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Thought Forms/Esben and the Witch/Teeth of the Sea/Dylan Carlson (live at The Exchange)

Thought Forms at The Exchange October 2013Bristol
14 October 2013

Motorway delays meant totally missing most of Teeth of the Sea‘s set… I’ve been loving their latest Kraut-infused offering Master for some time now and was eager to get that all-important live perspective, but only ended up catching the trumpet soaked finale. A Miles Davis-shadowing sundowner of a track on anti-phonic wings; parabolic, infectious…the briefest of taste that left me floundering in the disappointment that I didn’t catch the whole caboodle.

Next up were Esben and the Witch, who started in a storm of tribal energies, siren soarings and rebounding double positives. A sound that periodically fell back into splints of eddying chord and uneasy reflection, and a lush, sultry vox that had me wanting to use the G-word, but gothic as a description seemed a soupçon too crypt-treading for the weird chills they mustered. Things sizzled on harmoniously, full of post rock cleverness and well-crafted glassy guitars scissoring between fur-lined gulleys of expectancy, where circling strings stalked the vocals and glorious (if short-lived) blow outs of diamond-hurled noise. Finally bowing out on “Smashed to pieces in the still of the night” (which I thought might have been a Death in June cover?) . A song of twilight curves and glinting riffology, to which secondary incentives were sucked into dust devils of momentum then pulled asunder in yolky frustrations, the latter of which I wished they’d explored more.

Esben and the Witch at The Exchange October 2013

Thought Forms were something else. A 40 minute fiery beast indulging in plenty of wanton destruction – using their songs as the perfect excuse to properly wig out. Gone are the flute and chantery of earlier this year for a straight into the thick of it approach. Their guitars sounding at times like a pack of snarling wolves, the songs fraying, unravelling, evolving beyond their confines, ending on the ecstasy of key-drone vampires, suckling on the air. Deej‘s guitar adding eerie curves that lashed across Charlie‘s contours and Guy‘s percussive teasing. Her vox floating on those mystical sentinels, under-stitched in climbing chords. Guy suddenly stealing the limelight in a rolling concourse of steady dropped beats and padded inflexions, Charlie’s voice falling into the gaps as fuzzy washes of welling static speaker travelled. Louder drops of panel-pined percussion followed, ramping the tension, briefly cast in a deceptive calm before everything land-slid into screeching bliss and thunder – something that returned with a vengeance between every oasis of calm. Bloody brilliant!!

Snuck down to the basement straight afterwards, and caught a smidgen of Dylan Carlson‘s set – a far gentler end of the spectrum to the main room action, swayed to a few of his slow electrical snakes before setting off back down the M4 for some well earned shuteye.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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