- May 27, 2014
On the week’s weirdest music
So now that we’ve reached the end of the Festival things should be quietening down a little, right? Ha, you know nothing. For a start, Swans are back at the Concorde next week (Mon 2 June), one of the few bands we know whose sheer volume is rumoured to have led to both police and bowel problems.
Originally formed in 1982, the New Yorkers eventually called it a day in 1997, only to make a surprise return four years ago. Now, Michael Gira and his troupe of noiseniks have a new album out, To Be Kind, which has prompted some critics to be anything but. “Uncompromising to the point of overindulgence,” say The Guardian. In any case, few would argue that Swans are anything other than a live experience. And due to their legendary loudness levels, calling it an experience rather than a gig is probably pretty accurate.
On the same night (Mon 2 June), over at the Green Door Store, Tokyo trio Melt-Banana will be annoying the neighbours with their own brand of mega-loud grindcore. You gotta love a town with two different promoters putting on two extreme noise bands on the same night. I’m guessing that fans of this stuff never expected they’d be spoilt for choice on a Monday.
Anyway, if Japanese noise music isn’t your thing, maybe you’d prefer a Canadian experimental performance art collective? Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (Tues 27 May) are bringing their psychedelic ‘noh-wave’ rock opera to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar with support from likeminded locals, Gaps and Myyths.
The Ontario duo fuse metal, pop and folk into a unique musical stew that they like to call a “multidisciplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool.” Sometimes being pretentious is the price you have to pay to make interesting sounds.
Bringing it all full circle, The Magic Band are also making an appearance this week (Sun 1 Jun), at the Haunt. A reformed version of Captain Beefheart’s erstwhile backing band, these 1960s veterans were arguably right at the heart of the fruitful fusion that took place at the time between madcap psychedelia and avant garde oddness. Although their current set is drawn from classic albums like Trout Mask Replica and Clear Spot, it sounds like John ‘Drumbo’ French and co are more likely to honour Beefheart’s memory with a raw freak-out than a simple tribute. Bravo.
Pic credit: Derrick Belcham
James McLarnon on the week’s best gigs
A busy and brilliant week of live music in Brighton reminds us that band reformations can fall into a number of categories. Firstly, ticking the “tax bill/contractual obligation” box is McBusted’s (Brighton Centre, Tuesday) cynical exercise in merging the two most popular boybands of the naughties. No amount of PR guff about the “revolutionary concept” could convince us that this is about anything other than filthy lucre.
Placing an X in the “nostalgia/historical document” box are The Magic Band (Haunt, Sunday). In their role as Captain Beefheart’s house musicians they were integral to all of his records, including 1969’s landmark, never bettered, alternative/art/experimental/psychedelic/garage-rock Trout Mask Replica. Reformed in 2003 at the behest of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, they released two live albums before splitting again in 2006. Reunited in 2011, this incarnation makes its second visit to Brighton having wowed the Concorde in March last year.
Finally the “unfinished business” category is picked up by New York underground legends Swans (Concorde 2, Monday). Formed in the early eighties no-wave scene alongside Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, the band developed from one of the ugliest noise-rock bands on the planet before virtually inventing industrial-rock on the massively influential 1987 album Children of God. Later work such as the gothic tinged masterpiece White Light From The Mouth of Infinity and 1996’s post-rock informed swansong Soundtracks For The Blind further identified them as iconoclastic trailblazers. Reformed in 2010, their two most recent records, 2012’s The Seer and recently released To Be Kind, are amongst the strongest of their career, combining all the elements of their previous records to create grinding, mutant, bluesy-rock music that is more ambitious and better executed than virtually anyone else out there. Live, they are the benchmark to judge other bands by; transcendentally loud, the exceptionally well drilled band are conducted by frontman Michael Gira in a part-improvised two hours that leaves the audience spellbound and shell-shocked. Additionally, PJ Harvey-esque singer-songwriter Jenny Hval is an outstanding choice in support.
If money’s tight, there are some great free shows. Friday night sees local indie rockers Lovepark and synth/house duo Adolescent at Sticky Mike’s. On Saturday night at the Pelirocco, Eva Bowen – fresh from impressing at The Outer Church – will perform an experimental ambient set as part of outsider electro night ‘Synthesize Me’. Finally, on Sunday the Green Door Store hosts the latest installment of leftfield, experimental all-dayer, ‘Splitting The Atom’.
Don’t miss our pick of Brighton after dark
Ye Ye Fever
Attracting a mix of hipsters and hippies, this monthly night unites all in its celebration of African music – from vintage highlife to Afrobeat and kwassa kwassa.
It’s always rammed, so get there early to catch the fever.
Green Door Store, Fri 30 May, 11pm, Free
Good Pop Bad Pop
Rummaging through the treasure trove of pop, plucking the good from the bad and throwing out the terrible, the GPBP team continue their search for the perfect pop moment, that three- minute gem that makes it all okay.
Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Sat 31 May, 10pm, Free
Radio 1’s mystery ninja DJ swings in for a night of mash-ups, cutting through genres with his katana, taking the crowd by stealth, spinning the decks like he was throwing shurikens, etc.
Digital, Sat 31 May, 11pm, £14
Mod For It
What is mod music? With the most diverse taste of any subculture, mods would probably expect some Northern soul, Stax and Motown, ska and Two Tone, as well as the R&B, garage and new wave guitar stuff.
DJ Jody Lee Hooker has been at it since 2006 and she’s still not run out of tunes.
Komedia, Sat 31 May, 11pm, £5/4