Posts Tagged ‘Live’

LP/DL Rekem Records REKEM12/Fragment Factory FRAG45

Christopher Nosnibor

The music this album contains causes as much of a sense of overload as the cover art, with its perpendicular textual tessellations. Chessex has long pushed the tenor sax beyond the realms of conventional jazz or even overt compositional forms, and Subjectivation, a collection of live actions (a term also used by the notorious noisemakers Whitehouse). Side 1 takes pieces recorded in San Francisco, Berlin, and Zurich between 2010 and 2014, while Side 2 documents a performance at London’s Café Oto in 2015.

It’s all about the low frequencies at the front-end: the album begins with earth-moving, bowel churning bass tones that grind and snarl maliciously, and this, coupled with the conveyance of extreme volume places this in Sunn O))) territory, the atmosphere of creeping doom delivered at a pace and volume that punish slowly. And gradually – although not nearly so gradually – things intensify as additional layers of volume and frequency are added. The accompanying text describes it as a ‘field of distortion’, but it doesn’t come close. It seems unfeasible that such a raging sonic force could be sustained for any time, let alone increase, but increase it does, until there is nothing but a dense wall of obliterative noise. It’s impossible to discern there being any saxophone – or indeed any music instrument – in this vast, screaming whorl. I’m staring at the speakers in awe, wondering just how much sound they can actually carry, and moreover, how much sound could be created in pure physical terms. Seven minutes into the fourteen-minute sonic barrage – something akin to standing next to an RAF Vulcan preparing for take-off without earplugs or protective clothing, I’m wondering if my skull might not implode and my brain before the end. It’s a perverse pleasure the pain of this sonic assault provides.

The London side is less full-on, although it would surely be difficult to be more full-on. Nevertheless, it matches Side 1 in terms of intensity. It builds quickly from an irritated hornet buzz into an infinite echo, a thousand horns, honking in unison to create a rippling reverberation of sound. Some time around themed-point, the sustained crescendo fades, leaving eardrum-fluttering feedback notes, shrilly quivering on and on, before the air is rent with shards of scraping industrial noise, the grinding of metal on metal on a fast, rotational plane. It’s as if with each shift, Chessex introduces a pitch and tone more unbearable than the one before. The tiny sound that hangs where there should be silence mimics tinnitus, creating one final torture in the album’s closing seconds. There’s something cruel – and unquestionably uncompromising – about the way Chessex executes his sonic blitzkriegs, and for that, I admire him enormously.

AA

Chessex

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It’s the night before payday and I’m skint. I should probably be at home, sifting through the mountain of review submissions that have crashed into my inbox while I’ve been at work. I should probably be doing myriad other things. But having caught Dead Naked Hippies for the first time in Leeds a few months ago, I vowed to see them again at the first opportunity, and given that this was a free-entry show at a venue above a WMC two minutes’ walk from my house, there was no way I was going to miss this. And with bottles of Timothy Taylors’ Landlord at £3.20 a bottle, it wasn’t going to be a complete overdraft-smasher.

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I often experience a strange sense of déjà-vu, but tonight, I suffer a deep sense of disorientation on finding the room I’d previously watched bands perform in full of chairs, so I continue on up and lo, there’s a cluster of people, some of whom I recognise. Dave, aka Washing Machine Repair Man, who runs Young Thugs Records and it at the helm of the activities surrounding the Hovel – which is above a WMC in York’s South Bank, gives me a bit of a tour and shows me some of the changes they’ve made since I last visited. It’s impressive: the studio is now in a large, and rather plush room, and he’s excited about the potential of what was – and is, where he’s yet to begin work – a dilapidated but substantial space with a number of rooms.

