Moloch/Alocasia Garden/Fehm/Burning Pyre/Negative Midas Touch @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 05-01-16

This was the first date in a short tour by three of Folkestone-based label/promoter Vanity Pill recording artists, Alocasia Garden, Burning Pyre and Negative Midas Touch, augmented for this date by a couple of bands not connected with the label. It’s an odd gig because there’s a huge stylistic gap between the touring trio (electronica and noise) and the add-on bands (punk goth and sludge/doom/drone), but on the up side it feels a bit like a mini festival.

From Sheffield, Bethany Patrick is Negative Midas Touch and uses an ancient Yamaha keyboard rigged up to half a dozen effects pedals and sound manipulators to create layers of electric fuzz, drone and rumble that is thoughtfully, if a bit too tentatively, put together. She seemed to be constructing/restructuring on the fly as opposed to a rigid prearranged plan, which is good, but hence the abrupt ending.

Burning Pyre is Chris Owen, here assisted by A Mate, and the set begins with an extended extract from a recording of an interview with JG Ballard explaining the rationale behind his novel Crash, which is a bit risky if the music which follows doesn’t match the still transgressive nature of that novels subject matter. The duo just about pull it off, with an opening salvo of an emphatic, ultra-low bass driven pulse above which a mix of techno synth pop chords and looser noise is liberally spread. This gradually fragments into a beatless soundscape that sustains a Ballardian mix of caress and abrasion. The set lasts no more than 15 minutes – no fat or waste, just what needs to be played.

By complete contrast, Leeds trio Fehm do a hard, punked form of goth that has not one whiff of nostalgia about it. The rattling, piledriving bass lines and lacerating guitar drive urgent, desperate songs of alienation and darkness. In keeping with the other bands, the set is short, stark and contains no waffle whatsoever.

Alocasia Garden is Vanity Pill supremo Reece Thomas Green, which is weird because he looks too young and fresh faced to be a media tycoon. Still, on this offering the music is a continuous piece constructed from a dense background of melded low and high frequency throb and noise, against which huge waves of digital surf were set to crash. It’s hypnotic, and Green wisely only applies enough variation to keep his allotted 15 minutes interesting.

The real stylistic body swerve is provided by Nottingham quartet Moloch, who turn in a set of sludgetastically, bass bombingly, feedback squealingly, compressed weight-to-the-depth-of-20-fathomsly, teeth, bone and eyeball vibratingly brilliant drone doom. They could have played for 15 minutes or 15 hours, but either way it wasn’t long enough.

Steve Walsh

On the Vibrations stereo...