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Cut Hands/Container/Blood Music/Black Amiga (live at Bunker)

The cells at The IslandThe Island, Bristol
22 November 2013

The venue’s an abandoned police station, now converted into an arts centre/studio space. The grim nature of the place gets more pronounced as you step deeper into the building, those institutional hues greying against the eerie wipe-clean gloss of the white tiling. The cold concrete and red-bricked Victoriana, dower, depressing as the flaking magnolia, or the raggedy plastic bag spectres barb wire clinging, not to mention the blank stainless sterility of the cell toilets. The place oozed a creeping oppressive atmosphere even the comfy sofas and chatting people couldn’t shake.

Black Amiga live at The Island

Inside the holding cell of the main performance area, there’s a man on the split screen, he’s banging fur-lined cymbals, the muted cries of which Black Amiga are filling with their BPM fractures and slipping ice caps. Now the guy’s smashing his fists into glass to a gripe of their digital snares. Conquencidentals I don’t think anybody else caught, no doubt too busy waving their arms around to Amiga’s odd concoction of techno, dub and downbeat jungle; couldn’t blame them either, the vibe was one über-additive mother. Projected behind the performers were gaffataped feet dancing as the music slips a disc into a sinister sister of Nosferatu-like harmonics. Rivulets slivering the contortion of beat as the horizon tilts abruptly this way then that. A face juts out of flapping black lace, the zoom slicing the neck, profiling a knot of movement downwards as bassy quakes played you like a glove puppet drilling through your core in urrrring pulsations.

Blood Music live at The Island

Blood Music were next, a thunderous set of super-loud double drums Gulliver-tried in Korg laylines. Totally ticked my boxes from the onset with all that concertina-ed aluminium and pulsing machine divination. The purring strobe, vibrating coloured hoops behind closed eyes. Maggots of liquid bliss, textured leather flowers lustring alien and vibrant curling to that insistent trance-like throb . This was superb, all objectivity window thrown to the mindless swaying kelp of bodies. The keyboard guy’s blond hair like a gilded anemone floating in the neon blue. They don’t look much on the snaps I took, but blimey this was one hell of a sensory envelope.

The Island projectionsContainer on the other hand were ultra-abrasive. A barge of misshapen beats and hard angular geometries. A bingo bag of brutally crisp mathematics doing unpleasant thing to your lugholes. I wimped out, deciding to wander off on a touristic jaunt around the building. Amazingly, I could still feel the mangled velocities through several thick walls, the hinges of this door I was leaning against (taking in all that peeling abandonment) rattling like that possessed fridge in Requiem for a Dream.

The Island projectionsWilliam ‘Whitehouse’ Bennett closed the show with his Cut Hands persona. He seemed to have squeezed a whole Nubian wedding party into his laptop, chased by snapping mousetraps . Super tinny pebble-dashings with panel whooped skins. The tap of voodoo nails and stamping feet, like a jungle-drum rewrite of the test match cricket theme with hollow skull bongos and plenty of whirrwah crosswinds to savour. A sequenced Haiti heat that nectar drilled cybernetically into your head , the visuals a dance of African hues and naked silhouettes. Great stuff, but I was seriously flagging by this point – jeez, it was nearly two in the morning! Walking back through Boardmead, Cut Hands could still be heard booming through the grating behind me, giving the local club over the road the what for.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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