Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Cruel Nature Records – 3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Cruel Nature’s release schedule for December is heavily snake-orientated, with Cavesnake’s eponymous album emerging on the same day as Mitternacht’s The Snake, although the two serpents are very different beasts.

For Cavesnake, the bio informs us that ‘Oxgoat and Sikander Louse came together through a shared love of ugly, blown out Black Metal, achingly beautiful ambient soundscapes, and deep space horror’, and that ‘They use the interstitial zone of Cavesnake to explore themes of loss, emptiness, ontological insecurity and the righteous acceptance of the impending apocalypse.’

It’s seriously fucking dark from the opening, with creeping fear chords and dark ambience drifting slowly across the horizon.

Cavesnake record straight to tape and through a rigorous process of layering, drenching samples in reverb, re-amping guitar drones through monstrous cabinets, they force their music to hang listlessly in a void space akin to an event horizon. And dark it is: ‘Pseudohalo’ may only be four minutes in duration, but it’s a bleak and oppressive opener, although it’s nothing to the whiplash black metal mudslide of ‘Bloodless Weapon’. This is murky, dark, heavy. It growls and grinds and churns and burns, and shrieks howling screeds of sonic lesions, an aural excoriation that scrapes and drones for almost nine minutes.

The ten-minute ‘Posture in Defeat’ is a swirling back hole, a deep, dark eddy of slow collapse, the pretty mid-frequency glimmers rent by earth-shattering sonic donations like planets colliding, while ‘Vipers Dance’ which stretches and twists a full twelve minutes is serpentine, dark, ominous, bleak. Without an explicit context, it’s for the listener to place and utilise this listening experience to suit their experiences, and for the most part, for me, I find myself nervous, anxious, uncertain, as every composition is dark, oppressive, the sound of impending doom. It’s thick, swirling, a dense swirling vortex of airlessness from which there seems to bee no escape as it envelopes your entire being. You simply cannot breathe; all you want to do is breathe. The snake is constricting now, your ribs and lungs are tight. Please…

The final track, ‘Fleshware’, offers no respite, a churning grind and whisper or multi-layered noise that offers no breaks, no moments of calm, only increased tension. It scrapes and screeds and snarls and growls, and near the end, a distorted, impenetrable voice speaks, rasping the album to a close.

It’s pretty heavy, and so intense. Prepare to be bitten.

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Midlands based math-rockers a-tota-so are back though not quite as mathy as you might remember them. When COVID19 hit the UK and the never ending lockdowns and lack of support for the music industry started signalling the end of live music for what many thought might be a very long time, a-tota-so decided to change things up and keep themselves busy working on their second album entitled Lights Out.

The biggest change sees the usually instrumental band enlisting a gang of their vocalist friends from the UK and Irish music scene, putting a fresh spin on their music and create something different this time around. Each of the 8 tracks boasts a different vocalist from the likes of Damien Sayell (The St Pierre Snake Invasion/Mclusky), Ashley Tubb (Sugar Horse), Jake O’Driscoll (God Alone) and Ellie Godwin (No Violet).

With most of the music being written during the first lockdown and recorded over winter 2020 at JT Soar, the legendary DIY venue and recording studio in Nottingham, the band sent a track to each of the vocalists they had in mind and they were given free reign to do what they wanted over the instrumentals. The result is an exciting and eclectic album which covers a wide range of genres and changes the bands sound completely.

Guitarist Marty Toner comments, “The album deals with a variety of themes including depression, anxiety, feeling lost and the general state of the world we are currently living in while providing hope that we can carry on with the things that we all love and enjoy in the future."

Now the band have shared the beautifully animated video for recent single “I Am” which features vocals from Aisling Whiting (Sang Froid). Video director/animator Steve McCarthy comments,

“When Marty from a-tota-so  shared the song with me I knew I had to get involved! initially I’d wanted to keep it simple, but he gave me full creative freedom on the video and as I started experimenting the idea started to grow.

Taking some inspiration from Simon J. Curd’s album artwork, I developed a story around a scene in a forest that changes through the cycle of the seasons and the cycle of life and death.

