ULU, London 23 April 2008
Ah, what better way is there to celebrate St George’s Day than to avoid all the jingoistic flag-waving nonsense and go and see a band who come from the other side of the world? Probably none. None whatsofuckingever.
First up we get Growing, who I heard described by someone in the queue as “a friendlier Black Dice”. That’s not far off the mark, really. True, a lot of it’s just “I could do that!” noodling, but when they lock into a motorik groove there’s something really quite jaunty and hard to dislike about the whole affair. And then there’s the part where a Beefheart-esque guitar phrase gets fucked with, and you suddenly feel like you’re trapped in a factory. A factory making clowns. ROBOT CLOWNS OF DEATH. And it’s all a bit scary. But still a lot of fun.
Now, I’ve got this awesome idea
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ULU, London 19 April 2008
Merzbow was brutal. That could be the whole review. We went in knowing he would be brutal and he delivered. We came back out deaf, balance impaired, and probably several shades paler. Merzbow, aka Akita Masami, is one of the pre-eminent industrial noise artists and has had a prolific career since the late seventies. As with some of his other recent releases, the concert had traces of beat, pounding distorted and garbled rhythms that battered the audience into submission. The guy standing next to me was trying to dance, but mainly succeeded in acting out a (more than likely) ecstasy mime representation of being deafened. The sonic attack was a mixture of laptops (with slogans reflecting Merzbow’s
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Frenzy of the Absolute, by Belgian drone master Fear Falls Burning, is one of the sparsest and most haunting collection of drones it has been my pleasure to hear. It’s big, and sinister, and oppressive, and intensely doom laden. This is the first I’ve heard of his work, and I can see that I’ve been missing something rather special. On Frenzy of the Absolute he works in collaboration with a number of drummers: Tim Bertilsson (Switchblade), Dave Vanderplas (Rubbish Heap, Ontayso) and Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna). Johannes Persson, also from Cult of Luna, collaborates with guitar loops.
Drone in itself can be timeless, but percussion adds a whole new dimension. It adds a heaviness and oppressiveness to the already cold supremely desolate drones of Frenzy of the Absolute. Even within the layers of guitar drones there
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Skin Turns to Glass is epic stuff, I love it. Huge shoegazer doom from Toronto-based duo Nadja, who began as a solo project of Aidan Baker. In 2005 Leah Buckareff joined him allowing them to leave the studio and go live, though this album was originally released in 2003 in a slightly different version with Buckareff on bass and vocals. Between them they make a sound that could conquer the world.
Imagine My Bloody Valentine or Jesu, but much much slower. Big wailing riffs crawl along at snail pace like early Earth. Nadja are as slow as Sunn O))) but they are far dirtier sounding, rather than deep and booming. They don’t really have the doom sound that evolved from Black Sabbath via black metal and stoner rock. Nadja have the shoegazer lover of noise for the sake of noise
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