Posts Tagged ‘OMNIBAEL’

28th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

So I’ve been bigging up OMNIBAEL from the outset – not because I’m acquainted – that cuts no ice with me as a critic, and if I don’t dig the music, I’m not going to back it for anything – but because I really rate what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is… well, they’re not entirely sure. OMNIBAEL are on a voyage of discovery, and they’re inviting you – and me – and all of us – along for the ride. They have no idea where it’s headed or where it will end, and that’s a large part of the appeal. So much supposedly ‘experimental’ music is scripted and scored. Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie is an experiment within a long-term experiment.

Each release to date has been a document of an evolution, and their debut album roper is no exception. Twittering feedback gives way to ripping riffage that’s distorted to fuck on opener ‘Mind is a Mess’ that’s the gnarliest of black metal melted into the darkest pits of burning torture, a missive from a purgatorial inferno.

I may have written on this album elsewhere, including some abstract liner notes that capture its essence, but I haven’t previously reflected in detail on the listening experience. It’s not pleasant, but it is intense, and it is, in the same way as it is with listening to Uniform, or The Body, a full-on body slam. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, and it’s a physical experience – one that’s like taking a kicking from a gang. Drums hammer in like boots reining in on the ribcage, and there’s absolutely no fucking mercy across the album’s nine tracks.

The churning murk of the eight-plus minute ‘Last Days’ is pure Throbbing Gristle, and this is dark, gnarly, nasty. ‘The Repetition’ starts with a mess of overlayed tape loops that’s very much reminiscent of the Burroughs / Gysin tape loops that so influenced Cabaret Voltaire in the early days, and after a moment of crackling electronica that strays into Whitehouse / Merzbow territory, it plunges deep into torturous melting industrial metal, a dingy mess so dark and so charred as to be corrosive to the organs. It ccu88ulminates in punishing screeds of howling feedback atop thunderous percussion that hammers like thunder. There are some deeply fucked-up vocals low-down in the mix, too.

It’s not pleasant, and listening to this breeds tension upon tension, you feel your muscles tense and your head grow tight at the temples and the back of the cranium. If the dank and gloomy ethereal ambience of ‘Rung Keep’ evokes swimming underwater, it equally feels like the soundtrack to drowning slowly, and there really are no breaks on this album: despite its sonic and textural variety, it’s heavy all the way. ‘Sound of the WW2 Story’ may be a brief interlude with some soft ambience akin to the swafting of a jellyfish, but it’s still dense, tense, and oppressive, and offers but two minutes breathing before the thundering punishment of ‘Flowering backwards’, which callas to mind Swans circa 1986 and early Godflesh in dub form. The volume, the power, the force, all combine to create something utterly cruising.

Listening to Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie is hard. It’s a brutal nihilism I’ve been craving and welcome unreservedly; it articulates the fact that life is pain. But the pain is without letup. Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie is uncomfortable, painful, and very, very necessary.

Om

Christopher Nosnibor

That there is a shortage of grass-roots venues is a widely-reported fact, and the last year and a half has only exacerbated what is, put bluntly, a crisis in the music industry. At the heart of it all, the problem is is that we exist under capitalism. Art and capitalism simply aren’t compatible. We therefore have a model whereby venues need to book acts who will bring punters who will pay for tickets and spend money over the bar. But how do acts who simply don’t have an established audience, or are unlikely to ever attain that kind of audience reach whatever audience they may have? How do acts who need the exposure get the exposure in the first place? The system is flawed. However, recent years have seen the emergence of a different kind of venue, with rehearsal rooms doubling as gig spaces. They maybe small, but that’s for the better – gigs with an audience of maybe 20 people don’t need a lot of space. Unlicensed, BYOB means no overheads or costs there, and because these spaces make their money by other means, any takings from gigs are simply a bonus. They also tend to benefit from being on industrial estates, meaning there’s less risk of neighbours complaining about noise, meaning the only downside is that they’re not so often in prime city centre locations. But how many small venues are these days?

Places like CHUNK and Mabgate Bleach in Leeds and Hatch in Sheffield have led the way, and now Tower Studios in Stone, a little way out of Stoke-on-Trent, presents a ‘proper’ gig following one shot for online streaming as part of the last FEAST event (with FEAST being very much something born out of lockdown with a series of streaming events).

