Strange qualities

January 2024
The Rossi Bar

So January, starting the year with super-droners Plurals, down to core members Dave and Daniel  and as usual set up on the floor, a bit of a trickier proposition for the low stage at The Rossi Bar with the start the year audience jammed in. I cannot see the kit, I recall a broken cymbal, keyboards, guitar, vocal mike and an array of effects pedals. The set starts with a shimmering lofi pulse enjoined with a submarine ping. Bass winds blow slowly into the frame and a slow loop of a throat clearing bashes in and fades quickly, the bass drone mutates slowly into a nice sawtooth buzz that takes precedence in the mix. I think there is some bowed cymbal scrapes through loads of delay while the buzz becomes ominous. Wed can feel the sound thickening up as other sounds get into the delays. bassy hums, crystalline shards of tight cymbal bowing, that wind returns. Something resembling a strangled guitar figure (that could also easily be a voice) comes in as the build really starts to take hold. The room is really starting to buzz, but there’s more to come. Tractor engine judders, more drones, squeals of feedback. Vocal squeals. Still its building, people can see how its going and come to the back for earplugs. You can start to feel the volume in your viscera. The cymbal is crunched, the only description, it sounds destructive. The guitar seems to be feeding back in three different ways at once. I can hear a violin. I haven’t seen a violin, I don’t think there is one, but it sustains a drone and a scurrying figure of scrapes across its strings, I’m sure it isnt there. Things thin out a bit after this ghost. Strands of thin feedback over chuffing steam train. Its calmer, still loud, but somehow less intense and rather lovely in spite of not actually being pleasant sounding. Space returns in the middle of the mix as the drones drift basswards and everything else fades away leaving a modulating guitar line to hold things together as intensity build again for Boom! The end.

Quite contrastingly we had Expedient Self, guitar loop pedal and effects. Shorter tightly composed pieces. A brief setup of a rhythm track, an intense lead line that multi tracks up quite quickly and suddenly drops down to a arpeggio, quickly builds again in a quite different direction, drops again then more slowly build back up to the first melodic line again, which is allowed to develop more before dropping again to a choppier section that build into delay feedback then drops again to end. The second piece starts really quickly with about 8 loops banged into the looper really quickly. Over this a melodic line reminiscent of Snakefinger writhes its way, tremeloingly away before heading off into a lurid fever dream of pigeons and fake Farfisa solos. Again the third is quickly off the mark, the melodic elements coming from layered arpeggios. We get into some pumping delay feedback while he trills small guitar runs over the top, the drop comes briefly leaving the trilling guitar running and we lose the whole thing to swirly string wipes.


Rounding off the evening with a banging set was Xylitol, eschewing the toys and J-Pop of olden times Catherine was laptopped up. Starting with a whooshing hardcore breath riff with birdsong that morphed into hard chimes and when the drums boomed in went again to pinging arpeggios. The drums hyperactive, everything almost in slow motion against them until a super distorted bassline/bassdrum and whistle melody showed up. Then the full on hardcore breaks. The whistle melody comes over all beautiful to compensate. The drums shift again savagely jungled up. They keep shifting. The breathy riff has gone replaced by an evolving 80s synth descending part. Things shift again, the rhythm carried by a frantic, disturbed frog and snare that turns into buzzing, and again pinging. Shifting again, this one beyond my descriptive powers, again channelling early 90s hardcore, almost lovely detuned synths, fierce drums and a melodic line like a doorbell on the dregs of its battery. Finally a breakdown, into a simple synth line that fills out and wanders away from the tune into pure modulated abstraction. Drums, a bit slower (the ballad?) start up and after a while a massive sine bass slows in in a deranged homage to GLR. Interplanetary hisses, beauty, horrifyingly out of tune synths all merge into something quite wonderful. Then there’s a distinct change to the next tune, harking back perhaps to the bent toys, with a childlike, almost Moog demo line, against which everything else builds in intensity. The last piece starts with a fast high synth riff not unlike chime under which speeding snares and high hats clatter. The synth riff obviously evolves into something else, the drum intensity builds, pads appear, horrible noises emerge and disappear. Half heard piano riffs. Nasty drum bangs, and sudden drops. A pulsing staccato one note bass. Ghostly whoooo noises. My goodness, so much going on, a fever delirium. The first half of the set is a single piece has everything shifting so much the points where songs merge are all but unknowable as it’s just another change in a constantly drifting sea of sound.