This was such a great opportunity to really explore some creative ideas and tools, and the whole thing was a learning process. It was a pleasure to work on and turned into a real passion project and a learning exercise for myself.” 

Watch the video now:

7th December 2021

Crimson Brûlée emerged in 2019 as an offshoot of guitar-driven goths The Witch-Kings, after a difference of opinion over the incorporation of synths. No diss to The Witch-Kings, but Tragica presents a magnificent sound.

It’s a pretty awkward band name and so-so title for a great album, but there is context, at least for the latter, in that the EP is delivered in homage to the band’s original bassist, Johan, who passed away in early 2021.

He would likely have been proud. With Tragica Crimson Brûlée really nail their position as a top-notch goth act. It’s billed as an EP, but comes with a stack of remixes which bulks it uo to nine tracks, which is effectively an album or two EPs.

‘I Came Back to You’ is a strong opener, combining trad goth with the sound and feel of early Psychedelic Furs, packing minor chords and an insistent beat in the verses, that burst into something wonderful in the choruses. Light explodes and it feels redemptive. It could easily be a Talk Talk Talk outtake. The intro to ‘Nothing Dies Forever’ invites comparisons to She Wants Revenge: it’s dramatic, bold, bombastic, synth-led but driven by some meaty guitars, and absolutely fucking epic, and never lets up for its five-minute duration.

It’s the strolling bass that dominates ‘Restrained’, which is anything but in terms of its epicness. All bar one of the songs are over the five-minute mark, but ‘Where the Tarantulaa Roam’, extending beyond the six-minute mark, is an absolute beast, and one that calls to mind Susperia, only with swirling backing vocals reminiscent of All About Eve’s Julianne Reagan. With the synths backed off but sweeping all around, the mix is immense.

‘Why I Wear Black’ is more guitars, more SWR-like. Yet for all the references, this feels fresh and innovative: this is not an album that deals in tropes and the lyrics are personal and genuine rather than contrived.

It’s a really, really strong suite of songs, The remixes are pretty good, to be fair, but non-essential.

AA

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Panarus Productions – 3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a challenge faced by many artists, and many try but fail to capture the fleeting moments that pass before we even see them. They’re sometimes visual, sometimes auditory, sometimes emotional, and sometimes a combination of all three, like an instant where the lighting is so rare or perfect and you feel a fleeting pang of something inside that you can’t even pinpoint… there is a soundtrack to that somewhere, but it’s so fleeting, intangible, there is simply no way you can grasp it, no way to capture it.

This is where we convene with Sozna and Young Tribe, whose biographical details are sparse but likely irrelevant. Because as the title intimates, nothing is fixed, and details are not important; what matters is chasing the mood of the moment, which is like catching air in a fishing net. It’s a common notion within the spheres of ambience, and more often than not manifests as gentle, ethereal works, with mellifluous trails of vapour drifting softly in attempts to convey the wistfulness of fleeting intangibility.

Where Ephemeral stands out is not only in its heavy use of field recordings and material lifted from various sources – snippets of voices, building work, street sounds – to create a layered collage that quite literally captures and combines fleeting moments and assembles them in a kind of patchwork, bit its darkness and weight. Everything overlaps to crowd the mind, as construction work and idle chatter overlap.

‘Subincision’ is a swampy murk of swirling dark ambient electronica withy rumbling, thunderous grumbles and ominous overtones. Following that, ‘Gods From Saturn’ is particularly dense; part space-age abstraction with hints of Krautrock, [art dark ambient, it’s not a sigh of reminiscence about that brief moment of ecstasy, but the gut-pulling nag of anguish that comes from recalling that social wrong step, that embarrassing misspeak, the sinking feeling of that wrong choice or bad decision. These emotions too are fleeting and ephemeral, and in many ways a more common kind of ephemera. The title track is dark and punishing, a gloomy chant and thud from the depths of a cavernous cave; it’s oppressive and somewhat scary, with monasterial moans and elongated shadows droning and rising. It’s eerie, creepy, and other-worldly. You may feel a pang of fear, but it, like everything else, passes in no time. There is no permanence; everything happens, and exists, in but a moment.

