Rocket Recordings All Dayer - Corsica Studios, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Rocket Recordings All Dayer - Corsica Studios, London

by Ian Fraser Rating: Release Date:

Rocket recordings is, by any stretch of the imagination, one of the most vibrant record labels around, championing a pulsating roster of international acts that might broadly be categorised as psychedelic but more accurately exploring the experimental and avant-garde. Full marks then to Baba Yaga’s Hut then for getting half a dozen label-affiliated acts in one place – that place being the promoter’s main “tied house” the no-frills Corsica Studio in the Elephant and Castle, London. It also says much for the label that they could at any other time plucked another half a dozen names from their little red book and served up at least an equally strong line-up.

First two acts were Coldnose and Kuro, the former a solo table top techno surfer from London who laid down some pretty cool, understated beats designed to ease what was, at 3.30 in the afternoon, a sparse following in need of a bit of warming up. Kuro is a name you may be unfamiliar with but boy do they have pedigree. French classically trained violinist Agathe Max’s alternately ambient and emotive soundscapes have been much in demand on the more discerning gig circuit and the better festivals (fond memories of catching her at Supersonic a few years back) while the bullish looking Gareth Turner may look as though he ought to be propping for Bristol RFC but is one-half of the mighty Big Natural and thirty-three-and-a-third of Anthroprophh who would be doing it to us later. Their allotted half an hour of brooding melancholy punctuated by commotion was a step or two up in intensity from the opening act and provided a tantalising foretaste of their anticipated first album.

Housewives are a band whose 2015’s full-length debut is a cause of frustration hereabouts – glimpses of abundant talent but a little underwhelming in the way so much of it was executed. Live, though they stepped up to the plate and then smashed it to bits. Loud and often atonal drone and expressively vocalised deconstructed workouts on sometimes detuned (and in some cases suspiciously garden shed crafted) musical implements they gave us the first taste of a Corsica sound rumoured to be the best in London. Well Housewives certainly got it stretching and yawning. They also begged for someone to tap me on the shoulder and shout “this isn’t music” at point blank range at which point I would have felt obliged to hit them with the camera. Let’s face it there was precious little else for which it could be used for much of the all-dayer seemed to play out in such 20 watt gloom that would no doubt have gladdened the heart of ARP Warden Hodges. In Housewives case it was a perfectly aesthetic.

I am firmly of the opinion that more often than not the most uncompromising if not downright difficult music emanates from some of the most engaging and easy going people. Such seems to be the case with Necro Deathmort whose jolly moniker and black ambient demeanour are at odds with the off-stage personas of AJ Cookson (vocals and technology) and the darkly hirsute Matthew Roziek whose guitars bring some extra texture to the electronic crackle and fizz. New album The Capsule, though, relies less on the beats and the riffs and more on dystopian, anti-dance industrial techno and which seemed ideally suited to the stripped back aesthetic of the old railway arches that the Studio inhabits. The dark side has rarely seemed so welcoming.

Outside The Circle was one of THE albums of 2014 and Anthroprophh’s performance at Liverpool Psych Fest that year was the pinnacle of that year’s festival and probably the highlight of many people’s live experience that year. Thankfully the two combined to mesmerising effect again here, much to the evident approval of a by now sizeable and appreciative crowd. Comprising Bristol’s Big Naturals and The Heads’ Paul “Prof” Allen on vocal, guitar and keys and at one pointed supplemented by Agathe Max their near-full set mined not just their 2014 meisterwerk and self-titled debut but what might well have been glimpses of their new album earmarked for next Spring and is already on the personal bucket list for 2017. Highlight of the day.

I must say that Gum Takes Tooth have passed me by until now. Clearly they hadn’t escaped the notice of the London cognoscenti, as they drew the largest crowd of the night. A Lightning Bolt-style duo for the present day their much anticipated arrival on stage met with… silence… as the equipment momentarily refused to co-operate. Talk among yourselves, then. Following an hiatus we were then treated to a full frontal assault by the pair of drum n’ techno noise-boffins much to the evident delight of those who’d paid their money and knew what to expect (and a couple of those who didn’t have that much of a clue, really). Not that it was all squalid noise mind. There are thoughtful, almost sensitive interludes which if anything, though, merely accentuate the high octane, frenetic energy that typifies the Gum sound.

This was my third exposure to Teeth Of The Sea inside of nine months, the most recent of which was at The Lexington in March, where they’d turned in a bravura performance in support of White Hills. Surely they wouldn’t let us down on this their headline appearance. Well no, they didn’t and all the ingredients of that Lexington gig was there, throwing in familiar favourite selections from Orphaned By The Sea right up to last year’s outstanding Deadly Black Tarantula plus of course that Corsica sound, bigger and bolder than many entertainment licenses might allow. A pity then that they lost their audience as many of the Gum Takes Tooth and Anthroprophh crowd began to wander off (some to other events, which suddenly made me feel very old as things were overrunning and it was getting perilously close to my ‘med and bed’ time). Also with having played at least four times in the capital these past few months it may that they have become an overfamiliar part of the musical landscape and that a break, new material and/or change of direction might prove to be a tonic for what is a great band with a unique sound.

All of which left me wondering what next for a Rocket showcase. After all there was no Gnod (who’d held their own all day event earlier in the year) or Hey Colossus on show. Nor was there Russia’s Gnoomes or Sweden’s Josefin Ohrn and Flowers Must Die (see what we mean about “international”), all slotted in for Liverpool Psych Fest, while we’ve not even mentioned Anglo-French outfit H.U.M (a huge personal favourite) or Hills. All of which suggests that there’s bigger, even better and possibly even a Rocket weekender in the offing next time. Now that’s a thought…

 

 

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