As New York's self-proclaimed loudest band, A Place to Bury Strangers certainly lived up to the hype at their recent show in Philly. As I watched the band hammer out their intense noise rock ditty's (a mixture of both songs from their debut album and some new/unreleased gems) I kept thinking to myself that this is what the Jesus and Mary Chain would have sounded like had they knew how to actually play their instruments. Indeed, A Place to Bury Strangers was a very interested band to watch as their ridiculously ultra overdriven wall of guitar noise sound was countered by the sight of three shy musicians intensely focused on playing their instruments to the point of being almost dull to watch. Even when frontman Oliver Ackerman destroyed one of his guitars mid song, it seemed panfully contrived and posed. However, what the band lacked in stage presence they made up for with their sound, which below the surface was a meticulously crafted blend of various distorted guitar and bass textures and effects. What was even more impressive were the moments of melodic poignancy that managed to come through the abrasive music. Overall, I must say that in this current day and age when punk rock has been reduced to banal commercial parody of itself, A Place to Bury Strangers genuinely evokes the essence of punk and its DIY no-nonsense approach to music. This is the band that you see when you want to kill all of the Avril Lavigne and Fall Out Boy fans.
Third edition for the Obscure Fest, annual dark-gothic appointment in Naples. This year the venue has changed, and the new club Rising South I must admit it’s quite good: a wide concert room, nice stage, an acoustic that lets you understand what the bands are doing. The only problem is that you could think you in a tropical jungle because after an hour, when the club is full, you start sweating and feel like fainting due to the humid heat. The Festival includes not only concerts but also bodypainting, performances, videos, pictures and paintings, while the three djs DEMON, NOX and ANDY fill the air with good music between the bands’ exhibitions and after the show, till dawn. The concert bill included also LE VENE DI LUCRETIA but with silly excuses they decided not to come at the very last moment, really a bad promotion for a new band just growing.
Dances are opened by REALGAR, a Neapolitan duo: Claudia Florio (ex-singer of LUPERCALIA) and Roberto Marino (played guitar for some time with ARGINE) give life to a mix of neoclassic and electronic atmospheres, an intense sound that enchants all the listeners. On the electronic beats Roberto Marino plays keyboard and flute, while Claudia sings with a deep and powerful voice. References to QNTAL and DEAD CAN DANCE are obliged, but the band knows hot to make their music original, and I must admit that Claudia sings even better than in her previous appearances: more spontaneous, the singing fuse in a better way with music and she seems to be more involved, really giving her best. REALGAR play the songs from their demo, quite interesting (in particular I like "Finis"), and a new unreleased song that follows the direction of the previous tracks but emphasizing the electronic aspect, and I found it really wonderful. I’ll wait for their debut CD, I hope they’ll release soon because it’s a great quality ensemble.
After a little time to resolve technical issues, on stage come the Neapolitan TOTENWAGEN. This is a strange band for this happening, because they don’t seem to be "obscure" and make a strong contrast after the ethereal duo that has just played. The band, with an album released in these months, is made by members of THE SPERMS, and it’s a crazy ensemble that plays an harsh rock’n’roll with strong MOTORHEAD references, but you can find also various influences from RAMONES to LYDIA LUNCH. Distorted bass, drums and keyboards (no guitar) support a rough voice singing in German, Neapolitan and English. Aggressive, provocative, intense, they make the public shake and dance. "Che donna 666" (joking with the Italian language) is the most vulgar of their songs and is a confirmation that their Deutsch-Neapolitanische Rock 'n' Roll has the power to break into pieces the walls of this club.
NASTRO is a new band from Rome which got some attention for having supported the American group BLACK ICE. At first they shock a bit with their strange aesthetics, something reminds me of the 80 white rap bands like BEASTIE BOYS, but when they start playing they shock even more because of their very particular musical proposal. Really crazy, they play something like No-Wave or Art Rock, but trying to definite their style it’s absolutely hard. Very good music, a fanatical vocal approach and really well playing musicians, that is what emerges of this uncommon band. In the last song they reach their top, with the singer using a floor tom as timpano, while the guitarist gives his guitar to the public to play, even though the effects used are so heavy that anything you do on the instrument results in a square and rich noise. The only thing that makes me sad is that NASTRO hasn’t released any demo until now I could buy!