Every moment is just that; a moment, and it’s gone before you realise it. The highs may often prove more memorable and feel more protracted in comparison to the highs and the alrights, but in terms of the period of their existence, all is equal. Sozna and Young Tribe explore this space, and delve courageously into the lows, the throughs, the darker spaces, the moments of discomfort, shame, and embarrassment which are but fleeting which often haunt us forever. Ephemeral grips the corners of fleeting discomfort, the lower reaches of the intestine, and pokes the points of nagging discomfort from fleeting moments which linger there. In doing so, they inch closer to creating art that reflects life.

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COP International – 5th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This is a blast from the past. Ungod was one of those albums that really grabbed hard when I encountered it on release back in 94. They were exciting times, and even the most cursory scan of album charts or any lists of albums released in 94 evidence what an incredible year it was. But that was simply the time, that brief spell in the early 90s where a whole host of new alternative styles emerged and broke through.

With three versions of ‘I Am Nothing’, this EP very much has the feel of CD single releases from the 90s – something I can’t help but feel ambivalent about. Major labels were particularly guilty of this, keen to eke out as many formats and releases from material as possible (preferring to release a second album than an album’s worth of B-sides across singles and EPs).

‘I am Nothing’ in its original album form is a full-gritted beast of a tune, driven by a dense, snarling bass rattle and a phat, sludged-out guitar riff. With a strong chorus – dare I even say anthemic – it’s vintage Stabbing Westward (and the choice of John Fryer, who produced their first 2 records, may have contrinbuted to this).

Chris Hall’s ‘Replicant 2021’ remix goes all-out on the industrial disco groove, and while it’s got that dancefloor-friendly rush about it, it strips out much of the power of the original in favour of making it something to bounce along to. Go Fight’s ‘Taiko Sludge Remix’ is slower, more paired back yet more detailed, and also moodier-sounding, making it the more interesting of the two mixes by some margin.

The three versions are wrapped up with a ‘2021’ remake of ‘Slipping Away’, the final track from their 1996 sophomore album, Wither Blister Burn & Peel. A minute shorter than the original, it places the emphasis very much on the synths aspect of the sound; if the original was reminiscent of Downward Spiral ­era Nine Inch Nails, this reworking is more Pretty Hate Machine. Propelled by a stomping beat, it’s got no shortage of attack, and it will be interesting to hear the direction of the forthcoming album, Chasing Ghosts.

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Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while. Back in the mid/late-noughties, Maybeshewill (formed in 2006) carved their own furrow in the world of post-rock, balancing delicate ethereal explorations with some bruising riffs, and, every now and again, in the absence of vocals, incorporating samples int the mix.

They adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder certainly seems to have some currency when it comes to their comeback, seven years after their called time and bade their fans farewell.

‘Zarah’, the first cut from forthcoming album, the appropriately-titled No Feeling is Final, has already found a fan and champion in Labour MP for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana. There’s a reason for this, as Guitarist Robin Southby explains:

“The track is built around an extract of a speech by Zarah Sultana. Zarah’s words encapsulate the anger and frustration felt by younger generations, being denied a say in their own future by an older global elite who are staunchly opposed to taking action on the climate crisis in the name of wealth accumulation and upholding existing power structures. The speech decries the billionaire-led multinational corporations and nepotic career politicians who are desperately clinging on to the status quo of late-stage capitalism in the face of a world that is literally burning down around them.”

It’s easy to dismiss instrumental post-rock acts as pedalling mere atmosphere and wistfulness, but politics can be found beneath the surface of the works of so many artists: Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s music does little to reveal the band’s leftist / anarcho leanings, although there are clues in the titles and artwork and so on. But here, Maybeshewill render their position quite explicit, and it’s a strong thing to do.

It’s also a strong release: on the one hand, it’s classic Maybeshewill, a continuation of form that sees them marry unsettling undercurrents and a moody tension with incredible gracefulness, and, of course, epic building crescendos.

