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Destructo Swarmbots
Rude Pravo

 The Barfly, Glasgow 05.08.02

(reviewed by MJW)


I went to the Doctor Who exhibition in Llangollen. There were some Daleks there. I went to Glasgow. I saw Dalek. Should I be struggling with these links 2 wales or just get on with telling you about it?

Find the venue in the city centre, overlooking the Clyde itself. Amongst huge churches, glassy new office buildings, derelict empty tenements, big contrasts. Thereís some seriously wrecked people on the streets, Buckfast in evidence, then also wine bar type terraces full of chatterers that I wouldnít feel comfortable in. Itís pretty quiet on a Tuesday night though, not intimidating.

Itís a compact basement venue, half full, quite a good set up. I was drawn on the strength of Dalek having done a release with Techno Animal (Godflesh offshoot), and had heard them described as experimental hip-hop, always worth an investigation, always worth getting off arses and giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Apparently they are signed to Mike Pattonís label so the unexpected may also be expected. Plus the support bands name just had to hint at something special.

Rude Pravo I would take as being local. Instrumental techno-jazzÖniiiiiice(not). Thereís a pile of cobbled together electronics which seem to be manipulated in a freeform manner to give some loops, over which a bass player and the main twiddler guy seem to try and fit some simple twiddly runs over. It provokes a strange reaction, I feel extremely annoyed and in need of a fight, which is not good and not me. Maybe itís just the sound mix needing sorting. Things improve somewhat when he thankfully ditches the guitar, moves onto giving some tape loops, and actually some cool sub-bass bombs and semblance of a beat to follow. Theyíre joined by a girl on an effected cello which adds some more interest, but my enjoyment is always shortlived, and Iím just left in fear/expectation of the next shift into some annoying toss. They get polite applause, Iím reminded of a similar performance by someone supporting Alec Empire in TJís Newport a couple of years back, are there a lot of these electronic experimentalists around, are there too many?

Now, after clearing their stuff away there is soon a man at one side on the stage. He has a guitar. Heís not particularly acknowledging the crowd or anything, not demanding attention, perhaps heís a roadie. No, it soon becomes evident that he is Destructo Swarmbots. How? Could it be the fact he unleashes a ferociously intense guitar assault, which goes on for god knows how long, 20 minutes, non-stop? It is an insane fury of looped effected noise, senseless yet compelling. Even sonically brutalised me is suffering from jaw drop. The name seems so appropriate. The room is filled with a buzzing, screeching, grinding hailstorm of sound. And it goes on and on, ignoring broken strings. Plus itís hard to tell whether he is actually the one whoís encountering the Swarmbots, as heís convulsing, shuddering, carried away with it all himself. Heís almost blurring, especially hands flying around the guitar, turned sideways on to attack his pedals, itís impossible to relate what heís doing to the sound coming out, itís all delayed loops a-go-go, a massive multi layered wall. Ends by switching off his pedals, big smile and palms together to signal prayer of thanks to crowd, leaves. Cheer of approval (or relief).

Another sagging table load of decks and electronics, some other vibe generation equipment and a solitary mike stand is the Dalek set-up. The backing tools are taken up by skinhead and an afro, and thereís some definitely "experimental" fucking about Ė is he using his tongue on that stylus or just blowing on it? Interesting to say the least, building up to something the rapper joins them on stage, the beat kicks in, the power conks out. Foraging around by torchlight at the socket, again Iím taken back to TJís where the power was blowing so often they almost gave up (apparently itís a regular occurrence there). Itís not like you can do acoustic versions of this type of thing. Back in action they start something different and itís instantly hitting the spot, the heavy beats and bass body blows the genre delivers so well, hypnotising body rocking. Itís faster stuff, with the vocals delivered with insistent charged rhythm, leaning into the mike and spitting them out. And while itís not particularly clear through the sound, what is understood plus the samples shows an intelligence above the standard chart pimp shite. The top end of the music contains enough grind and screech to understand the experimental tag, some of the scratching on the decks is horrific to any one who loves their vinyl, but hey, the means justify the end in when it impressively fits in with the sound. Theyíre not afraid to vary the speed of their songs, some slower with a more tripped out backing. Unfortunately they continue to be plagued by tech difficulties, and donít bother restarting some tunes that had begun excellently. There is strong support in applause to encourage them over these breaks. Whether skipping part songs was part of the reason, or some strange Scottish custom, the gig finished at 10.45. I was shocked, kicked out on the street before 11, unheard of. Despite that thoroughly enjoyed and will search out a release.

(reviewed by MWJ)

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