SCARLET AND THE SPOOKY SPIDERS come from Livorno, Italy. They’re a deathrock-horrorpunk band and as the other bands in this genre their aesthetics is particular and cured in details. The singer is like TIAMAT’s Johan Edlund in his LUCYFIRE experience: dressed up to nine with a cowboy hat. Their music is the right style to put the public on fire: rough and "in your face", they have energy and a powerful approach, with simple riffs and dirty melodies. Songs are really involving even though I don’t remember a single song after having listened, and they maybe seem too similar the one to the other. Anyway, the public appreciates a lot because they surely deserve to be listened, and I obviously bought their MCD "Pop Up Your Eyes and... Thrill!".
RICCARDO PRENCIPE’S CORDE OBLIQUE is another Neapolitan band dedited to neoclassic music with strong ethnic influences. They are on stage with a new singer and a different drummer and the result is very good. I thought that the decision of placing them after a deathrock band would have resulted as a flop, but I was completely wrong: even though they play acoustically, the powerful drumming and the rhythmical and energetic music makes them appreciated and the public is numerous and enjoys a lot. The presence on stage of Luigi Rubino (piano) and Edo Notarloberti (violin), both members of ASHRAM (Edo also in ARGINE and many other bands) adds a wonderful ensemble to the guitar of Riccardo Prencipe (ex-LUPERCALIA), who plays like a Spanish Flamenco, vigorous and always passionate.
The Slovak THE LAST DAYS OF JESUS are the last band of the bill. They come with a crazy attitude, in particular the singer acts as a madman in accordance to the music, that is a deathrock-psychobilly with influences from SIEKIERA to RAMONES to ALIEN SEX FIEND (for many reasons I’d ideally compare them to this last, for the disturbing and out of lines attitude). Their exhibition is really what we need to end this wonderful night, and they drain all the energy left in our veins. They make also a bis, the cover of RAMONES "Pet Semetery", more aggressive than the original. A great exhibition that is the cheese on the cake for a wonderful night, placing Naples as one of the most important cities in Italy (together with Milan and Rome) for the obscure/dark scene. I’m already looking forward the next edition, and if you live in Southern Italy or you’re going to be here next year, don’t forget to come and you’ll be satisfied.
As our readers know very well, we wouldn't usually review hip hop in an electronic/industrial music magazine, but there is nothing usual about No Luck Club, and although they call themselves "an instrumental hip hop band", their attitude on stage, their instrumentation, their approach to the art of DJing records, is borderline electronic music (in fact I think they should really check out the Warper Party and get a spot on that bill!).
No Luck Club is three asian dudes, two of which spin records that they manipulate and get creative with live and in real time (and by that I mean that they take it way beyond simple crossfading and scratching) while the third guy produces original (or sampled) sounds using two laptops and two usb keyboard controllers). While the underlaying beats might be of hip hop and funk heritage, the overall attitude towards real time live experimentation and sound manipulation is one that many of our readers are well acquainted with and would certainly highly appreciate if they got a chance to check out No Luck Club on a stage.
I saw them at their record release party at Fat Baby's in NYC. The record marks the first Expansion Records release, a new label that was born as a branch of the library music and sound designing company Expansion Team. I was thoroughly impressed and (yes, I admit) I was shaking my ass on occasion too. The show was great and I suggest you try to catch them live too... In the meantime check out their beautiful and creative horizontally laid out website at the link above!