‘Zarah’ isn’t so much a crescendo-orientated composition, but is rich in texture, and packs all the elements of an epic into a succinct 3:45. Maybeshewill aren’t only back, but they’re better than ever.

AA

thumbnail_Maybeshewill - please credit Fraser West

Cae Gwyn Records – 29th October 2021

James Wells

Meh, whatever, right? I wish I could be that laid back, shrug that easily, care less – and not in the American sense. I’ve always been a fan of Dinosaur Jr since my early teens, and ‘Whatever’s Cool With Me; and ‘Let it Slide’ for me encapsulated that slacker style, and the appeal was that it was something I simply couldn’t subscribe to in my own life, however I might try.

This five-tracker from The Mighty Observer is far more laid back than that: it promises ‘warm jangly guitars and a low lazy mumble influenced by the likes of Kurt Vile, Sam Evian and Mac DeMarco’. It delivers all of this, and more, with some reflective compositions and soft-hued guitars and hazy vocals propelled gently and at a sedate pace by vintage drum machine sounds.

‘Sunkiss’ turns the lights down for a laid-back simmering groove of a tune. ‘Aros Am Yr Haul’ strikes a low, slow, stealthy groove that’s got hints of psychedelia about nit as it snakes around in a soft haze – and then there’s a way cool blues-orientated guitar solo bang in the middle, and it’s wonderful, immersive and effortlessly delivered.

What’s perhaps most striking is its range: for all its weary-sounding indie stylings, Okay, Cool is remarkably diverse when You explore the details. The longest track, ‘Y Goffod Inbetween’ is a shimmering, rippling instrumental that plods a long at mid-tempo and casts waves of light as if quavering across the surface of a pond.

Hazy, mellow, and easy on the ear, there’s depth and atmosphere going here, too.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a long time coming. Not only was Long Division postponed from 2020, but the usual may / June date pushed back – and back – to the penultimate weekend in September. In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate Long Division over the more renowned Live at Leeds, which increasingly feels more mainstream-orientated and generally more commercial, while the smaller event has retained its predominantly local focus (plus the now-obligatory Scottish contingent, who are always welcome) and a sense of catering to a broader demographic, with up-and-coming talent sitting comfortably along well-established and even what I suppose you might consider more heritage acts. In short, there’s something for everyone, and with Wakefield being a compact city, none of the venues are more than a few minutes’ walk from one another.

An indication of a well-planned festival is the breadth and depth of the bill, where it’s possible to spread the quality over the course of the day instead of flopping listlessly around in the early evening before all five of your must-see acts all playing between half eight and eleven, and arriving early doors meant being rewarded with The Golden Age of TV being first on at WX – a new venue, and a good one, right next to the wristband exchange. WX is spacious – by which I mean huge., but has good sound, and band seem to enjoy the big stage. The band have evolved significantly during their time away, and if Bea’s oversized jacket has a touch of the David Byrnes, vocally, she’s transitioned from Florence Welch to Siouxsie Sioux as she leads the band through a tight and energetic set of guitar-driven post punk infused indie rock. They’ve certainly set the bar high for the rest of the day.

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The Golden Age of TV

Solo artist Mayshe Mayshe’s sparse, minimal ethereal synth pop provides a strong contrast. Although with no obvious or radical changes, with the hair dryer still a feature of her set, she conjures magic with vocal loops and atmosphere, with an array of heavily-echoed modes of percussion and some shuddering bass frequencies. There’s some really deft and dextrous pedal work and real-time mixing, and it’s a captivatingly understated performance.

It’s back over to the WX, where Hands Off Gretel open with ‘Milk’, and Lauren Tate is straight in with a full-throated roar and all of the Cortney Love guitar poses with her foot in monitor. ‘Bigger than Me’ from the new Angry EP is a rager: there’s no question they’re at their best when they really let it all rip, and less so when it comes to chat between songs, while Lauren has trouble with a bottle of water for much of the set. New song ‘War’ is also a stormer, and ‘Don’t Touch’ from new EP also has bite, if very strong hints of The Pretty Reckless. They close with a passable but middling rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’, and the lasting impression is of the style and the delivery rather than the songs.