And so I find myself in a room I’d previously sat in as a studio-in-progress, repurposed as a sort of rehearsal space with lights, before some kind of weird Japanese-made electronic organ / synth contraption from the early 80s. A dude in a cropped jumper and sporting a neatly-trimmed beard bounds about flamboyantly and chats entertainingly between songs played by the trio on said instrument. He’s accompanied by and shares vocal duties with a curly-topped chap in a bobble hat and a super-bouncy female singer / keyboardist in glasses. They sings off-kilter songs with pithy lyrics and groovesome rhythms and a certain retro vibe, which build a sort of narrative across the set. Welcome to the world of Drooligan. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet, but tonight they delivered something special, something engaging, something different. And something different is rare, which makes this quite the compliment.

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Drooligan

Being a small room, it doesn’t take many (half a dozen?) to make it feel quite full, and for it to get quite warm, and to describe the atmosphere of a gig venue smaller than my living room as intimate would be as weak an understatement as describing the sun as ‘quite warm’ or Brexit as ‘not the best idea ever’. But then, the Hovel Sessions aren’t really gigs in the conventional sense: the shows are filmed and serve more as a showcase performance and an ‘experience’ than your usual setup.

Casting sheets of paper to his feet like brutal and chunky confetti, live, clothed punk poet Henry Raby seems to have been taking performance tips from yours truly, and one of the three new pieces aired tonight takes cues in the opening segment from criminally underrated local performer Lawrence O’Reilly – but then, creativity in the postmodern age is all about drawing material from a wide range of sources and intertextuality isn’t simply about what’s written, and Henry’s style seems to be evolving. The last time I saw him was at that Dream Nails gig in a 400-capacity venue. It’s often more difficult to perform to a small audience, especially in a small space, but a seasoned performer, he does a decent job of it, firing out nuggets of socio-political commentary with energy.

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Henry Raby

Dead Naked Hippies are touring hard at the moment, and it was the fact I landed ‘Drain You’ for review last year that made me prick up my ears in the first place, before checking them out at The Belgrave Music all and Canteen supporting DZ Deathrays recently that ultimately brought me here tonight. As much as the music and the songs themselves, it was the band’s intensity – especially the electrical energy of Lucy Jowett – that makes them such a compelling act. Off stage, testing their snooker-playing skills, they’re an affable bunch, but give them instruments and amps and the fiery angst explodes instantly. The lumbering groove of new release ‘Rare’ sits neatly alongside the grungy ‘I Wanna Know Ya’ and some simple-but-effective rabble-rousing anti-work sloganeering.

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Dead Naked Hippies

It’s a fairly short set, but this much spikiness needs to be dispatched hard and fast for optimal impact. And in such a tiny space, the intensity is amplified. Maximum intensity: optimal impact. Blistering.

Christopher Nosnibor

On the face of it, it’s a fairly complimentary lineup, showcasing three similar but varied strains of angsty alternative rock. On closer analysis and observation, the three bands appear to have quite different fanbases, with only limited crossover. Surveying the demographic, I’ve no explanation, and it’s really quite odd, to the extent that it almost feels like three separate gigs. Not so much a partisan audience, as three, with limited crossover. Admittedly, I’m here for Weekend Recovery, having championed them from way back, but it strikes as strange that someone would pay £7 for a 3-band lineup and spent all but half an hour at the bar or outside. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned and have a thing about getting value for money. And given the bar – £4.50 for a pint of Stella Cidre is as good as it gets – the punters should be keen to get something to justify their outlay.

Weekend Recovery are up first, and after a few cable issues, they start their set, kicking in with ‘Turn it Up’ – and I find myself wishing the sound guy would do just that with the guitars. Nevertheless, they power through a set primarily culled from the debut album that they’re relentlessly touring this year with energy and panache. They’ve come a long way in 18 months.

