Fri 12 Mar 2010
Swallow Your Words Festival: Bethunes Gully, 6/3/10
Almost unbelievably it started on time, with [Old Psychiatrists Club] (or OPC) starting off about 1pm. There was no consideration of the time of day, the vocals alternating suddenly from an almost-snarl to blood-curdling screaming, guitar solos duelling with drum fills.
The [Communist Rainbow Relationship] brought with them the first opportunity to dance, and were a strange mixture of fantastic sixties-styled pop, Spector drum beats and more expected loose noise, in an approximate mixture of three to one. Given this band features members of Bastard Wisher and [TFF], this is a pleasant surprise, and most certainly a welcome one.
When Bastard Wisher perform, it is as a two piece, the occasional yelled/screamed improvised lyric (sample: â€œMarch 6th 1987â€) over a jittery and dense computer generated glitch beat. Bastard Wisher are catharsis, pure.
[Sewage] provided the most compelling and memorable set, somehow taking the rudimentary basis of drums, guitar and saxophone, mixing with sparse shouted phrases and turning out pure, gut-grabbing adrenaline. No nods to convention here, although there was probably some amount of preconceived song structure in the performance, the end result came out as spontaneous and utterly compelling. As the soundman added echo, Sewage created an amazing maelstrom, leaving quite a peak in proceedings for the rest of the lineup to follow.
From the ranks of [None Gallery], Horsehead Nebula started their set with what at first appeared to be your run-of-the-mill, standard noise set. Scattered drums sat uncomfortably with effects-pedal guitar, not quite gelling or going anywhere. However, over the course of their continuous set, the pieces gradually melted together and a cohesive whole was formed, gravity and atmosphere intact and renewing interest.
[The Aesthetics] were decidedly fantastic from the get-go; a confident and unified rhythm section provided the most danceable of chugs, giving Matt Middleton the room to positively wail on schizoid guitar. The songs had swing, they had bite, they were groovy as all hell and searing to the ears all at once. When theyâ€™re on form theyâ€™re a sight to behold, and the low swirling cloud above provided a semi-psychedelic show just metres above the surrounding tree-tops for their set.
[TFF] are probably five years old as a band now, but have just begun (in terms of exposure to the wider musical world). Theyâ€™re a talented bunch, all razor sharp, powerful, skittery drums, spastic guitar squall, sax bleating and fuzzy mid range with desperate shouting over the top. On first listening they appear to be four people all playing random bits of different songs as fast as possible all at the same time, but a brief listen to any of their recordings reveal [TFF] to be probably the tightest and punkest of any weirdo noise rock band you care to name. Anyone trying to even bob their head in time with the music is in for a difficult time as they power straight through as many different free-jazz inspired spazz rock numbers as their fingers and arms will allow, always seeming to be falling apart while always being in complete control.
Mountaineater follow with another set of bludgeoning monsters from the heavy end of the sonic rock spectrum. Songs seem to imperceptibly push the seven to ten minute mark, cavernous bottom ends grounding the searing guitar, which occasionally slips the shackles and soars magnificently above it all. The penultimate number, Exegesis 7, is their pinnacle, celebrated at the end by the band devolving into a shapeless mass.
By the time [Heka] play the entire festival is running perhaps an hour behind schedule, not that anyone cared to notice given the great time that had been had. Their mid tempo sonics are reminiscent of Bailterspace in a reflective mood and provide a suitable wind down to what has been a triumph of a day. The sound throughout was absolutely incredible, loud and with strict clarity, and given that the whole event was actually pulled off it can only be hoped that it will happen again.