Live Act(s): CLAIR OBSCUR
Event Date: 12 May 2007
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Iroko Club
Event Date: 12 May 2007
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Iroko Club
Sincerely, one of the worst concert I’ve seen in this year. Considered one of the most important French New Wave bands, CLAIR OBSCUR during these years have passed through different styles and experimentations, covering all the influences among rock and classical music, experimental and industrial. So, when this concert was announced, many in southern Italy were expecting it as THE EVENT OF THE YEAR. But often what starts badly ends even worse. The concert was announced as starting at 22 (that, in Southern Italy means it will start at 23:30), but keeping the club closed until midnight, and then starting the concert at 1:30 is really a lack of respect for all the fans who arrived in hurry and maybe do anything in their life different from going to dance and see a concert. But this are silly things compared to how was the concert. The band - now the lineup is only Christophe Demarthe (vocals) and Nicolas Demarthe (guitars) – starts to play really bored, seems to do a favour to the public. The first songs are interesting, even though disturbed by this "fuck-you" attitude of the band, but soon the other songs show a total lack of energy, interesting ideas, compositive skills: all the things you just know CLAIR OBSCUR usually have! Songs are boring, similar one to the other, banal. The singer after quite every song decide to speak just to offend and insult the public, telling in different ways we understand nothing, that we applause and have fun when the song just sang was sad and so on... the worst is when, after a JOY DIVISION’s cover (at least remember the lyrics when you play a so important cover) they gently invite the public to hang themselves. Really a drunken poor man willing to cross out in an hour 26 years of good music, leaving in all the real fans of the band (the ones who have all the records in Lp and CD, the original 7", know the lyrics by heart) a sense of disgust and sadness. The last pearl has been when Christophe Demarthe announces the new songs, a new "dark disco" genre they pretend to have invented right now and they’re proposing during concerts... so you’d expect some gothic dance maybe different from the usual ebm or techno-industrial, maybe more new-wave oriented or other things... NO, it’s the 20 years old style that bands like FRONT 242 and others played in the eighties... THIS IS THE NEW GENRE THEY INVENTED JUST NOW as they presumptuously declare? Forget it, go back to your CLAIR OBSCUR records collection. Never again.
The Young Gods most recent performance at the Swiss Institute of Art in New York City was among a handful of acoustic shows that the band has recently played to celebrate the release of their latest effort Super Ready/Fragmenté. For those familiar with The Young Gods and their innovative mixture of hard rock and electronica, all of which is based on their pioneering use of sampling, something as traditional as an acoustic set is somewhat surprising. Prior to the performance one got the impression that many of the fans in attendance were skeptical of this endeavor. However, once The Young Gods took stage all doubts were laid to rest, as the band performed a brilliant set that was lush and evocative. What was most inspiring about the band's set was their creative use of conventional instrumentation. This included drummer Bernard Trontin's eclectic use of drums, bongos, and other objects such as creating a rhythm with the current from an instrument cable and Franz Treichler's use of various kick knacks such a children's megaphone and seashells. Additionally, the incorporation of the sitar guitar, played by Al Comet, added to the set's ambiance. Overall, the songs were played very well with Treichler's voice sounding as good as it does on the band's albums.
While some of the songs were based on their original music such as Charlotte and Stay With Us, others were completely reinterpreted such as Our House and Kurt Weil's Speak Low. Some of the highlights of the set included an extended version of Gardez Les Esprits, a very emotional rendition of She Rains, and a vivacious cover of Richie Haven's Freedom. What was most impressive about The Young God's set was that making the switch from electric (or electronic in their case) to acoustic did not take away from any of the songs' energy. This was most prevalent in their powerful performance of Longue Route, which is one of their more heavier industrial-thrash metal tracks. As Korn's MTV Unplugged demonstrates, it is extremely difficult for a hard rock/heavy metal band to play acoustically and actual sound serious, yet The Young Gods, a band that has a good ten years on Korn pulled it off with a great deal of ease. All in all, twenty years into their career and The Young Gods are still rethinking their music and pushing the limits of what everyone expects from them, which is probably why they remain fresh and innovative while the majority of their peers have become cheap parodies of their former selves.