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Uruk / Kuro (live at The Exchange)

Bristol
10 December 2017

Kuro live December 2017I wake to blizzard conditions, and a transport system buckling under a four-inch surprise of snow and ice. The UK has the worst coping strategies when it comes to sudden changes in weather, it really does; so I decide against my usual journey down the M4 for a cramped train journey into Temple Meads, only to discover Bristol is totally snow free and I’ve got to be back here just after 10pm to get the last train home. I’m livid, but all that just dissolves away with tonight’s entertainment.

Gareth from Big Naturals started the ball rolling under his Kuro moniker with some deep, rasping electric cello, cut across in grainy bows. An aching monochrome of machine-caught echoes, whipping, cross-cut, pollinating a scarred and wind-beaten landscape that miraged your head like an ugly snow-globe. The textures layering up like a swarm of flies in a corpse, then cut back into some angry electrical discharges. Then he swaps in some hurdy-gurdy, and its slow circulars bloom on through the venue’s dark interior with a hypnotic majesty, carved in a staccato of changing hues and the occasional lightning strike from the electrics. Gareth’s hands look like they are bypassing the keys and manipulating its buzzing innards, milking this oozy melancholic that sinks on though, grabs hold of something ancient and forgotten within you, and wraps it up in slivers of the new.

Hot on the heels of Kuro, Uruk‘s set is a real meaty display of modern electronics, a loose notion of musicality full of elliptical scars and tasty assaults of abstraction. A feisty cradle of combustible shapes and knifing harshness; one minute it was mining this seductive Coil-like zither, full of echoic caviar, the next the asymmetrical angels were set upon by a snarling Barbarella of space-age coathangers. The slow delectable bleed of their début LP abandoned for an altogether fiery experience, full of spontaneous, often violent exchanges. A superb verve, full of mathematical malice that set your ears aflame with slicing shrillness that seemed to be grasping at every moment as its last.

Pings of the familiar flood through, keystrokes wander in intermittently, that basslined throb from Massimo Pupillo‘s guitar, drenched in graitvas, that dronic sea of visible repeats, single words stretching, full of illusion and shadowy intent. A Theseus thread to this sonic labyrinth, grounding the dynamic spillage to a map of hastily drawn roads and cul de sac(ed) intrigue, as the allure of the melodious is exiled on revving projectiles.

Uruk live December 2017

The flickering screen throwing its colourful patterns over the ceiling, a hand-printed shadow clutches the cloth as some Vietnamese child cries from within the angry furnace. A sliver of disquiet that’s quickly replaced by something that sounds like a reverse-choked Marlene Dietrich strapped to a gigantic firework, textural-torn through in wolf whistle and cantering spaceage, then a roaring absentia that scares the bejeez’ out of you.

Both Thighpaulsandra and Massimo are curled over their machines, arms continuously tinkering with the fabric. Massimo’s head demonic in the stage lights as perpetual ascents razor on through, re-birthing his guitar in a crucifixation of gnarliness. Suddenly, a modular buzz rips through my ribs, sends my nostrils into an unpleasant pin cushion, quickly replaced by shrill shards that dice up my ears – a psychical theatre of 3D shapes, spraying in xylo chimes, palpitating in an open surgery of belching lava and clanking cavern. A chaotic brightness that flows back into a murmuring drone, replete with popping candy and a opiate drop of Sudanese.

Such a shame I missed the Gnod goodness that was to come on account of me having to rush back to Temple Meads to (only just) catch the last train home.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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