[From the archives]
Noise gigs don’t normally take place in swanky venues. Most noise gigs I attended in this country take place in smoky rooms above pubs, at the back of pubs, in the cellars of pubs.
The final night of this years Termite Festival was no exception. So, jammed in next to someone chain smoking a mixture of dried privet leaves and bindweed your hearing takes a battering and your glass runs dry and then you realize that the bars packed and its going to be twenty quid in a taxi home and tinnitus for the rest of the week – and you keep coming back because there’s nothing else quite like it.
These smoky rooms throw up some memorable evenings. Once again its praise be to the Termite Club for putting on four nights of eclectic entertainment - after last years debacle of having almost no festival at all [due to circumstances beyond their control] this years ran to four nights to make up for it. Alas, a huge bout of apathy on my part [and the fact that funds were at an all time low] meant that your roving reporter could only make it to this the last night.
The Cardigan Arms is the prefect template of how Leeds Tetley pubs used to be; rooms tucked away in every corner, lots of wood, etched glass and marble floor tiles, a big enough bar that you can shout over to your friends in the next room, a bog you could have a gig in [take note Sudden Infant] and an upstairs room that you locate via a windy staircase that has a door with a glass window in it that says ‘Harmonium Room’.
The Harmonium Room is host first to Sudden Infant and its originator Joke Lanz. I saw Sudden Infant earlier in the year at the Entr’acte gig in London and he was stunning. With a contact mic in the palm of each hand he held his hands to his throat and let rip primal screams – later in his set he held his hands on other people’s throats picking up pulses and gulps. Tonight he’ll be let down by equipment failure when half the PA refuses to work but despite it all he still gives a stellar performance of vocal angst before a decent sized appreciative crowd. Silence, church bells, brief blasts of industrial pounding, screams, Lanz prowls his territory rubbing his contact mic’d hands up and down his legs and over his head, producing scarred and fractured templates on which to impale yourself. Dangerous bursts of frenzy juxtapose with stand stock still do nothingness. An impressive performer who in conjunction with his Schimpfluch Gruppe compatriots produces some of the most stimulating, fresh and original sounds to be found.
Trombone players are usually good entertainment and Alan Tomlinson is no exception. Watching a short bloke with a beer belly roll his sleeves up, sweat buckets whilst taking his trombone apart and put it back together again whilst making all kind of noises that you thought couldn’t come out of a trombone in the first place, is a good enough reason to turn up next time he’s on the bill. Tomlinson has studied the trombone for years and I dare say he could hold his own in Kenny Balls Jazz Men but tonight he strips down his instrument rebuilds it, closes doors with it, sticks stuff down the end of it and along the way produces everything from low end buzzes to twittering coughs and tweets. Sandwiched between Sudden Infant and MK9 he’s the lighter side of tonight’s show and the nearest thing we’ll get to a laugh.
I miss half of MK9’s set due to bar congestion and get back to find members of the audience sitting in the half of the room sectioned off for the artists with the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’ stuck to them. MK9 is Michael Nine, founder of the legendary power electronics outfit Death Squad. Who I caught the last time they were in Leeds when they scared the shit out of everybody with a spot on Gulf War tirade. Tonight he’s barking into a megaphone to a backtrack of what sounds like overlapping military airwaves chatter. He stops his rant to let the back track build and pulls ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’ off people [then making them leave their spot] but seeing as how his rants are indecipherable [to me at least] and the A & B thing makes no sense to me either it’s a cold performance lacking in the energy of his earlier work.
Matthew Bower gives us twenty minutes or so of screeching feedback [which is also blighted by equipment failure] before the highlight of the night take up their cudgels. Chris Corsano [Six Organs of Admittance, Sunburned Hand of the Man] on drums and Mick Flower [Vibracathedral Orchestra] at first on some kind of Indian dulcimer and then on electric guitar build some head spinning walls of eastern tinged drone fuzz. Dunno if it’s the first time these guys have played together but should they get together regular enough they’ll build up a decent following. Any live product resulting from this all too short set should be snapped up without hesitation. Maybe they’ll have thought a name up for themselves by then too. The Toddmeitser nods his approval and announces that it’s the best thing of the weekend which makes me feel a little better for having missed the previous three nights.