JK Flesh - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

The Kirkgate Centre is a pretty inconspicuous venue for the kind of events hosted by The Golden Cabinet. Once every few months the old Victorian schoolhouse in Shipley becomes host to a pleathora of noisy and experimental acts. Approaching the venue this evening it’s still jarring to see the quaint schoolhouse, complete with a poster for ballet classes pinned to the fence and hear the ominous throb of the night’s opening DJ. The Golden Cabinet has a unique and specialised appeal and with only 100 tickets available for each event it’s one that you feel extremely lucky to be able to attend.

Walking in to the strains of the opening DJ, Cataclyst, you’re immediately submerged within the Cabinets potent mix of music and visuals. Black and white arthouse films are projected onto the back wall as psychedelic effects are shone onto the roof above your head. They really do make the effort here.

With earplugs at the ready it’s time for legendary noise-maker Matthew Bower and violinist Samantha Davies to blow our minds with Black Sun Roof! Perhaps best known for his Skullflower project, Bower has been making a somewhat malevolent racket since the 1980’s. Tonight finds Bower and Davies facing away from the audience and bombarding the Cabinet with a single, blissfully terrifying slab of noise.

Davies’ violin is fed through distortion pedals and sounds utterly unrecognisable; there are no weeping strings here just layer-upon-layer of thick, tar-like sound. Bowers guitar occasionally recalls the heavy throb of Sunn0))) as he ekes every bit of chaos and discordance he can from his instrument.  It’s certainly not for the faint-of-heart. The vaguely sci-f visuals that play behind the duo give the whole piece a pleasingly epic feel. It’s a landslide of pure, unadulterated noise.

Before the next act begins we’re treated to a little bit of Coil’s ‘Are You Shivering?’ over the PA, the perfect sonic appetiser for G.H. Backed by only a handful of effects pedals and the occasional interjection of doom-laden guitar, Gary Howell builds a set of slow and decidedly creepy drones. Howell loops his guitar and fiddles with the effects on the table in front on him, gradually building a brilliantly sinister atmosphere.

It’s a downbeat and particularly dark set that’s made all the more effective by the visuals of parasitic creatures and slowly growing mushrooms shown on the big screen behind him. While not being as oppressively noisy as Black Sun Roof! G.H. still performs an impressively intense set. It’s made all the more impressive when I discover that a last-minute laptop failure meant that Howell had to completely re-think his set. Improvisational noise in Shipley on a Saturday night- doesn’t get better than this.

Finally, we come to industrial/experimental legend Justin Broadrick aka JK Flesh. Broadrick began his career as a teenager with a brief stint in Napalm Death before going on to found Godflesh in the early 1980’s. Other notable Broadrick acts have included Techno Animal with Kevin Martin (The Bug/King Midas Sound) and Jesu. Overall, it’s fair to say that Broadrick has kept himself busy.

His one-man JK Flesh project incorporates elements of his industrial heritage with a love for electronica and techno. It’s a sound that he began to explore during his work with Kevin Martin and one that bares all the typical Broadrick hallmarks; it’s loud, extreme and uncompromising.

Changing into his regulation hoodie Broadrick begins with the pulsating title track from the Nothing is Free album. It’s a brutally energetic set from the very start and one that pulls the Cabinet crowd out of their collectively hypnotised state and onto the dancefloor. It’s the kind of music that demands movement; one guy runs around like he’s in an exercise video, another rocks out and a girl nearby adopts a variation on the twist. Everyone’s letting go and it’s a sight to behold. Even I’m nodding my head a little more vigorously than usual.

The sound consists of heavy, propulsive beats and relentless, distorted drums; all emanating from a small laptop and various electronic kit on the table in front of Broadrick. It’s a loud, sweaty and immersive experience that finds Broadrick wrapping his own hood around his face as he loses himself in the onslaught of beats. There’s no let-up in the intensity with JK Flesh pummelling the audience into submission with a gloriously repetitive wall-of-sound.

For an artist who’s made his career making uncompromising and often confrontational music it’s great to see just how cathartic and communal a JK Flesh performance is. It might not be everyone’s cup-of-tea but in the midst of his set it really does feel like I’m at some kind of insane house party. Another unique and unrepeatable night of musical madness at The Golden Cabinet.

Photo of JK Flesh courtesy of the talented http://mariaspadafora.com

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