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I had a mellow start to Sunday. Rachel Grimes played early in the afternoon. She weaved beautiful melodies and arpeggios with her piano that served as a soothing balm for my sleep deprived nerves. There were occasional interruptions of coughs and bar staff dumping bottles but it didn’t mar the effect of the music. Shannon Wright joined her onstage for a duet and later Rachel and Helen Money accompanied Nina Nastasia. Nina played a sparse but moving guitar with bittersweet and sometimes bleakly honest lyrics. By contrast her between song banter encompassed twinkie envy and the Cronenburg horror that is the “snot sucker”. The venue was rammed but you felt like you were in some cosy snug on an open mic night.

I’d never heard of Alix before listening to the Shellac mixtape. Suitably intrigued I downloaded their album “Ground” and if you like swirly bluesy Italian boogie then I suggest you download it. Live they were wreathed in blue light and pummelled out a driving swaggering stomp. I’m converted :)

Gay Witch Abortion were a new one for me, at times they reminded me of Lightning Bolt with the frenetic drumming and fretstrangling interplay. Other times they reminded me of the Butthole Surfers circa Locust Abortion Technician. They were also freaking loud, I swear my crowns have been shaken loose.

Next up were The Ex Brass Unbound. I’d seen The Ex 2 for the first time 2 years earlier at the Godspeed you ! Black Emperor NBC. They were pretty amazing then and I was really keen to see them again. They knocked out a seriously good set, their tight sinuous rhythms backed with sax blarts and horn honking. They seemed possessed with an amazing energy and seemed to be having a ball. Their drummer sang a fantastic Ethiopian song and the sprung dance floor resonated to the synchronised dancing. The guy in front of me was getting very excitable and started incorporating river dance / freddie and the dreamers style footwork into his repertoire. No footage I’m afraid cuz I didnt stop dancing.

Luckily Shellac were less kinetic but no less entertaining. They played a 90 minute set, 20 minutes of which consisted of the ominous grind of The End of Radio and an Albini stream of consciousness “snare drum and I”.

The place erupted when they played Copper and ended as Steve and Bob bdismantled Todd’s drum kit as he played.

All in all a brilliant weekend. Highlights – Kim Deal, Turing Machine and The Ex. Cheap (but far from plentiful) beer, walking back the the chalet with a Buddha Bowl handwarmer, the stunning Friday night moon halo, walking past Kim Deal and thinking “that’s Kim Deal that is”. 

This is prolly the last ATP for a while, the mind is willing but the knees are f#*#**

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I had a little stroll along the beach before any bands came on. There were some interesting properties along the promenade, ranging from boarded up and decrepit shacks to 70′s modernist constructions. The sea air helped to blow away the ming of stale fag smoke, booze and greasy sweat but then I undid all that by going to see The Cravats.

The Shend indulged in amiable banter between blasts of wonky dada punk. He seemed surprised by the size of the turnout, especially when we could of been watching the football. Seriously though, would you rather watch 22 overpaid ninnies kicking a ball and throwing tantrums or 45 minutes of off kilter anthems to ex mps or sellers (pressure not Peter)?

I liked the Cravats, I can’t work out why they didn’t register on my radar before, especially as they are supposedly a local band (to me). Nice sax work from Svor Naan too.

Buke and Gase used home made instruments (baritone ukele anyone?) and loop pedals to produce a fidgety and catchy racket. I especially liked hiccup. (On their Function Falls ep they do a very fine cover of Blue Monday – its worth checking out).

Bob Weston joijned them on stage for their final track, here’s a clippy.

 Next up for me was Red Fang – sweaty heavy duty rock mammoths pounding out loud as fuck bluesy Sabbath riffs. They rocked. Seriously hard.

Wire were kinda ok, I like their music but live I didn’t really connect. 

Kim Deal was one of my highlights. She played her first solo gig and seemed a lttle nervous but glad to play. She has an achingly beautiful voice and her songs were tender and moving. She talked about her mother’s Alzheimers and how she struggles to recognise her daughter before singing “Are you mine?”. If I wasn’t such a flinty hearted curmudgeon I might have shed a tear. 

