Friday, September 24, 2010

Ducktails | Dolphins Into The Future - The Grosvenor, London, 23 September 2010

The grind. It’s what I call all the time I spend standing or sitting around at gigs waiting for bands to play. And there was some hard grinding to do tonight. Somehow I managed to miss Jason Urick's set. That meant grinding it out till 10 to hear some music.

Opening the night, for me at least, were Dolphins Into The Future. It’s just one man. A Belgian ambient sound-sculpter. It’s like bathing in aquatic twinkle. Whilst listening to the sea wash the shore and the beams of erratically creak. The sounds of a forest birds swim from the warm organ drift. Vaguely familiar sounds of animals and everyday life faintly emerge from the mix. If I close my eyes I can feel my hands running through wispy clouds. You can feel something but it isn’t solid. It’s immersive, fleeting, vaporous. Making you concentrate on that ever evolving single moment of ‘now’.

Ducktails plays solo for the first half of his set. It carries on from the same enveloping sound world that Dolphins Into The Future created. This one is more like a fairground. The music of some half remembered carousel ride. For the second half he’s joined by members of Spectrals. The sound changes. It’s more song orientated. Like listening to songs from the 80s played through the floors of upstairs flat. For me the familiar tropes of genre are duller.

Preferred drink: Bishops Finger

Friday, September 17, 2010

Idiot Glee | Future Islands | Moon Unit | Slushy Guts - The Old Blue Last, London, 15 September 2010

Slushy Guts are the sentimental alter ego of noiseniksters Bromancer. It’s a minimal set up. Guitar and an ancient keyboard that looks like it’s on the verge of expiring.

The first song begins with a simple drone created by sellotaping some keys down. Sketchy guitar lines are picked out over the monotonous hum. It reminds me of a lot of the stuff that came out on Shrimper. Or lo-fi guitar minimalists like Paste from way back.

I love the name Slushy Guts. It captures the exposed emotions. Like a scimitar slashed stomach. It’s all hanging out, messily, bloodily, steam slowly rising from the entrails of life’s experiences.

Moon Unit begin with some heavy kosmiche star bliss. Heady keyboard twinkling’s like vintage kraut psychonauts. The guitarist perpetually quests on the outer reaches of the cosmos. Like gazing into a continually morphing Orion’s belt.

Tethering or binding this all together are the drums which aren’t playing rhythm but patterns. Weaving rounds the guitar, keyboards and effects. It’s like Popol Vuh being blasted into deep space with Ashtray Navigations and Rangda as co-pilots.

Future Islands are a late addition to the bill. I coming at them cold. I don’t know what their style is or what they’re trying to do. I do know that having had a record out on Thrill Jockey though.

First take is that they’re trying to resuscitate the corpse of 80s keyboard pop. Only they seem embarrassed by playing an unashamed tune. So songs are always a bit wonky, woozy, and wrong. It’s all thudding beats and murky melodies. A lot of people seem to like it. I could say they’re rubbish. Instead, let’s just say they’re not my thing.

As is unfortunately normal with a gig promoted by Upset the Rhythm the show is running needlessly late. The venue has largely emptied by the time Idiot Glee starts playing.

Unfortunately, I am not a student or a gig promoter. So I have to do boring things like a paid job and get up at 6am. That’s why I tend to get a bit resentful at gigs that don’t finish until midnight. And if I was Idiot Glee playing to a half empty room because people are leaving to get a train home well I might just be a bit pissed off.

Enough griping. Idiot Glee start and it’s a bit like listening to Midnight Marauders and Pet Sounds being played simultaneously through next doors walls. Minimal keyboard and soft harmonious vocals over simple pre-programmed beats. It’s like listening to Women with all the frills removed. There’s a cover of Ain’t No Sunshine. It kind of makes sense and makes me wonder what a cover of Timmy Thomas’s Why Can’t We Live Together would sound like.

Preferred drink: Chivas Regal

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Part Chimp | That Fucking Tank | Monnocle | Hired Geek All Dayer - The Victoria, London, 4 September 2010

I oversleep and wrongly assume that nothing much will happen at the Hired Geek all-dayer before 4pm. That’s why I miss the first two acts and find that Marilyn Rambo are already playing.

The French guitar drums duo have set up in the middle of the pub. The handful of audience members crowd round. The floor is sticky, and the air hot and stuffy. I think I can smell the band sweating.

Marilyn Rambo’s meaty, muscular, math-rock slowly builds an audience. It’s not revolutionary but the guitarist shifts tones and riffs that stop your mind spiralling off. Mid-set the guitarist string breaks and the drummer freestyles while he waits for repairs to be completed. They end with their best song with a riff like a klaxon. As the band clear their gear away a barman sprays air freshener across the room.

I’m sure I’ve seen Please play before. I’ve only vague recollections though and if my memory is right I wasn’t too impressed. Maybe my recall and opinion are both unreliable because Please are mightily enjoyable. Jaunty, punk-y, riffery, like the chaotic, frenetic, musical accompaniment to a circus. Rhythms come in short, choppy, bursts, like clowns throwing themselves into another choreographed pratfall. After half an hour they pack up their tents and move to another town.

Kogumaza are as Japanese as a Matsui tv. They are instead a slow motion Black Sabbath trying to play acid rock. Longeurs, of dirge-y, down tuned, psych, snake, sinewy, unhurried paths into that bit of your brain where important thoughts escape to.

Change of pace. One Unique Signal don’t bother with the clutch and just crank things straight into fifth. We get one, long, unending, fuzzed-out, guitar solo. Vocals are minimal, probably because it gets in they way playing another distorted, effects drenched guitar lead. Imagine sitting with your old tape deck and filling a TDK 90 with all the white-outs and wig-outs of your favourite distorto-rock bands. Maybe you don’t need to imagine this. Maybe you used to do this.
What should you expect from three French men wearing dresses? The answer, I have learnt, is post-hardcore. Monnocle blaze through their set like watching a flame burn along a gunpowder trail. Only one that doesn’t end in a explosion. That would be far too easy. Far harder to make that trail go round and round circles and leave you wondering when.

On the merch table That Fucking Tank have boldly labelled one of their Cds with the question, “do you remember when Shellac were good?” I’m not sure they’re that good, but they don’t embarrass themselves with the claim. Tight, arid, jagged, riffs, utilising repetition, before jack knifing into a new groove.

Whilst the previous bands have been escalating hostilities it’s now time to bring out the heavy artillery. Part Chimp move onto the stage. In their hands rock becomes rubble. Like a tank crashing through brick wall they swiftly overwhelm their opponents with a frontal assault of massive overkill. Their amps deliver their payload of heavy, buried in the red, richter scale redefining, guitar. If I was General Kong, plummeting towards my target side astride a nuclear bomb, then Bringbackthesound would be my sound track to my happy death and global oblivion.

Prefered drink: Young's Double Chocolate Stout