Hooded, in face blanking shades, Hive Mind , produces one of the real highlights of the festival. Standing behind his moog and bass station rig, he gives a beautifully controlled performance of drone power. Opening filters slowly his sound develops minute by minute until the room throbs to his thick, detailed sound . He is quick to trap any escaping note clusters and force them back down in to mix, bury them amongst the analogue warmth and pedal wrecked haze. I hear the ghosts of warehouse parties, techno residue, cancelled dawns. The sounds dreamed by Ron Hardy, nodding in the dj booth at the Music Box.
Looks Sorta Dangerous. Aaron Dilloway, out on a solo creep from scene kings Wolf Eyes, is inserting contact mics into his mouth. Totally wired. A sludge of hip hop beats detours in to disorientation and an empty lift shaft plunge. Fierce, spit out, lines of force build till the pressure gets too much and ocean size sound is let loose. AD is on the edge, spasmodic, kicking out, hands conjuring figures, drawing in the energy. Like a man caught between performance and the dream of performance. The set is concise and in the closing moments a stream of pure, hi end, hi frequency noise scours the crowd, cleaning out the collective cortex .
The Mouthus sound is cavernous, stadium sized reverb, engulfs the audience. The duo on, pared down drum kit and guitar, howl through their set, locked in the pursuit of more space, continually moving outward. Vocals emerge and collapse in the storm, monochord riffs coagulate with stuttering percussion. Despite being the most conventional rock band of the festival the group are still way over on the far side of the genre, telegraphing reports of free space that remains unclaimed and ill defined.
If there ever was time I hoped that a wired up bootlegger or two was in the audience it was for the peerless set by Joe Mcphee and Chris Corsano. In years to come those fortunate few present will recall an hour of music when it all came together. CC is a marvel to behold. Incredible dexterity, intensity and expression, the most musical drummer I’ve ever heard. JM is a true artist, he knows how to wait and when to strike. Whether it’s breathing soul notes from the pocket trumpet or babbling maelstroms on the sax he is on point every time. When they complete the first section of the set, the crowd roar and stamp, people run to the stage arms waving, shrieking and affirming the connection that’s occurring. They continue with several shorter pieces each met rapturously. One certain passage has JM playing a simple, beautiful, modern melody that begs to be heard again. Please, somebody, release the tapes!
Perhaps appropriately we get to smell Smega before we see them. Their advance warning, a green herbal fug that winds into the auditorium, is strong enough for a contact high. They are a reassuring sight then they appear. Silver threaded hair with hoar frost on their brows, t shirts with “smile” and “keep music evil”. Their demeanour suggests that 30 years at the edge of sound keeps you young in the soul. They begin with a medicine show romp through Mule Skinner Blues, highlighting the great guitar sound and no frills drum attack. Other members play a diy theremin, a reed like mouth flute , a seemingly random turntable and delay selection and , oh yeh the drummer doubles on trombone. Guest star Aaron Dilloway does his oral electricity thing fitting right in to the psych/drone/garage blend. For me they are at their bests when hitting the three chord punk rush, the guitar just sounds so great, the percussion heart stoppingly real. The downer tone flows that punctuate the set are a real treat too and the extended disintegrating blues, featuring Joe Mcphee, is a beauty. They end the festival by leading a sing-along happy birthday to curator David Keenan who punches the air in righteous delight.