by / March 1st, 2009 /

Deserted Village, Anseo, Dublin

Anseo’s Upstairs Room is so small that an angry housewife (or punter) could only just swing a kitten and miss someone else swinging another kitten, but it has been the scene of some of the strangest and most truly experimental gigs of the last five years. Tonight , it’s a heady combination of moogs, Korg MS1s, sound sculpture artists, such as Brian Conniffe, and acoustic folkies, all under the banner of Deserted Village Records, the home of over-the-edge folk and roots, along with outsider electronic and the brainchild of Weapons of Mass Destruction frontman Gavin Prior.

The first band up are Papercut, one formation of a loose collection of drone based electronic artisans, along with guest sound-bender Brian Conniffe. They open with a piece that sounds like it was written by the music department for Hammer Films and Dario Argento as a cure for boredom, mid-decapitation. The limitations of the PA immediately become obvious, sending heavy sub-tonal bass drones through monitors at an ear murdering level. Brian Conniffe’s contribution is swamped completely for a lot of the set simply by too much sound being pushed through too little wattage. The music is accompanied by a short film from Jess Franco (who was kicked out of Spain in the late ’60s for irritating the Catholic sensibilities of no less than General Franco) with the wonderfully naff title of Exorcism, involving the draining of the blood of a dove, which is then forced down the throat of a naked bondage victim before being smeared over her restrained writhing (orgasmi-comically) female flesh. Meanwhile, the music was all spooky rumblings and squeaking synthesiser sounds .

Next up is Vicky Langan, a young woman from Tuam who lives in Cork, and goes under the name Female Orphan Asylum, who kicked off with samples of an all night chant-in by followers of the Dalai Lama, coupled with the sound of her own heartbeat being channelled directly into a sampler, all overlaid with electric violin played in single sustained notes as if an Indian Street Musician had wandered in off Camden Street and joined in the general melodic mayhem. This stuff takes on a life of its own with concentrated listening, and it’s certainly not music for the weak. The nearest her whole way of sampling and splicing disparate sounds together gets to recognisable influence is Simon Fisher Turner.

Next up are Boys Of Summer: Andrew Fogarty and Ivan Pawle Junior, augmented by The Jimmy Cake’s Paul Smyth and the winged fingerling talents of Cian Nugent, who sat in to play some beautiful arpeggio based acoustic guitar lines. The sub-tonal foundations of two Korg MS13 synthesizers, mixed with Smyth’s MS2000 keyboard, made for a sound that hovered somewhere between Henryk Gorecki, the bombing of Dresden and Keith Tippet in some of his darker moments, interspersed with some glacially clear yet beautiful keyboard melodies: a unique experience which would be much more powerful in a larger venue.

And so to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Frontman Gavin Prior’s guitar produces a jagged mix of speed metal solos and chops, sustained and distorted until eardrums are begging for mercy, while his vocals could have come from the Slayer canon. This is augmented with sterling clarinet and a second guitar which seems to be used as a percussive instrument more than anything else. Echoes of Giveamanakick are present in some of the songs, although they pretty much shift styles like the Random player on a laptop, the only constants being slashes of conventional guitar and drums from early Fall territory. Using a mixer, samples and loops Gavin transforms his voice into a sometimes menacing, humorous or soulful instrument where the words may beindecipherable, but the emotions certainly aren’t. As they play, each song results in more and more people getting up to throw themselves about with something like abandon, a far cry from the almost hypnotic nodding silence that had greeted the preceding acts. Well worth checking out.

  • PeterJ

    Vicky Langan’s heartbeat is mesmerising.