Sunday, 15 June 2014

Live Review : Loop, Godflesh. The Cockpit, Leeds, England. Tuesday, 3rd June 2014


With confirmation for my attendance at tonight’s gig coming just 24hr before, there was an immediate anticipation for this live spectacular.  Ironically enough, having just spun their first new music in 13 yrs a few hours before, I was fully buoyant and psyched to see this legendary and iconic band. Hey, I even noticed HMV was carrying their new EP, Decline & Fall during my lunch break. 

Taking that into consideration, there is an obvious sea change in terms of music being available these days; I remember having to order old Earache Records releases back in the day when Godflesh were on the scene the first time around. Hell in 13 years, we have suffered a mass recession, a declaration of war on terror, the emergence of social media.  Hell I graduated from University. Yes me, I even got married and had kids. (There is hope for us all).

Anyway, back to the matters at hand.  From their initial inception, to their unfortunate and tragic end the first time round, Godflesh set the tone for industrial music and released a rich back catalogue of music, which is revered to this day.  I am a firm believer of fate and although it is a cruel and heartless bitch at times, without the gap, it is unlikely that Godflesh would be walking onto stage this evening, let alone releasing new music.

It seems JB and GCG, are driven once more to present their old treasures to the masses, but to write a new chapter in their rich history, being more than something nostalgic and building upon the platform they set for themselves.    It is only prudent perhaps to remark that ‘Decline and Fall’ is a sublime return to form, standing up to what has come before it. 

With tours across the continent having gone down a storm, which was confirmed by Miami duo Holly Hunt (Check em out), who supported them during some dates.  Tonight is not gonna disappoint.    

Loop

The ambience of keys is the first din of the evening with what seems like a narrative from a movie soundtrack. Feedback subsides to the fury of guitars. With the looped drum track stomping forth like some malevolent beast and then the vocals finally become audible. This is some minimalist alt noise with bass sounding primal and driven, in terms of tone of music Loop are more akin to indie rather than metal yet perhaps discordant industrial indie punk.

For me there is not enough bite or crunch but much like Godflesh it is repetitious. Certainly the crowd is appreciative and at a guess many die hard fans have travelled the distance to be here. At times there is crunch to the guitars but more on the indie punk stylings. Not furious or frenetic but more post punk. Guitar wise it is mostly played open rather than the bite of a drop d riffs for example. Having recently played the psych fest I'm looking for reference points or common threads within Loop’s music that marry with that sub genre but their sound is kinda undistinguished.

Hey, my words are not gospel when it comes to music but this is new territory for this 37 yr olds ears. In terms of sound and performance, Loop is pretty seamless and for me the bass is the business, being at the centre and driving this band.  There is a smattering of grunge perhaps even Sonic Youth to this band. It feels like a homecoming of sorts for the band, the buoyant crowd although perhaps only half full, nod with adulation and then it hits me. The obvious influence of Godflesh on their music, the drums are metronomic and guitars follow that nonchalant loop on repeat. A riff played insistently and the addition of electronics giving it an almost Big Black vibe. Having officially reformed back in 2013 they certainly have their chops iced and it was an insistent, if understated performance.

Godflesh

After observing Justin Broadrick setting up his gear, an unsuccessful mission to pick up the remaining vinyl of ‘Hymns’ and with his 3 weapons of the evening tuned, smoke descends. We're ready for Godflesh.  Indeed, I am wrestling with my own thoughts to an extent, because I trying to recollect whether I have seen Godflesh before.  I have memories of ‘The Leadmill’ in Sheffield and a support slot with Anthrax, but I could be mistaken.  Indeed, if it did happen Godflesh were 3 at the time, with Raven (RIP) and Parsons part of the line up at the time. Anyway I digress and immediately the last 13 yrs are erased, with the sound of programmed drums, the crowd is unwittingly induced into spasmodic nods of approval.  What’s striking, is the chemistry and symbiosis of the two, staccato riffs rip out off the speakers under the metallic undercurrent of G.C. Green’s bass, blended together with 90s electronica to make the perfect, discordant heavy metal shake.  The introduction of new music with ‘Ringer’ is seamless, the throbbing bass is consistly one note and monotonous, like a band of marching cyborgs set to exterminate, with the accompaniment of hostile distortion from the guitars. The backbeat is overwhelmingly, layers of dense drum beats are almost pugilistic.

‘Like Rats’ is furious, again the bass is just brilliant. So minimalist yet it drives everything. The main riff is crushing with squeals and wondrous nuances, like Broadrick’s guitar is wailing for mercy, under the abuse from its master.  The music remains ahead of its time and remains as fresh and destructive as the day it was conceived.  It' always has an underlying groove which gets you moving, dare I say, it has an inherent dancebility, with arrhythmic chiming.

Unwittingly as a spectator you’re swaying along like you’re on some acid laced psychedelic trip, the music a cross pollination of two different worlds to make one singular malevolent hybrid. It leaves you scratching your head why they never sold records by the bucket load.

The music just translates from tape to the live arena without discourse. Chugging riffs, gristly bass and chest pounding beats. Broadrick’s voice biting with venom and vigour. This stuff is mechanised, industrious and brutal. The beats could have been lifted from 80s hip hop. Instead you have the accompaniment of discordant guitars with natural and pinched harmonics, punctuated by voracious and nihilistic vocals. For me their music is the perfect Soundtrack to the abstract and the often unintelligible mind of Cronenberg.

It is their own Videodrome, a musical broadcast of extremes, interfering with your senses and taking you on a journey, of which your life will never be the same. ‘Long live the new flesh’.


Words by : Aaron Pickford

No comments: