joke’s renaissance may have begun with their eponymous 2003 album, but they’ve shown little sign of slowing the momentum since. It’s fitting: they’ve always been the band of the apocalypse, and as humanity under global capitalism seems set on accelerating toward its self-made demise and ultimate destruction of the planet, so Killing Joke are the band to provide the soundtrack. If latest album Pylon is a little more accessible, melodic and less full-on than since of its recent(ish) predecessors, it certainly isn’t a sign they’re softening. And while there are infinite angry, harsh bands out there, Killing Joke still offer a unique proposition – more articulate, both lyrically and musically than pretty much any other band you’ll find railing against the system and the man, their brand of heavy isn’t about raging overdrive, but something more impenetrable, industrial. And it’s live where the full force of their sound really comes across.

Never mind saving the oldies for the end: the set opens with ‘The Wait’ before they get swiftly to the new material, hammering out the bleak ‘Autonomous Zone’. Immediately, the power of the original lineup is apparent: they’re tight, assured and seriously loud. ‘Eighties’ is also thrown in early, providing some light relief and cause for a fair few down the front to bounce around like it’s still 1985 (and yes, I was nine when this album was released: seeing them on Top of the Pops was my first introduction to the band, and even then, I was intrigued and scared in equal measure).

Joke 2

Like another of my all-time guitar heroes, Swans’ Norman Westberg, Geordie Walker doesn’t go for heroics. No fancy fretwork. No posturing. As unassuming a performer as you’re likely to see, strolling – it’s not even a pacing, that would suggest some kind of agitation – a small space near the edge of the stage, he peels off layer upon layer of churning, sheet-metal guitar noise. Its power lies in the sheer density of the sound. Youth, sporting a crumpled white blazer, buttoned, and a sun visor over which tufts of thinning, matted hair stick, is similarly un-showy in his presence, rocking back and forth and grinding out bowel-shaking basslines that weld perfectly to Paul Ferguson’s thunderous drumming. I ponder, briefly, the number of albums the members of this band are credited in some capacity, Youth in particular with his vast catalogue of production and remixing credits. I also can’t help but be amazed that a band comprised of four middle-aged blokes (and a younger dude on synths) should be one of the most vital and relevant acts I’ll get to see this year.

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Jaz Coleman provides the focal point, of course. Sporting one of his customary boiler suits, hair grown long, he is the embodiment of the manic messiah. It’s often hard to tell if he’s grinning or twisting his craggy face into a terrifying grimace – both are equally scary, and he doesn’t do between-song chat. He’s wired, dangerous, focused. He doesn’t sing the songs, but channels them. He is the virus. He is a ball of fire, coming in from the void. And yes, ‘Asteroid’ is fierce, relentless, explosive. But then, the set’s brimming with highlights from the back-catalogue. Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions has long been a favourite of mine, and to hear ‘Money is Not Our God’ attacked with such ferocity was truly exhilarating, and ‘The Beautiful Dead’ was also a welcome inclusion. Meanwhile, ‘Exorcism’ was nothing short of immense, the absolute definition of catharsis. ‘Wardance’ and flipside ‘Psssyche’ inevitably pleased the faithful, the latter wrapping up the main set.

Joke

They’d saved ‘Love Like Blood’ for the encore (having seemingly dropped it for a number of previous shows, if the info on setlist.fm is accurate), but not until they’d powered through ‘Turn to Red’. Wrapping up with a powerhouse rendition of ‘Pandemoneum’, the refrain ‘I can see tomorrow / I can see the world today’ resonating as vindication of the band’s existence and continued rejuvenation. Coleman and Co aren’t sitting back smugly saying ‘I told you so,’ and instead remain intent on spewing vitriol against capitalist greed and environmental destruction, but the pre-millennium tension of their 90s releases seems devastatingly prescient in same the way JG Ballard’s texts portrayed the future by scrutinising the present. That future is now upon us.

Have you ever been attacked? In a fight? I mean properly pounded, battered so hard you hurt all over, body and mind? I have to admit that I haven’t, although I have been socked a few times and once fell while descending a mountain and cracked a couple of ribs, which left me in such agony that even breathing was difficult for almost six weeks. Listening to NV brings all that pain back: every bar feels like a punch to the abdomen, a boot to the ribs. This ain’t listening pleasure: it hurts. But really, what else did you expect from a collaborative effort from two such nihilistic noisemakers?

The context and sonic template is also worth noting: according to the press release, this meeting of deranged minds began in late 2011 with one sole purpose in mind – to capture, digest and regurgitate Godflesh’s 1989 Streetcleaner into a conceptualised nightmare, with Dragged Into Sunlight commenting, “The level of detail in a recording of this nature is inexplicable. Every note lobotomised, remixed and overexposed, exorcising total aural madness.”

That Broadrick himself contributed to the album’s production not only represents a seal of approval, but an indication of the ferocious sonic brutality LV unleashes.

Unsurpringly, then, NV is as nasty as it comes: an album that’s, savage, raw, relentless. It’s not a split release, but a true collaboration, which cements and them amplifies the parts to forge something even greater and more punishing than the sum. Five tracks, all over the five minute mark and all a squalling mesh of violent noise with thunderous drums at 180bpm. Extraneous noise rumbles and squalls and the low and high end respectively, adding mess and noise and tension to the thunderous abrasion to the songs – as if they need further layers of pain and brain torment adding to the dense guitars that scorch like a forest fire.

Sit back and prepare to be very uncomfortable indeed. You’re almost definitely going to hurt afterwards.

Dragged   Gnaw

Dragged Into Sunlight Online