Before going into the details of the five bands that made up this diverse bill, it’s worth mentioning my respect for Art Failure, who occupy a relatively new place in Brighton’s family of live promoters. As far as the slightly out there and largely underground alternative rock / metal / punk etc. things go in this town, I must admit I’ve become slightly jaded and unenthused, and I don’t feel like I’m the only one. The shows Art Failure programme however, seem fresh and exciting and appear to attract an increasingly sizeable and dedicated following. Something has been saved. A very welcome addition, more please. Anyway, here’s what happened at The Green Door Store last month…
Moodhover are a jaunty bunch who bring you grinning across the pages of a colouring book – though instead of gaudy shades of infantile hue decisions, the content is gaudy shades of metal. There’s not much space to breathe between the endless, awkward fluidity of their riffs – old school doom influences are paired dizzyingly with moody math phrases. Between tracks the composed disorientation continues as delay pedal flutters keep a constant hold on the atmosphere. Even during the sickening screams this band seemed to keep a sense of playfulness alive, something lacking in possible influencers Psyopus or maybe Behold… The Arctopus – this three piece enjoy themselves. Sloshy and spiky, a subtly messed up band that I suppose you might say sounds like Disrhythmia. Absurd tempo changes, a long stretch of something stable grows in intensity and falls apart.
Jamie Gillet’s crackpot invention, the Neuroharp, follows on from this warped onslaught in something that musically is far more grounded but conceptually… it’s literally mental. A structure made from wood, wires and electronic components sits out in front of Gillet and accompanist Jake Brant (normally known as a practitioner in the ambient / noise ultra-underground) who tonight joins him on bass. The Neuroharp is a contraption based upon EEG technology that responds to the actual thoughts of the player, working through a set of pitched strings played by a rotating plectrum, the speed and choice of which can be ‘thought’ into the system. Along with this insane set up, Jamie drums a dynamic percussion backdrop whilst Jake fills in the gaping bottom with purring bass. A truly bizarre spectacle, and of course completely unique…
Divorcee deal in contemporary British grindcore / hardcore type stuff with some grim American or maybe Scandanavian elements. Think maybe along the lines of Earache horror and something a little chuggier like The Red Chord. These undeniably likeable guys, similarly to Moodhoover, had that refreshing sense of playfulness to their set, mainly present between the songs in some hilariously inept crowd banter breaking up their 1-2 minute blasts of bludgeon and scree. Though still a fan of the head-down solemn silence of the moodier, more seriously turned out outfits, it was definitely entertaining to be involved in such interaction. Through fear of being misunderstood however, when not acting the clown Divorcee summoned a cathartic assualt of heavy, chunky metallic noise and angular waves of stress. Satisfying.
Lightening the mood into something markedly less grim but no less desperate, Ithaca sound like how I recall a band I saw ages ago called Battle of Wolf 359. There’s that sense of drama to the music that utilises heaviness and melody to create release, something altogether more ethereal, post-hardcore is probably the right term here, maybe also post-metal, post-rock and post-something else if that isn’t enough vacuous sub-genre pedantry for you. There’s always a danger of this kind of thing becoming too much of a charicature of itself, and during this performance that danger was definitely there. But if you like your music epic and don’t mind a bit of cheese, you’d have probably been fine here. Just don’t look at the lead guitarist too often as his ‘I’m going vomit’ riff-face really didn’t help.
So onto the motorway pile-up of bass riffs that is Italian weirdos Morkobot… It has been well over half a decade since I decided that I really want to see this band live and the first thing that surprised me (for some reason I hadn’t even bothered to check before) is the lack of a Moog, or similar analogue synth, as part of their set up. Instead twin bases are shoved through a small factory of pedal manipulations and set against the rigid, militarily precise attack of drums. The rhythm changes are sickening, spontaneous, sitting between stretches of robotic chunkiness. For a band who have song titles like Arachidog and Cockputer, there is a surprising lack of humour played out on stage. Perhaps over the years they have come to emobody the virus-ridden droids invoked in their music. Either way it doesn’t matter – this isn’t a personality band as enough character exists within the grinding, slimy and undoubtedly odd frameworks of their tracks. At some points there’s a rough horror doom crushing a previously frenetic segment of Locust / An Albatross madness… then all of sudden we’re hearing a huge electronic rubber band snapping and grumbling in a sci-fi power station.
One of the highlights of their set was also the most frustrating bit… I guess the gig ran over slightly into the following blues night. Clearly unable to wait for ten minutes for the band to end, the house lights came up, the grumpy, flatcapped posse shuffle and frown their way around the front of the venue casting sullen, floppy daggers at our heroes on stage, silently demanding they stop immediately. Where’s the fairness in that? An exhausting trip from Italy via whichever other European cities, a rare chance for fans to see an overseas underground band play live in their home town, all the money and effort taken to get them here in the first place… all this is presumed secondary to a weekly free night where for a couple of hours some men self-congratulate themselves into a slow, throwback frenzy to a crowd of maybe six people who have work in six hours. Unaffected by the growing animosity, violence gestating within several items of ex-stock from Beyond Retro and a dozen unwashed black t-shirts, the crowd grew tense. Morkobot barely seemd to notice, finished their set as planned, completely ignoring them. So fuck you. Huzzah.
Scribed by: Daniel Mackenzie