Owen’s guitar lunges have developed to full-on rock posing: he’s a tall, burly fella and he dominates his space, and when she ditches the guitar for ‘Monster’, Lauren’s liberated and mobile. It’s a well-structured set, with ‘New Tattoo’ bringing a change of pace and mood at the mid-point, and culminating in a fiery rendition of ‘Get What You Came For’ followed by a breakneck blast though ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’

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Weekend Recovery

There’s a degree of irony there: it’s a song about on-line dating and insecurity. Because everyone wants to be loved, to be subject of adulation… don’t they? Spending just a few minutes with Lauren before and after their show is quite eye-opening, and sustaining a conversation uninterrupted for more than two minutes is impossible. There’s certainly a lot of love for the band, and her – to the point at which requests for photos and autographs on tickets and body parts has become pretty much standard form. As I say, they’ve come a long way in 18 months, but it also brings home just how fucking weird people are, what life in a band – even at relatively low-level – is like, and how women in rock and in the music industry in general are subject to some shocking treatment.

Avenoir have a hard act to follow. They’re either really popular or have a lot of mates. Did they sell all of the T-shirts occupying the first two packed-out rows? Judging by how quickly they thin out over the course of the set, one suspect possibly not.

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Avenoir

The singer’s wearing a Misfits T and a torn black denim jacket with a Ramones back patch, and he implores the crowd to ‘go fucking crazy’. Three or four people bob their heads in response. They do manage to get half a dozen or so moshing at one point, but there’s just somethings lacking about their energetic but ultimately forgettable brand of alt rock. Songs, mostly.

Our Divinity have both songs and fans. Zara Saunders has immense presence, making for an engaging performance from beginning to end, and for a band who’ve only played a handful of shows, they’re outstandingly tight. Musically… well, there’s a risk of courting accusations of lazy journalism given that every third female-fronted rock band with a bit of grunt sound like Paramore, but the influence on Our Divinity is undeniable: they even throw in a Paramore cover near the end.

What sets Our Divinity apart from their peers is the density of the sound – benefiting as they do from duelling guitars that weave tripwire lead lines over chunky, overdriven rhythm – and the quality of the material. They may have only one single to their credit, but they’ve got an album’s worth on the strength of tonight.

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Our Divinity

The audience show their appreciation by climbing on one another’s shoulders and constructing human pyramids in front of the stage like it’s a 1980s Sisters of Mercy of Mission gig. For such early days, such adulation is remarkable, and if tonight is in any way representative, they’re building momentum for a rapid ascendance.

Holotype Editions – HOLO7 – 25th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s hard to reconcile the sounds emanating from the speakers with this being a document of a live performance. And yet Schulevy Maker, which comprises two long-form tracks in the form of ‘Schulevy Maker’ Parts 1 and 2, was recorded live at Cafe Oto in London in December 2013, and captures two outré sonic experimenters coming together to forge something that’s weird and wonderful in equal measure. It’s credit, then, to the artists and all involved in the creation of this album that the sounds are so rich, layered, and detailed so as to sound as if they were meticulously ordered, edited, polished and mixed with great labour in the studio. There is a lot going on, and none of it is remotely obvious or predictable.

The set begins with a nagging motif, repeated end on end and resembling a demo of The Fall circa ‘79, over which electronic screaches and wibbles and irregular, occasional clatters of percussion weave and flit in an out. And over all of this, Tazartès and Dunietz grunt and ululate, quaver and trill. At times, rather less a walrus of love and more like a walrus slain, Tazartès explores the lower registers of the larynx, while Dunietz offers a soaring, semi-operatic counterpoint.

Amidst grating industrial drones and scrapes, weird samples and chiming finger cymbals, the pair challenge accepted notions of melody with their often deviant vocalisations which stray from the roots of key and tempo. And yet as much as they often run contra to one another, every instant is a moment of perfect connection and compliment, and there’s a synchronisation of their idiosyncrasies which renders the performance utterly compelling.

It’s strange and disorientating, and it’s not always easy to find a foot or handhold amidst the ever-shifting soundscapes which rapidly transition from accessible to strange, and often appear to originate from another world entirely.

AAA

Ghedalia Tazartes   Maya Dunietz

Hispid Records / PNL Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Another one lifted from the epic and eternal backlog, Pan-Scan Ensemble’s Air and Light and Time and Space is a document of the first live improvisation by this Scandinavian collective centred around the ever-active free jazz drumming luminary Paal Nilssen-Love. Perhaps as one would predict, the nine players, with two drummers, three trumpets, a piano, a whole slew of saxophones and a flute, contrive to create quite a dizzying racket.