Last time I saw Cud was 1992, and I had wondered just what kind of interest there would be in them in Wakefield in the middle of the afternoon. They’re one of those bands who were never cool, but then didn’t much give a fuck, and it seems little has changed, really. Carl Puttnam has still got the moves, and the look of a chubby pimp with lounge style vocals. They’re well-received, with a lot of middle aged people dancing down the front, especially to ‘Rich and Strange’ and the baggy groove of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ during which some guy in a ‘Child of Cud’ T got on stage and did a Bez. And you know what? Maybe nostalgia is what it used to be, and they were good fun.

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Cud

Remaining in the WX, it’s not quite as busy for Brix and The Extricated, who power through a lively set. She’s got all the energy and positively full the state with presence, a restless force and a whirl of red sequins and platinum hair. The Fall’s ‘Feeling Numb’ lands fairly early on, and after ‘Dinosaur Girl’, they’re into the timeless classic that is ‘LA’. It doesn’t get better than that.

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Brix and the Extricated

Only, perhaps it does: Big Joanie have got The Establishment rammed to capacity, and it’s remarkable to see how they’ve gone from supporting Charlie Bliss at Headrow House in Leeds just a couple of years ago to playing one of the buzziest sets of the day ahead of a tour supporting IDLES in 1,500 capacity venues. This, of course, makes this afternoon’s set all the sweeter, and what’s so pleasing to see is that the band themselves haven’t changed. They still stand out, with their standing drumming as the sparse power trio deliver simple chord repetitions with instant hooks. Less is definitely more and they looked to be really enjoying themselves, too, and if you‘re looking for examples of strong role models with a positive message as well as great tunes, they deliver, while being completely devoid of cliché.

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Big Joanie

Watching Lanterns on the Lake’s mellow, expansive post-rock with some smooth textures and dynamic drumming, I realise that I’ve witnessed – quite unintentionally – a day of music with predominantly female-fronted acts, and it’s incredibly refreshing considering just how depressingly testosterone-led most festival and gig lineups are. Equally, the stylistic range is remarkable. Lanterns are easy on the ear but by no means dull, with hints of Portishead, and they end the set with guitarist Paul Gregory with a shredded violin bow after a truly epic crescendo. The experience is subtly powerful and ultimately quite moving.

Skipping across town, we find Idlewild front man Roddy Woomble in a church laying an (almost) solo set. We’re seated, in pews. The same pews we saw Scots troubadour RM Hubbert a couple of years back. Place is tight for the performers, and Woomble paces a tight spot as he really inhabits the songs, where a retro drum machine and washes of synth back his voice.

Making a swift and sadly premature exit, I scoot (not literally) to dive bar Vortex for Weekend Recovery. A band who’s ever-evolving, they have a different lineup post pandemic, and tonight stripped back to trio, their sound is a lot harder, heavier and darker. Lori’s looking a bit Susie Quatro. ‘In the Mourning’ crashes in second in and drives hard. With Lori on sole guitar duties, it’s down to the dirty fat bass to fill out the sound, and it certainly does. ‘There’s a Sense’ soars and slams and nags, while ‘Yeah!?’ takes a slower, more sultry turn. The set closer and upcoming single single sees shared vocal duties with bassist and further accentuate the harder sound, and it’s a cracking close to a sweaty set.

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Weekend Recovery

We’re spoilt for choice of headliners, and while I’d have loved to have stuck around for The Lovely Eggs, trains make this unfeasible, and so I go for Hull’s brightest new hopes Low Hummer, a band very much on the up, and fast. Just a week after the release of their debut album, they’ve been booked to replace The Anchoress supporting Manic Street Preachers on tour in a week or so, they could well be on the brink of being big, and deservedly so. They may be a comparatively ‘new’, and youthful, too, but they exude a stong assuredness and they sound amazing, and so tight. Blasting in with ‘Take Arms’ and they pack the songs back to back with no pausing for breath and no messing about. The songs are built around steady repetitions, and they’re simultaneously dynamic and nonchalant in their delivery.

