Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

Buzzhowl Records – 12th February 2021

It had to be a limited run of 23 vinyl copies, didn’t it? The latest outing for the ever-intertextual, eternally reference-making anything-and-everything-goes melting pot of a project, Territorial Gobbing, is the first vinyl release in a jaw-droppingly prolific career.

For anyone familiar with Territorial Gobbing, Automatic For Nobody sounds exactly like Territorial Gobbing, only with a greater leaning toward some softer, more contemplative moments. Meanwhile, for anyone not familiar with Territorial Gobbing, it’s a good place to start, because it is wholly representative, but also – arguably – a shade more accessible. That is to say, it sounds exactly like the three different covers. Because yes, sometimes, you can judge an album by its cover.

And because T’Gobbing is a musical magpie of a thing, because Terry T Gerbs is the ultimate in postmodernism, indiscriminately drawing on everything and everything more or less at random, we arrive at REM brought to you by the power of 23, that mystical, magical number oft-referenced by fans and students of William S. Burroughs – myself included. The fascinating thing about the so-called ‘23 Enigma’ is that once you become aware of it, it becomes wholly inescapable. So it its ubiquity real, or a case of positive determinism? It’s hard to say, of course, but probability versus frequency makes it a fascinating thing to observe.

And, whether or not it’s knowing or intentional, the Burroughs connection is strong with Territorial Gobbing: the collaging / splicing / tape fuckery approach to audio which defines the entire catalogue can be traced to the cut-up technique devised by Burroughs and Brion Gysin in the late 1950s and extended to tape experiments in the 1960s, which in turn prefaced sampling and also begat the methods deployed by Throbbing Gristle and their peers in the late 70s and early 80s. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s knowing or intentional, either: the nature of influence is so often indirect – but like a virus, once a concept is out, it becomes airborne and has the capacity to spread invisible, subliminally.

And while Automatic For Nobody may not be quite the sonic riot of many previous Territorial Gobbing releases, it does nevertheless manifest as a massive sonic tapestry cut from infinite and divergent sources.

Sirens and birdsong and field sounds drone and fade by way of a backdrop to the spoken word opener, ‘Spontaneous Bin Lake’. It sounds like having muttered a few observations into his phone on a windy day, Theo stops for a bite to eat and a drink, and, leaving the phone recording in his pocket, manages to record about seven different sources n top of one another, and it bleeds into the scratchy, scrapy scribblings of ‘Oxfam Tulpa’.

‘Tack Says Ski Meme Free Peas Soot’ forges an unsettling atmosphere that’s eerie in the uncanny, strange sense rather than being overtly creepy, sounding like something that was recorded under water, while the eleven-minute title track does go for the creepy vibe, coming on like the ‘original’ TG, Throbbing Gristle, at their most darkly experimental, as Gowans gasps and quivers just a handful of lines repetitively in a muttering, tremulous fashion that exudes a psychotic tension, the under-breath mutterings of someone in psychological distress. It’s dark and menacing, and utterly disturbed. The tape stutters and warps, and there are yells, yelps, and howls off in the background, with extraneous noises throughout, ranging from lilting piano of children’s tune’s to fragments of music warped and deranged. The lightness of those piano pieces only accentuate the deranged horror of the demonic whispering – the words barely audible, but the menace and threat conveyed transcends linguistic articulation.

While there may not be the explosions of noise that assail the eardrums and blast off in your face, the same sonic abrasions are present – just backed off, and toned down – which renders the material here all the more menacing – and on ‘The Ocean of Black Hair is Not Your Friend’, gurgling electronics spark and fizz by ay of a backdrop to a distorted, pitch-shifted vocal, and it’s somewhere between a ransom call and Whitehouse circa Twice is Never Enough. It’s pretty dark, but only a shadow against what’s to com with the closer ‘He’s Absorbing’, which features guest vocals from YOL and Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe. This six-and-a-half-minute mess of noise ratchets the discomfort and the volume up several levels – screeding shards of noise that stop and start blast through babbling gloops and grinding earthworks, which are interspersed with inchoate shouts and yelps, and there is nothing comfortable or pleasant about this. And as everything twists, warps, crumbles and fades into a melting mess in the final couple of minutes, it feels like the very world is disintegrating. It probably is – and this, ladies and gentlemen, is the soundtrack.

