Jah Wobble and ShackletonEdit this event
Over the last few years, The Hive Collective have been absolute champions in Liverpool of music that’s a little bit more off-kilter and experimental. This show is part one of four of ‘Twilight City’, Hive’s programme for Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations.
This show, ‘Industry Versioned’, promises a sonic and visual reaction to the city’s industrial heritage and is being held at the Static Gallery, one of the few places left in town that still has that underground, abandoned-warehouse type feel to it. And it is exactly this sort of atmosphere which this music requires. Our first entertainment comes from Mugstar, a last minute replacement for much admired local Krautrock-heads * Kling Klang*, who inconveniently split just before the show.
Mugstar are a local act with a strong following, but only a limited following outside of the city. Their thing is creating an absolute onslaught of visceral, jagged, instrumental sound. Their look: that of long haired men who glare at the roof, not look the audience.
Their thing can be hit or miss, but tonight though, they’re hard to ignore. Almost painfully intense for an opening act, they create this sound from a simple combination from keys, drums, guitar and the occasional guttural wail.
Despite the fact that you’d struggle to do any sort of action to this sort of music, it is physically draining, and something that, even though you know it’s painful, you have to look at. It’s is relentless and beautifully expels all thoughts from your head. DiS’s colleague says: “It’s Hawkwind, just Hawkwind”. But as they leave we’re still pleasantly exhausted and strangely refreshed.
Mugstar are a tough act to follow. But when you’re some of the most respected avant-garde musicians in history, you probably aren’t worried. The next set up is collaboration between* Jah Wobble , of post-punk legends PiL and subsequently one of the chief exponents of ‘world music’ in the UK, Jaki Liebezeit,* former percussionist with Krautrock pioneers Can, and * Phillip Jeck *, the Liverpool-based sound artist who creates sound collages from the grooves of old records.
Looking at these three old men sitting in a row surrounded by banks of complex looking instruments and equipment, you wouldn’t immediately assume that you were looking at some of the most influential people in western music. But whatever, this is an old warehouse, not a concert hall. We’re here for the tunes, not reverence.
Their entirely improvised set largely consists of them examining the low end of things. They create a complex, concentrated mesh of sound. It’s bassy, but still gentle, and very much a brisk wander rather than an assault. To our mind, there’s too much focus on the notes and not the vibe. There are occasional rounded peaks, but it’s mainly flat, albeit interesting terrain. They explore rather than perform, and in this shed, and post-Mugstar it’s a bit of let down.
The mood changes with the arrival of The Bug, A.K.A the London-based producer Kevin Martin (pictured), whose electronic music combines industrial noise with Jamaican rhythms. It’s a devastating sound, both heavy and quick and, teamed up with the MCing from Warrior Queen, the house gets down to some actual dancing. But we’re then torn between the following the rhythm on the floor and watching the most attention-grabbing stage action of the night from Warrior Queen.
After the exertion for The Bug, a reduced but clearly attentive crowd stick around for a sterling set by Shackleton, whose deep, dark minimal dubstep again seems well suited to this building and this confused, post-industrial city in general.
Perhaps ‘Twilight City’ peaked too soon. The relentless hammer blows of Mugstar did not warm us up well for the enlightened wanderings of the three legends and atmosphere wasn’t restored until The Bug. But no matter, it was still an excellent mash up of extreme and interesting sounds in a big shed. What more do you want from culture?