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Low Hummer

So while the rail network is shaky and world continues to go to hell, it’s beyond uplifting to be able to forget about it all for a bit and lose yourself in a day of quality music. It’s an incredibly welcome return for Long Division, who’ve not only done a great job with the lineup and scheduling with spacing between bands, but also wonderful to attend an even with such a great atmosphere, free of dickish behaviour – and with a general sense of community. Things are a long way from being back to normal, but Long Division provided the perfect escape. A triumphant return.

Cruel Nature Recordings – 27th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Grunge isn’t dead. Not by a long way. Although, the trouble with grunge is that even at its height, most of the bands weren’t that impressive, and the ones who were achieved the widest success were the weakest, most accessible of the crop. Without the polished and ultimately marketable Nevermind, Nirvana would have never achieved global domination, although both Bleach and In Utero were, and remain, far superior albums, while the like of Tad and Mudhoney are the true sound of grunge, and capture the gritty, sweaty toil of blue collar labour channelled into aural catharsis. These bands never set out to change the world, but to vent their frustrations and ultimately their sense of powerlessness through music.

Perhaps it’s an age thing, but being in sixth form when grunge exploded it felt like not only an exciting time for music, but that this was a wave of music that actually spoke both to and for my generation at the time. In a way I feel rather sorry for the Millennials and Gen Z; the blandness of contemporary music speaks of nothing but surface. Even when addressing genuine issues, there feels like not only an absence of depth, but an absence of real emotion, of soul. Perhaps it’s just that the mainstream industry, represented by the mainstream charts, dominated by mainstream artists on major labels is simply giving the entirety of its focus on monetising slick sonic wallpaper. It seems odd that generations so riven with pain and angst (and who can blame them?) should find solace in this kind of anodyne slop. It can’t just be the numbing effects of antidepressants: something is clearly awry. Small wonder, then, that some delve into their parents’ collections in order to find music that contains what’s missing for them.

New York’s Cronies formed in June 2020 by brothers Jack and Sam Carillo, the press pitch describes the project as ‘the creative offspring of Covid and isolation’. Creative is the word: having pulled in a couple of mates to render this a full band, they’ve already banged out a brace of Eps in the last year ahead of this, their eponymous debut, which Cruel Nature are releasing on another Bandcamp Friday, with Proceeds going to charity.

It’s a bowel-shaking bass note that strikes first, and the sustain is something. And then in lurches a grimy guitar that’s welded to a stumbling rhythm section – and it’s heavy. Then the drawling vocal rips into a fill-throated roar that’s pure Cobain. These guys have taken the relentless battery of Bleach and the nihilistic squall of In Utero as their template, with a dash of thrash and some of the grimy heft of Tad in the mix (‘Slush Fund’ even leans on the riff from Tad’s ‘Behemoth’ but chicks in some stun synths and some manic hollering that’s more reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard), and ‘A Slippery Slope’ throws all of these in at once, along with a sudden change of pace and direction two-thirds of the way in. On ‘Ritchie from Lebanon’ they build a massively dense bulk of noise, the guitars and bass churning, overloading at great volume.

What Cronies have that their peers lack – well, there are many things, if we’re analysing (and of course we are: that’s the purpose of music criticism). But first and foremost, it’s raw passion and energy. There’s nothing slick or ultra-processed about this: Cronies are unashamedly ragged, and really embrace the grunge ethic of the time when most of the bands from Nirvana to Mudhoney were still on labels like Sub Pop. It’s perhaps because of the band’s origins – confined, trapped – that the songs on Cronies teem and seethe with abject frustration. Sometimes, words simply cannot articulate those feelings, and all there is to do is scream and unleash howls of feedback instead of neat chords. And this is what Cronies do, and this is why they speak to us: it’s accepting the limitations of articulation and unleashing a primal howl. It’s powerful because it’s real.

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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,

Gobbing

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.