Demdike Stare - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

There’s a reason why stadium shows can sometimes leave you feeling a little disappointed; it just isn’t always possible to feel connected to what’s happening on stage when you’re surrounded by 13,000 people. No such problem exists at The Golden Cabinet.  Shipley’s home for all things noisy and experimental houses roughly 100 punters and offers a real, close-up experience.

The venue has hosted everyone from sludge-rock types Hey Colossus, through Italian drone master Shapednoise to sonic tricksters Shit ‘n’ Shine. Their musical pallet is fairly broad yet there’s usually a sway towards more extreme and esoteric acts. I’m fairly convinced that the venue would have received the John Peel seal of approval.

After a pleasantly sunny day in Leeds the clouds seem to come in the moment I step on the train and head towards Shipley. The Cabinet can offer many things but consistent weather in Yorkshire isn’t one of them. This hardly matters though as I intend to spend the next few hours holed up in the confines of the cosy Kirkgate Centre having my hearing pushed to its limits.

From the second you walk in you notice the projections of weird animations and 70’s art house films playing on a huge screen at the back of the venue and splattered across the ceiling, the Cabinet acting as some kind of gloriously strange sensory room.  

After the welcoming throb of the opening DJ’s fades out I’m introduced to noise duo, PKKT. Consisting of two guys in front of laptops and other assorted electronic kit, PKKT make the kind of dark, rumbling drones that put you into a trance. Reminiscent of early Throbbing Gristle (minus the inspired ravings of Genesis P Orridge) the duo create a wall of ominous, evil sounding drones that shake the floorboards under my feet and put me in the appropriate head space for the coming chaos.

Things get markedly more energetic with the arrival of Silver Waves. The one man electronic project of Bristol based Dylan Mallett, Silver Waves offer up a pulverising yet joyously unhinged set that pushes everything into the red. Mallet stands behind a table littered with pedals and paraphernalia, his hair obscuring his face as he excitedly dives from one bit of equipment to the next and occasionally howls something unintelligible into a microphone.

The crowd has gathered around the table and Mallett motions for us to come closer, he’s throwing everything he has into this and wants us to soak up every sweaty, insane minute. It’s a breathlessly energetic set that mixes jittering and brutally heavy breakbeats with layers of squealing, industrial noise. Intense and exhausting, Silver Waves don’t do things by halves.

We’re mere minutes into Demdike Stare’s set and I suddenly feel like I’m at the centre of a party in full-swing. But wait, isn’t this the electronic duo known for dabbling in all things strange, eerie and atmospheric? The experimentalists that infuse their work with creepy pianos, ominous drones, hypnotic drums and horror film aesthetics? It is yet something shifted with their 2016 album, the appropriately named Wonderland.  

Yes, there are still moments of noise and strangeness but the overall mood is one of jubilation and euphoria. Manchester’s Demdike Stare has embraced the dancefloor. While still present, the dark, ambient textures from the duos earlier work are largely overshadowed by technicolour techno and energetic electronica. Cut-up beats, ambient intermissions and persuasively repetitive rhythms; all played at speaker shaking volume (naturally). It’s hypnotic and sort of psychedelic.

It’s not long before The Golden Cabinet crowd hit the dancefloor in appreciation, a group of three guys in front of me clearly having the time of their lives. Hugs are exchanged and arms are flung into the air. Who knew that Saturday night in Shipley could be like this?

The party atmosphere makes the duo’s darker inclinations all the more startling, immersive drones and disembodied voices are littered throughout the set, providing strange moments of calm. Yet while the duos music might more readily be associated with occult gatherings and the occasional séance, tonight Demdike Stare (and The Golden Cabinet) takes us all the way to Wonderland and the best night-out in town.

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