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Hull quintet Low Hummer have shared new single ‘Never Enough’ on Leeds’ label Dance To The Radio.

Offering a first glimpse at the debut album the band are currently working on, Low Hummer have shared ‘Never Enough’, a driving new single that highlight the bands gift for classic indie songwriting with loving nods to bands like The Cure and LCD Soundsystem. Truly coming together in the studio, while the band poured over Joy Division and Cocteau Twins songs, singer Aimee Duncan could deliver her vocals with the cool understatement she does best, free from the noise of the rehearsal room.

Continuing their work digging into themes of social isolation, disinformation and online manipulation, ‘Never Enough’ explores Culture-bound syndromes, ageing and whether we have the ability to truly reframe the situations we find ourselves in.

‘Never Enough’ is accompanied by a new video shot in -5 weather in nearby Flamborough. Following three failed shoots due to positive Covid results, track & trace calls and extreme weather, and with an imminent lockdown in England the band set out with film maker Luke Hallett and documented their assent up Mam Tor creating a beautiful and apt account of the band struggling up a very high hill together…

Dan Mawer: Guitars, vocals:

“I researched culture-bound syndrome’s for ‘Never Enough’ – These are a combination of psychiatric and somatic symptoms, recognised only within a specific society or culture. Transmission of the disease is determined by cultural reinforcement and person to person interaction, I felt like this was an interesting topic for a song. The subject helped me pull together lines along with my own notes on ageing, self-doubt and the idea of cultural isolation. It all sounds very depressing but I hope there’s still lots of light in the lines, such as when Aimee suggests the idea of reframing the situations you find yourself in when you’re struggling.”

Watch ‘Never Enough’ here:

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Having talked with Lori Forster just a few weeks ago about her plans for a new, curated festival straddling London and Leeds in 2021, things have moved on apace at Ghost Road Fest HQ, with the announcement of the first four acts and the release of a batch of super-discounted, super-early bird tickets… and here’s where things start to get exciting.

Announced so far:

The Virginmarys (London only)

SHEAFS (Leeds only)

Weekend Recovery (London and Leeds)

SNAYX (London and Leeds)

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The Virginmarys are clearly major draw for the London show, being a well-established and respected live act with a solid and swelling fanbase, and running parallel, SHEAFS are very much a band on the up, having been booked to support The Slow Readers Club on their next tour when it finally happens. This is a big deal, and the chances are that with exposure like that, SHEAFS will be laying considerably larger venues before long. This makes the opportunity to see them likely to be pretty special.

But the measure of any festival is the depth of the lineup, and the early signs are that Ghost Road Fest is packing the lineup with quality all the way, with SNAYX playing both London and Leeds. The crunchy bass / guitar alt-rock duo sold out their last show before lockdown in March and again, after a string of high-profile support slots have shown they’ve got game.

Weekend Recovery have been AA regulars for an age, and they just kick ass harder the further on they go. Stripped back to an ultra-dynamic power trio with the immensely talented Loz Campbell now on bass, and a new album out early next year, they threaten to be explosive while playing both the London and Leeds shows.

With November a safe enough distance away, this looks like being a belter already.

Tickets and updates are available here.

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Bad Paintings – 16th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s perhaps fitting that elkyn should wrap up the year with a Christmas single. Bleak as the year has been for so many, it’s been an interesting and evolutionary year for the shy and retiring Leeds-based artist, 22-year-old songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Donnelly.

2019 saw Donelley tour the UK with 60’s LA legends LOVE featuring Johnny Echols, as well as playing shows with Katie Malco, Rozi Plain, S.T. Manville, Molly Linen and Mark Peters. 2020 put a halt on touring, and pushed him back into quiet retreat, and it seems that creatively, it’s proven remarkably beneficial.

Transitioning from elk to elkyn following the release of his debut ‘beech’ EP, and after a spell of silence, he returned with a slew of new material that’s as breathtakingly delicate and understated as you could conceive, beginning with a beech remixes ep and the single ‘if only it was alright now’.

How does covering a Coldplay track sit in the scheme of things? After all, they do epitomise the mainstream preference for the blandest, most diluted, tepid, fare going, the musical equivalent of instant decaff.

