Posts Tagged ‘trial n error’

Cody Noon, For Astronauts and Satellites, Aching Muscle and Sleepwalker at the Star Inn, Guildford 27th August 2017

August 28, 2017

Trial ‘n’ Error join forces once more with the Buffalo Club for a night that could best be described as experimental and eclectic.  Four acts with arguably next-to-nothing in common, certainly not superficially, other than three do not feature live drums and if you were to turn up for some rock, punk, indie then you’d be left disappointed.

Sometimes I go to gigs and just don’t much get into it, for no real reason I can put my finger on… other times I just get into it from start to finish and even when it’s not 100% my thing.

Up first, Sleepwalker.  Stef takes off his promoter’s hat and puts on one that I’d mark ambient minimal techno.  He stands in front of the stage and twiddles knobs on the assortment of kit – mixer, laptop, keyboard and some other shit – in front of him.  I missed the start of the set, but really loved what I did catch, which I think was most of it.  Of all the electronica / dance music out there this is pretty damn close to what I like most.  Quite a pure, warm sound.  Simple, funky, energetic… with ambient sweeps.  To my mind this is dance music for a bar / club that is equally effective as head music.  Really takes me back to 1997 / 98 when I was hanging out in little bars in central London on a Friday night, necking lagers and listening to electro-influenced tech-house.  Honestly, I have no criticism other than the Back Room of the Star is not the ideal setting.

Next up, Richard Fenning’s in his Aching Muscle guise.  An eclectic mix of electronic backing tracks, overlayed with live and looped guitar.  By turns fun, heavy, playful, funky, futuristic, lounge, rocking.  The playing can be relatively orthodox, but when it is it usually gives off a sense that it is being played exactly as intended – technically perfect.  Then he veers off in off-key, off-kilter, off-the-wall, off-ensive (not really), jazzy, mathy, experimentally directions that can sound quite random but I’m sure are just as precisely crafted as that which is more orthodox.

I’ve kinda got two criticisms.  A full live band can put out more power and volume, and, of course, gives you more to look at (not that Fennings doesn’t know how to work a stage).  The sound at the Star is really good – loud and faithful – but it’d be interesting to see how different, louder and more all-encompassing and powerful Aching Muscle would sound as a full band.  Failing that, in an ideal world, and this is asking a lot, he’d turn up with three half-stacks and route loops through one, drums and bass another and live guitar a third.  PA’s are fucking great but they compliment a back-line and can never truly replace one.

The second is this.  Music is never just about the music; to really love it you have to have a complete package to buy into.  Fenning’s other band – Pensevor, where he drums – are a perfect example.  They look like a proper band, down in no small part to their man-mountain front-man but not exclusively, and they have a sound that has nods to all sorts of things but is resolutely their own.  Get on stage by yourself and it’s a fuck-load harder to come across like a proper band, partly because you’re not, of course.  Nothing wrong with a solo act, nothing at all, but it’s just so much harder to come across like you’re on your way to a big stage, and so much easier to come across like you’ve just been let loose from your bedroom.  It’s about perception as much as reality, but it’s just harder to make it sound big and authentic (don’t get me started on authenticity in music, but just quickly, authenticity is bullshit, but people’s perception of it makes a massive difference to how a band is received.)

Third up For Astronauts and Satellites… pretty sure I’ve seen them before, but if I did I didn’t much enjoy them and don’t much remember them.  Dunno what was different this time – probably my attitude not them – but I really enjoyed it.  Shoegaze-influenced post-rock, combining electronics with two guitars; it was the drums that really did it for me.  Bugger.  I noodle at home with a sequencer, but yet another band proves exactly why a relatively traditional live band is so powerful, even 50 years or so since the first all-electronic acts, and despite the fact that so much of the last 30 or 40 years the more cutting-edge music relies increasingly on techniques other than live performance.

Really funky guitar noise.

Finally Cody Noon.  Kinda the missing link between Sleepwalker and For Astronauts, again funky, minimal programmed drums, again guitars, and the only live bass of the night.  Technically I am far from convinced by Cody Noon’s talent, none of Aching Muscle’s effortlessness… but for (1) I’m probably selling them short, and for (2) I really do not give a fuck.  If talent in and music out bore any real direct correlation then Eric Fucking Clapton would make music that could be described as “listenable” or “not horrific” or “unlikely to invoke murderous thoughts in the listener”.  I can’t really describe them… beer blamed, or maybe it’s just cos there’s absolutely nothing to what they do… repetitive, simple… but I really liked it and maybe even my favourites of the night.  In fact, not maybe, they definitely were.  Anything that drones is fine by me, but much more so when it is the drone of repetition as opposed to the drone of a continuous note.

Really looking forward to checking out recorded music from all of them, not least the three whose CDs I walked out with.  Keep and eye, I might even write about them in the next few weeks.  Expect me to come away with completely different perceptions from those I took away last night.

https://codynoon.bandcamp.com/

https://forastronauts.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/aching-muscle

https://www.facebook.com/The-Sleepwalker-1700078336900454/

https://www.facebook.com/thebuffaloclub/

https://www.facebook.com/Trial-N-Error-Productions-1511711255801880/

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Masiro / Slug 13 / Luau / Who Saw The Light – The Lounge Bar, Alton 28th April 2017

May 4, 2017

Just a quick one… not got time to say much.

I love Slug 13 (grungey noise-rock) and Who Saw The Light (metal, weird, all-over-the-place-in-a-good-way) – not much to add to what I have said about them before.  Looking forward to seeing them push on.

Luau were on first.  A bit too garage / punk for my tastes, but not bad at all and the surf elements really add something.

Masiro were on last.  A bit too prog metal for my tastes but again, not bad at all.  Like Luau I’d like to see them again.

