Friday, 28 November 2014

Applied maths. Advance maths. Pure maths. Pure genius. Live review of Axes, Delta Sleep and Wot Gorilla

Axes *****
Delta Sleep *****
Wot Gorilla *****

The Islington, Friday 7th November 2014

Before I embark on any word burps or farts about tonight's astonishing and peerless show, I must apologise for the math-heavy title of this post. And have a bit of a hackneyed and well practised rant. Bear with me.

Now I think I have the broadest musical tastes (well apart from most Hip Hop ) and my church's doors are open to a plethora of genres. But therein lies the problem: the genre. 

The music industry's (and fans') obsession with narrow-minded taxonomy, classification and pigeon-holing. The never ending onanistic and pointless game of prefixes, suffixes, post this whatever core that. Mind numbing and frankly lazy and diverting.

Ok, in a watery vapid defence, it could be said that it helps as a reference point when trying to describe bands' oeuvres and vibes. And a broad-based signposting can be handy when deciding what to listen to or watch. But, when music is as spellbinding, multi-layered, complex, fragile, brutal, experimental, fresh and exciting as the fare on offer tonight, it makes a mockery of the whole obsession.

Whether tonight's actually quite disparate bands benefit from, like, agree with, adhere to or totally abhor the label, the 'math' thing seems to be an indelible and as difficult to shake as chlamydia or genital warts. 

So, whatever they all are, math, prog, nu-progcore, pseudonoiserock, postmindfuckmathfusionjazzrockaltcore on a fucking hook, matters not jot. For only the second time ever in the thousands of shows I've attended since the 70s, I've been exposed to three five star performances on such a jaw-dropping and magical bill.

Wot Gorilla *****
First up are Halifaxters Wot Gorilla.  A fire and brimstone trio who peddle impossible rhythms and all manner of technical chicanery.  All cleverly fused with catchy tunes, melodic reveries and poppy and rocky sensibilities with heavy interludes, mesmerising playing and hypodermic sharp vocals.  And the result is simply breathtaking.

The playing is impossibly tight. There's a telepathic understanding between the three wizards which all the hardware and digital soul-reaping software in the world couldn't get close to matching. Every note, or section of a note is nailed to within a billionth of a gnat's dick hair. But it doesn't feel counted, quantised, sanitised or triggered, the true musical heart beats loudly and polyrhythmically at the core of real, hummable songs.

There's a proggy  DNA coding their chromosomes (not a true surprise given the band's early Genesis influenced nomenclature)  but it's not shoe gazing wanking in a circle. There's genuine accessibility and even broader 'mainstream' appeal popping up all like goosebumps all over the flesh.

Vocally there's more than a nod or resemblance to Coheed And Cambria (mercifully minus the fantasy comic book guy weirdness) or The Mars Volta. Lyrically, the material is spiked full of contemporary cultural references and relevance. In short, this cocktail is just about perfect. Complex yes, but delicious, warming, mind-altering and intoxicating. Just brilliant.

Delta Sleep *****
Next is the turn of Delta Sleep and their newish line up (new thing banger and low-end plucker) to take to the boudoir styled womb red bedraped stage. And, to be honest, they must be a little concerned about how to follow the wizardry and hemi-demi-semi-quaver perfect performance from Wot Gorilla.

No need for concern. They launch into a masterclass in alt vibe-infused gorgeousness. Slightly more stoner-relaxed than than the gorilla boys, but just as sensational. There's new material on show tonight and it's every bit as mesmerising and enthralling as the work on their incredible Management ep which pretty much makes up the rest of the bewitching set.

Broken strings (beautifully and professionally dealt with) aside, this is near as godly perfection as live music gets. Staggering symbiotic and telepathic tightness, incredible musicianship and wank-free virtuosity all woven into off kilter, thought-provoking and delicious songs. Yup, songs. Some even with choruses.

At this point, I can't actually ever remember being at a show that's just so breathtaking and smile-inducing. My mouth and face ache so much from swinging between hanging agog and cracking with delicious grins and my jaw feel like Luscious Lynda XXX's after the world fellatio championships. 

The new line up, coupled with the new songs signals nothing but the rudest of health for this slightly crusty but truly original quartet. Their alchemic combination of almost grimy punk with the choppy, syncopated mathy sorcery laden with taps, pulls, sweeps, melody, quirk and mysterious arcane dark arts held together with a magical (poly)rhythm section seriously sucks the air out of one's lungs. Truly magical.

Axes *****
Surely, things can't continue at such a ridiculously rarified and elevated level? Can they? Can they?

Course they can. And how.

Next up are the edgy, wild, unhinged, joyous and brain-melting quartet Axes. Fresh from the release of their stunning new long player Glory, they climb into  blistering set of technically perfect, chest thumping, genre-defying, mixed-up, head bobbing, ziggy-zaggy, uppy-downy, cerebellum-fucking, mouth-opening, well, er, glory.

The tightness that's welded together all tonight's performances is right at the surface again. One half a beat out and things could easily become shambolic. But there's not a hope that'll happen. It's simply note and beat perfect. 

Glued unbreakably by shuddering and temple-punching bass, the twin guitars take the full house on a psychedelic, lobe-scrambling white knuckle ride with more ups and downs than a week with Stephen Fry and a bowl of quaaludes and goofballs. Stunning. Eyewatering. Testicle-tightening. Brilliance.

By the time a proper (unexpected) encore scorches the assembled faces for the last time this evening, it's time for the hardest fall of any post-gig comedown I can recall. 

This was as good as it gets. No, seriously. I know in the world of editor-free, crowd sourced, co-created, open content on the tinterweb, there's no blue pencil hovering over every unsubstantiated superlative and it's easy to get carried away. But, honestly, tonight has not just raised the bar, it's catapulted it up towards that asteroid thing to join the probe that's batteries have conked out.

The three bands tonight, be they math, mathcore or fucking altmathpostcranialpostcoitalpostmanpat have delivered one of the very best shows I have ever attended. Simply amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment