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Nisennenmondai/Blood Sport/Blood Stereo & Duncan Harrison/Rock the Roberts(on)s (live at The Exchange)

Bristol
30 July 2014

Roberts(on)s live at The ExchangeRoberts(on)s live at The ExchangeRock the Roberts(on)s plumbed an ad hoc and lo-fi angle spectacularly. A bizarre scrapbook of spurting poodle rock from a butchered karaoke machine injected with gargled indigestions that were grins-ville all the way. Irate spikes of feedback, ruler twangs, radio miss-tunes,  things literally falling off the table and lord knows what else.

This girl art school stoic mumbling dead pan, holding a sign up saying “Wanted: wages for housework,” later swapping to tape recorder statics; others wandered around, all mock laughter, brandishing applause signs. Spasmodic keyboards, mock yelloids, beeping dots; they reminded me of the Texas Chainsaw family. Hammer and bucket dysfunctionals, transposed to a Fluxus send up of entertainment values, Pa scolding Junior, “Who told you you could leave the table?” and Junior sheepishly returning, clawing his guitar toy, piggy-squealing it in protest. I was half expecting a Benny Hill run around the table for the finale. It was surprising how entertaining this was.

Blood Stereo live at The Exchange

The sparse craziness of family Roberts(on) was eclipsed by the next act of table-huggers. Blood Stereo started in a chaos of belching machines, loony tune squeaks and chirrups, a garbled library of tape misuse, textures bubbling like hot cheese under the grill playing terrier with your noggin. It was literally transfixing stuff, twisty like a badly-made staircase, your head falling foul of the gaps Karen Constance was diagonally cranking. Wished I’d brought a video camera along and recorded the set; it was really good — things would knot up beautifully in places, rudimentary pulses breaking through in heat rashes only to be swallowed by a fresh influx of wonkiness.

Tape cases everywhere, Duncan Harrison (of Plurals) at the end of the table stabbing his fingers into the capstans, pressing his thumbs into the plastic bodies, wolfing the volume, stitching creepy pythons of plunder as if painting the sounds into being. Dylan Nyoukis press-ganging his Walkman in fast-forward and rewinds adding extra throat noises and Harrison following suit in a Kurt Schwitters-like vowel growl. The density increasing, burning up in unknown languages, needled, prodded with extra carcasses, bitter-sweet shrapnel and disturbing cackles, until a quiet “Thank you” signalled it was all over.

Blood Sport live at The Exchange

Next up, Blood Sport were a simple three piece that rocked an incessant and rather excellent beat. Their guitars sounding like garden spades being slammed against rocks for the most part, full of waspy surges and whipping cuts. Real and synthetic beats melting as one, leaking weirded off-kilter goodness, hot African rhythmics in body-flinging quakes. Tangles of clubland, as Mali-esque clusters gathered round them and circular crowns of choppy riffs batch-knotting the overspill. All the while angsty vox imparting slow burns of frustration like a souped-up Matt Johnson before his The The palatables, cumulating in a jungle full of jumping eyes slanting on repeated richness.

Nisennenmondai live at The ExchangeNisennenmondai live at The Exchange

Now Nisennenmondai took repeated richness to its ultimate conclusion. Three Japanese women intent on a rave revival, everything stuttering out in trance-like Shivas, the drummer a phenomenal robot of BPM, the bassist a co-conspirator of regularity, guitarist on a stack of effects pedals sweeping tramlines all over it, glaring glaciers of sustain motion gliding though the peaks, the occasional dead twig of guitar. In full flow they created some weird in-ear morays, a mystery that was far beyond the sum of their parts as club culture was siphoned down a post-rock funnel and the audience’s hands windolened the air.

Hats off to you, Qu Junktions — you really know how to put on a show.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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