With chiming bells and dulcimers and soft washes of synth, this rendition certainly sounds and feels like a Christmas single, but with softly picked acoustic guitar and Donelley’s quite distinctive vocals that are imbued with a sunny 60s pop vibe, it doesn’t feet like Coldplay either. With a bold drum rolling in like thunder and a cinematic production, it’s well executed and makes for a fitting bookend to an outstanding year for elkyn.

Christopher Nosnibor

Lorin Forster certainly isn’t lacking in ambition, or ideas. Her work-rate, be it new music, a tour, artwork, merchandise a side-project of some sort, has been quite remarkable in recent years, and since Weekend Recovery formed around five years ago to say she’s been keeping busy would be an understatement.

As a restless and energetic soul who’s accustomed to being constantly on the move, she’s not someone who waits for luck to happen, or who’s particularly well-suited to lockdown life, so I wasn’t surprised to learn she’s made busy with by far her biggest project to date in the form of a festival. It felt like something we should discuss properly. So that’s what we did.

AA: Let’s get straight to the headline here: you’re organising a festival across two major cities – London and Leeds – over two days in November 2021. What inspired Ghost Road Fest?

LF: Yes, so last year we played crocro land festival which was put together my bugeye’s Angela Martin and it was such an amazing experience.

Then during lockdown I saw This Feeling released a festival-esque lineup I think called Rewired. I’ve lost a lot of passion for music during lockdown, and thought do you know what, if we all sit here like I am feeling sorry for myself then nothing will happen, I’m not gonna retrain, I’m gonna be a creative and get creative!

That’s a really positive thing to have come out of a less than positive place, and it’s interesting you should mention losing your passion and feeling sorry for yourself. You’ve been a keen advocate of mental health, so what have you ben doing to manage, and is there any advice or experience you’d like to share about coping with lockdown, especially for musicians and artists like yourself?

You know I had this conversation with someone today doing this sort of thing is what has helped me cope with lockdown. To start with I was like, great this is the time off of gigging and stuff I’ve needed but very quickly I realised gigging is a big part of what attributes towards my happiness. So I needed to do stuff that distracts me – I work a full time job as well, but the minute I stop I feel a lot more doom and gloom so keep my mind busy and excited toward achieving something is what has kept me going.

The provisional lineup is impressive, and also features a fair few acts you’ve played with / alongside in recent years with Weekend Recovery. What were your selection criteria, and how easy was it to get the acts you wanted on board?

Thank you! I wanted to play with bands I look up to and respect, the hardest part was making that long list a short list, each venue has 9 acts, that’s it! The scene is so full of amazing bands, talent and wicked awesome people, it was harder to work out who didn’t quite fit than who I wanted, and that’s what it came down too, who fit best together for the line up, without it sounding too samey. There’s only been a couple of bands I couldn’t get on board, and that was more to do with super organised agents having sorted our tour schedules than anything else.

How did you go about selecting the venues?

I went to see Rifffest – presented by Brooders at the start of the year and Belgrave Music Hall and absolutely fell in love with the venue – I love the vibe, the cocktails and the food they serve. The staff are lovely – Joe from Superfriendz has been nothing but helpful – and that aside the stage is amazing!

London I went with Kolis – a good friend of mine Arno owns the venue – we’ve gigged there a few times and again has such a cool vibe – it’s really quirky and stylish – also it located right next to a tube station so super convenient for anyone wanting to come to the event.

You’ll be the first to admit that it’s an ambitious project, and 2020 has been the absolute worst. With everything having been postponed and repostponed, and live music in such a precarious state, is planning a festival now a bold move or madness?

Oh complete madness, I’m bonkers doing this, but I hope it’s a way to stimulate the underground music scene, because fuck me it’s taken a hit. The lineup I have is ambitious but amazing, and I’m sure it will sell well, especially as the venues are quite intimate considering the size of the headliners.

But I think if you don’t try you never will. So I thought yeah I wanna play/go to a festival next year, so I’ll make my own.

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Can you tell us a bit more about the concept and overarching principles of Ghost Road Fest, and what sets it apart from other events?

We’re very focused on proportional representation, unfortunately I think this is an issue that’s still a bit overlooked. That’s not to say any of the acts were approached to tick a box, because honestly I’m in awe of who I’ve managed to book. But I want to offer opportunity for up and coming bands as much as established.

