Posts Tagged ‘Belfast’


Space Dimension Controller – FACT Mix

February 22, 2010

I’m a massive fan of FACT Magazine, the London-based music website that has a refreshingly independent outlook on what they cover – they’re incredibly strong on various stripes of leftfield electronica and dance music, especially the whole bass music spectrum (dubstep, wonky, funky etc) but they basically just seem to cover whatever the hell they are into, which has made them big supporters of various successful indie and rock acts as well – The xx, Vampire Weekend, No Age and MGMT are a few that spring to mind – without feeling the need to provide blanket coverage.

But arguably the best part of the site is their formidably prolific mix series – 126 of the buggers so far, going back only a couple of years, and starring some of the biggest (Simian Mobile Disco, Andrew Weatherall, Autechre, Lindstrom) and freshest names in DJing.

The latest is one Jack Hamill, a Belfast prodigy I’ve been following for a couple of years as RL/VL (making ambient and beat-driven electronica) and now Space Dimension Controller, his Eighties-besotted electro/house/funk project. I’m listening to the mix as I type this, and it’s an excellent showcase for his sound, featuring several of his own productions (some unreleased) as well as vintage tuneage that transports you to a Detroit dancefloor, c.1988 (or something, I’m no expert on this stuff).

There’s also an interesting interview that may get Jack into trouble, as he’s rather disparaging about his home town and its electronic music scene. Bearing in mind that he’s released music on Acroplane Recordings and performed with a host of the city’s DJs and producers, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any backlash.

Aside from that, though, Jack’s talent is without question and I’m as sure as FACT are that he’s going to be a serious name to watch in the next year or two. He has an EP coming out on Dutch label Clone Records very soon, as well as a split release with Detroit youngster Kyle Hall. Plus, when I interviewed him for AU recently (p.14 here) he told me about some off-the-record future release info that sounds extremely exciting, and I’ve since heard even more from other sources. Watch this space.

The mix and interview live here.

h1 Beach House live review

February 19, 2010


Bit of a Ronseal post, this one.

Link here.


AU61: Dälek/Charles Hayward live review

January 4, 2010


This is a night for adventure, headed by an act that has achieved the impressive feat of sounding like precisely noone else. But before Dälek’s bizarre yet invigorating collision of noise and rap, it’s fitting that the support comes from Charles Hayward, a man who has spent the last 30 years resolutely going his own way. Best known as the drummer in English experimental group This Heat during the late Seventies and early Eighties, he now tours alone. Naturally enough, his masterful, expressive drumming is the main focus, but this is no smug wankathon – it’s gritty and creative, Hayward using his feet to control a phalanx of machines, layering ambient soundscapes and shards of noise under the rhythms. And there are songs, too – awkward and unlovely at times, but sung and played with real intensity. This man is pushing 60, but he puts many a young buck to shame.

Not Dälek, though. The New Jersey duo may look like a couple of meatheads when they take the stage – DJ Oktopus’s wifebeater, MC Dälek’s enormously oversized clothes on his already enormously oversized frame, topped off with a pair of sunglasses in a room that’s just a shade above pitch black – but there’s no idiotic bluster here, just an hour of surging noise, beats and rhymes. If you imagine Kevin Shields adding his guitar onslaught to Public Enemy, you’re halfway there. Despite the underlying sonics, though, the rhythms and words make Dälek no more or less than a hip-hop act, and they are keen to prove their credentials. Towards the end of the show, MC Dälek addresses the crowd for only the second time, giving heartfelt shout-outs to the late Jam Master Jay and J Dilla, amongst others. “This is my culture,” he exclaims, “these are my words, this is my motherfuckin’ life!” It’s almost as if he feels the need to publicly connect to these figures, since his band is signed to a predominantly (though nowhere near exclusively) rock label in Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings, and the vast majority of the crowd tonight is, to go on appearances alone, from the rock and metal fraternity. And sure enough, you can – and do – get lost in the blizzard of noise coming from DJ Oktopus’s laptops. But this isn’t shoegaze with a bit of rapping over the top – it’s hip-hop that’s adventurous and broad-minded enough to use a totally different sound palette to any other comparable act. And its sheer power leaves you breathless.


AU60: The Bug live review

November 17, 2009

When I posted my interview with Kevin Martin (aka The Bug), I mentioned that the gig was a total belter. Here’s the review.


In our last issue, Kevin Martin (for The Bug is he) promised that the live show would be “fucking all over the shop”, “confrontational” and “physical” but “enjoyable”. He wasn’t kidding, as tonight deserves to go down as one of the gigs of the year. It’s nearly over before it begins, though. A deafening blast of noise announces his arrival and demands attention before Martin, alone behind a desk of equipment at the back of the stage, powers into versions of ‘Angry’ and ‘Poison Dart’ from last year’s extraordinary London Zoo album. And then, as abruptly as it starts, the sound and lights cut out. Oops. 10 minutes of uncomfortable shuffling about later, Martin is back and this time there are no familiar bangers to cling on to. For half an hour until ragga MC Daddy Freddy arrives, it’s a sonic battlefield of harsh noise, dancehall beats and teeth-rattling bass – aggressive and deafeningly loud, yes, but compellingly danceable as well.

