I propped myself up on the 6 o’clock Manchester to Leeds train with post work lethargy, and felt the familiar frustration of those who are forced to travel on one carriage with a thousand other people . I propped myself up with one hand balancing four Holston Pils with the other, keeping my eye out for any fascist that might demand a ticket. As we moved slowly forward very aware of the next hour of misery and forced intimacy of strangers, my thoughts turn to the comfort of the Brudnell Social Club as much as the bands. A rare place indeed in this age, and it had been too long since I’d enjoyed its subsidized delights and comfortingly generic, none judgemental, dated, down beat interior. There is no need for pretence in such a place.
The familiarity doesn’t disappoint, but I barely have time to appreciate my dull surroundings and £1.90 for a Gin and Tonic before the Hawks howl slowly from the stage as Sunwølf start playing. Comprising of a Guitarist and a drummer the two create crescendos using minimalistic droned melodies while the drums take a back foot until the whole layered picture emerges, intensified by thick layers of distortion. The drummer waits for the right moment while the Guitarist stoops almost double over an array of effects that he frequently alters. The crux of the experience is to become enveloped in the images projected on the backdrop; photos and loops of natural serenity and stark beauty contrast in detail and scale in the same way as the music, like the flow of water around one single pebble in a stream and then a vast lake with only the company of a few leafless trees meeting the horizon. I spent the entire set in what felt like a chemically induced trance, but I was one of a few who seemed to be that interested. Whilst discussing them outside I was told that they used to play with more members and subsequently were immensely loud and heavy in the large moments. As it was the first time I’d seen the band this didn’t detract, although that added dynamic would complete the spectrum.
Zolle immediately pull people towards the stage with cyclones of mid paced chuggery that’s subjected to a heavy artillery barrage of rhythmic volume. The man from rural Italy does not deem the classical sitting approach to drumming satisfactory at all and often climbs over, looming for a better angle from which to kill the various parts of the unfortunate percussive sacrifice. The guitar also has a heavy but relentless feel, like the engine to a large locomotive (or tractor?) grinding low and metallic with the occasional jolt. The 2 piece create a coiling spring of beat accentuating noise tension that eventually breaks when the structure has been pulverised sufficiently, into a looser, but still rhythmically destructive groove. They aren’t the most dynamic band in the world but they are a flurry of boisterous energy and it’s well received, especially the xylophone tinkle.
There’s a noticeable shift in the air as frequencies unheard thus far rumble out and the floor buzzes low as Ufomammut begin their sonic exploration. The band build an atmospheric riff based charge like Zolle did but with a far greater scope; the music evolves over a variety of acid addled textures and ethereal noise until it reaches an atom splitting climax of momentum, with the mammoth growl of driving bass lines and viscerally thick guitar before imploding into a twisted jittering version of its original self. During the rising moments of riff repetition, bassist Urlo doesn’t cease travelling around his end of the stage adds reverb drenched vocals into the mix while guitarist Poia keeps his feet firmly rooted yet his top half jolts violently. Behind them, is a backdrop of extreme psychedelic potency to complete the experience which admittedly made me a little unsteady; taking full advantage of a cheap bar then watching electrical pulses fire round neurones is no easy task. Cosmonautical endeavours surpass time and space while planet crushing riffs drift in and out of existence until the encore is finished, and we take our happy brain stews into the cold wet night.
Scribed by: Michael Collins
Videos By: Jez Walshaw (www.youtube.com/user/MonsterRiffage)