BARN OWL - The Brudenell Social Club - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

BARN OWL - The Brudenell Social Club

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

The stage at the Brudenell Social Club is bathed in blue light as the three musicians that make up A-Sun Amissa take to the stage. Guitarists Richard Knox and Owen Pegg, along with violinist Angela Chan, create a glacial wall of ambient drone which feels like you're submerged, deep under the ocean; peering out of portholes at the strange new world around you. It's a deeply atmospheric sound and a somewhat beautiful one too; at times recalling some of the more subtle moments in a Sigur Ros piece. The set consists of one piece of music which ebbs and flows for 20 minutes or so; the whole room pretty much silent throughout. It's a captivating performance and a suitably impressive way to start proceedings.

Next up, there's a change of pace and mood as ex-Vibracathedral Orchestra member Mick Flower (playing under the moniker The Michael Flower Band) locks into a rhythmic groove which sounds like it could go on forever (in a good way). Like the needle got stuck on a Talking Heads track, Flowers' music is hypnotic, exhilarating and joyous. Flower plays repetitive rhythms on his guitar and stamps his foot as sampled noises fill out the sound; he's the best type of one-man-band (just try and not picture a man with a bass-drum strapped to his back). If there's anyone that Flower reminds me of it would be ex Sun City Girls guitar maestro, Sir Richard Bishop; a reference I know Flower would be pleased with. There's a satisfying mixture of technical know-how with an ear for exciting sounds as well as the balance between the avant-garde and the undeniably awesome. In other words; a great set.

Barn Owl take things in a far darker direction and it's clear from the start that Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti are no strangers to the oppressively heavy drones of Sunn0))). Just like Greg Anderson's druids of drone, Barn Owl's sound is at times a deceptively simple one; favouring subtle changes and creeping feedback over massive shifts in direction. The tracks sound quite different at times from the pieces on latest release Lost in the Glare; perhaps in part due to the extra musicians that fill out the recorded versions.

Far from being disappointing, however, this stripped-back approach shows how committed the two core members are to the subtleties of drone; Earth's Dylan Carlson would be proud. To complement the feeling of being at some kind of art instillation, the band are accompanied by projections of trippy, blurry footage of fields, the ocean and indecipherable shapes and shades.

It's a challenging, engrossing and powerful performance and the loudest thing I've seen at the Brudenell since Part Chimp (and that was loud; different but loud).Tonight was an indulgent feast of all things atmospheric and experimental; an inspiring few hours.

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