We’re also looking to offer opportunity for young people for disadvantaged back grounds who want to have experience in this sort of event; the other roles that make events happen not just the bands.

My business partner Alexandra and I have worked really hard to make everything as diverse as possible, from the crew to the acts to the partners of the festival. I’m really very excited.

Proportional representation is almost certainly still overlooked: the major festivals, Reading and Leeds, Download, Glastonbury, are all notoriously poor with their records of female headliners and on the bill in general, and often it feels like some inclusions are simply tokenismm. Why do you think this is, and what can be done about it?

I’d like to think anyone on any bill is there because they deserve to be rather than for tokenism (although I’m also quite naive and want to see the best in everyone) if it is the case and that it is to tick a box rather than because of inclusion or merit – I think people need to have a real hard look at their morals – I absolutely would like to think any bills I’ve been on have been because people like our music rather than I have a pair of boobs. But maybe organisers feel they have to to not upset people – which is sad because there are LOADS of bands with females in, or non-binary, or gender fluid people, who play fucking good music. I think there is still a really long way to go but baby steps are better than standing still.

Recent years have seen a small number of all-female festival lineups – Boudica Festival, Loud Women Fest, Native Festival in your home county of Kent: how do you feel about these from an inclusivity perspective – do they redress the balance or simply recreate the same problem in reverse?

You know I think they’re really great – they celebrate a minority of the industry, opportunities like this for women are really great! I’ve been quite lucky in that I’ve only experienced sexism a couple of times (a couple of times too many really, but compared to some…)

You’ve been a recording artist and a gigging musician for a while: you’ve managed to establish an admirable following with Weekend Recovery, and are also just embarking on a solo career, so what prompted you to branch out into management?

I sound like a right martyr but I enjoy helping people, watching them grow and feeling proud. I’ve grafted for years, paying my dues and I always wish I had the opportunity to have someone to badger and ask advice to skip a few steps almost, although those steps were the best lessons I learnt

It’s quite evocative – but why Ghost Road for the name?

It was actually a good friend of mine that came up with the name. I’m into really jarring imagery, I’ve worked under this name for a few years now, I also don’t think ghosts are always scary. I think they guide us for better or for worst.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

I haven’t! But then I haven’t ever not seen one – if that makes sense – I’m pretty open minded I’d like to think people are looking out for us when they pass over – so I guess that’s like a ghost

So what else have you got in the pipeline – that you can tell us about?

Well Weekend Recovery have our album out next year (finally) my solo tour coming up – I actually feel busier now than I did pre-lockdown if that was even possible!!

Ghost Road fest is scheduled for 6-7 November 2021 in London and Leeds. You can get updates via the Ghost Road website, as well as the festival’s dedicated Facebook and Instagram pages.

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20th of November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Grunge is dead, so the slogan ran on a T-shirt worn by Kurt Cobain back in 93 or thereabouts. And yet, he we are in 2020 and listening to the third single by Leeds power trio Kath & The Kicks, and the evidence says otherwise.

Like punk, post-punk, goth, shoegaze, and so many genres that are intrinsically tied to a specific period in time, the legacy of grunge reverberates and returns in waves, and one of the joy of being alive now as that cross-genre hybrids of all of these are possible and emerge all the time.

‘Underground’ is all about the thick, overdriven grungy guitar. The sound is dense and dirty, and benefits from an unpolished, no-messing production that accentuates the abrasive edges. It’s the vehicle which carries Kath’s bold, powerful vocal, which, stylistically, sits between vintage hard rock and goth – there’s a dash of Siouxsie in there, while at the same time hinting at being the natural successors to sadly departed Leeds favourites Black Moth.

The dark, ever-so-slightly twisted lyrics dig into a subterranean psyche that’s part goth, part agoraphobe, part obsessive psychopath. It’s a pretty potent cocktail.

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27th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Leeds proves once again to be the spawning ground for some interesting experimental music, and this four-tacker from Material Loss is a work of dark, dark ambient, a genre I’ve become increasingly drawn to over time by virtue of its lack of prescription: what I draw from it is as much about my own projections, my own internal state and contemplations as the music itself, although it in turn has the capacity to reflect back at me those internalisations. And what Material Loss convey corresponds with the name – a sense of emptiness, a sensation of being aimless and bereft. Admittedly, these moods do hit from time to time and I know his isn’t something by any means unique to me, but when they descend they do so rapidly, like a storm blowing in from the horizon on a strong wind, building from out of the blue and forcing a sudden pressure drop.