Cheers to Trial ‘n’ Error for putting in on.

Trial N Error Productions

Luau

Masiro

Slug 13

Who Saw The Light

Lost You To The Cities, Gift of Blindness with The Sleepwalker, Typical Hunks, Unman – The Star Inn, 9th April 2017

April 15, 2017

Buffalo Club join forces with Trial n Error – end result veers more into experimental / noise territory than a typical Buffalo Club night which is perhaps more riffs and noise.  Whatever follows bear in mind that I’m fucking happy to walk into a venue and hear noisey music that’s not straight-down-the-line metal; isn’t some generic punky-emo-y nonsense.

Unman kick things off.  Guitar, bass, drums, sax.  Noise, noise, drums, some sax and more noise.  I was told its all improvisation.  Very believable.

It was all about jazz drumming, the odd sax burst, and lots of texture.  I enjoyed it a lot, lost myself in it… but I have to say that I prefer music to be more song- or riff-based.  I like rhythm.  I like sound.  But most of all I like raw, dirty rock n roll, and that ain’t Unman.  Then again, it’s pointless to consider Unman on those terms.

Great thinking music.  I felt like I do when I look at modern art… an afternoon in a gallery looking at modern art is something I really enjoy… but I often find that relatively little of what I see I really like as a piece of art – what I get from is more that it invariably gets me thinking about art and making art.  And actually, thinking about it now, I prefer good music to good visual art, and I prefer thinking about music to thinking about visual art, so at the very least Unman are better than a visit to a gallery. But that’s harsh, I enjoyed it, its just not massively my kinda music.

Typical Hunks did their thing.  The drum machine is 80s.  The sound it makes is 80s.  It’s a fucking good job most bands don’t use 80s drum machines, but there’s nothing wrong with the fact that some bands do.  It suits the music which is some sort of post-punk, scratchy, US-noise influenced shit.  I’m not criticising the vox or bass, both of which play their part, but for me it’s all about the guitar.  I love it, and a bit of a droney vibe going on behind the main riffs which I didn’t really notice first time I saw them.

Next on was The Sleepwalker whose very brief laptop set was really an introduction to Gift of Blindness.  I cannot stress enough how much I am open to electronics replacing live instruments in live sets, and the drummer’s the obvious first one to ditch.  But my take is that if you’re not going to have a live drummer then you have the ability to do things that a real drummer can’t, whereas with Gift of Blindness it seemed more like programmed drums were there filling a gap until a real drummer turns up.  Technical issues and the lack of the bass player who couldn’t make it and it all felt a bit half-cooked… but Gift of Blindness’s Umair Chaudhry knows that.  Was it the second track that kicked in with a really nice guitar sound and riff?  Think so.  The potential’s there.  £10 says Gift of Blindness’ next gig will be a load better.  The last one probably was too.

Headliners – Lost You To The Cities – don’t seem to have been around too long.  The night’s kinda gone full circle, and we’re back to abstract music that’s more about texture than anything else.  Instrumental post-rock though, not jazz-noise.  Again I enjoyed it.  Again I’m just happy to be able to see live music that isn’t just some straight-ahead metal or pointless indie drivel, but again its not massively my thing and I really can’t say much other that I suspect it sounds a bit like Sonic Youth, Mogwai, Radiohead, Slint, Fireside, … And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Can, Balmorhea, Ennio Morricone, Dirty Three, GYBE, A Silver Mount Zion, Joy Division, Velvet Underground [you have just read a list of their influences C and P’d from their Facebook page.  My knowledge of post-rock is limited].

Trial and Error All-dayer

October 19, 2016

I’m not going to say too much, not least as I missed most of it.

Sanctuary.  Basingstoke.  Sunday 16th October 2016.  LOADS OF BANDS.  Cos I am so busy and important I missed most of it.  Thanks to Stefan Powell for organising, and well done all involved for the cash raised towards CDH UK.

I saw three bands, and they’re all bands I have seen before.  Space Church had just started when I arrived.  I really like them.  I recommend the album.  Highly.  They prove that you don’t need noise noise noise to make challenging music.  They prove that you can mix things up and still sound like a proper band.  The only downside is the set-list seems to stick too close to the album… are you not writing new stuff?  Why not chuck in the odd older song?

Warren Schoenbright.  I like them.  I love the drummer, I like the bass.  There’s two things I don’t particularly like, both of which say a shit load more about me than they do WS.  (1)  I love noise, but I love songs too.  WS don’t much do songs.  (2)  The third member.  Laptop and other hardware.  I have no problem with bands not being fully live with real instruments all the way… but I don’t like not knowing what someone is doing, and I also think – probably completely illogically – that if you’re gonna stick a computer on stage then get the fucking thing to do everything for you.  Press the fucking button and let it do its thing, then remove the laptop from the (non-)stage at the end of the set.  Stand next to it if you want.  Do a bit of fiddling if necessary.  But spending all set fucking around with shit that should be done by the computer also sat right next to you – what a waste of time.  Anyway, as I say, that’s my problem not theirs.

Slug13.  Nice.  Really nice.  I’ve started checking out more of their music online and its damn good.  I don’t really now what more to say.  The vocals were (very) quiet, the songs were loud.  They remind me massively of Mudhoney as I’ve said before, but that’s much more down to the fact that I love Mudhoney and I don’t know as many of the other bands who were around at the time as I should, both those that were grunge and those that shared elements of the grunge sound.  Should probably start with Tad and The Jesus Lizard – I like it when bands help you with their influences.  Never really listened to Tad apart from the odd song on John Peel back in the day.  I have “Head” on vinyl, but it hasn’t had a play in probably 23 or 24 years.