Friday, September 16, 2011

Not quite what the doctor ordered


Knob-twiddling: a term that conjures up images of a greasy recidivist in a long mac lurking in the bushes of your local park and indulging in a game of pocket billiards at the merest glimpse of teenage skin. But thankfully tonight's display of knob-twiddling from The Manacles Of Acid is a great deal more agreeable than that, if not entirely wholesome. Beats and squelching synths mesh neatly, and the symbiosis between man and machines is impressive to behold - if not exactly a feast for the eyes. Given a late-night slot in a darkened Cellar, these Manacles might really grip.

Comprised of veterans of the local scene, Listing Ships haven't taken long to make a big splash. Not for them wearing their influences metaphorically upon their sleeves - no, they prefer to wear them literally on their T-shirts. Bassist Stuart Fowkes' Can T-shirt signposts what's coming, though the quartet perhaps wisely avoid dropping anchor for too long in any particular port. 'All Aboard The Andrea Doria', for instance, calls in on Mogwai, Rodan and (most pleasingly) the bristling, aggressive instrumental funk of Billy Mahonie before setting sail anew. Fowkes introduces one track by saying: "It's about a shipwreck, like all of our songs". We eagerly await their take on Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On'.

"You will love each other", reads the slogan on the HEALTH T-shirts at the merch desk. A sunny prediction? A sinister command? Who knows. Equally unsettling is the Californians' music, the sound of Wolf Eyes and Animal Collective taking a power drill to each other's craniums and wallowing around in what issues forth. It's a kaleidoscopic collage of thrash, noise, electronics, tribal drumming, shouting, flailing hair and primary colours. And, by and large, it's thrilling.

And yet, two songs from the end of the main set, they abruptly and somewhat improbably morph into MGMT circa 'Time To Pretend'. The kids love it, sure, but the band suddenly look faintly depressed, as though contractually obliged to play the hits. That they suddenly appear to be caught in the headlights of the mainstream and desperate to escape away back into the shadows is underlined by the single-song encore, a minute of throat-shredding and skin-bashing. "This is the real us", they seem to be saying. Next time, they might hopefully spare us the identity crisis.

1 comment:

Ian said...

i am weirdly heartened to hear that HEALTH is good live (at least for the most part).