And what is material? Something palpable, tangible. And yes, these four tracks, for all of their vague, effusiveness, they succeed in conveying something more concrete, somehow. It’s all about the atmosphere, which has been carefully constructed and arranged for optimal effect, and while it’s short, it reached seep into the psyche, and into the body, prodding the gut, the bowels, the lungs, and, above all, stealthily creeping around the deeper recesses of the brain.

Such dank murkiness shouldn’t be associated by any means directly with a depressive state, though: the lack of overt form or structure can be quite therapeutic, offering a form of escapism as one allows oneself to drift through the sonic clouds, The first piece, ‘Set’ rumbles and growls, and within those sonic clouds, there’s a storm brewing. It’s a distant rumbling, a dissonance, an almost unquantifiable and most unspecific unease more than anything else.

Following on, ‘UA’ manifests as a barely-audible droning hum for the most part but it’s occasionally rent with tearing shards of nose or rising tides of amorphous sound. The fact that each composition is brief means that none becomes overwhelming, r challenging to the point of traumatic, although in the infinite subtlety, the menace is always present.

‘SD-CLA’ may be brief, but it’s dark and doomy, a single beat repetitively hammered out at a funereal pace amidst fizzing electrics and splinters of breaking glass. Closer ‘Alm’ – the calm without the c – brings a sense of tranquillity, a lifting of the mood and something approximating a sense of lightness and of relief, and a sense that maybe things aren’t so bleak after all.

They are, of course: the reality of living in the now is beyond dismal, but at least, for a couple of minutes, we can perhaps forget and pretend otherwise.

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14th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Amongst the fermenting foment that is the melting pot of the Leeds alternative scene, J. S. Gordon, or Jack as he’s also known, is one of those people who’s to be found ambulating the underground circuit around the rehearsal space and indie venue CHUNK with noisemongers IRK. His Platitude Queen vehicle represents a less frenetic, splenetic kind of sound: a ‘contemplation on cultural heritage’, it’s pitched as an album which fits ‘the wider traditions of folk music’ while crossing into ‘the world of hauntology’.

In liner notes fitting for a philosophy graduate, Gordon unpacks the idea behind the album:

‘The form of hauntology which besieges this collection of songs is one that lurches from the depths of the past, but also recognises the (lack of) future. The traditional view of hauntology (as per Jacques Derrida) is that the present is haunted by persistent recurrence of concepts and ideas from the past. The discomfort lies in the fact that these concepts, these ghosts, do not properly belong to the past, and the observer who connects with these ghosts is therefore also removed from a common sense view of time. We are therefore forced to remove our expectations of causality and the origins on these concepts, before they “returned” as ghosts.’

In its continual plundering of the past and the immense fiscal value of the nostalgia industry, in which a collective yearning for even the most recent past has scope for commodification, Postmodernism is in some sense built on hauntology, and in its endless recycling of the past, whether through a contemporary filter or a fashionable dash of retro chic, we find ourselves in a present where the future is doomed to remain mired in the past, while at the same time any real sense of history is dismantled by an all-encompassing simultaneity. As such, everything is rootless, as fragmentary echoes of all things past reverberate around us. And so we come to Forebears.

Forebears certainly presents an intriguing aspect on what you may categorise as hauntological folk: often wonky, always sketchy, and curiously evocative, if not necessarily unheimlich in its evocativeness.

The first song, ‘Sambucus’ is sparse and lo-fi, an acoustic piece that rumbles and mumbles like a Silver Jews outtake, wistful melancholy and off-the-cuff. The stomping ‘Dance of the Mummers’ s quite a contrast, a kind of folk-punk Cossack shanty, but as if played by Trumans Water on acoustic guitars. If that description sounds addled and vague, then it’s probably about right in conveying the strange atmosphere of the album. Everything calls to mind something else, something just beyond the ken of recognisance.

