Knifedoutofexistence, Blackcloudsummoner, Itching, Steckdose, Cites Prepare for Attack, Pale World.
Birmingham Centrala Space,
Friday 11th June 2021.
I’d been to Centrala previously to see Tunnels of Ah, Satori and Colosloth play over a year ago, I found it a pleasant venue and it was a good gig. This venue’s reputation as one of the key venues for creative culture in Birmingham is now intact. Centrala has an art gallery, café/bar, book shop and sells music: I was excited at the thought of visiting there again. What I didn’t expect is that this socially distanced gig (my first in well over a year) was that it was held in the upstairs gallery, which was a massive space instead of the downstairs area all acts played in last time round!
The first set was a brief one by Pale World, now this performance set the benchmark high - Joe Parkes was crouched on the floor, hitting and throwing a piece of sheet metal that was contact microphoned up and this created a loud assault. There was feedback added to this and mournful drones that came through as the metal abuse slowed down. It was a simple but incredibly effective set. I have seen a handful of sets over the years that use a minimal amount of gear to strong effect, this did that perfectly. I am a fan for sure now as I have been playing stuff off the Bandcamp since this night.
Steckdose was meant to play next, there were technical issues with his equipment, so Cities Prepare for Attack played second. This was a surprise I wasn’t expecting, I knew of the name as I have met Andrew Cooke a few times and I was expecting some sort of guitar drone type work. It wasn’t like that. There was a guitar that was amped up, I am usure if there were extra pickups or contact microphones added, but the guitar would be hit with different metal instruments to make different sounds. The clanging ranged from dreamy psychedelic sounds to harsher noise reminiscent of the torture scenes in the Ipcress File film and many moods in-between. This all created complex experimental music - another highlight of the night.
The Steckdose technical issues were sorted out by this time and his set began. I liked the minimal feel the sound started with – just a slow, pulsating hum that wavered and shifted gradually. There was a constant feeling of intense focus on the sound, the feedback that started to punctuate the sound even further concentrated and controlled. Drones emerged that cut through all of this and built up like an infected storm, the intensity to the sound was consistent as it accelerated, getting busier. There was a sense of purpose and discipline to the intricate details that cut into the storm of noise. Steckdose’s relentless, microscopic eye to detail created a constant tension that gripped the audience. This was by far the tightest set of the night, an exercise in sheer control, this artist knew what they were doing and demonstrated that perfectly.
I have reviewed Itching several times before. The project is by Henry Davies and has replaced his Nacht Und Nebel project that ran for many years. The Cello was the source for all Nacht und Nebel’s sounds, Cat Purrs are the source for all of Itching’s noise and this started the set - due to the volume of the PA, this really filled the gallery making the audience feel like they were inside a happy cat. The source sound gradually began to distort and crackle adding unease to the happiness. It became something else that became increasingly apocalyptic and fractured as the set evolved. The purr eventually came back and the distortion faded all harmony was restored. I like the continued originality of the source materials; this was a powerful set that demonstrated effective methods that truly delivered solid results.
Blackcloudsummoner followed Itching. There was a real element of performance here, the sound was immediately there was an aspect of him being the depressed DJ blasting shards of dark, chaotic weirdness at the still audience, his use of noise was immense, fractured and odd. I liked how he really seemed to get off and react his own cacophony as it grew and filled up the space. It is difficult to clearly describe what went off as the build-up and sounds were very odd (when I repeatedly use the word odd, it is meant as a compliment as there is no one else that sounds like this). Blackcloudsummoner’s set was haunted, very impressive, easily the darkest set of the night and the best performance that I have seen by the project so far - a unique one off.
I have seen Knifedoutofexistence several times in the past and reviewed much of his work – there seems to be constant progression occurring here. The set seemed to start from slow rumbles until sharper sounds began to cut in and take over, this is how the sound intensified. I am always raving about how Dean Lloyd Robinson is the master of burying his vocal behind his noise, so it is still a vocal, but also part of the noise – he did that to the full. At one point he was joined by Richard of Unyielding Love and the two as a duo was impressive. Dean’s vocal became less coherent and noisy at one point, so it was pure noise. A melody then enters the set towards the end and he appeared to sing for a time, before it all broke down to noise and shouting again, this was strong how he just did it, successfully weaving it into the set. Knifedoutofexistence alone is strong, backed by the rise of his label Outsider Art, Llloyd Robinson has surrounded himself by similar thinking Harsh Noise and Power Electronics artists old and new that forms a new chapter in the History of the movement (I am aware there are many chapter’s occurring). This set was an intense, dramatic finale to the end of the night.
Often at these sorts of busy gig line ups there will be a bad act, or someone who isn’t as good as the others – this wasn’t the case here. All six acts were different and strong in their delivery making it one of the best noise gigs that I have ever been to.
Coventry Soul 2021.