Thursday, December 16, 2010

Concern | Pascal Nichols | Tuluum Shimmering - Cafe Oto, London, 14 December 2010

I arrive just in time for the start of Tuluum Shimmering’s set.

One man and a table with the usual tangle of wires and leads, and assorted electronic gadgetry. He’s also got a chunky wooden flute and a tom tom. The set begins with heady, heavy kosmiche hymnals. We’re deep into the dreamy spiritualism of Popol Vuh or Ash-Ra Temple.

The melange of hare Krishna bell rattle, organ tone float and looped flute summon the atmosphere of spirit worship and ritual. Imagine whirling round in a tropical forest, sun light flickering through the tree canopy, colour, motion, blur, undefined, yet fully engaging your senses.

Pascal Nichols is a drummer who plays in lots of different groupings, but most commonly in Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides. Tonight he’s playing a solo set using drums and samples.

It starts well with Nichols darting round the sound samples. However, I lose my way with the set. Nichols seems to have a microphone strapped round his neck. This allows him to add low, throat yodelling satellite signals as sonar ping over drumming which sounds like rain on a tin roof. It’s more a set of moments than something that works as a whole.

Concern are the headliners. They’re Gordon Ashworth, one half of noise-nikers Oscillating Innards. In this guise he’s operating in drone mode. A micro sample of a violinist laments faintly in the background while the tonal sound waves quiver gently. But again I’m not engaged by the sounds. Suddenly the music stops. Ashworth waves choppily at the audience and departs. It’s almost as if he was as tired of it as I was.

Preferred drink: Kernel's IPA

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trumans Water | One Unique Signal | Die Munch Machine | Slushy Guts - Half Moon, London, 10 December 2010

There are legends, legendary legends, and then there is Trumans Water.

Great bands can enter your life at any age. But somehow the bonds I formed with bands as a teenage are the strongest. They’re the ones which mean the most.

This is the Water’s only UK date on their current tour. It’s years since they last played in this country. I always count their occasional appearances on these shores as a minor miracle. There’s rarely been more than 100 people at any of their gigs that I’ve been to.

Trumans Water play with more energy then I ever previously seen, bouncing around like men half their age. The serrated guitar, the compositional angularity of their songs remains imperiously intact. Twisted, knotty, jerky, yet in ways which are synaptic-ly addictive.

Boredom is Trumans Water's enemy. Their songs are always creating or relieving tension. Everything else has been eliminated. It’s this that creates the odd jarring shifts of gear that take place within their songs. Why bother transitioning to the next section. Let’s just crash into it.

Old favourites are quickly aired. Rations is rapturously received. There are constant shouts for The Aroma of Gina Arnold. There might not be many of us here, but everyone’s a passionate fan of the band. It is a triumphant night for Trumans Water and for the audience for whom the band remain an article of faith.

Support on the night came from One Unique Signal who provide a psych guitar maelstrom of dizzying swirling wig outs.

Part Chimp alumni perform as Die Munch Machine a drums and keyboard duo. Their heavy synth and rhythm churn is like something created by Giorgio Moroder malevolent twin brother.

Slushy Guts bleeds, via the medium of guitar strummery, pit of the stomach emotional wrench over the floor of the Half Moon.
Preferred drink: Adnams

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rottrevore: Copulation of the Virtuous and Vicious EP

Rottrevore were a minor name in the death metal underground of the early 90s. They recorded a clutch of 7”s and an album before disappearing.

Their Copulation of the Virtuous and Vicious EP is marked by a full throated raw brutality like having your ear pressed against a Harley Davidson exhaust pipe. High pitched guitar solos emerge like angry, castrated bumble bees from the murky, filthy, bludgeoning, chug.

An album called Iniquitous later emerged which collected together their EP’s and some live tracks. A proper LP of newly recorded material subsequently emerged a few years later. You can read a good interview with the band here where they tell their own story.

A lot of records I used to like from this era have fallen out of favour with me. But nearly 20 years on this is one that‘s never lost its appeal.

Prefered drink: Chivas Regal

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Dead C - The Garage, London, 1 December 2010

I can’t believe that I’m actually about to watch The Dead C.

If you’d asked me 15 years ago if they’d be playing The Garage I would have found the idea inconceivable. But here they are in a warm-up show for the coming ATP appearance.

The begin with Bruce Russell and Michael Morley manipulating squalls of noise from their guitars. After about 10 minutes Robbie Yeats joins them on stage, adding his breathtakingly simple drum beats.

Just as I’m expecting the performance to take off it falls flat. Whole sections meander, twisting aimlessly, into musical cul de sacs. They occasionally flicker, and I’m momentarily expectant, awaiting the dysfunctional magic they able to conjure. Only the spell is just as quickly broken. And, dare I say it, the tedium returns. The set sounds like a rehearsal where something isn’t working.

It’s too easy to suggest I’d built The Dead C up too much in my own mind. Set expectations they could never meet. If anything my critical judgement was temporarily suspended. I was ready to love them. They wouldn’t have had to offer me much.

I can feel a similar restlessness in the audience. The muted applause at the end of their set seems to convey the same message.
Preferred drink: Bishop's Finger