Kim did a solo version of cannonball, vocalising the wo-wo-wuwu-woh guitar bit. She was even coaxed into singing Gigantic, despite not being sure about the guitar bits. It was one of my all time gig moments joining in with the audience on the chorus. (After 20 years I now realise I’d misheard the lyrics to Gigantic, my version of the chorus was a lot ruder).

And that was it for me on Saturday. I missed Melt Banana because of the queues and Neurosis’s grind didn’t really appeal to me at all.

This was my first visit to Camber Sands, all my previous ATPs have been at Minehead. The site at Pontins was smaller and more basic than Butlins but I thought the accomodation was a lot better at Pontins as we had fridge, oven and microwave.

Word of warning – the onsite catering is abysmal, I made the mistake of ordering a pizza on the first night. It was completely stone cold whilst my mate’s burger had pieces of bone in it. The only decent food on site was the stand serving “Buddha Bowls” – steaming mass of vegetable curry, kimchi and fried halloumi. Very tasty and filling it was too.

The venues at Pontins were better suited to live music than Butlins, I never liked the tiered table and chair set up at Minehead’s centre stage and the acoustics in the pavillion were not great. Pontins even had a sprung dance floor. Nice.

We arrived on site at around four o clock (it would have been earlier but finding a petrol station near camber was harder than anticipated).

Pontins seemed to have fubared the check in process. What took 5 minutes at Minehead took an hour and a half at Pontins. It meant I missed Shellac’s opening set, although Steve Albini walked past me afterwards. I was fairly grouchy at this point but I soon relaxed, the festival was smaller than previous years but very relaxed and friendly (not that Minehead was uptight or unfriendly, just Pontins was very laid back).

The first band I saw was Oxbow accompanied by a string section (Eugene said it should be Oxbow and Friends but of course Oxbow don’t have any friends). Oxbow as per usual were impassioned and primal. Lots of gurning and shadow boxing. Eugene carried out his usual slow strip tease but there was a noticeable reduction in the amount of underpant rummaging that I’ve become accustomed to. I tend to think Oxbox make a lot more sense live than on record, mainly because of the visual elements of Eugene et al’s performance add to experience. I thought they were very good.

Next up were Scrawl – they seemed really happy to be playing and they were pretty good too.

Turing Machine were feckin’ awesome – IMO math rock and techno are similar in their reliance of repetition and modulation to get you in that trance like groove. The venue was rammed and their was a miasma of evaporated sweat. Nancy Whang joined them on stage for their last number. They were prolly my fave performance that night. I know I went on to see Mono and Prinzhorn Dance School later that evening but I can’t remember a damn thing due to be excessively refreshed (c’mon I’d hard a busy few weeks at work so needed to unwind).

Turing Machine

I’m just finishing packing for ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas at Camber Sands.
I’d originally signed up for the weekend curated by The National but when it was announced Shellac were going to curate the week before I switched tickets (well that’s what I’m assuming, I have anxieties about etickets being declined although Ive yet to have that happen).
I’m such an Albini nut yet this will be the first time I will see them play. The bill is terrific so I’m going to gorge on sound. There is a very nifty mixtape to give a taster for the weekend, I particularly like the Gay Witch Abortion, Scrawl and Buke and Gase. Enjoy:)

Supersonic Day 3

The problem with festivals (when you’re at an advanced stage of decrepititude) is by the last day I’m battling with achey muscles, itchy beard growth and early stages of alcohol poisoning. I find it harder to lose myself in the music when I feel like my bones have been hollowed out. It means that I have less patience with slow music and tend to dip in out of gigs rather than taking time to tune in. Lichens, Gnod and Uffomammut were all perfectly ok. I caught the last three songs of Islaja. She twiddled around with wonkily tuned oscillators and I couldn’t discern her vocals when she approached the mic, so I assumed it was turned down. During her last song she performed a little dance from behind her desk and then thanked the audience perfectly audibly. There was a slight “outsider art” vibe to her set which I enjoyed.

Talking of outsider art Justice Yeldhams brief set was entertaining as he pressed his face against micced up glass and created blasts of distressed noise. I’ve added a clip which doesn’t really do justice to the sound, on video it sounds thin and shrill, in the Old Library the sound had a thick scuzzy timbre. Justice took requests, drank messily and careered around the stage in what looked like a surgical gown,  blasting blarts of digital munge to an appreciative audience. Musical in the loosest possible sense of the word but a very entertaining performance nonetheless.