Eventually, Daddy Freddy does turn up and the mood changes, taking us from confrontation and aural punishment to a chaotic dance party. The familiar tunes are back – ‘Jah War’, ‘Warning’, the peerless ‘Skeng’ and reprises of both ‘Angry’ and ‘Poison Dart’, each with Daddy Freddy completely ignoring the original vocal and letting rip over the top in his own ultra-fast style. It’s a total riot, the MC’s charisma matched to the mood of the crowd and Martin solemnly going about the business of making us move, hard. They are originally scheduled to play for an hour, but once the hour is up the encores begin – largely led by Daddy Freddy, it must be said. Running out of his own material, Bug (as the MC addresses him) starts to DJ, playing fucked-up, noisy versions of dubstep producer 2562’s smooth, spacious ‘Techno Dread’ and even Dawn Penn’s classic ‘No, No, No’. Thought you’ve never heard it quite as gnarled as this before. We hit 2am and the lights come up, closing support act Filaria not even getting a chance to play. It’s a shame, but how would you follow that anyway?


NME: BATS live review

October 16, 2009

This ran in NME last week – the issue with Kurt Cobain on the front, though granted that doesn’t narrow it down all that much! He’s probably been on there 10 times more since he died than when he was alive. Anyway, here’s the review…

BATS live
Photo from a different gig taken by Nay McArdle (I think) and nicked from the band’s MySpace.


“BATS will destroy you!” they roar on opener ‘Death To Kent Hovind’, skewering the US creationist of the title with a short, sharp shock of bug-eyed righteousness. Then comes bespectacled Rupert Morris’ sneering pay-off: “The facts will destroy you.” The five Dubliners are science geeks and deliver explosive treatises on physics, genetics and superstition. Dry? Not a bit – it’s all declaimed over thrashy dance-punk, Converge-style hardcore and enough cowbell to keep Christopher Walken happy for months. Dance? Headbang? Do both and hope your spine stays aligned.


AU59: Oneida live review

October 12, 2009



Oneida are on their 10th studio album, and it’s a triple, so only a fool would have come to the Black Box expecting anything close to restraint or concision. And, true enough, after a cursory greeting of “We’re Oneida, see ya round,” the Brooklyn band (normally a quartet, but swollen to five tonight) launch into an opening instrumental of patience-trying proportions. The band are well known for their love of monotony and repetition, but only when you experience a track that takes several minutes to meet its first sonic shift do you really understand the extent of that fixation. In the end, the subtle, drummer-led alterations every few minutes drag you along just as you’re starting to become infuriated, but its near-20 minutes of head-down, linear power come across more clever-clever than anything else; a band staring its audience out – literally, in the case of the keyboardist.

In truth, it’s a slightly disappointing evening. The sound doesn’t help, the band’s crisp Krautrock jams getting lost in the echoey room, and because of that it’s hard to be too critical, but even aside from that, there’s a lack of nuance that renders the whole experience exhausting. Nearly every song blasts into view at high speed and keeps on accelerating, and while the drumming especially is a marvel, it starts to feel like aural – and physical – punishment. But then, in a moment of pure serendipity, they introduce ‘Up With People’ – the best track from 2006’s Happy New Year album – and it becomes the perfect closer, its neoprene-tight groove as irresistible live as on record, provoking dancefloor joy among those left at the end. It’s fair reward for sticking with an occasionally trying show.


AU59: Unsigned review – Gacys Threads

October 12, 2009



Fixtures on the Belfast metal circuit, Gacys Threads offer a decent indicator as to their live power on this debut EP. The title is fine shorthand for what to expect, as this is a band not given to delicacy, nor to addressing anything but the most primal human emotions – guilt, sorrow, hate, anger. That said, the lyrics booklet – though a help in deciphering the Cookie Monster vocals – doesn’t do much to pin down exactly what these songs are about, as the band have a tendency to communicate in slogans. But maybe the lyrical content isn’t the point. Fans of Converge, Norma Jean and even Enter Shikari will feel at home thanks to the throat-shredding vocals and serrated riffage, while the title track even starts off like early Metallica before descending into all-out mayhem. Meanwhile, closer ‘Nothing Sacred’ is probably the pick, boasting the only clean vocals on the release and an impressive understanding of elegiac restraint as it builds tension before the inevitable meltdown. A cautious endorsement, then, for fans of metalcore and related genres.


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