For a place a bit off the beaten track, it’s stunning. Scratch that: by any standards, it’s stunning. A rehearsal space with a stage and meticulously maintained, it’s something else. The PA speakers are halfway down the room in the main room and face the stage, doubling as monitors, meaning the band get to hear the ‘out front’ mix instead of the monitor mix. There is a second, smaller room, but we’re in the main room tonight for a lineup of noise and experimentalism, and if the audience isn’t huge, at least they’re receptive.

Omnibael open with an ear-bleeding blast of space rock feedback with industrial percussion worthy of Godflesh. Jase plays pedalboard predominantly. Brief moments swerve into black metal, but it’s mostly just a relentless barrage of noise. The third track goes a bit Sunn O))), with big hefty power chords paving the way for more raging metal noise. The duo’s experimental explorations may yet to have found a firm stylistic footing but this outing is perhaps their most focussed and most intense live workout yet as they continue to evolve.

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OMNIBAEL

The second act, Vile Plumage, make like performance art, but struggle to keep straight faces, like they know this is audacious and preposterous. The gloved hands over faces cover grins disguised as menacing smirks. Stop start blasts of noise judder and thud. A rattling bean tin. We got given pebbles to toss into a bowl, and it was all quite bizarre and confusing, but entertaining in a strange and ritualistic way.

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Vile Plumage

I must have zoned out or blanked out for the next twenty minutes. Something about some guy cranking out electronic noise reminiscent of early Whitehouse while shouting torrents of vitriol and profanity through squalls of feedback, I don’t know much and I can’t comment on whether or not it was any good. But I think it happened.

Garbage Pail Kids is an experimental duo which features Theo Gowans, aka Territorial Gobbing – meaning that anyone familiar with the scene will have an idea what to expect –namely anything as long as its experimental, noisy, and improvised – and Basic Switches, the experimental side project of Leeds indie act Cowtown. Weirdy drones and feedback strongly reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle dominate the set. There’s echoed vocal oddness and endless pulsations with phasers set to warp and stun. Crazy headgear is of course a signature, and the headgear is particularly crazy here. The ‘anything goes’ oddity is nonstop, and at one point we find Theo playing keyboard barefoot while ululating wildly. It’s a complete headfuck, but a brilliant one.

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Garbage Pail Kids

Final act Ashtray Navigations are far easier on the ear. Predominantly dominated by dark, ambient sounds and gentle ripplings, although these are ruptured by dense synth bass and crushing beats. They venture deep into prog and space rock with vintage drum machine sounds: the snare is pure Roland 606. The set builds with some bumping bass that’s more akin to Chris & Cosey’s Trance era works. After a guitar string change that does slow the momentum just a little, the last piece combines the throb of Suicide with extravagant prog guitaring. It works primarily because of the blistering volume that’s utterly gut-trembling.

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Ashtray Navigations

It makes for a great end to a great night, offering a selection of sounds that have enough in common to be complimentary, but different enough so as to snag the attention. With any luck, this will become the blueprint for nights to come.

Christopher Nosnibor

Having established the FEAST nights as a coming-together of noise and experimental artists during lockdown, burgeoning label NIM BRUT has expanded its remit for this fifth event, with a live show in front of a live audience in Derby on August 1st, and streaming the performances alongside contributions from those who were unable to make it to play live for tonight’s online stream – making this something of a hybrid gig, especially as the event also doubles as a listening party for the release of Zero Gap’s eponymous debut. A collaboration between Ryosuke Kiyasu (the ‘Japanese snare drum guy’) and (James) Watts, growler for Lump Hammer, Lovely Wife, and most of the other gnarly acts circulating the Newcastle scene, it’s out at the end of the month, and segments from the album got spun between acts.

Walking in (virtually), I’m assailed by a whole load of messy noise that bleeds into some disorientating ambience. This, of course, is very much designed to set the mood, and in no time, Lost Music Library are pumping out spurts of mustard gas ambience, accompanied by oddly animated and eerie images shot in a children’s playpark. With no children (for probably obvious reasons) the scenes take on an uncanny aspect, with empty swings swinging, while randomly struck xylophone notes plink and plonk in a childlike fashion. It’s inexplicably moving as slow-drawn strings taper down through the emptiness. It feels like something is wrong, something has been lost. It feels apocalyptic, but also rather close to home and the scenes of the last year or so. At the end, everything blurs and fades.

