Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Experimental Yorkshire

Experimental Yorkshire.

21st July 2018. Hebden Bridge Trades Club.

Gloomy Planets
Noel Meek and the Slowest Lift
Mel Delaney and Anna Peaker   
Cherry Styles
Bridget Hayden
Richard Youngs and John Clyde-Evans
Ashtray Navigations







Following Guttersnipe was never going to be easy but YOL just about pulled it off. With a rusty Victorian garden rake, a cymbal and a piece of thin tin YOL created another one of his short visceral bursts of modern day observational exegesis that saw him strain and lose balance, scream, wail, spit and fall over, a performance that rendered him spent and wasted. The glitter ball that accompanied him appeared surreal as if this most personal of performances had taken place in cheesy seventies disco after two hours of disco and ABBA.

The Trades Club is no cheesy disco but I cant remember them ever having staged a full day of experimental which may have gone some way to explain the grumpy faces behind the bar and the bemused sound guys, one of whom I saw pick up YOL’s contact mic’d rake and study it with total miscomprehension. We’re here because the yearly Tor Fest, ten miles up the road in Todmorden, cant take place in its usual venue due to concerns about the noise and the crowds from the locals. Which is a pity as I prefer Tod to Hebden, those ten miles of tarmac acting as I kind of strainer where the knit your own yoghurt merchants and the croc wearing hippy families give way to a more down to earth folk, the constantly shifting border it sits on making the people there a lot more open. Plus there’s a Spoons.
Eleven acts meant it was always going to be a long day but those in charge have selected wisely and thus we have an afternoon of Dad Nod with a back screen of psychedelic bacteria, the evening being given over to the projector-less.

Gloomy Planets are a late edition and given the unenviable 1.30pm start slot. Taking up a comfortable pew on well worn seating I take in the afternoon with nary a budge while indulging at least two of my senses. Gloomy Planets are a trio from Leeds and make droney experimnetia, one of them has odd socks on, very short long trousers and flails around with a small child recorder making high pitched noises that appear unamplified. The bass player runs a hand up and down its neck, the one in the middle makes some noises. They are all sat. They appear happy with their work. Noel Meek and the Slowest Lift are here after playing Birmingham the night previously which is a quick turn around in anybodies book. Meek is upset with his violin and throws it down, Cooper and Bradley pick up guitars at various stages, Cooper sings haunting unknown words. It gels eventually and when it does there’s that essence of something working that is both hard to define and grasp. Which also describes what Mel Delaney and Anna Peaker create which despite some technical issues is also other worldly, Delaney on gadgets maybe, Peaker on a keyboard. Cherry Styles creates grinding loops of industrial dirt on a laptop which she then layers with squeals of atonal grit as writ from a flat guitar played with cutlery which after a good few hours sat on my arse I find particularly nod worthy. The backdrop is of a woman washing her long hair in a pond full of tadpoles.

Having a noise artist on at five in the afternoon is fine by me but its obvious that the sound people at the Trades have different ideas so after a five minute Foldhead soundcheck [everybody is having to soundcheck as they go along - so it goes] which some people seem to think is the set, our man from Mirfield lets go with a classic noise box screamer that whoops and chugs in the lower register before flying off in to stelar directions and dying like a busted firework. The volume audibly dips about two seconds in which is a shame as the sound system is easily good enough to cope and the volume would have lifted it no end, as it was conversation could be heard and had and this is coming from someone sat next to one of the PA stacks opposite the people in the Hawaiian shirts getting steadily pissed on Scruttocks who would still be there come going home time and who seemed to be having such a lovely time thinking me and Philthy Phil were a power electronics outfit.

Seeing as my arse was numb and hunger had come in to my thoughts I decided that fresh air was required so it was that I found myself in a micro brewery and then for a fish butty and to mingle with the locals most of whom resemble the bastard offspring of Sideshow Bob. When I return I catch the back end of Hawthonn who have filled the place with dry ice for their ghostly esoteric rituals. A duo that I get more out of each time I see them. Not that I’m much of a fan of ghostly esoteric rituals with field recordings and fox skull rattles but there’s something about Hawthonn that gets to me. Bridget Hayden meanwhile sits stage front apologising for forgetting something or other delivering breathy 21st century folk songs accompanied by an overdriven electric guitar which she picks at and down-strums. Richard Youngs & John Clyde Evans appear as if from nowhere Youngs asking for the disco lights to be replaced with bright white lights which are all the better to scare the audience with. There then follows a long introduction concerning cul-de-sacs or somesuch before Youngs starts blowing honking deliveries on a long flute he’s brought for the occasion. Evans stand by his side matching Youngs seemingly random peeps and threeps with grating lap top glitch. As ever when Youngs on stage you never know what you’re going to get but things being as they are we’re spared the two hour number recitations as recently seen at Cafe Oto.

Guttersnipe is where its at though. Easily the most talked about band of the day, this year and last. Having seen them several times now this expanded set, taking in what seemed like more freeform experimentation has lifted their them from a bloodcurdling short and sharp ten to fifteen minutes to something approaching the more ecstatic half hour mark. The pair make for unlikely warriors, both as thin as breadsticks with Gretchen on guitar a formidable presence, half shaved head, multicolored strands of hair, head back and writhing like she’s been machine gunned, he drummer [sorry I don’t know your name] a tenticled flurry of electrified limbs. Both share vocals and triggered noises, the drum kit mic’d so that it sounds like its disintegrating, the guitar played fast and from top to bottom in milliseconds and sounding like hell melting. ‘What do you even begin to call that’ someone asked? The answer to which is ‘whatever you like’. There are no genre tubs to dump Guttersnipe in. They’re like the best noise band ever except they’re not a noise band and the Metal kids’ll struggle because there’s nothing to hook on. The nearest approximation would be Lightning Bolt who by comparison sound like Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Which leaves Ashtray Navigations who have been brought out of what seems to be semi retirement such is the length of time its been since we saw them. Delaney taking the stage for the second time today along with the Toddmeister without whom etc … Four or five shortish tracks of pumping monolithic synth beats with added neck ringing.

I’m tired now though. Its been a long day. I hope there’s another one next year.

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