On October 19-21, Birmingham’s deliciously named Custard Factory will again host the annual Supersonic Festival. Organisers Capsule will be celebrating the ten year anniversary of the event with a line-up showcasing both old friends and emerging contemporary artists. Here are some of the treats they have in store.
Body/Head sees Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon team up with experimental noisenik Bill Nace. Expect the pair to unleash all manner of discordant skree by 'playing' their guitars (and bashing them with inanimate objects) as Kim speaks, sings and shouts her improv beat-cool poetry into the mic.
Another veteran of the Eighties noise-rock scene, Jarboe was in Swans from the mid-Eighties until their original demise in 1997, and although absent from the line-up which reformed in 2010, she has contributed to the group’s highly acclaimed new album The Seer. Outside of Swans, Jarboe has released a string of acclaimed solo albums and collaborated with the revered likes of Neurosis and Justin Broadrick (who also plays Supersonic under his JK Flesh moniker). Jarboe aims to “close in on the gap in the audience/performer relationship via complete submission and vicarious experience through her performance.” Could be intense.
Video: Jarboe 'Cries (for Spider)'
Underground instrumental supergroup Rangda combines the virtuoso talents of Sir Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls’ bearded guitar wizard), Ben Chasny (from Comets on Fire and Six Organs of Admittance) and Chris Corsano (easily one of the best drummers in the world). Bishop and Six Organs will also be performing separately at the festival, and Corsano will make a second appearance as part of his Flower/Corsano duo. For Rangda the trio meld into one big swirling, whirling, jarring, throbbing jam machine, tempered by the occasional moment of Morricone-inspired anticipatory calm.
Video: Rangda 'Bull Lore'
With his main project Earth, Seattle’s Dylan Carlson invented the drone-metal sound that would inspire acts such as Sunn O))), then went a bit stoner rock, and took a lengthy drug-induced hiatus before returning with a thrillingly sedated distortion-free dustbowl sound. In another departure, Carlson’s solo material is inspired by his family’s British ancestry, old English folklore, and the experience of SEEING AN ACTUAL GHOST near Camden tube station. And if that doesn’t sound bonkers enough already, Carlson promises to bring a bagpipe player with him. If a couple of hooded bagpipers hit unexpected levels of critical acclaim in about ten years’ time, this is where it all began.
Video: Earth 'The Corascene Dog'
Not to be confused with the director of the most lavishly vacuous videos in hip-hop, Hype Williams remain clouded in a mysterious fog. They might be a duo consisting of Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland (which might not be their real names), they might have been manufactured by the motivational speakers ‘Denna Frances Glass’ and ‘Father Ronnie Krayola’ as the final part of an ambitious 18-year art project, they distribute their music by hiding USB sticks inside apples, they steal raccoons from taxidermists, and they definitely lie to the press. Their music mixes lo-fi synths, dubby bass wobbles, retro beats and warped samples to produce something beautifully splodgy.
Video: Hype Williams 'Ital'
And no stranger to Supersonic, noise legend Merzbow returns to unleash a barrage of unforgiving white noise for those who find the act of being kicked to death by a gang of volatile static televisions a strangely soothing experience.
Video: Merzbow 'Mandarin Duck'
Also appearing at the festival are Bohren & Der Club of Gore, The Bug, Carlton Melton, Clifford Torus, Doomsday Student, Dope Body, Drunk in Hell, Goat, Grey Hairs, Hey Colossus, Hookworms, Islaja, Kevin Drumm, KK Null, Lash Frenzy, Lau Nau, Lichens, Modified Toy Orchestra, Moonn, Mothertrucker, My Disco, Nicholas Bullen, Oxbow Orchestra, PCM, Richard Dawson, Ruins Alone, SOUNDkitchen, Stian Westerhus, SWLLWS, Thomas Ankersmit, Tim Hecker, Tomutonttu, Ufomammut, Warm Digits, and Zeni Geva.
There will be plenty of additional arty/filmic/sound events, discussions and installations happening over the weekend. In the meantime an official Supersonic mixtape can be enjoyed here: