Friday, August 18, 2006

Flipping your wig to the Hair Police... Freenoise in Sheffield Saturday 12th August 2006...










































The Cricketers is a beat up venue in Sheffield, short on décor, long on warm welcome (and cheap drinks!). The upstairs room – archetypal scruffy – essence of avant-muso - with an open door leading onto a platform and fire escape that provided some air into the cigarette stuffiness. Equipment everywhere, crammed into the space as people wander about, greeting and chatting. Obviously a crowd that knows each other – Freenoise must have worked hard to build this up.

The first act – 'Feast of Ishtar.' Easter pronounced by a drunk? Actually, not so semantically far away... there is a holy link -I googled 'Ishtar' and got this:

'Ishtar was worshipped via offerings of produce and money as well as though fornication with temple prostitutes.'

War in a Babylon or something...

'We have a similar report from Gerhard Herm in his book, The Phoenicians, where women in the Canaanite cities of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos were required to become prostitutes for a day and give themselves to foreign guests during the spring festival. This festival survives today in the name of "Easter", which is derived from the word "Ishtar".

Passing swiftly on...

... tonight - the Leeds incarnation of 'Feast of Ishtar' - a duo of wild man with a guitar and a quiet guy sat with the electronics and a mike that he would yell into occasionally – the sound no doubt processed into the wider crashing riot of noise. Non-stop movement from the guitarist– as if he was plugged into the mains electric, continual dervishing dances, flailing at the guitar, which was gloriously abused and at one great point whipped with the guy's belt into submitting even more howls of feedbacking blitz. Different to your usual improv gig – a sense of humour on display for a start – I found this very funny - and also a great opener. Climaxing with shoes being kicked off into the void. After the applause -a plaintive cry: 'Has anybody seen my shoe?' (You had to be there...) Brilliant...

Kreepa vs Black Galaxy – laptop, table guitar, electronics and – trombone/tromboscillator. ('The 'tromboscillator' is a trombone extended through electronic hardware, software and amplification...'). A strange line up with the inclusion of the latter – but it worked very well, the lonely roll of the trombone, mournful and plaintive, muted and straight, playing off the searing electronic landscape hammered out by the other three. A crowd was building by now, wandering around informally, as if walking through the music, blurring the boundaries between performance and audience – which is a common occurrence these days at these gigs. Democracy in action... K vs BG are loud but not oppressively so (which they could be in such a small space) – but a degree of volume is necessary to provide the areas for the music to flow into. Space is needed for freedom – and freedom demands space. The set builds well, various rhythms criss-crossing, at one point sounding like motors revving up. The sonorities of the trombone provide an oblique jazz reference (even filtered through processing) – yet the rough electronic soundscape takes this somewhere else entirely– a jazzer wandering alone through an alien land of action electronics, giving an interesting tension. A long surging section washing over like waves on a beach as disjointed voices mutter in the mix (radio? Samples?). Coming to intermittent blats of noise and taken us out on tribal drums. Very impressed - almost stole the night...

Solo. (Didn't get the name – so guess: Putrefier? My apologies...). A table full of electronics – an avant garde jumble sale. ('50p for that old Boss pedal, guv'nor?'). Ratcheting rhythms, machinic, harsh white sounds cut by purer electronic tones scraped free of granularity. Rhythms – but always mutating. What is music? It's what we collectively (or individually) decide it is. The rhythms hold the performance in place for the listener as the noise (free) crashes over it. Teasing – has he stopped? A sound like scratching around on the table miked up. Dropping the rhythm back. A powerful set... as if the conventional basics of drum machine rhythms had been turned inside out, had acid thrown on them and then been thrown across the room... A very good contrast to the other preceding acts...

And then – the Hair Police. Evening all... can I inspect your barnet? Spinning off the wild and wooly Wolf Eyes via their worthy constituent Mike Connelly. A see-sawing intro – invoking vertigo. High squawking voice – pass the helium, buddy... Again an interesting mixture and contrast between acoustic and electric – guitar and coarsened death metal vocals and electronic manipulations rail across the drum rhythms. A storm rolling and rising from a tonal base buried deep down under the scraw. Babbling squabbling guitar. Going into freejazz rhythms – plus rock power and noise. Equals? FREENOISE? The audience surely digging this. Headbanging for the new millenium. Contorted vocal. Is this voicing RAGE? Or just TEXTURE? Taking the trappings of IDIOM outwards over new boundaries. Deep bass booming. At one point – I thought I heard: SEAGULLS(?) ... There are distinct rhythms rather than a free pulse. The drums hold it all together. They did an encore... Tumbling drums and scrooching noise. Rock. ROCK!

Freenoise is alive and well and living in Sheffield – in both senses of that phrase...

How to describe Hair Police? Examine the iconic status of the instruments – guitar is rock/metal, electronics – industrial/improv/noise – drums – freejazz-ish. Tying it all together. Rock body slams into free wailing in the celestial electric moshpit of the provincial night. All is well. This is what music should be... Anthony Braxton has recently been playing with Wolf Eyes...(See here... a freebie mp3 available...).Maybe he's doing a Miles Davis-meets-electriciy for the new century – think of the fusions possible... Running the new voodoo down...









Collectively? A great night, a complex and continually fascinating snapshot of one section of our music NOW – from raw comedy to serious shit without too many seams showing. (A susurrating flourish...)

Interesting things are happening outside of London on the M1 ley line.

Hip huzzahs to Freenoise for making it possible. And the guy behind the bar for being so hospitable....











I'll come again. Soon... In the meantime – if you get the chance, check all of these people out – go see if they cruise round your environs – or buy some product...

My fellow blogger Molly Bloom attended and her take on the fandango is here...




Links

Filthy Turd
Feast of Ishtar
Kreepa
Black Galaxy/Nick Bullen
Putrefier

A wack of Hair Police and related stuff... more...

The Videodrome...


Through the voodoo of Youtube – Hair Police


I couldn't find any Kreepa vs Black Galaxy but this came up...
take serious drugs and watch...

13 comments:

Molly Bloom said...

Brilliant post Rod. You capture the different acts really well. And I love the way you describe all of the different bands. The photos really help to convey the spirit that was there - smiles and joy I think. Great noise, great sounds, great people.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thats was the explosive climax of three nights in a row and your review is a joy to read, thanks man. Yeah we all really had a great time. I'll get the vid online soon Thanks for all the heads up n links.
Only one small thing - HP drummer is Mike Connelly, oh yeah Feast are form Leeds.
Nice..
See you for Whitehouse 15th Sep!
moodi

Rod... said...

... Mike Connelly - going barmy! Thanks for pick up! It's been a long day...

Rod... said...

...and the Feast... not checking this properly! I know their from Leeds - synapses in uproar!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the review (Kreepa vs Black Galaxy): it's great to know that it transmitted to you (and others)...
It was our first concert together for about a year (all improvised) - afterwards we spent an all-night session in the studio recording an album (for release on the Charizhma label in Austria)...
The voices you mention are a dictaphone recording of people watching the solar eclipse a few years ago: the guitar pick-ups can transmit the voices (although I also use them as a form of 'ebow' to generate drones)...

Feast of Ishtar is partly the man behind Filthy Turd (the guitarist) who also was the singer in a nihilistic hardcore band called Pleasant Valley Children back in the 1980's (I only made the connection at the concert)...

Hair Police were an ecstatic blast - the drummer was great...They said they may be playing the 'Nightmare Before Christmas' festival in December - hope so...

Very enjoyable evening...

Thanks again...

Nic Bullen

Anonymous said...

Ah - I forgot to say: the name Feast of Ishtar is a reference to the film 'Bloodfeast' (1963) by Hershell Gordon Lewis - an early example of the 'gore' sub-genre of horror filmed on a shoestring budget for the grindhouse and drive-in circuit...

Anonymous said...

"Only one small thing - HP drummer is Mike Connelly"

Actually, HP drummer is me (Trevor Tremaine). Mike Connelly is the hairy guy up front on bass/vox/electonics duties, and Robert Beatty is the skinny guy twiddling the other knobs.

Killer night in Sheffield! Cool bands, cool crowd, cool place, the works. Can't wait to come back soon and kick that brick around on that roof again.

Rod... said...

Thanks Trevor ... I thought Mike Connelly was the geetar player - but kept it ambiguous as had already got his name wrong (plus Ishtar combo's geographic origins!) due to late night fatigue/ineptitude/cheap wine and had been corrected already... thanks for your comments - out of all of this the final truth will emerge -

maybe... my name is ornette coleman...

great gig though! When are you coming back?

Anonymous said...

The sooner the better... heard some rumors... who knows, though?

Definitely want to hit UK w/ Burning Star Core/Eyes & Arms of Smoke tag team jams, maybe next spring...

Blog rules... keep killing!

Rod... said...

...that sounds awesome... hope it comes off... bonne chance...

Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Hello Rod. Hope all well. 'Almost' came to this bash, but didn't... You capture it brilliantly; for which, thanks. Good luck with stuff.

Rod... said...

Hi Dr A... good to hear from you... the Sheffield gig gave me a lot of food for thought... yum... gulp... the Club Spo in hibernation at the moment... but still plotting in the background to bring us all together for provincial wild-outs in more sympathetic venue(s) (plus cross-collaborations which would be interesting) - Freenoise and KneesKnees et al in Nottingham prove there is an audience... idea for overall theme -The Exploding Jazzclub (Whittick - ho ho - private joke...)

Anonymous said...

Strange coincidence - went to see BLOODFEAST at the weekend. One of the best films ever. Unworldly. Not of this world. Fantastic cinema. Me and the Newcastle lad are wild for this sort of exploitation muck. Bloodfeast was produced by D.F. Friedman who started life as a carny barker, back in the days of freak shows, dog boys and bearded ladies. What fine times they must have been.

Darren / Feast of Ishtar