Supersonic wouldn’t be Supersonic without a band playing faux giallo / Italian horror soundtracks and Zoltan were this years entry. Not bad if you like proggy synths and moody chord progressions.

I soaked up the first 10 -15 minutes of Tim Hecker’s fuzzed up symphonies, enjoying the body rattling bass and then moved on to catch the last 15 minutes of Dope Body. After 2 minutes it became apparent I should have seen this band from the start. They were fecking brilliant. A good squally garage racket and a shirtless lead singer twisting and channeling Iggy, I now feel compelled to sample their recorded output and will definitely seek them out if they play again.

I was knackered by this stage and buggered off home. I would have liked to have seen My Disco but hey ho I still had a great Supersonic. See you there next year!

Hype Williams played The Warehouse and it was all rather disorientating. The venue was thick with dry ice and the strobes showed the silhouettes the singer (Inga) and the knobtwiddler (Dean) as well as an imperious Blonde aside a motor bike whose role it seems was to stand by a motorbike looking imperious. I’m finding it hard to describe the music which had elements of grime, lofi, r n b and even noise. Thanks to the dry ice the music sounded disembodied, haunted and strangely unsettling. For music with quite a dancey element it lent to an introverted head space. No actual footage I’m afraid. partly because it would be pointless trying to capture anything in the fug and partly cuz I got so absorbed in the music and didn’t bother recording.

I see from the Supersonic programme and interviews online they’ve been likened to Throbbing Gristle, and I can see the similarities, not only in the disorientating and slightly queasy melange of audio and visual but there seems to be a philosophy behind it all, albeit one too opaque for me to decipher

This is more like it! After the mogadon jazz vibe of Bohren it was up to Merzbow to give my brain a damn good sand blasting. Which he did in spades.

There were the usual excoriating sheets of white noise with occasional passage of rhythmic clonking. Guest participants too, including Eugene from Oxbow.

Noise is a curious genre, and Merzbow’s  noise is amazingly detailed, restless and fractal. When it’s done well noise can send me into a really relaxed, contemplative state. And it did, I was kinda embarrassed afterwards when I realised I’d been swaying to the swells and build up of noise. Dancing to noise music…well I wasn’t the only one. My friend “the Flatulent Freaky Dancer” was jumping up and down and throwing rave shapes to the whitenoise skree.

 

 

Intriguing name, had to check them out. My mate loved them, he thought they had “The Red Room in Twin Peaks Vibe.” I’m afraid I found them funerally slow and torpid, lounge music played after drinking too much cough medicine. Imagine the theme from Blade Runner run through Paul Stretch. Judging by the audience response I think I was in a minority cuz they got a very appreciative response.

Kevin Drumm played the Old Library. I enjoyed his gravelly textured digital grit and there was an interesting dot field projected behind him which helped jog the ol’ synaesthesia along. I left before the end of the set to catch Hookworms. They played a churning Neu-ish groove, actually in retrospect they reminded me of late 80′s landfill band Flowered Up, except they were good (Hookworms that is). Here’s a clip, you may notice the freaky dancer from Modified Toy Orchestra, this time he was sporting a jaunty sailor hat and managed to clear a floorspace to himself through performing spastic aerobics routine along with liberal amounts of foul flatus.

I returned to the Old Library to watch Jarboe’s set of Swans and World of Skin songs. I thought Jarboe’s voice was fantastic, rich, mellifluous and enveloping. I always enjoyed how she tempered Swans sturm und drang but maintained their emotional intensity.

Afterwards I pottered around the marketplace, visited the “creepy cabin” and managed to buy one of Morton Underwood’s austerity synths which I have to say I’m very pleased with :)

I’m typing this tired but tingly from last night’s lineup. There was so much variety from the Finnish folk cooing of Lau Nau to the strange and enigmatic Hype WIlliams. This year the sound and visuals really worked well to lead to some really memorable gig memories. You can probably guess that I had a great time :)

I started the day by checking out Lau Nau. She was a Finnish folk singer who strummed and looped to create a rather beautifully eerie head space.

Next stop was Sir Richard Bishop over at the Boxxed venue. He treated us to skilful arabesque guitar work with a touch of flamenco to it.

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