There are just two pieces on the album: ‘Air and Light’ and ‘Time and Space’. The former is a punchy twelve minutes in duration, and after a calm beginning, with just sporadic clatters of soft percussion to punctuate the aural vista, all free jazz hell breaks loose around five minutes in. Discordant piano and wild brass fly in all directions simultaneously, different keys and time signatures clash. It’s not music that will help soothe a headache, that’s for certain.

On ‘Time and Space’, things begin in a calmer place, and the incidental rolls and rumbles are slow but jarring. It all seems quite restrained. However, by the six-minute mark, it’s a frenzied mayhem of horns and arrhythmic drums crashing and…. It’s a dizzying cacophony, and after a while, when they finally bring things back down a couple of notches, it’s quite a relief.

The second extended crescendo is slower, more deliberate, weightier, but no less dramatic. Finally, some twenty-five minutes in, something recognisable as a tune emerges. Dolorous piano rolls over a steady, insistent beat. The horns still run wild all over the place, but they’re held in check by the solid rhythm. It builds and builds to an immense climax.

I know that this type of free jazz improv is supposed to be ‘difficult’, and some works are more difficult than others. In the main – and this is purely my personal taste rather than a comment on its musical or artistic merit – I find it all too much. Air and Light and Time and Space is a bewildering tumult of chaos, busy, uncoordinated and in some respects wilfully unmusical. None of those things are bad in themselves, but I struggle to grasp the purpose beyond self-entertainment for the musicians in the room. Apart from the last seven minutes or so, when a certain sense of structure coalesces from out of the chaos, it’s not fun. Nevertheless, the passion of the players is unmistakable, and the way they do bounce off one another to evolve the ebbs and flows and monstrous crescendos is impressive.

Pan Scan Ensemble

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have announcd they are set to return to European shores with a comprehensive live itinerary later this year.  The band are currently working on a new as-yet-untitled studio album, which is expected to be released later this year.

All the shows will have a very limited number of VIP packages via Artist Arena that will include a Meet & Greet with all members of the band, sound check attendance, early venue entry, an exclusive merchandise item and a collectible laminate.

VIP/Ticket pre-sale will begin on Tuesday 9th May at 10am local times, with general on-sales to follow later in the week.  For full details check www.blackrebelmotorcycleclub.com.


October
23rd  Dublin  Academy, Ireland
24th  Belfast  Limelight, UK
26th  Glasgow Barrowland, UK
27th  Manchester  Academy, UK
28th  Birmingham  O2 Academy, UK
30th  Leeds  O2 Academy, UK
31st  Brighton  Dome, UK
November
2nd  Bristol O2 Academy, UK
3rd  Nottingham  Rock City, UK
4th  London O2 Academy Brixton, UK
6th  Copenhagen  Vega, Denmark
7th  Odense  Posten, Denmark
8th  Aarhus Train, Denmark
10th  Lille  Le Splendid, France
11th  Nancy  L’Autre Canal, France
12th  Strasbourg  La Laiterie,  France
14th  Grenoble  La Belle Electrique, France
15th  Nimes  Paloma, France
16th  Toulouse  Le Bikini, France
18th  La Rochelle  La Sirene, France
20th  Amsterdam  Paradiso, Netherlands
21st  Antwerp  De Roma, Belgium
22nd  Paris  Elysee Montmartre, France
25th  Hamburg  Grosse Freiheit, Germany
26th  Berlin  Columbiahalle, Germany
27th  Cologne  Live Music Hall, Germany
28th  Munich  Tonhalle, Germany
30th  Milan  Fabrique, Italy
December
1st  Lausanne  Les Docks, Switzerland
2nd  Zurich  Samsung Hall, Switzerland
3rd  Vienna  Arena, Austria

Cleopatra Records – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Why? Why, Al, Why? I ask as a huge ministry fan, and also as someone who has a lot of respect and admiration for what Cleopatra Records do. I practically wore the magnetism off my copy of Christian Death’s Decomposition of Violets album in my teens. I’m not averse to dredging through the archives and giving long hours to the appreciation of murky live recordings from the early 80s, either: my copy of The Cure’s Concert and Curiosity was played until it stretched, and the number of Sisters of Mercy bootlegs, many of quite dubious quality, that I played to death and still own is testament to my obsessive bent and borderline insanity.