‘Hob Headless’ introduces an almost country tint, and ‘Pignut’ comes on like a wonky, vibrant and wholly irreverent collision between Pavement and The Pixies, unplugged. The eight-and-a-half-minute ‘Peg Powler’ is stark and lugubrious, some Leonard Cohenesque acoustic picking growing to some layered splendour and a slow surge of tension. Forebears, then, isn’t short on intriguing moments, or, indeed, quality songs that hang suspended in an indefinable time all of their own.

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Buzzhowl Records – 28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Anyone who was around Leeds’ live scene about ten years ago will have likely experienced the bludgeoning racket of Blacklisters. When it came to jarring, psychotic noise-rock a la The Jesus Lizard, they were beyond awesome in both volume and intensity, and they had songs, too. Most bands aspire to producing a body of work, but the reality is, any band that can craft one truly definitive song, then they’ve achieved more than more than 99.99% of bands. With ‘Trick Fuck’, Blacklisters nailed it, and in doing so assured their immortality. While for my money the rough and ready EP version was actually better than the one that appeared on their 2012 debut album, that riff… oh, that riff. Fuck, man. That riff. Anyway, the rest of the debut was absolutely belting.

They went a but quiet on the live scene, but second album Adult, which benefited from a beefier production found them on killer form, and with lead single ‘Shirts’ they actually matched ‘Trick Fuck’.

Geography and life kept them quiet thereafter, with just an EP and compilation of EP cuts and radio sessions keeping things simmering over the last five tears. Yes, five whole years.

But in the bleakest, most barren of times, after an eternity of lockdown, Blacklisters unexpectedly deliver album number three. Its arrival was heralded by the dropping of single cut ‘Sports Drinks’, which opens the album and is an instant classic. It starts with a sinewy guitar then the rhythm section hammers in at a hundred miles an hour and it’s the most driving, energised, manic things they’ve recorded to date. It’s tense, crazed, Billy’s indecipherable yelling half-buried under a punishing squall of guitar.

‘Strange Face’ is another explosion of noise that makes ‘Club Foot by Kasabian’ sound like loungecore, and is so lurching jarring and warped it makes The Jesus Lizard sound soft. The title track, up next, provides no respite, pinning down the kind of cyclical riff that marks all of their best songs, and once more evoking the best of early 90s Touch and Go, particularly Tar.

There is absolutely no let-up here: ‘White Piano’ is furious and it’s back-to-back with the brutal bass-driven feedback fest that is ‘Le Basement’. And that’s what differentiates Fantastic Man from its predecessors: it’s tighter, tauter, than anything they’ve done. If before their tightness was in some way disguised by a squalling sloppiness, the playing on Fantastic Man is rigid muscular, gym-pumped and vascular.

‘I can Read my Own Mind’ is the album’s one moment of levity, with hints of Bleach era Nirvana in the messy mix, but the soupy morass of guitars all layered up in a knot of noodly treble is knotty and takes some wading through, especially with the fuzzy-edged vocals – and then it goes a bit Dead Kennedys, only like a DK 45 played at 33 and the effect is cranium-splitting.

The final track, the six-and-a-half minute Shellac-like rhythm driven mess of nastiness that is ‘Mambo No. 5’ isn’t a cover, just as ‘Club Foot by Kasabian’ wasn’t a cover, which is Blacklisters all over – irreverent to the last, its comedic value is twisted by its sonic brutality. And fuck me, it is brutal: they’ve certainly saved the most violently noisy for last, and it clanks and squalls in a thunder of rums and snarling bass.

It didn’t seem possible, but with Fantastic Man, Blacklisters have taken things up another level. The hooks may be sparse, but the slanted, angular riffs are harsh and heavy, and from out of nowhere, this could well be their best work yet. Fantastic and then some.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Soupy exotica that calls to mind William Burroughs’ descriptions of Tangiers winds slowly from the speakers as people filter in, greeting one another in the chat section and the visuals alternate between the event poster and the running order. There’s something quite distinctive about Theo Gowans’ events, and he’s done an amazing job of recreating the vibe of Leeds DIY venue CHUNK on-line. A lot of it’s the culture and the people, of course, and CHUNK’s ethos of accommodating and encouraging the most far-out and fringe makers of music (while having a clear stance against fascists and bigots) is nurturing and community-spirited.

I’m oddly nervous: this will be …(something) ruined’s first on-line airing, and while I’m sort of comfortable shouting at people against a backdrop of extremely loud noise in person, knowing that we’re going to unleash probably our harshest, most experimental piece to date is an unknown.