The collaborative set between Thurmond Grey and Aged is an interesting dark hip-hop effort that harks back to the turn of the millennium, but with the steady beats and keyed-up rapping duelling with some grating electronic noise. The vibe is very much ‘in the moment’, and first take – which works well, as it adds to the ‘live’ feel. Grey’s vocals at times sound like mark E Smith, and not everything is completely finished, and that’s ok: like the BBC radio sessions in the 80s, this is an ideal platform to test material out to a select audience.

Thurmond Grey

Thurmond Grey

OMNIBAEL have been using these sessions to evolve their sound. Tonight’s effort is a gnarly whorl of abrasion: Kester’s vocals are mangled by a rack of effects against a grinding tumult of nasty synth abrasion, and it hurts – so much anguish, so much pain – so much noise, so much Throbbing Gristle. When the guitar enters the mix, things reach a whole new level of punishing overload, and the volume is absolutely fucking brutal.

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OMNIBAEL

Leeds-based noisecore duo Rejection Ops, who’ve recently (lathe) cut a 10” with Territorial Gobbings were there on the night a week ago. With guitarist / synth player / shouter Colin Sutton wearing a wedding dress and veil – and finished off with a head torch, they’re quite a sight, and the duo’s frenetic grindy noise is simply explosive from the first bar. It’s a relentless barrage from beginning to end, and with the addition of electronics, this set is all about the noise. It hurts: there’s no form, no obvious structure, but a relentless assault driven by a nonstop drum attack. It’s free noise in full effect, and it’s not for wimps. And it builds to a sustained crescendo that’s pure tinnitus.

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Rejection Ops

So where do you from there? To some harsh noise dialled in by a couple of clowns operating as …(something) ruined, of course. It’s impossible for me to review this objectively, but suffice it to say we were pretty happy with the latest instalment of anti-corporate power electronics that looks like featuring on an EP pretty soon, and those present seemed to dig it.

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…(something) ruined

Neuro… No Neuro present a short, shifting wave of glitchronic ambience, before six-piece This Sun No More packed onto the tiny venue stage and slugged their guts out with a set of riff-slinging post-metal: expansive, textured, they really flex some muscle. The structures are tight, well-arranged, and well-executed. When they hit a crescendo, they really kick, and there are – occasionally – some howling vocals half-buried beneath the tempest. They may be very much school of 2004-2006 in nature, but they hold up in comparison to masters of the genre like Pelican. Live, they’re tight and super-solid, and they look like a band to see in the flesh.

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Neuro… No Neuro

Aged’s solo set in unnerving because it’s is so literally in your face: Nate Holdren’s bearded visage looms and while the drones and hums trickle and trail. He can be seen talking to himself, stroking his beard, immersed in either making of the sound… but as a work of droning ambience, it’s a solid one.

It’s a truly packed bill, and Error Control, – performing live from the venue – wearing a blindfold, delivers a set that, predictably, hurts. It’s a lot of mangled noise. And more than being ‘just’ noise, it’s bursts of noise. This somehow accentuates the impact, the harshness, and man, it’s fucking ugly. But it’s also ace. Blackcloudsummoner makes some dark noise accompanied by some eye-bleeding, brain popping visuals,

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Blackcloudummoner

Headlining, Territorial Gobbing is mental as ever, as you’d expect from a guy who’s performed sets from bouncing a basketball and playing a cabinet he’d liberated from a skip on the way to the venue one time. Theo Gowans is truly the king of noise improv: he will render sound from quite literally any object, and will select that object on a whim. Clatters and clumps, bumps and wails, his is a world of off the wall mental shit, and the only thing you can predict it that it’ll be unpredictable and bewildering.

It all adds up to another great night of ultra-niche obscure noise: the amalgamation of life and dialled-in works well, and could well be a format that will be the shape of things for a good few months yet. It’s good to see things evolving in keeping with shifting rules and attitudes, and this is certainly an event that continues to accommodate all. Here’s looking forward to the next one.