This release is undoubtedly of historical interest. But given Al Jourgensen’s (rightful) disavowal of the early Ministry releases, this feels like a shameful barrel-scraping exercise. It’s pretty much unanimously accepted as fact that Ministry only started to become worthwhile with Twitch.

The first four tracks which occupy side one of the double album were recorded live in Detroit in 1982. With some reedy lead synths, dry bass synths and chorused guitars, they sound like A Flock of Seagulls. Only not as polished. With a shouty, punk vocal and drum style, it’s a pretty ragged affair, the sneering, snarling Johnny Rotten style vocals echo into the abyss while the synths are almost buried at times. Even overlooking the mix – the recording quality isn’t that bad – it still all sounds pretty naff – although the material is, on balance, better than anything on With Sympathy. In context, it makes sense: Jourgensen penned much of the material which went onto Twitch and was already working on edgier sounding material before the release of With Sympathy in 1983, but the record label weren’t interested. Still, ‘Love Change’ sounds like The Human League covering ‘Funky Down’. Edgy it isn’t.

The ’82 and ’83 demos are unadulterated synthpop tunes and are very much of their era. ‘Game is Over’ casts some shades of grey with hints of Killing Joke and The Cure, but then, it’s perhaps easy to forget that the tone of much commercial rock and pop was darker than we’re accustomed to now: even acts like Howard Jones and Mr Mister had a certain dark streak to their music and lyrics. Ah, different times. ‘Let’s Be Happy’ is a bouncy goth disco track. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but it’s still difficult to reconcile with the band Ministry would subsequently become, and the less said about ‘Wait’ the better.

‘I See Red’ sounds more like Twitch: built around a thumping EBM groove, heavy electro percussion and processed vocals. Likewise, the heavily percussive, bass-driven ‘Self-Annoyed’ represents the sound of Wax Trax! in the mid to late 80s, and is immediately more recognisable as Ministry/related.

And while this is billed as a Ministry release, the myriad offshoots and side projects have produced some corking tunes through the years, so to find some of them represented here is actually a cause for celebration. That said, it’s not hard to appreciate why the unreleased Revolting Cocks cut, ‘Fish in Cold Water, failed to see the light of day before now. It may pack the sleazy disco grind of their Bigsexyland era material, but comes on like a mad mash-up of Talking Heads, U2, Bowie, and Harold Faltermeyer. ‘Drums Along the Carbide’ is way better. But then, you already know it, as a different version featured on the debut album under the title ‘Union Carbide’. Still calling to mind the attack of ‘Beers, Steers and Queers’, the battering-ram drums and scraping feedback providing a welcome cranial cleanse.

Dub versions of ‘Supernaut’ (released as 1,000 Homo DJs) and the Pailhead track ‘Don’t Stand in Line’ feel like too much filler however awesomely full-on the drum sound is, and the ‘banned version’ of ‘(Let’s Get) Physical’ doesn’t sound any different, and it would take a fair bit of time with an ear twisted to the vocals to determine any differences or the reason why it was banned.

The PTP track, ‘Show Me Your Spine’ is disappointing: it’s got a good beat, but isn’t a patch on the monotone psychopathic technoid groove of ‘Rubber Glove Seduction’, and again, it’s apparent as to why it failed to make an official release at the time.

In all, it’s rather a mixed bag. The majority of the material has curiosity value, but this is very much one for the fans. Even then, I’d recommend sticking to the albums released during the band’s lifetime, including those of the various side-projects.

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