…or how one would embark on a journey from Gerhard Richter paintings towards Francis Bacon ones…

We don’t often have the chance to attend a nicely organized IDM/experimental/noise gig in London, so when Chaos Theory decided to put together this great line up with MetalogueRiotmiloo and Warren Schoenbright the only thing we did was to clear our schedule and attend it. The venue was perfect for this gig, the sound engineer did a great job for all bands, making sure that everyone had the right enhancements at the right areas of their sound. The merchandise was rich and generous (a rare quality these days) and the overall atmosphere of the event was nice.

Electronic and noise, independent and dark music, can make the audience feel kind of  ‘isolated’ and detached, but it is a combination of different things that, when done properly, can ensure that this will be avoided. The atmosphere in this venue changed from an almost meditational stage, to a riotous stage, before being transformed into a sort of existential ‘cry’.

Metalogue is a word used to describe either an explanatory dialogue about a specific topic, or a speech delivered between acts in a play. Metalogue, the experimental electronic solo project of Robin Fencott (Towards Collapse, Microscopists), provides a sonic context to its name but it is much more than that and the clues are hidden within the artwork that accompanies his releases and the titles given to these; Indefinite Divisibility, Paroxysm, Valiha, Gradient Descent…phrases and words that are inspired by mathematics, medical conditions, musical instruments and natural observations. As with all IDM music, the purpose is to provide an outlet for the musician’s creativity, make the audience’s mind navigate to different dimensions and ultimately dance. It is not easy to be able to get into people’s minds but Metalogue sure has the skill to do that. Without visuals on the night, it was obvious that the attention was focused on the person on stage but for us, this only lasted a few minutes as the gentle at first but very powerful later, multidimensional melodies, quickly transported us to spaces with strong echoes and darkness which was interrupted by flickering lights as they were represented by the subtle melodies and sounds of ‘bells’ and texture. Robin had found a way through my mind and had managed to make my imagination start to create spaces for me to navigate in.

Metalogue has released a new single this month entitled ‘Fallout with the added vocals of Fluff in it. This was not performed during this gig but we hope we can have the chance to listen to it live some other time. There was no discernible start or end for each track and this just enhanced the impression that the set was a lengthy sonic story presented to us with no obvious ‘chapters’ in it. The changes in rhythms and tone coupled with seamless stylistical changes, just brought me in and out of the imaginary spaces that the music helped me create. Metalogue also offered a download code alongside a whole bundle of merchandise that included links to and artwork from his releases, wrapped in a black envelope which also contained a download code by Riotmiloo but not from Warren Schoenbright. The artwork really put a visual image to all the sounds that we listened to during the set and reminded me of the work of a favourite artist, Gerhard Richter.

Next was the riotous Riotmiloo and I cannot possibly to this day, understand how can such a powerful and evidently vindicating performance, could be so elegant and theatrical at the same time. Audiences of experimental electronic music might frown upon the use of the adjective ‘elegant’ here, as this is a (mainly male dominated) music genre that seems to want to ‘deny’ whatever adjectives like these signify, but it was a quality that I appreciated as being both unique and authentic to Emilie and Eva|3 who accompanied her on stage. Geneviève Pasquier came to mind a few times during Emilie’s choreographed performance, both on and off stage. Eva|3, was responsible for sound manipulation and everything else around this performance. The combined effect in terms of aesthetics, created a sort of yin yang dynamic, as Emilie dressed in black represented an uncompromised and always vindicating energy while Eva|3, dressed in white and relatively static, represented either the ‘quiet before the storm’ or the kind of  ‘zen’ quality in all of this. It was beyond everyone in the audience, that the gaze of Emilie focused throughout the set and it was something greater than what the songs represented, that inspired her gestures and movement. It was probably ‘nervousness’ from the part of the audience, that created this relatively big empty space in front of the stage. Emilie of course ‘occupied’ this space throughout the evening by ‘confronting’ the audience and also embracing this seemingly empty but energetically charged space in between. I have been present in other performances that challenged the border between stage and audience areas but I think that this was the only one in which it seemed that there was one more barrier to ‘break’, the emotional one. As I stood very close to the stage it seemed as if the audience did not only leave this space empty for Riotmiloo to occupy but also used it as an emotional ‘defense’ mechanism. It was as if everyone either ‘guarded’ themselves from the fierceness of Emilie’s lyrics and gestures or was just ‘afraid’ that if they closed this gap, she would not have the space she needed to express herself. The benefit of this ‘distance’ was that the effect of this set was very liberating, it allowed the time and ‘space’ for one to think and feel the empowering possibilities of the rhythms and the assuring, motivational, confrontational, reactive, tone of Riotmiloo. With stage lights in black and red this was a performance that portrayed ‘battles’ using sonic colours. Watching a photo of a raised fist, immediately creates thoughts about many things, but actually experiencing the meaning of this gesture having this ‘heavy’ electro/industrial music as a background, fills it with additional context. With no visuals during the set, the mind was free to interpret the performance. Riotmiloo talks, shouts, sings about animal abuse, violence against women and struggles of many kinds and once her performance is over, one can feel a little less ‘weight’ on their shoulders about the ‘battles’ that are about to come…

