Call me Russ L

Hammer time

Posted in Music by Russ L on 29 March, 2008

After The Cleansing Of Constance Brown (I’ll say it again: magnificent) had finished, it was only a matter of walking around the corner a bit to get to The Barfly. This was a good thing, since the rain was absolutely persisting it down. It also meant that I was able to get there without missing more than about five minutes of opening local doomsters I Am Colossus. They didn’t grab me musically, but I loved the slow-motion rockstar poses.

Paul Catten’s The Sontaran Experiment were the aliens-in-the-middle at this particular gig, and they were bloody ace to boot. They played electronic-y and guitar-y and bass-y drum-y and vocal-y and feedback-y noise, with a structure to it but enough of a nod to free-form to keep you guessing. Destructive, but fun and possessed of an obvious sense of the absurd (and/or of humour). The ticking clock bit (“Tick… tock… tick… tock… tick… tock… BLEEEEUUURRRGH… tick… tock…”) made me laugh out loud in a non-abbreviated way. Ace stuff.

Gallhammer, apparently, are very heavily hyped. This is easy to imagine (between being ‘young girls’ and ‘Japanese’, they’d appeal to a lot of people with odd but common fetishes), but I’ve never seen any of it myself. Given that it’s been a long, long time since I last read a music magazine this is hardly surprising, and I’m certainly not trying to disingenuously suggest that all of this media attention doesn’t exist, but all I’d ever come across before the gig was a squintillion people bringing the “Hype! Boo sucks to them!” schtick and it was far more irritating than a press push would likely have been. Worst were the people who would proclaim themselves to be “fans of sludge” or “fans of doom” who proclaimed them to be mediocre at best (a common meme); they’d like a mediocre sludge band (that’s what they do. “I am a fan of ‘x’ style of music” means “I like the average ‘x’ bands as well as the good ones”, doesn’t it?), but not when said mediocre band is the subject of media attention. Confused am I.

I wanted to like Gallhammer, therefore. They had potential to elevate themselves by being a bit different, too: their really incongruous new wave bits and fairly bizarre vocals. Sadly, neither came through. The difference in vocals was lost in the live sound (which wasn’t particularly bad or anything, just the usual less-than-crystal-clear); the new-wave-y pop-punk-y bits didn’t really materialise much at all. Other than that we had ordinary sludge with a few crusty bits. They did have a few parts to a few songs that I got into and some vaguely catchy moments here and there, but on the whole my shoulders shrugged. I wouldn’t be averse to seeing them again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do so either.

The Cleansing Of Constance Brown, though. The night was all about that.



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