In an attempt to better replicate the pre-gig experience, I’ve drawn the blind and cracked open a can of 8.5% Belgian lager – a kind of tradition developed when …(something) ruined took to the road (albeit briefly) in February. I manage not to pace the room anxiously, though, which is probably for the best, although it does mean I’m not working toward my daily 6,000 step target.

It’s a prompt start, and BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER pile in hard and strong with shuddering, juddering crackles and blasts of noise that shard from atop a booming, rolling bass. It’s apparently a saxophone, but fucked about with to be a potent, disorientating noise assault, building later upon later of interlooping shrieks of nail-scraping shrillness as the piece progresses. It’s rendered all the more tension-inducing by the cyclical visual consisting of just three rolling gifs. In a gig setting, this by way of an opener would clear the room before it even filled up: in the event, viewers steadily increase… 29… 34… 36…

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Ordinarily, that would be an act you’d not want to follow, but Expose Your Eyes up the noise stakes with thumping percussion and buzzsaw churning electronic noise, some heavy synthy drones with serrated edges bristling all over, intercut with murky pulsations and looped snippets of dialogue. The accompanying videos appear to be clips shot at random while out and about, with the lighting adjusted for maximum dramatic effect, giving the whole thing a horror movie suspense vibe. Only much, much noisier.

The change in style that Labas Krabas being is welcome: the Newcastle duo deliver otherworldly vocal warbling accompanied by disjointed double bass, and we get to watch them perform, albeit with blocky, buffering movement. Said warbling builds to crazed, banshee wailing and shrieking. It is, however, a long set, and it’s perhaps because of its force that it becomes draining some time before the end.

There isn’t a lot to THF Drenching’s set: the beardy avant-gardist shows various artworks close to the camera against an audio backdrop of trilling, twittering and occasional toots, bells, and whistles.

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Carnivorous Plants Trio bring more fucked-up noise-churning double bass action, compacted into a claustrophobic space with experimental guitar sculptures and random percussion. The technique of slapping the bow against the strings produced some interesting sounds, while the guitar work is very much about texture rather than tune. The layered visuals, which place all three musicians in the same space but as ghostly forms, are interesting, and work well.

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Worship My Panther plunder deep drone, which is supplemented by footage of rabbits, mostly: rabbits hopping, fighting and being hunted by birds of prey. Sonically, it’s dark and ponderous and the contrasting visuals add a different dimension.

I can’t really review my own set, but it’s quick and brutal and Paul Tone’s noise and visual collaging feels like a creative success, and I read the silence in the chat comments as positive, like those present being stunned into silence instead of sending virtual missiles and ‘you’re shit’ comments our way. The Whining crowd may be respectful and nice, but they’d say if we were shit. YOL slammed in immediately after with a short sharp shock of a set that was seemingly a guy having a breakdown while straddling a bass drum. I have no real clue what it as about, but it was intense.

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Heavy Lifting’s real-time programming yields tone-shifting phased synth wave sounds reminiscent of some early Whitehouse, minus the vocals. This is a good thing, because the vocals on most early Whitehouse releases were pretty corny, while blasts of distortion and feedback never get tired.

I kinda got distracted for a time in the aftermath of the …(s)r set: for some reason, people wanted to talk to me over various messenger services, but Swarm Front grabbed my attention with a politically-charged mash-up combining no-fi docu-drama and power electronics. Mashed loops played at hyperspeed stutter and whip in between more performance-based segments. The effect is somewhat bewildering, and at times, it’s hard to determine the sense of narrative.

Phil Minton is perhaps the noise equivalent of beatbox master Kevin Olusola, or at least an aspiring equivalent: his vocal gymnastics almost inevitably call to mind Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice recordings, as he replicated the sounds of howling wind, explosions and dark ambient rumbles with his lugs and larynx alone. And it’s pretty impressive.

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Finally, we get to see Mik Quantius do some JG Thirlwell-inspired growling and playing a keyboard with his feet and shake his jowls frantically in front of a mic. Some of it’s ok, some not so much, but the sound quality is pretty poor. And I’m weary and beery. And it feels very like a gig. Only, I’m not rushing for a train at 11pm and after 5 pints or more. Which is one positive over real gigs, I suppose…

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