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KK Null & Kawabata Makoto / MXLX / Kepla / Rosen / Morris Meets the Bikers (live at The Island)

6 June 2015

Henry Collins’ — formerly known as ShitmatMorris Meets the Bikers (after the ZX Spectrum arcade game?) were up first. They were having so much fun that they were oblivious to the fact that only five people were actually watching, which was a shame for they were really bonkers.

Morris Meets the Bikers live in Bristol 2015

Billed as a DJ set, this was more a performance than just spinning tunes. A magical mystery tour with everything basking in a semi/hardly recognisable state, crunched and filter-foddered into slip discs and rumba-chucked grittiness, literally all over the shop: one minute black metal groans, the next balladry whimpers mangled by noisy concertinas and throbbing bass.

That 2001 theme tune sounding like battery acid had been poured over it, the screw warbled take on those “Solicitors For You” TV adverts was a brilliant touch too, bringing on the repeated funny insincerities, then monkeyed over in some extremely unpleasant noise action. A glimpse into the psych-ward followed (an amazingly lucid section of their show), a troubled mind that descended into an intense roadcrash of hysteria generously cut up in sonic daggers.

Rosen followed, Holly Herndonlike with her choral lullabies bending to the parametric graphics on screen. Her sounds were all Dali-stretched, stilting on symphonic spans interspersed with delicate thunders. Lovely stuff that sine curved your senses with vibrato-born delights and trembling pulses. Samples continually distorting on through, the shrill-like sharks circling grainy snow globes that seemed trapped in some spatial anomaly, transposed textures falling into cavern-dwelling shadows, the dripping walls time-cast glitches and hiccuping porcupines — then all over (far too soon).

MXLX live in Bristol 2015

Kepla was a meditative beast with sonic billiards shifting the graphics around on his tablet Minority Report-style, driving out wicked singing bowl vibes and cumulonimbus rumbles, but all this was paled into insignificance by the blitzkriegggg chasm MXLX (AKA Matt of Team Brick etc) brought to the night.

A razoring noise that completely drowned out his yelling; he was in an irate mood, flinging himself around to the intensity, toe-hammering the pedals, smashing the keel-hauled honey. Mid-set he velcro hooked into some warbling keytones, warped and jangly jewels that danced in your head like badly painted gnomes. Simple strung out melodies riding the void, burning in the bunker’s gloom. Then back with howling blisters replete with Litanies of Satan-style gesturing, Latin spouting, pointing, clawing, giving the crowd the finger and pushing it to the max.

KK Null and Kawabata Makoto live in Bristol 2015

Just the very notion of KK Null and Kawabata Makoto collaborating had been getting me all hot and bothered, the anticipation of seeing them live gnawing at me like a shrew; so it was a relief to hear Kawabata wielding those strange psychedelics again, gently guiding us into this duo’s sound world. He had something metallic wedged in the guitar frets, a small hubcap or saucepan lid, tremoring beautifully to the humming intent of the Nullator. Mr Null fired the occasional explosion across the bows of Makoto’s cursives, which seem to be caught mid-air, boomeranged back in radiating electronic yo-yos.

Kawabata Makoto live in Bristol 2015Makoto seemed cosmically tranced out throughout, hips twisting the ascensions, catching the sweet nectar of the descends. A true marvel to behold, completely hooked in, his hands blurring the frets, eyes closed throughout high on the karma-curving surrounds. I cast an envious eye in the direction of his flared patterned trousers as he wah-hammered those trajectories around the room.

In contrast to Kawabata’s swirling postures, KK Null sat sedately behind his toys, his peaked cap cutting an odd B-boy/hip hop flavour to his presence. His fingers all over a tiny device in front of his open laptop rousing bassy rumblings and clattering cordons of Argonaut skeletons in a fried inner ear of multiples, flinging his arms air-ward on the release of a hornet’s nest of canker. I spied two Kaos Pads in that tangle of jacks, no doubt set to the higher 90s by the lashed outpours.

A lovely, loud affair with Mr Null hitch-hiked to Kawabata’s squeals, everything melding seamlessly. Mr Null added some delicious BPM jerky to the proceedings, a weird rhythmically challenged techno that prised my earplugs clean out of my lugholes. It was the best bit of the show too. Sometime later Mr Kull stormed off annoyed, leaving Kawabata to carry on oblivious; and you get the impression it’s just the way these two roll.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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