If the paintings of Francis Bacon produced a sound what would this be?

 The headliner of the evening, Warren Schoenbright was next and the atmosphere changed dramatically in the venue. But first things first. The band is named Warren Schoenbright yet this is not the name of any of the musicians in it! Alex (Virji) on bass and vocals, Daniel (McClennan) on drums and Iker (Ormazabal Martínez) on the guitar and backing vocals make up this exploding noise/experimental trio. Alex is also a visual artist and he has produced some unique paintings as well as artwork of the band’s releases, but most importantly…who is Warren Schoenbright and what did he do ( or did not do) to inspire the band’s name?

I am very ‘picky’ with noise music, I like a certain type of it which cannot be really defined. I loved Warren Schoenbright’ s take on it and the experimental attitude that the whole band showed on stage.

Not only this was a largely a-melodic set but it dealt with different ‘subjects’ from the ones of Metalogue and Riotmiloo. The releases of the band have included topics that concern nature, that is viewed as both a source of inspiration but also as a menacing ‘place’. The EP  entitled ‘(Out of Bounds) Eaten By the Forest‘ even blends nature with medical conditions.Noise often does trigger and stems from, a disquieting existential pursuit and it is usually about the release of energy in its most extreme sonic way.If during this ‘journey’, the rhythm gains some form in one way or another, then the noise becomes something meaningful for the audience as well. Francis Bacon’s paintings might have their sonic equivalent in the form of noise music for example. I consider this to be a solitary music style like classical music in a way, in the sense that very few people manage to truly engage with the sound of each band as it comes from a very personal and often ‘hidden’ corner of one’s psyche. Visuals tend to ‘help’ though not always and not in a meaningful direction. Noise is not communicative in my opinion, it is a manifestation of a person’s subconscious, of things that cannot be expressed in other ways.

In this case, somehow the band’s positioning on stage, facing each other and the audience always at an angle, proved that this was even more personal. However, the rhythms created a momentum and this really immersed us.

The band used elements from tribal music (e.g. in the drums’ rhythms) a lot of distortion at the guitar, eerie and hypnotizing rhythmic repetition and a disquieting delivery of vocals. In other words, an ideal combination to get your mind out of its comfort zone. The sound was a bit too loud at the front at times, taking away some details of the rhythms but at the back of the space things cleared out, both conceptually and in terms of sound. Unlike what happened during Riotmiloo’s set, the audience was now right next to the stage, but in this case I found that this was a bit too much for me; as if someone was pressing me to think and act very quickly in a critical situation and the only thing that I had to push me through this, was the sound. I found that, by taking a few steps back, the music did not have the same effect and its ritualistic rather than its ‘suffocating’ aspect, could be greatly appreciated. That was just me of course. I love tribal music and I loved the performance of the band. Daniel (drums) gave all his energy while playing the drums in his own signature way and Iker (guitar, backing vocals) was the more ‘composed’ of the three musicians. Even though I had listened to band’s music prior to this gig it was only during their set that I noticed that the sound of Throbbing Gristle was coming in and out of my mind as the rhythms changed. Whether TG have been a source of inspiration or not is something to be clarified at an interview perhaps, but I enjoyed this set very much and I had a wonderful time navigating the complex and elusive sonic labyrinth that the band was weaving for about an hour!

You can see more photos from this gig here: http://blaue-rosen.com/metalogue-riotmiloo-warren-schoenbright-live-at-the-black-heart-2018/

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