25th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

While real gigs still aren’t possible, nim_brut are keeping the fringe noise community together with their ‘FEAST’ streams – and it’s an appropriate moniker, as they offer a veritable smorgasbord of experimental, noisy, and weird shit that fans of this disparate (anti)scene can fill their boots with at one of these events – eclectic, engaging, and inclusive, with something for everyone (as long as they’re into this kind of niche). Admittedly, the lineup was predominantly white and male, but that’s by no means an issue unique to experimental / electronics / noise, and the chat that ran alongside the stream was both welcoming, supportive, and encouraging for all comers. And in terms of replicating the live experience, it’s pretty good: something obscure provides a backdrop as people arrive and there are greetings in the chat, much like turning up at a similar show in person: a fair few people know one another from the circuit, and it’s relaxed and accommodating. In real life, these are some of the places I feel happiest: there’s no pressure as such, and people are accepting and accommodating of others not feeling particularly sociable, and the shared appreciation of diverse and indigestible music is simply accepted as enough.

So we’re here, and it feels comfortable.

The gig poster is replaced by footage of a lot of knobs and wires… a lot of panning and close-ups of this complex kit accompany drippling, blipping, bleeps and whistles, trickling, babbling sounds create a light, skipping mood. It’s Autotross, and they certainly don’t outstay their welcome with this short set. A nice taster, it would be interesting to see what more they make of this setup.

Soloman Tump’s pulsating dark ambient electronica is quite a contrast, and the rumbling, droning groan is accompanied by a walk in the woods, blurred, rasterised and colourised to render it most uncanny and unsettling. Clicks and burrs spike through the murk, the thudding beats thick and heavy, slow and deliberate, while will-o-the-wisp lights flicker and skip in the upper tonal regions, bringing a full sonic spectrum with good separation. The walk ends in a strange place with what looks like pouring paint and the sound winds down slowly like the life is slowly being sucked from it. While it would no doubt he great to see and hear in a real live setting, it does work well through phones.

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Soloman Tump

I was rather anxious ahead of the slot reserved for …(something) ruined: technical difficulties meant that the intended set wasn’t good to go, and I had stepped in last minute with a solo track I’d been working on, which I had about an hour to add visuals to before submission, thus making the debut for instrumental offshoot …(everything) ruined. Seven minutes of gnarly digital distortion accompanied by an eight-second clip of a sink-unblocking chemical in action looped for seven minutes seemed to go down pretty well.

Grating electroindustrial and eye-bleeding, fit-inducing flickering visuals are the order of the day from AGED at the start of the set – and then things start getting really weird as skeletal birds begin to drift back and forth against low oscillating scrapes and hovering drones.

OMNIBAEL had threatened a set involving banging railings and that’s what they delivered. Somewhere between Test Dept and Einstürzende Neubauten, it’s a heavily percussive clanging racket, and it’s brutal and oppressive. Marking a significant shift from their previous FEAST appearance, it’s a short, sharp shock of a set, and its impact is immense.

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OMNIBAEL

Blackcloudsummoner’s set starts out dark and sense with a grimy, distorted bass booming. Not a lot happens: the drone drones on, as shrill whistles of feedback strain through a discoordinated chatter of sound that reminds of being in a crowded place… it’s unsettling and tense. Red lights drop like lava against a dark background in a loop, and in combination, the effect is hypnotic.

There’s a whole lot of gnarly nasty noise from Error Control, and there’s a definite sense of performance here too, as we see him twiddling the knobs on his compact but knob-dense kit while blindfolded. On one hand, this could be taken as a critical comment on the nature of harsh noise and the lack of technical prowess required to create it, as well as the S&M subculture associated with some corners of the scene, but I feel it’s more about exploiting the ransom elements of music making – and he works his patches well, generating some head-shredding tones with some abrupt tonal shifts.

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Error Control

Even if you ‘get’ and dig Territorial Gobbing, Theo Gowans’ outré approach can’t fail to evoke a certain ‘wtf’ response. Sonically, this set is very much standard territory, a series of groans, drones, bleeps, blips, burp and farts, with random samples flying in from all angles to dizzying and bewildering effect. Only this one, he’s dialled in from bed with a hot water bottle and some kind of elephant trunk hat thing made out of foam and paper mache or something. He coughs, splutters, wheezes, mutters, and snores, the din stops and starts and you wonder if he’s perhaps unwell, maybe delirious, but then you remember that’s just how he is, and he’ll probably be doing shit like this on his deathbed. It’s a cracking set that reminds us that there really isn’t anyone else doing anything quite like this.

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Territorial Gobbing

It’s a top end to a top night. At some point in the future, this will happen in a small room, at extreme volume and will be observed and appreciated with a fervent enthusiasm by a dozen or so people, and it will be aMAYzing. For the time being, it’s a real joy that the creativity continues and the sense of community remains.

And you can watch it all here:

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28th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

While online streams have become quite a thing as a gig substitute during lockdown, I’ve personally struggled to really connect and haven’t been all that engaged with the virtual gig scene.

In classic real-life style I arrive a few minutes in (although due to technical difficulties rather than a late train or being at the bar over the road) to find a man –Stale Cooper, apparently – sitting cross-legged with a guitar in front of an immense back of effects pedals. The lighting is hazy, noise is droney.

A mass of monochrome blurring and squalling feedback drone combine to conjure a vast, expansive soundscape as OMNIBAEL take the virtual stage: there are hints of Jesu in this immersive, transportative wash of noise. The sound and visuals compliment one another perfectly. When there are vocals, they low in the mix, buried in a tempestuous whorl of sound that’s a blend of Swans and Throbbing Gristle. The set culminates – or at least it maybe should have – in a motoric throb of a repetitive riff that ultimately dissolves in a mess of noise, and it’s absolutely fan-fucking-tastic The set goes on a further ten minutes or so, and would have probably been more impactful with a shorter duration. Nevertheless, it was one of those sets that if it were a real gig, you would be able to go home happy, safe in the knowledge that you’ve probably seen the band of the night.

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OMNIBAEL

The best way to follow a hard act to follow, and it’s no brag that …(something) ruined are different. Yes, it’s my band, and we have a knack of standing out like a sore thumb in any context, not least of all because there are so few noise acts with vocals. Watching back our 3:22 of obliterative noise was a challenge, but only a couple of people left. I don‘t know if I’m pleased or disappointed by this.

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…(something) ruined

Lovely Wife make a monstrous blackened din: dark, dense, pitched at the low-end, low-tempo and with bowel-churning vocals, there’s an other-worldly, ethereal quality to their music. Featuring members of a number of other prominent noisy / doomy / sludgy / etc acts from the city, the trio combine elements of their other projects to conjure something powerful and intense. The Band of the night crown has been passed on.

The dark ambience of AGED is well-placed, changing the tone and the tempo, and the visuals contain a neat narrative, too, while Lost Music Library drift into softer terrain that slows the pulse, and paired with some hypnotic digital visuals, it’s a gripping experience.

Despite the rainbow discoball visuals, Blackcloudummoner’s set is a brain-shredding blast of feedback, a thrumming squall of dank electronics. Heavy low-end drones are disturbed by glitches and ruptures, and it’s heavy but mellow, in a harsh way. If that makes no sense, then, well, maybe you had to be there to appreciate how the scrape of nails down a blackboard against a dense fog of static and blistering, billowing noise can somehow be soothing.

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blackcloudsummoner

Neuro… No Neuro’s short set leads us into more minimal territory, with glitchy crackles and pops defining the sound of a brief set that would have been quite acceptable had it continued for an eternity. No matter, ‘Flower of Flesh and Blood’ bring an array of pink and white and brown noise and endless reverberations and humming circuitry, occasionally exploding into some difficult noise.

Forest Friends lead us through a leafy woodland as soundtracked by a crunching crackle of overloading noise: again, there are heavy hints of Throbbing Gristle, and with some woozy synth brass that trills away, their set is deeply lo-fi in its leaning. The vocals and drums are both a horrible mess of distortion, thick and dirty and it’s the sound of decay and disintegration that define the set as it gradually crumbles into a pulp of derangement. It’s a fitting end to a night of intense and challenging music, and credit goers to Nim Brut for assembling a varied, contrasting and complimentary lineup.

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Forest Friends

See you down the front for FEAST #3!