Thursday, 14 August 2008

No Anchor, Lawrence English, Innig, Secret Birds @ The Hangar (08.08.08)

This is the sort of night that The Hangar is made for. Four local acts with a central core aesthetic but that each have their own unique sound. Two of the bands were launching new albums - in one corner there was Lawrence English, the old stalwart and Brisbane's ordained king of all things glitchy and synthetic, while in the other corner were the new kids on the block (at least in terms of their current project, though in truth both members of the band have been a part Brisbane's music community for many years) in No Anchor.

Secret Birds started the night with gradually increasing volume. I've already written about this band a few times recently, so I'll keep this brief. The group on this occasion consisted of the seemingly regular guitarist and bassist, two drummers (this time being Susie of I Heart Hiroshima and Ross of The John Steel Singers) and a dude on keys and electronic noises (Tom Hall I believe, though I may be incorrect on that). Friday's set seemed to lean more on the band's recent fixation on classic rock noodling, instead of the more sludgy and 'experimental' sound that they showcased earlier on. Nonetheless, it was still a long way from Wilco, with plenty of repetition and noise which resulted in some slight prodding of the rock'n'roll envelope.

Innig followed, and it was my first time seeing them (indeed I'd never heard of them until they were announced on the lineup). After being warned off them with the remark 'they sound like what people who don't know what experimental music sounds like think experimental music sounds like', I decided to check them out regardless. And I didn't hate them. Far from it, in fact. While I didn't love them either, but they did their ambient soundscapes pretty well and provided an interesting atmosphere. They reminded me of the bits of Set Fire To Flames records where there are no strings, all scrapes and drones and quietly minimalist percussion.

Lawrence English was up next to launch his Kiri No Oto album (Kiri No Oto translates to 'Sound of Fog' in Japanese, a pretty apt moniker). Huddled over his machines to the side of the room, he started so subtly that I didn't even realise he'd started until 30 seconds into his set. Gradually the PA filled with layers of tones and drones and textures. The volume was wonderfully high, but the nature of the sounds English was producing was far more soothing than piercing. The end result was incredibly calming, and one look at people's faces around the room was enough to raise a smile; people staring blankly into space, people leaning back with their eyes closed, people with their heads resting in their hands. All totally still. All in a trance. I can't imagine that anyone would have attempted to have a conversation at that point in time, but it would have been a fruitless exercise if they had, so loud was the music coming from the speakers.

Towards the end of the set another sound entered the pallet that English had created - a cymbal wash. Turning to the main stage, one saw Alex Gillies of No Anchor adding extra texture to English's compositions. As Gillies began to increase the volume of his cymbals and added some tom rolls to the mix, Ian Rogers joined in on bass, strumming out a single chord with increasing vigour. As the band gradually began to overtake the electronic artist in volume, all noise suddenly stopped for a second or two before No Anchor launched into the extreme air-pushing power of 'The Seam', the closing track from their debut album 'Fire, Flood And Acid Mud'. It's about the most intense song you'll hear from ANY band this year, and here it was, blasting out from a couple of speakers and a drum-kit in a DIY venue in Red Hill. The rest of the set continued in kind, whether the band was playing breakneck punk songs ('A Complicated Web Of What-The-Fuck-Ever'), extended stoner-rock jams (the new song which I can't remember the title of) or the show-stopping 13 minute closer, 'Drone Me Out'. It wasn't a perfect performance - there were various times where the band stumbled for a moment or two before correcting themselves, and Rogers' Adam-King-esque mic technique meant that his vocals fluctuated wildly in the mix - but the band gave so much energy that it didn't really matter. They had the kind of intensity that only Turnpike, The Night Crash and To The North (and maybe Stature:Statue) have regularly displayed in recent years, which is no mean feat considering how lethargic their music can get at times. And it all ended with a touch of humour - Rogers looped the final riff of the 'Drone Me Out', while Gillies pushed over an item of his kit with each iteration of the riff. When one solitary cymbal remained, he picked it up and walked through the crowd and out of the room, playing it the whole time. Rogers remained for a few seconds before picking up his amp and attempting to follow... until the still-plugged-in power chord rudely stopped him in his tracks.


Full Disclosure: I recorded No Anchor's album. I did it after offering my services after seeing them play for the first time. I thought they were amazing then, I think they're even more amazing now. I don't think my recording their album affected my opinion of them in that regard, other than the fact that I have a pretty all-encompassing knowledge of the songs on their record.

14 comments:

email said...

'they sound like what people who don't know what experimental music sounds like think experimental music sounds like'... you do realise how ridiculous that statement is i hope?

Cam said...

a) i was quoting someone else, and
b) although it's an unwieldy sentence (though that's partially the reason why i like it), you should be able to figure out what the guy meant pretty easily if you think about it for more than half a second.

Cam said...

plus, you'll notice that i didn't agree with the guy in the end anyway.

Anonymous said...

You should write more about the grates. they're flavour of the month you know.

Anonymous said...

I'm suprised email is criticising the blogs of others when you consider the self-righteous drivel that he publishes on his.

email said...

don't get me wrong...it's a killer sentence but my point was that if experimental music sounds like what experimental music should sound like then is it really experimental or just generic?...so in reality , its probably the nicest thing anybody has ever said in regards to what we do.
and as far as being a self righteous driveller...you, mr anonymous, can suck my balls.

Anonymous said...

To e-mail & anon- slanging matches do no-one any good. Every one has a right to their opinion and to express it. Point being,is that its great that Brisbane can have a varied lineup of bands at one venue and still pull a decent crowd. I thought the gig was interesting and surprising and the review was spot on.Thanks cam and the hanger.Keep it up!!!

Cam said...

my interpretation of the quote is that 'people who don't know what experimental music sounds like' think that most 'experimental music' is just structureless noise performed by people who don't know how to play their instruments. therefore, this particular person thought that Innig's music was just structureless noise performed by people who couldn't play their instruments (and i wouldn't say this he is a stranger to 'experimental' music).

as i've already mentioned, i didn't really agree with him.

hopefully that'll give some clarity to the quote and bring this little discussion to a close.

Anonymous said...

Someone once told me: "Arguing on the internet is a lot like the special olympics. Even if you win, you're still a retard."

email said...

good point

audio said...

innig is brothers of the occult sisterhood. pretty weird to say they don't know what experimental music sounds like, weird and stupid.

Cam said...

noone ever said innig don't know what experimental music sounds like. read the quote again.

Anonymous said...

oh no brisbane - looks like you just got toowoomba and kyogle's knickers in a twist.
i used to think cities were a bit stuck up but now i realise that a lot of these regional adult children are so sheltered in their tiny little pockets that they simply dont have a fucking clue whats going on.
nice to see traffic here tho.

Anonymous said...

Youre a retard anon above. Who is regional adult children??? Brisbane is just a big country town and youre obviously the goose. And yes, Brisbane is stuck up,come to Melbourne for a real city and open music scene. Lifes great here without all you fags.