(REVIEW BY MWJ)
“Harsh, brutal noise outfit” was enough to spark my interest in scanning the listings for a night spent in Leeds. Hadn’t heard anything by them and “noise” could cover a multitude of sins, but the majority would still be good in my book. Anyway, backed up by recommendations from the Mistress guitarist (obscure namedrops, me, never) who surely knows his noise, plus previously enjoyed visit to the Brudenel, yep, that’d do nicely.
So, with the place still filling up and me relaxing in the comfy sofa booths, the first “band” started. It wasn’t really That Fucking Tank as apparently on doctor’s orders the drummer had been told to stop playing for a while so instead he was providing some electronic manipulation alongside the guitarist’s experimental project. Both sitting, with equipment down in front of the main stage it’s slow, ambient material, guitar notes with big delay effects and loops, pretty clean cut. The keyboard drones and warp out effects are a bit too minimal to start with but build later on and really strengthen the material. There was also about 10 seconds of subtle ride cymbal which seemed totally irrelevant until I learnt the band circumstances later. Nice and soothing.
Monster… were back into a more conventional band performance, instrumental guitar bass and drums. There was a marriage of beautifully heavy distortion from the guitar and bass, seeing the Sound City 120 bass head brought a tear of fond remembrance of my old one (until I remembered the bastard thing blowing 3 fuses in one gig). The drums powered along as well, there was a punk/metal immediacy to what they were doing, maybe almost grungy in the fuzzed-up Melvins sense. That said they weren’t afraid to throw in almost doomy drawn out intros, glorifying in the heaviness. Their first and last songs were the best for me, some of the stuff in the middle barely made a couple of minutes and seemed a bit too arty, or maybe suffered from the problem of where to go with no vocals. Good stuff anyway.
I was a little confused with the band running orders and thought for a bit it may well have been the headliners next, which may have set me off in my subsequent reaction. It was actually a side-project of one of the Wolf Eyes members, presumably all over from the US with them. Beginning with the gentle, melancholy wails of a girl seated playing a theramin/one of those horizontal table-guitars, added to by a guitar played with cello bow, saxophone and mental free-form jazz drumming, it was a rising and falling half hour psychedelic cacophony. Not brutal or harsh though, and that was my temporary gripe, massively exacerbated by a spontaneous sit-down in front of the stage by various nodding, chin stroking fashion cunts appreciating the “art”, I thought I’d time travelled back to some 60’s happening, freaking out, maaan. I was possessed with a similar violent urge as I’d had for some pretentious art/noise b*llocks supporting Dalek a few years back, resisting the compulsion to run along kicking the f*ckers in the head and retiring for another beer instead. The band/project themselves weren’t bad on reflection, as sonic experiences go.
All that frustration was quickly wiped out with Wolf Eyes delivery of “what it said on the tin”. The sight of not only a 3 string bass (missing the bottom one), but also a home made one string one filled my blackened heart with twisted joy. Those 2 were backed up / led by a guy who kinda casually/randomly messed around with some electronics at the back of the stage (at one point seeming to just be manically rubbing his hand over buttons/pads to pile on the noise). He also vocalised with 2 mikes simultaneously, or stuck them at various positions in front of the cabs to induce feedback, the other 2 blokes also joining on a vicious multi-level scream-a-thon. It was very quickly a stunning, wincing, yet to me pleasurable onslaught. The same colossal wave of noises as Sunn O achieved, but punctuated by ultra-harsh electronic percussion stabs and blasting rhythms like the worst/best excesses of some of the Digital Hardcore label releases, Atari Teenage Riot etc. Second song in the spokesman gives some banter about being told a story about some guy/killer from Leeds who blah blah blah went out just with a drill, “This is The Driller”. Some folks amused expressions instantly changed to pained with fingers shooting to ears as a very likely impression of a black and decker through the skull commenced. Even that was nothing to a later frequency manipulation that surpassed just about anything heard, virtually a brain scan, with the sense of the note moving very deliberately in various directions inside your head, phenomenal. You remember those nasty ear-bugs in Star Trek: Wrath Of Khan, yeh? Well, maybe a bit like that. There’s various tempos gone through, the sax reappears for a bit more, the 3 string bass player thrashes out fine style, for all it’s incomprehensible noise it completely transfixes the crowd. For some of the slow, hammering beats the band are all doing synchronised both fists punching air, the only seemingly fit response to the pummelling underway. Tremendous. Wished to buy a cd for future listening but didn’t have the cash and was unable to take advantage of the “will trade for drugs” sign on the merch table. My capacity for “musical” amazement remains refreshed and infinite it seems.